Most of us are familiar with digital voice recorders and dictaphones and are generally aware of their day-to-day use. Doctors and lawyers use them to dictate letters and notes for their transcription typists on a digital dictaphone. Journalists thrust digital voice recorders in the face of people making press statements. Market researchers record focus groups to discover what people really think about their products or brands. But there are also some more obscure uses for digital voice recorders that you may not be so familiar with. Just a word of warning, some of these may not be ethical in your view and also the legalities of a couple may need to be checked in your part of the world. So what are they?
1 – Podcasting – Yes You Can Create Your Own Podcast
Podcasting is extremely popular, anyone can do it. In fact I do, well I don’t actually speak I just do the post production and editing, on a podcast called The Social Business. This podcast is solely recorded on an Olympus DM-5 digital voice recorder using an Olympus ME-31 compact zoom microphone. Podcasting is now for the masses and not just for specialists. It is not only easy to create but is a lot of fun. You can create a podcast on any subject. You can record just yourself speaking or get some friends together and analyse any subject matter. A digital voice recorder will capture every word and then can be downloaded by anyone worldwide to have a listen. Apple have a “How To” guide for podcasting which is worth a read. If you have more specific questions about the process please leave a comment and I will attempt to answer.
2 – Add Streaming Audio To Your Website
We all spend hours every day trawling through various websites. We are all familiar with the mountains of text that we sift through as we read various blogs, news, general interest and business websites. Gradually we are starting to see more advanced media being embedded into websites with video and audio. In fact on my blog you may have noticed that I tend to create an audio recording of most of my blog posts. I do this for two reasons. Firstly for the vision impaired who find it difficult to read text and secondly for the lazy who would just prefer to have somebody read to them. I use a service called SoundCloud, but there are hundreds of different ways to embed audio into your website. One of those is to record yourself on a digital voice recorder and use the mp3 file created and stream that from your website. Audio and video adds a whole new dimension to websites and blogs.
3 – Tick Off Something On Your Bucket List: Write a Book or Novel
Most of us have writing a book or novel on our bucket lists. Few of us fulfil this list item. Mainly, I would guess, as either we don’t have the time or cannot make the effort to physically write down our masterpieces. This is where a digital voice recorder can definitely help. Rather than writing your novel, either by typing or using a pen, speak it instead. Digital voice recorders are very small, they can fit in a bag or pocket very easily and you wouldn’t even notice they were there so are easy to carry with you everywhere you go. When you have a spare moment or a flash of inspiration pull out your voice recorder and speak your prose. By doing this your thoughts are not blocked by your physical typing or writing speed and you can just let your imagination flow. When your recordings are finished you can either use voice recognition software (Dragon NaturallySpeaking on Windows or Dragon Dictate on Mac) to transcribe them for you or you could hire a transcription service to do the work for you. All you will need to do is edit the completed transcript before sending to your publisher or converting to an eBook for self publication on the Apple iBook store or Amazon Kindle.
4 – Create An Audiobook
Most of you would have heard of Audible, a fantastic service created by the people at Amazon. Audible is audiobooks, books and novels read aloud usually by an actor, celebrity or by the authors themselves. As we all lead busy lives and don’t always have the time to read, audiobooks fill an important listening and learning gap. Audiobooks can also be created by you and me, yes even average people like us can create them. In an earlier blog post I highlighted the great work that is being done by Librivox in building an online library of free audiobooks, in fact they describe their service as the acoustical liberation of books in the public domain. You too can get involved if you love reading grab yourself a digital voice recorder and help out this amazing project.
5 – Record the Sounds of Nature
With even the most basic of digital voice recorders now recording in very high quality PCM or pulse code modulation uncompressed wav files, they have become an essential tool to nature lovers. In particular twitchers (bird) and frog watchers. In fact a couple of years ago we sold 20 high-quality digital voice recorders to the Australian government who planned to leave them in boxes in fields in various parts of the country to record the frogs and birds around them. The species that inhabited the area could then be identified by experts just by their bird call or croak.
