The legal and medical industries have to be one of the biggest demographics for the use of voice recording technology and they have been for years. Doctors and consultants use dictaphones to dictate medical patient notes and letters. Lawyers use voice recorders to dictate legal case notes.

Traditionally your standard medical or legal practice would consist of an analogue tape dictaphone used by the person dictating. They would record their dictation on tapes which are then handed to the typing pool for the transcriptionists to transcribe using a tape transcription machine, foot pedal and headset. Not much has changed now that things are digital. The dictator still requires a device to dictate into, the typist still requires audio to listen to and transcribe. The fundamental difference is we now use digital recordings instead of taped recordings for dictation and transcription and our computers to act as the transcription kit.

How are digital dictaphones better than tape dictaphones?

  • Audio quality. Digital audio is far more clearer than its older parent the analogue tape, meaning a happier transcriptionist and higher quality transcripts created in less time.
  • Speed of transfer. Digital audio can be emailed, either to the typist in the next room or to a transcription service on the other side of the world, in seconds.
  • No more physical storage issues. Hands up all those using tape dictaphones who have cupboards and drawers full of old tapes? They take up room, they degrade in quality over time and try and find a single patient or clients dictation on a tape containing tens of dictations is time consuming. With digital audio it can all be stored on computer, network and back drives with instant access to files and dictations. It can be replicated easily so can also be stored offsite and onsite.
  • Security. With some models of dictaphone your audio can be encrypted. When you send audio only your typist can unencrypt the audio meaning your audio stays secure. The dictaphones themselves can be locked with a passcode (and fingerprint in the case of the Olympus DS-5000iD) so only you can hear your audio. With tapes, anyone with a player can listen.

So now that you are coming around to thinking “yes, maybe I should get with the times” lets have a look at the best digital dictaphones on the market today. These of course are from Olympus, the leader in voice solutions who have a range of three digital dictaphone models.

Note. Dictatphones are not to be confused with the cheaper notetaker recorders. Only the dictaphones have the ability to start/stop rewind/review and essentially emulate an analogue tape. Digital notetakers can not manipulate audio in this way and are used for recording an event with a determined start and stop time, like an interview, meeting, lecture, focus group etc.

Olympus range of professional digital dictaphones - DS-2400 - DS-3400 - DS-5000 - DS-5000iD

As you can see they all have a similar design and look. As you progress up through the models from DS-2400 up to DS-5000 the feature set for each recorder grows although the record quality for each is exactly the same.

For example:

DS-2400

  • Only records in .DS2 (DSS Pro) audio format.
  • Default record format can not be changed.
  • SD card slot for expandable memory.
  • No docking station.
  • No rechargeable battery.
  • 5 folders.
  • Rocker push button control for record/stop/rewind/play.
  • DSS Player v5 Standard Dictation Module software included.
  • Audio files need to be manually sent to your typist.
  • DSS Player v7 for Mac included for Mac.
  • DS-2400 RRP $595 incl. GST in Australia

DS-3400

  • Records in .DS2 (by default) but can be changed to record in DSS (classic) audio format.
  • Default record format can be changed on Windows only.
  • SD and Micro SD card slots for expandable memory.
  • No docking station.
  • No rechargeable battery.
  • Rocker push button control for record/stop/rewind/play.
  • Device can be locked via a pin code.
  • Up to 10 user Ids can use the recorder.
  • Audio files can be automatically sent to your typist via email, FTP or on a network drive (Windows only).
  • Audio files can be converted to .WMA (on Windows only) or .AIFF (On Mac only).
  • Audio files can be encrypted.
  • Verbal comments.
  • Priority & Worktype settings.
  • 1-7 Folder (programmable).
  • DSS Player v5 Pro Dictation Module software included for Windows.
  • DSS Player v7 for Mac included for Mac.
  • DS-3400 RRP $695 incl. GST in Australia

DS-5000 or DS-5000iD

  • Records in .DS2 (by default) but can be changed to record in DSS (classic) audio format.
  • Default record format can be changed on Windows only.
  • SD and Micro SD card slots for expandable memory.
  • Docking station.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Slider control for record/stop/rewind/play.
  • Device can be locked via a pin code.
  • Up to 10 user Ids can use the recorder.
  • Audio files can be automatically sent to your typist via email, FTP or on a network drive (Windows only).
  • Audio files can be converted to .WMA (on Windows only) or .AIFF (On Mac only).
  • Audio files can be encrypted.
  • Verbal comments.
  • Priority & Worktype settings.
  • 1-7 Folder (programmable).
  • Recorded can be locked/unlocked using finger print reader (DS-5000iD only).
  • DSS Player v5 Pro Dictation Module software included for Windows.
  • DSS Player v7 for Mac included for Mac.
  • DS-5000 RRP $845 incl. GST in Australia
  • DS-5000iD RRP $945 incl. GST in Australia

