Whether you’re studying at university or attending a conference for work, there are times when you need to get the most out of a lecture. Taking notes helps, but to ensure you have a full reference for later use, you sometimes need to record the lecture to playback later. Let’s take a look at a few of the best lecture recorder options available today. We’ve also included a screen recorder that can capture online lectures.
|Sony ICD-PX470||Recording distant audio||$64.99|
|Olympus WS-853||Adjustable playback control||$55.00|
|Just Press Record||Recording on iOS devices||$4.99|
|Hi-Q Pro||Recording on Android devices||$3.49|
|Zoom H1||Fast and easy recording||$119.99|
|Tascam DR-05||Storing multiple recordings||$199.99|
|Philips DPM6000||High-quality audio output||$259.99|
|Sony UX560||Recording in multiple settings||$167.00|
|EVISTR||Recording on a budget||$39.99|
|Rev Voice Recorder (iOS & Android)||Automatic backup to Dropbox||Free or $1.25/minute transcriptions|
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Special pick: Movavi Screen Recorder
In today’s age of online learning, many lectures are conducted over video conference. In these cases, a screen recorder can be a much more effective tool than a physical lecture recorder. Our special pick for these online lectures and classes is Movavi Screen Recorder. This user-friendly software allows you to record your screen’s visuals and capture audio from your computer – making it easy to record webinars, lectures, and other online sessions. Not only does Movavi Screen Recorder work as a perfect lecture recorder for these purposes, but it also has built-in tools to edit screen recordings later on. With these features, you can create a quick reference video containing only the highlights of the lecture or trim a recording. Try it out for your next webinar or virtual lecture and let us know what you think!
Best voice recorders for lectures
Best for: Recording distant audio
Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5, 704 reviews
The Sony ICD-PX470 voice recorder is a good lecture recorder option for in-person lectures where you aren’t able to sit extremely close to the speaker. While some recorders have difficulty picking up far-away voices amid background noise, the ICD-PX470’s S-microphone system is designed specifically to pick up distant sounds that other microphones may not capture. This recorder is user-friendly with accessible record, play, pause, and stop buttons. You can play recordings directly from the device, as well, to ensure you captured what you needed or to use when referencing the lecture. These features make it the best recorder for lectures for many users.
- High-quality audio output
- Low background noise
- Multiple microphone sensitivity settings
- Non-rechargeable batteries
- Cannot expand memory beyond 32GB
- Display screen lacks backlighting
Best for: Adjustable playback control
Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5, 1,333 reviews
The Olympus WS-853 digital voice recorder offers high-quality, MP3 recording. Even if you are in the back of a noisy classroom, you can be confident that this lecture recorder will capture the speaker’s audio. This voice recorder contains eight gigabytes of internal memory, giving you the confidence that you will not run out of memory when recording. The Olympus WS-853 also offers playback speed control of 0.5x to 2.0x. So, if you know that the professor covered a specific topic in the middle of the lecture, you can easily fast-forward to find the exact moment that you want to replay. Finally, this digital voice recorder also has an easy-to-use USB connection with a battery charge function. Because of all of these features, this is a great voice recorder for lecture classes.
- Clear audio recordings
- Easy uploading via USB
- A small display screen can be difficult to read
- No display backlight
- Separate power source required when using an external microphone
Best for: Fast and easy recording
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5, 5,927 reviews
Zoom H1 is a lecture recorder that can serve you well in many situations. This recorder has one-touch button controls and a 1.23-inch monochrome LCD display, making on-the-go recording extremely easy. It can handle up to 120 decibels, giving you the confidence that you can capture audio even in very loud settings. When you press record, the Zoom H1 records directly to a micro SDHC card. It comes with a 2GB card, which can hold up to 12 hours of audio, but it’s also compatible with cards up to 32GB for longer recordings.
- Easy to use
- Good recording quality
- Low price
- No editing capabilities
- No adjustability on volume or speed
- Short battery life
Best for: Storing multiple recordings
Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5, 1,477 reviews
The Tascam DR-05 is a high-quality, portable lecture recorder. Its omnidirectional stereo condenser microphone is ideal for a lecture situation, as it will pick up the lecturer’s voice as well as voices of people asking questions and contributing to the session. For higher-quality audio output, users can attach an external microphone to this recorder as well. Like some of the other recorders on this list, the Tascam DR-05 allows for easy file transfer via USB 2.0. For users concerned about recording times, the Tascam DR-05 comes with a 4 GB memory card, but memory can be expanded up to 128 GB.