6 – Catch Your Partner Cheating On You
This one is a very touchy subject. The ethics and the legality of this one need to be checked but nonetheless is still an obscure use for a digital voice recorder. I was prompted to add this to the list after a recent phone call from a customer. I did as I usually do and tried and identify the key used for their digital voice recorder in order to steer them towards the correct voice recorder for their needs. When asked what was the primary use for the recorder I was told “I’m going to leave it under the car seat to catch out my partner who I think is cheating on me“. Of course a digital voice recorder would work perfectly in this scenario. Its huge amount of memory can record for hours on end, or using the voice activation feature will only record when it hears sound. And with the excellent audio pickup it would record every, maybe not so pleasant, sound. Please be warned this may not be legal where you live and you may regret hearing what you hear for the rest of your days.
7 – What They Say About You – Whoever They May Be
This also has an ethical and legal question hanging over it. Perhaps you are interested to hear what your co-workers say about you when you leave the room. Maybe you live in a shared house or apartment and want to know what your flatmates really think. Again a discreetly placed digital voice recorder continuously recording or using the voice activation feature will tell you all you need to know, good or bad, you have been warned !
8 – As An Aid To Your Poor Memory
It happens to us all, the older we get the worse our memory. A small digital voice recorder can be the perfect memory jogger. Simply pull one out when you think of something important and speak it as a voice note. It will then be stored on the digital voice recorder for you to access any time. So when you get that feeling of “why did I come here” or “what was I about to do” just pull out your voice recorder and listen to your last recorded voice note. All recorders have a small speaker built into them so that you can hear your recordings, this is mainly for you to confirm that you have recorded something. All recorders also have a headset jack socket, some recorders come with earphones that you can plug in and listen. Even iPhone ear buds and the new ear pods also work for audio playback on all Olympus digital voice recorders.
9 – Prove That He or She Snores or Talks In Their Sleep
Very popular in my household! Does your partner snore? Do they chat away in a language all their own? Do they deny it? Now you can get the proof, simply leave a digital voice recorder by the side of the bed in voice activation mode and there you have it, instant morning proof. Not only does the voice recorder capture your snores or sleep chatter in all their glory but also their volume level, how load it is !!
10 – Students – Fall Asleep/Tweet/Facebook Status Update/Txt in a Lecture and Still Capture Every Word
Are you a student who struggles to stay awake/interested in lectures? Then a digital voice recorder will forever be your friend. This is really an essential for every student attending university or college. If you are a parent thinking about what you should give your child as they go off to college then a digital voice recorder should be top or at least high on your list. In every lecture simply hit the record button. Even if you do manage to stay awake and focused, the recording of the lecture is yours to keep and to reference at any time. An essential learning tool.
11 – Record Your Family Oral History
I love this one. I wish I had thought of it when my grandparents were still alive. As we all grow older and mature we tend to become more interested in our family history. Most of us who are parents will go through our genealogy phase with our children at some point.. What it was like to live before we were born? What were some of the milestones in family history? What really happened in the war? A digital voice recorder can be priceless when it comes to recording your loved ones stories and collecting their recollections of life in general. Recorded digitally the audio can be kept for ever and shared with your family in years to come. What better than hearing the voice of a loved one after they have departed. This is a regret that I have with some of my family members.
12 – Capture Their First Words
We all claim that our children first said “Dad” if you are a father or “Mum” if you are a mother, well now you can capture your child’s actual first word in all its digital glory. As your baby comes close to to being able to formulate their first word simply leave a digital voice recorder in their room with voice activation feature turned on. This will give you a complete record of all their babble and perhaps you will get lucky with their very first word. Imagine that as a keepsake, imagine that at the 21st birthday party!