All recorders share these common features and functions:

  • Variable Control Coice Actuator (VCVA) – Voice activation
  • Fast playback
  • Slow playback
  • Quick review
  • Cue/review
  • FF Skip/Reverse Skip
  • Insert / Overwrite
  • Erase all files
  • Erase single files
  • Partial erase
  • Pause
  • Lock single files
  • Upto 32 index marks per file
  • Individual folder names
  • 6 Display languages (EN/FR/ES/DE/IT/RU)
  • Mic sensitivity – Conf (for meetings/conferences) and Dict (for dictation)
  • Ear jack & mic jack sockets

How do they work? Well just like your traditional analogue tape dictaphone you pick it up, click a button and start dictating. You can stop and start as often as you like. If you take a break or get interrupted you can easily rewind the audio, much like the tapes, and hear what you last said then continue dictating. When you have finished a single file note you can press a “stop” button on the recorder which will close the open audio file. Essentially you can have multiple file notes in multiple individual digital audio files, you can keep them seperate. Or alternatively you may choose to record multiple file notes into one long audio file. The choice is yours, regardless you end up with a highly compressed, high quality digital audio file of your ramblings which can be passed to your transcription typist electronically. You don’t even have to get up from your desk; your typist may even be in a different town, state or even country and still receive the audio in seconds – try that with a microcassette !

Unlike traditional tape dictaphones you can also edit your dictation on the recorder itself. For example, lets say you are listening back to your dictation and you realise that you forget something in your dictation and need to insert more dictation – with a digital dictaphone you can. Conversely, should you decide that some of your audio dictation is not required then instead of re-recording you can simply remove portions of audio prior to closing the audio file.

The range of Olympus digital dictaphones is only available in Australia from authorised professional dictation resellers, of which Dictate Australia is a Gold level reseller. This means we are equipped to advise on the complete dictation range, whether your office is Windows based or Mac based. Look for this logo when buying in Australia:

Dictate Australia - Olympus Australia Gold Pro Reseller

Dictate Australia - Olympus Australia Gold Pro Reseller

So there you have a summary of the best digital dictaphones available. As always if you have questions please ask, we are here to help and to advise so give us a call in Australia on 1300 787 092 (option 2) or email us at sales@dictate.com.au

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18 Responses to Which Digital Dictaphone Is Best For Me? – Lawyer, Doctor, Assessor, Real Estate

  1. Malcolm says:

    I have a ds 5000 dictation. Now I want to down load to my ipad2 and sent it to my office to typist, that have window formate.
    Is their a way to down load to the iPad from the dictator by a usb cord and an apps that I can use?
    Will that apps also can convert it to windows for my typist can listen to it?
    Thank you for taking the time to answer my email.
    Have a good day.

  2. Dave says:

    Hello Malcolm

    That is a very interesting question and one I need to look further into. In theory it should be possible to access the audio files from your DS-5000 on your iPad if you slot the SD card into the iPad camera connection kit. Although it is designed to transfer photos there could be some apps out there that can access the data on the card and make it available to share via email or into a cloud service like iCloud or DropBox, my first thought is the GoodReader app – I will need to do some testing.

    I will update if I can find a way to do this.

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  3. carlos martinez says:

    Hi Dave

    you’ve got an great site with great comments. Thank you. I learned a lot from reading your comments.

    I work for Microsoft in NZ, i look after the partner business… i’m a novice to the habit of voice recording but I’ve decided to get a DVR and Dragon NS for recording thoughts, notes and txt. ( to find new productivity but i;’m writing a manuscript so i want to record thoughts, prose when the thoughst come to mind).

    I learn’t from your site not to buy DNS Home.. and to get DNS Premium. ( to also to email replies to PC as opposed to DVR).

    I learnt from your site to look for the Nuance Hardware compatability list….. ( look form more dragins) to choose your DVR.

