Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Recording in Progress

I’m certain there are legions of you out there who recorded yourselves and your activities on the lowly cassette recorder. So many passed through my hands I can’t even remember them all–from Sony to Panasonic, and everything in between. The sound quality varied, and that’s being kind. At times you could barely hear the content for the hissing, but oh, how I loved each device–from the boom boxes that had a recording feature to the smaller dedicated recorders. One day I’ll go through my multitude of cassette recordings when I retire.

Listening to podcasts prompted me to want to produce my own. This meant I needed a digital recorder. Enter the Olympus WS-200s. Benefits included the fact that it was very small and easily connected to a PC for convenient copying of the audio files. The sound quality was marginally better than cassettes. I happily used it until something better came along. Though, there was nothing in the way of menu accessibility.

While producing our podcast, I learned a good deal about noise, sound quality, and bit rates. To that end, my next digital recorder was a Roland Edirol R09. This fine recorder required that I adjust the noise level so that my recordings came out with as little distortion as possible. Constantly fiddling with the thing, I managed to achieve what I considered to be decent results. One annoying feature was opening the battery compartment. You felt as if you would rip your fingers to shreds. It, too, was a device with no real accessibility. I placed the recorder under our CCTV (Closed-circuit television) in order to magnify and change the settings.

Imagine my elation when I opened my first Olympus Digital Voice Recorder with its now famous Voice Guidance System. I’ve had several models, but the one that’s lasted the longest so far is the DS-520. You are able to set most menu items with these spoken menus. The one caveat is that after all these years, people who are blind and visually impaired are still unable to set the time and date. Does Olympus really think we do not want to know when our recordings were made just as our sighted peers? With each model, we’ve been disappointed. I considered upgrading to an Olympus LS-14 digital recorder, but thought better of spending the money when I have several DAISY players with recording options. To hear a demonstration of the LS-14, visit www.blind-geek-zone.net. DAISY, for those unaware, stands for Digital Audio Information System.

These days I’m using my trusty American Printing House BookPort Plus DAISY player to record our podcast. I’ve set the recording mode to monaural as we are only talking and the quality is just fine and it is, of course, fully accessible.

What are your experiences with recorders, digital or otherwise?

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