13 – Capture Their Last Words
This one is a tricky one, nobody likes to think about it. But it is reality that at some point we are all going to pass away and move on to wherever we believe we go to next. I have written a blog post previously about a group in Melbourne, Victoria here in Australia, a voluntary group, called Eastern Palliative Care. Their volunteers meet with people who are in palliative care and interview them about their life and their family. They do this with no family members around allowing the patient to talk freely about their joys or regrets in life. Once complete and when the patient has passed away the complete transcripts are handed to the family. I think this is an amazing service, I have had some very close relatives pass away from cancer in recent years and I would love to have had the option of this service or to have been able to record my loved ones last conversations before they passed away.
14 – Hear Just How Good (or Bad) You Are at Playing Music
Are you learning to play an instrument? Are you fantastic or just average?. Well the digital voice recorder will be totally honest and when you play it back you can hear exactly how you sound. Although digital voice recorders are generally designed to record spoken voice they can cope with recording music as long as the music is not screamingly loud. Recording something like acoustic guitar, piano, saxophone, singing would all be picked up perfectly well with a standard digital voice recorder. If you play electric rock guitar and have an amplifier bigger than your bed then you may want to look at one of the specialised high quality PCM digital music recorders from Olympus which can record extremely loud music.
15 – Ghost Hunting
If you are a ghost hunter you will want to get yourself an EVP. Not a ghost hunter? Then you will need to know that an EVP is an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (wikipedia). This one was only recently bought to my attention as I flicked through some of the numerous blogs that I read. Apparently a digital voice recorder is an essential part of many a Ghost Hunters kitbag and you thought a proton gun was the most essential ! Obvious when you think about it, simply leave the digital voice recorder recording all night (as it seems most ghosts only appear at night) and pick up every single thing that goes bump, screams or calls your name. As digital voice recorders record such high-quality audio they can and do record everything. If you listen to the SoundCloud stream of this post above at 12mins 0secs in the audio you may be treated to hearing an actual ghost !!
16 – Record Your Favourite Radio Show
In this modern era it seems anything we watch on TV can be streamed via the Internet on-demand. Miss your favourite sitcom, movie, quiz show whatever it may be you can useually stream it if you miss it. Not so easy with radio shows. Some digital voice recorders have the ability to record at set times. Simply leave your radio on and leave the digital voice recording perched in front of it set to record at the time of your favourite show. It is then stored and safe on your recorder ready for you to listen to at a time convenient for you. You can listen back on the voice recorder itself via the built in speaker, using headphones or drag and drop the audio to your Mac or PC and playback through your computer speakers.
17 – Great Sound Effect RingTones For Your iPhone or Smartphone
Yes I know sound effects for mobile phones are everywhere, you can buy them or make them easily. Usually though they are made up of your favourite song, a famous quote or perhaps more commonly a cow mooing or dog barking. Well with a digital voice recorder you can record absolutely anything and turn that into your ringtone. Maybe you are a human beatboxer and want to record yourself, maybe you can make funny voices or impersonations, maybe your singing voice is something special or perhaps you would just like your own dog barking on your phone. Use a digital voice recorder to record anything and convert that to your ring tone.
18 – Catch Out Noisy Neighbours
I have actually used one of my digital voice recorders for exactly this purpose. We suffered with some neighbours who have two large dogs. The dogs would bark 24-hour is a day seven days a week non-stop and would drive us and our fellow neighbours wild. So we set up a digital voice recorder and recorded the dogs in action. A polite letter signed by all the neighbours affected and accompanied by a USB stick storing an MP3 recording of their dogs barking was delivered and miraculously the next day the dogs stopped barking. Now you may suffer from barking dogs or with loud music or neighbours that shout – capturing this on a digital voice recorder often shows them what they don’t hear. It is recommended that you always go to the authorities first, like your local council to address the issue. But if you need a proof a digital voice recorder can help.
So there you have it. Eighteen digital voice recorder use alternatives. Do you know of more? If so leave a comment below.