    However i did find the Nuance list confusing becuase when i look at the models they list and then look at the Olympus ( http://www.dictation.co.nz), Phillips (www.dictate.co.nz) and Sony sites in NZ ( sony.co.nz) i cant seem to find the models listed in the Nuance list _ e.g I can’t see in the makrte the Digital Voice Tracer 660/662 in the market can;’t see the DM Series – DM-2, DM-3, DM-4, DM-5,

    i can see the Sony PX312 in the market ( 4 stars ). will that be good enough ? I will use DNS either on DVR or in PC ( in standalone private offfice)

    I can see the Phillips LFH0625 that comes with DNS Recorder 10 ( but it’s not listed on the hardware compatability list).
    since i’m only a new beginner to using Voice , i want to get an entry level model to start with ( so not looking to get the SX series etc )

    Do you have any views about DVR hardware i should look at

    I was thinking of the Sony PX312 ?
    for use with the PC .. do i need to get a noise cancelling speaker ?

    Many thanks
    ( looking forward to unlocking new more productive work habits from using voice and txt to speech) 🙂

  4. Dave says:

    Hello Carlos

    Thank you for your kind comments on my blog and for your questions. I took a look at the compatibility guide from Nuance and it has changed since I last wrote about it, believe it or not it is now simpler to use 😉 You are best find a recorder that you think suits you then check the compatibility, just about all good quality digital voice recorders are compatible. I can not comment on Sony – I only sell Olympus, I used to sell Philips but dropped in favour of concentrating solely on Olympus who are the leading digital voice company in Australia.

    If you are just going to use the recorder for use with Dragon then a basic good quality digital voice recorder would be all you need, something like the WS-750M from Olympus. That will also double as an excellent recorder for small meetings, interviews and for recording lectures and presentations.

    Also you need to remember that the notetakers are really designed for recordings multi speaker audio like interviews and meetings. They do not have the ability to rewind/review audio like the more expensive digital dictaphones (what is the difference between a notetaker and a digital dictaphone?) but they can pause during recording. So as you record your thoughts on a notetaker make use of the pause button to gather your thoughts before continuing to dictate, this will give you one concise audio file for Dragon rather than stopping/starting recording which will give you many audio files fragmenting your dictation. I hope that makes sense?

    The DM series recorders you mention are excellent recorders but are slightly over the top if you only plan to use them for voice recognition. If you are going to use them for other recordings of meetings or focus groups then they are perfect.

    I hope that helps. If you need more info or advice email me direct – dave@dictate.com.au

    Thanks

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  5. Amanda says:

    Hi Dave
    I require a device for recording a weekly early morning meeting, that I don’t want to go to but have to type the minutes for.
    It is held in a board room with approx 35-40 people in attendance.
    I need something that I can type the playback from with earphones.
    Would the Olympus DM 3 suffice?
    I used to type from a dictaphone with foot pedals years ago, but maybe I don’t need the foot pedals anymore.
    Thanks
    Kind regards
    Amanda

  6. Dave says:

    Hey Amanda

    Thanks for your comment.

    The Olympus DM-3 would be great as long as everyone that speaks in that board room can be heard clearly. Essentially with all the good voice recorders if you can hear what is being said so will the recorder.

    When you say 35-40 people do they all speak? If it is just a core 7 or 8 then the DM-3 on it’s own would be fine. If however all 35-40 people speak then you would need to add on the conference kit ME-30W and now your costs are getting high.

    As for transcription you would need some transcription software. The Olympus AS-2400 would do the job beautifully with a DM-3 but if you are on a tight budget then Express Scribe from NCH Software is always worth a look.

    Hope that helps.

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  7. Maria K says:

    Hello,
    I am a special needs teacher and I am looking for some assistive technology for students with poor literacy. At the moment, we provide a reader to sit with a student for some exams, but this is a heavy demand on resources. My thought is that if we can pre-record the written content, the student can then listen to this instead of having someone sit next to him and read fro him. With the Dictaphone, he’d be able to rewind or fast forward individual sentences/words. Would it be possible to email/transfer the recording to an Apple Macbook so that the student can use his existing equipment in order to access the text? The students have earphones that they use already with their laptops.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Maria

    How much would the software cost and would one copy be Ok to use on several laptops or would we need to purchase several copies?

  8. Dave says:

    Hello Maria

    Thank you for dropping by and for your comment. I do have a few ideas for you which I will email to you directly.

