Digital dictaphone and mp3 recorder in one

Bernie wrote up a review of a new toy he bought for 260 Euro – the Sony ICD-MX20 and it sounds nice; albeit a tad expensive, and a Sony product – two good reasons not to buy it (you never know what virus enabling software Sony might have installed on it!).

Over the weekend I was looking for a device to record my upcoming phone interview with Robert Scoble (for podcasting) when I came across the Sanyo ICR-B170NX.

Sanyo ICR-B170NX MP3 recorder

After trying several other devices, I found that this device filled all my requirements:

  • It was cheap(ish) at 140 Euros
  • It recorded directly to mp3 files
  • It has a line in port for a stereo microphone (and line out for stereo speakers)
  • swaps out AAA batteries and
  • I can access it on my Mac!

On a tip from Brian I picked up a 10 euro telephone recorder accessory from Maplins – this is a simple splitter which sits between the handset and the phone and it has an audio out line. I plug this straight into the microphone in socket on the Sanyo and hey presto, I am recording phone calls direct to mp3! Nothing simpler!

Dontcha just love technology sometimes?

27 thoughts on “Digital dictaphone and mp3 recorder in one”

  1. Sony’s ICD-MX20 has a stereo mic head clamped on top of it which I’ve found grabs tabletop conversation in high-quality stereo samples. If you’re looking for something that works a doddle right out of the box, the Sony Digital Voice Recorder merits consideration.

  2. Hey Bernie,

    That’s handy to know alright but the Sanyo also has a stereo mic head at the top, so I’m sorted on that score.

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours at the iT@Cork conference!!!

  3. I have just bought one of these machines and in the box was a cd for windows 98!!
    I have XP home edition so it is useless. Do I need this software to make it work?
    Or can I use it without?

  4. Laura – I’m not sure, to be honest – I’m using it with my Mac – for which no software was supplied or needed.

    Try it without the software – it will probably work.

  5. I know you’ll think Im a complete limey dinasaur but having watching someone delete the contents of my digital camera, albeit accidentally, with the touch of a button, I have purchased an analogue dictaphone for my book research. OK, so it only cost me £25 but the recordings are rubbish – transcribing them is painful! Can anyone out there recommend an analogue dictaphone that does the job – if it has an additional clip on mic, all the better??

  6. Hi Kate M,
    Having used analogue recorders for many years and now moved to the Sanyo ICR B17ONX the quality improvement is significant. In addition you can buy a foot controller which acts as a transcriber – makes life so much easier.

    The controls are straight forward, you have to go some to delete files. I would therefore suggest confidence and go with it.

    Kindest regards,

  7. Thanks John for your input. I will put my reservations aside and certainly check out the model you have recommended! Best from Kate

  8. ooo, was not sure if the system emailed postings – clearly it does. The foot control is this one: Sanyo FS-USBMS MP3 Digital Transcription Kit, but not sure if I got it from this link or not. Anyway, the software when I first received it had a glitch, Word would not return after the foot control was used. The company supporting the software sent me a patch after about a day and it is OK now. Makes life much eaiser and I threw my analogue kit away. Faithful, but 20 years old.

    Hope this helps.

    What book are you writing by the way…
    Dr JBK

  9. Gosh, that is truly 21st century technology, the next thing it will be doing the transcribing for you – if only. Im actually thinking of looking for a professional transcriber to look after that side of things which would free me up to do more research. My book is about the thorny subject of virginity!
    Best from Kate

  10. Hello, I am trying to buy the telephone recorder Sanyo ICR etc that you receommended as I need it to record a phone interview this week. I am a bit lost as to where I can buy it. Any ideas? Dublin. Thanks a million. Sarah

  11. Hi Tom,

    Found your excellent review via a simple Google search. Could you add whether you can also use your Sanyo ICR-B17 as a Mp3 player?
    In other words, as well as uploading your interviews and other files onto your Mac, can you also download music (say from i-tunes) and other files and play them on your Sanyo device? If so, what is the play-back quality like? And if not, do you have any reccmendations of where I should be looking for to act as a dictaphone and Mp3 player/recoreder? Many thanks- Arran.

  12. Arran – I have an iPod so I have never tried to use the Sanyo for playback. I know it will playback but I’m not sure how the quality compares to an iPod.

  13. Hi Kate,
    Way back (Apr 23rd, 2006 at 7:34 pm) you left this in your message “…Gosh, that is truly 21st century technology, the next thing it will be doing the transcribing for you – if only.”

    I have been playing with Dragon Naturally – Preferred Mobile edition which transcribes to text speech. I tried this through a couple of systems about five years ago, which in IT terms of course is the century before last! Had a very bad experience then, and resisted since. Being dangerously bored one day walking around PC World, noticed this product and thought I would give it a go.

    It is frighteningly accurate, very different to previous softwares and far easier to install (about 10 minutes). The equivalent typing speed which is possible using this software is about 160 words per minute. It is also contextual, so for example the number 160 comes out as digits rather than text. The reason for me the posting this under this heading is that it is also claimed the software will work with MP3 player recordings. This part I have not tested yet, but I can vouch that the system using the headphone. In the mobile preferred version by the way, this is a wireless headphone which is really comfortable and I tested it 10 m from the base unit! It’s a lot of freedom when you walk around the wrong try to pick books off-the-shelf which you are talking through. I also have MP3 recording software on my PC, and the remote headphone works extremely well. I think it is a “noise reducing” headphone / mic, which means the quality of recordings a very good.

    It does give the occasional glitch, and you have to keep your eye on the occasional word here or there — which means you are proofing the work as it is being dictated. For me this is a godsend and is already saving me considerable amount of time as well as improving the quality of my work.

    And yes you guessed already, all of the above was dictated using this software and mobile headphone. So far in all of this, five words came out incorrectly which I just retyped.

    Hope this is of use, all the best.


  14. mmm., should have read it more carefully – have noticed a couple of typo’s which are down to me, not the software.

  15. Hey there

    Just stumbled upon this blog/site and – WOW – how useful. The most recent entry with regard to speech recogntion software interets me greatly and I have no problem purchasing that (i.e. the software) but can anyone recommend a reasonably priced good quality digitial dictaphone (and where) – It would make my life SOOOOOOOOO much easier and I wouldn’t even tell the boss.!!!!!



  16. Dear John BK
    Sorry for tardy response!
    Thanks for your great info. I think I have a fundamental trust issue with technology, having said that, I recently messed up really badly with an analogue recorder (see entry called ‘Splice of life’ on my blog), so I havn’t got much of a leg to stand on in the analogue V digital conversation any more.
    It sounds great, I wonder how it would work in an interview situation? But you say it also works with MP3 files, it would interesting to see how this works out, has anyone tried it I wonder?
    Also to LS – I have an Olympus WS-100 digital recorder and I am pretty happy with it, its all quite straightforward, even for a luddite like me!
    Best wishes all,
    Kate M

  17. John BK, how much did Dragon Naturally cost you in PC World? It seems to cost about €225 from the Nuance website.

  18. Hi Guys

    I want to buy a recording device to record my singing lessons and then playback for practice at home, would be great to connect to radio to play through speakers too, any ideas

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