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How Does a Digital Voice Recorder Work?

If you are a journalist, a blogger, a university student or a nurse, you probably carry around a voice recorder with you to perform certain tasks. But have you stopped and thought about how a digital voice recorder works?

Most digital voice recorders come in two forms: as a built-in app on a smartphone, or a dedicated recorder designed primarily to capture voice and other sounds. However, depending on your available sound equipment – or your creativity – you may also record sound from several other audio and recording devices.

What is a Digital Voice Recorder?

A digital voice recorder is a device that records sound and captures it as a file format that can be readily distributed or transferred to another device (such as a mobile device, laptop, tablet or computer). The transfer is usually done through a USB cable or any compatible accessory.

This device has become widely popular in several ways, the largest market being the business world. It’s where people use voice recording to take down notes and dictate memos, letters, and other forms of correspondence to assistants for transcribing.

A wide range of digital voice recorders is available, ranging anywhere from $50 to over $10,000.00. The huge difference in price may be dependent on the features of the device. But for practical use, look for those that are within your budget.

I’ve covered some of the best voice recorder devices in the market and reviewed them one by one on my blog. Check it out at so that you can pick which device will work best for your needs.

Basic Principles of Audio Recording

In a digital voice recorder, the sound is stored as a series of numbers wherein each number represents the air pressure at a particular time. These numbers are then generated by a microphone, which is connected to a circuit called an analog-to-digital converter.

Each number is referred to as a sample, and the number of samples taken per second is called a sample rate. Eventually, these numbers will be converted back into sound by a digital-to-analog converter that is connected to a speaker.

The amount of bits in the number is directly related to the fidelity of the signal. This simply means that a higher quality of sound recorded consumes more memory. In addition, the quality may also be affected by the signal level present.

Try comparing the audio coming from an LP record to that from a CD. You would hardly hear any dust or noise coming from a CD. This is one of the aspects wherein technology has slowly perfected recording sounds with almost zero noise.

As you record a sound using your digital voice recorder, it stores the information in your device in the form of an audio file. This may be transferred to another device, wherein playing back the audio file enables you to hear the recorded sound.

More About Audio Quality

Several file formats may be used for storing audio recordings. Digital voice recorders may have different file formats available, depending on the manufacturer’s preference. However, in most cases, a WAV file is the best format to store the recording in.

Some devices designed to record music may work well with voice recording, but this isn’t always the case. Some voice recording devices are designed to mute ambient noises, which may create lower music recording quality, particularly in a live concert.

The file type along with the audio quality is important. The quality of sound that has been recorded can be achieved by sampling portions of the audio frequencies instead of the entire range of frequencies. A higher bit rate (or the amount of information stored) means that it has a higher quality of audio recording.

Among the advanced features of some digital voice recorders include the ability to edit the recorded sounds. By eliminating pauses between a recorded audio, it helps to lessen the bit rate. As a result, the recording may only take less storage space or memory. In doing so, the overall quality of the recording is not affected while the size of the file is decreased.

Common file formats of digital voice recorders Include the following:

  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding): This is the standard compression method used by iTunes, YouTube, iOS, and Android, to name a few.
  • AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format): This format was developed by Apple.
  • AU: This audio file format was developed by Sun Microsystems.
  • WAV (waveform audio file): This is a standard for IBM and Microsoft.
  • MP3: For most voice-only applications, this is the most common format.

Is a Digital Voice Recorder better than a Built-in Smartphone Recorder?

Not many people know that smartphones these days have built-in voice recorders that they can easily use. With just a click of a button, you can record any sound that you want.

However, this app may not often be used. People who make use of a voice recorder in their jobs may prefer having a dedicated digital voice recorder than rely on their smartphones.

The following points illustrate why having a digital voice recorder is better than a built-in smartphone recorder:

  • The audio quality of a digital voice recorder is better than that a smartphone. Various models of digital voice recorders offer excellent audio quality which is perfect for transcription, lecture-taking, and interviews.
  • The battery life of a digital voice recorder may be the same as some of the most advanced smartphones. However, when using your smartphone, other apps running in the background may consume the battery’s power. Therefore, having a dedicated digital voice recorder is better, because you can save more recordings and at longer hours.
  • Digital video recorders come in a wide range of prices, and your choice may depend on the number of features that you really need. Smartphones are generally more expensive, although they offer more features other than sound recording.

If your job involves recording voice or sound, then a digital voice recorder is a better choice. I hope that by knowing how these devices work, you can appreciate the technology of digital voice recorders more.

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  1. James Core

    May 12, 2018 at 8:55 am

    This is the information I was looking for. Thank you so much.

  2. Lisa Smith

    August 3, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    I am a university stent. This topic (How Does a Digital Voice Recorder Work?) is my assignment. Our electronic teacher assigned this assignment. I am so happy about finding this article. Will share this article with all of my friends. Our teacher also assigned us Explanation of Voice Over IP.

    • Susan

      December 18, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Luckily you can find this here. I remember in college, that I was searching my assignment topic all over the library and still don’t return a reasonable result.
      Thanks for this informational post

  3. Kelly Davis

    September 24, 2020 at 10:43 am

    I was going to order something but the shipping was 30 dollars!so I said no way.

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