    Thanks

    Dave
    Dictate

  9. Jenny says:

    Hi, I have no idea whether I should be looking at a notetaker or dictaphone for my needs. My needs are simple, I am wanting to put thoughts/ ideas on record for future use with ? writing a book in the future. I do not need to record meetings. I imagine I will need to have something with a largish memory. Are you able to give me some ideas please? Thanks

  10. Dave says:

    Hello Jenny

    You could use either a dictaphone (expensive) or a note taker (cheap) for recording your thoughts or dictation for your book.

    The key difference is the ability to easily rewind and hear what you last said in case you are interrupted (phone call, coffee break etc). With a dictaphone that is easy, it acts like an old style tape that can be rewound and recording continued. Olympus DS-2500 is cheapest but only records in .ds2 audio format which may be an issue for you.

    With a note taker there is no rewind to hear your last comments. When using a note taker you need to think about what you are going to say before you speak and record. You can pause to catch your breath or your thoughts. The Olympus VN series or WS recorders would be a good choice. They record in .mp3 or .wma so can be easily played on any computer.

    Hope that helps. If not please email me direct.

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  11. Dan wing says:

    Do you have a suggestion for a student wanting to record and playback lectures? My lectures are small but I will be getting into bigger rooms soon. Thanks. P.s. I may also use it to record live music but that is not important if I would need a different device.

    Dan

  12. Dave says:

    Hey Dan

    For your lectures go with the Olympus WS-812, awesome little recorder with a huge amount of memory. So it can double as a recorder and maybe also a backup device for your documents. My general rule of thumb with the WS recorders is if you can hear what is being said in the lecture then so will the recorder.

    Now the WS-812 can record in PCM WAV which is typically used by people wanting to accurately and clearly record music (and also bird call and frog croak !). This will work for music to a small extent the limitation will be the in-built mics. The mics are designed to record voice so the volume range in the WS recorders is small. Meaning it will record voice perfectly but if you play a screaming electric guitar at it you won’t get studio quality recording. So it really depends on when music you want to record. If its you just singing then it will be fine or someone playing a softer instrument. But if you mean you want to go to a Coldplay concert and record then you would need an LS range recorder from Olympus.

    The LS range are perfect for voice and also for music. They have the features built in for musicians and to record music, key being the wide volume range that it can cope with. Now we have just lost the LS-3 from Australia, it has just been discontinued. But hopefully in late MArch or early April we will be getting the amazing LS-12 and LS-14 recorders (currently out in the US). Any of these two would be perfect for your music and your lectures.

    I hope that helps. If you have more questions please post them.

    Dave
    Dictate

  13. Suzanne winchester says:

    Hi Dave,
    My husband has been an attorney for almost 30 years and has always used a traditional handheld dictaphone. His last dictaphone is dying, and I am trying to find a new one for him. He is pretty old school unless i tell him otherwise ;-). Would these new hi tech dictaphones be easy for him to learn to use? He dictates A LOT. Are the basic functions the same? Can you tell me what the major differences are as far as what additional steps he would be taking while using it?

    Thanks!

    Suzanne

  14. Dave says:

    Hello Suzanne

    Yes the new digital dictaphones he wil be fine with, they are designed to replace the old tape style recorders so have your husband in mind. In the Olympus range there are three to choose from, DS-2500, DS-3500 and DS-7000. By far the most popular is the DS-7000 which is also the most expensive. But they do last for years, there are no moving parts so they won’t wear out. All three recorders record exactly the same audio quality, the price difference reflects additional features in both the hardware and the software.

    Your husband would like the DS-7000 because:

    It comes with a dock, just pickup the recorder, dicate and re-seat in the dock, that is all he has to do.
    The dock has two functions, to recharge the battery and to connect to your PC
    The software with the recorder will automatically pickup the latest dictation and send it to your typist (assuming you are Windows people)
    The DS-7000 has a slider switch, allows easy stop/start/record/play/rewind of the dictation and audio

    I hope that helps.

    If you have more questions please send them through.

    Thanks

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  15. Libby Poynter says:

    Dear Dave

    My boss uses an Olympus Pearlcorder S713 microcassette recorder. This recorder is now dying and we are looking for something easy and simple to replace it.

    We have always used tapes and headphones using a pedal to play back. My playback machine works perfectly well

    I am assuming you do not make recorders now with micro cassette tapes and i would need to buy some software for my computer although i do not understand this process. If there was a recorder still available with tapes i would appreciate your advice.

    Otherwise i would appreciate your help as to which recorder i should purchase similar to the Pearlcorder S713

    Many thanks
    Libby Poynter
    Ian MacDonald & Co
    Solicitors & Accountants
    (03) 5998 5222 BH
    (03) 5998 5322 Fax

  16. Dave says:

    Hello Libby

    Thank you for your comment and for dropping by my blog.

    Yes the old tape Pearlcorder are no more as all recorders are now digital. For people who have used tapes for years the thought of moving to digital can be a little daunting but once you move to digital you will be pleased you did. The benefits of digital are:

    1. Much clearer audio
    2. No more hunting for the right tape, each audio file can be easily labelled (renamed) and stored on any PC, Mac, network drive, cloud storage or anywhere you want to store your digital media
    3. Typist no longer has to be onsite. With digital dictation the audio can be delivered to the next room on your office as quick as it can be delivered to a typists anywhere in Australia or worldwide.
    4. No moving parts. The digital recorders are solid state, so will not wear out over time.
    5. The list goes on ..

    All you need to think about is a tape is now an audio file. Instead of physically handing over a tape you now receive an audio file, this could be in your email as an attachment (like you would a photo or document), collected from your office network shared drive or collected from the recorder itself.

    With transcription you still have a foot pedal and headset, only the tape player has been replaced by software which runs on your PC or Mac and is called the Transcription Module.

    There are three types of digital dictaphone from Olympus. They are the model numbers DS-2500, DS-3500 and DS-7000 and can be seen here:

    Olympus Digital Dictaphones

    All three record the same audio quality but as you move up the models you get more features and functions. eg. DS-2500 you have to look after you own batteries, manually connect the recorder to your PC/Mac via USB cable and manually find and send your dictation. Whereas the DS-7000 lives in a dock which keeps the rechargeable battery fully charged, automatically connects your PC/Mac to the recorder and in the case of a PC will auto send dictation to the typist. So from a dictators point of view they just pickup, dictate and put down the recorder and that is all they need to worry about.

    To transcribe the audio you will need a transcription kit, your old tape player pedal is not compatible with a computer you need a pedal with a USB connection. Olympus have a transcription kit which includes the pedal, software and a new headset called the AS-7000.

    I hope that helps. If you have more questions please feel free to give us a call in the office on 1300 787 092 (option 2) or send me an email.

    Thanks

    Dave
    Dictate Australia

  17. simon says:

    great site. I’m looking for a dictaphone to record to-do reminders when I’m in the car or generally not able to type stuff directly into my CRM system. I am also a mac user. I need something that is simple, robust with basic functionality…although I like the idea of being able to send the note to my email so that I can leave the device in my car. Any thoughts welcomed.

    Thanks,

    Simon

  18. Dave says:

    Hello Simon

    Thanks for dropping by.

    You can have the choice of any Olympus voice recorder to do what you are after, they are all Mac compatible and all will handle just one person speaking notes easily. What it really comes down to is functionality that you might like. For example, are you happy to have every voice note as a separate audio file? If yes then a note taker is for you, this is the VN, WS and DM series. If no then you need a digital dictaphone, this is the Pro DS series, which will allow you to record multiple audio sound bites all in the one audio file. The trade off here is the vastly cheaper notetakers compared to the quite pricey dictaphones.

    Some recorders you can quickly discount from the list. VN-811PC only records in WMA, can be painful on a Mac, look for .mp3 recorders. WS-813 has a mountain of memory that you would never use and an FM radio which is likely out of your required function list. The DM series are excellent recorders, especially with large groups in meetings or conference situations, so again not part of your requirements. The really leaves the VN-812PC, WS-811 or WS-812 recorders from the notetaker range.

    If you decide that a dictaphone is the way to go, these are the DS-2500, DS-3500 and DS-7000 recorders you can pick from any of those three, they all record the same audio quality but as you move up the range you get more features. From what you have said in your post, if a dictaphone is your preferred, the DS-2500 would suffice. Audio is recorded on all DS in .ds2 audio format, you need Olympus software to play this format. But the software supplied with the DS range for Mac, DSS Player Plus, can convert .ds2 audio to .aif or .wav format – easily played back on your Mac with any good/free audio software.

    None of the Olympus recorders have bluetooth or wifi connectivity so you are not able to email audio from a recorder. You will need to USB plug into any Mac or PC to access the audio before sending. You could also look at one of the hundreds of voice recorder apps available, just check what audio format they record in to ensure its compatible with your CRM.

    Hope that helps.

    Dave
    Dictate

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