- Durable design
- Multiple editing features
- Easily adjust volume and speed
- Bulky compared with other recorders
- Not very user-friendly for beginners
Best for: High-quality audio output
Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5, 76 reviews
The Philips DPM6000 digital dictaphone and voice recorder is a good voice recorder for lecture classes. Its two onboard microphones work together to capture enhanced audio, even in a setting – like a college classroom – with multiple sources of sound and significant background noise. Downloading audio is made possible via USB 2.0, and this device offers 4GB of onboard memory for up to 27 hours of recording time on a single battery charge. This high-quality recorder offers comfortable ergonomics and can be used for virtually any in-person recording purpose.
- Great audio output for dictation or lectures
- Easy file management for multiple recordings
- Adjustable backlighting for display screen
- Lacks some features included in other recorders
- Only 4GB of onboard memory
Best for: Recording in multiple settings
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5, 1,825 reviews
The Sony UX560 is another excellent choice for a handheld lecture recorder at school or work. It offers a built-in stereo microphone that’s proficient at picking up omnidirectional sound, either up close or at a distance. Unlike some of the other recorders reviewed here, this one is voice-operated, and users may choose between three recording modes for wide stereo recording, more focused narrow recording, or normal recording. If you’re looking for a recorder that will allow you to filter out background chatter and noise to better hear a lecturer speak, this may be the best voice recorder for lectures for your needs. However, while the recording modes offer a significant bonus for some users, its recording time is capped at one hour per charge.
- Fast charging (full charge in three minutes)
- Crisp, easy-to-read LCD display
- No way to change the built-in battery
- Only 4GB built-in memory
Best for: Recording on a budget
Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5, 14,138 reviews
The EVISTR digital voice recorder is another voice-activated handheld lecture recorder. This device has been recently upgraded and redesigned to include a dynamic noise-canceling microphone. This is especially useful for users who want to ensure that they catch the lecturer’s discussion while filtering out chatter and noise from other attendees. With this feature, many users find that this is the best recorder for lectures in which there isn’t a lot of group participation. In sessions with multiple speakers and/or discussion from the audience, a stereo recorder may be the better option.
- Easy to use
- Quality audio output
- Compact size
- Unintuitive process to offload recordings
- Poor battery life
Best recorders for lectures: mobile apps to record lectures on your phone
Just Press Record
Best for: Recording on iOS devices
App Store rating: 4.2 out of 5, 1,124 reviews
Just Press Record is a user-friendly lecture recorder app for iOS devices. It uses the onboard microphone from your Apple Watch, iPhone, or iPad to record anywhere, anytime. Operation is as simple as hitting the record button on your mobile device, or users may opt to use a Siri shortcut to start and stop recordings. Unlike the physical recorders we’ve discussed, this app also includes a transcription service. The app can produce searchable text in more than 30 languages for easy reference and review. Playback speed is also adjustable, and users can easily seek forward and back to find specific moments in a recorded lecture.
- Sleek user interface
- Organization tools aren’t the best
- Some users report difficulties using the app after updating to iOS 13.3
Best for: Recording on Android devices
Google Play rating: 4.5 out of 5, 7,226 reviews
Hi-Q Pro is an Android app that works well as a college lecture recorder. Starting and stopping a recording can be done in three ways: by hitting the record button in the app, by customizing your notification drawer on your device, or via a home screen widget. Users may choose between a variety of quality settings to either save storage space or get crisper, clearer audio in their recordings. And discretion mode allows users to silently start recording without triggering any noise from pressing the record button. You can also increase sound quality from your recordings by choosing between your device’s front or back microphones. Recording with the front microphone will pick up more audio, while the back microphone can capture a clearer recording of a single speaker.
- Clear audio output
- Choose between microphones for clearer recordings
- Many users report recording and playback issues since updating their devices
- Occasional glitches and muted recordings
Rev Voice Recorder
Best for: Automatic backup to Dropbox
Price: Free recordings | $1.25/minute transcriptions
App Store rating: 4.1 out of 5, 957 reviews
Google Play rating: 3 out of 5, 940 reviews
Rev Voice Recorder is a lecture recorder app available for both iOS and Android devices. The app includes transcription services, but – while the app itself is free of charge – transcription is $1.25 per minute. While this may seem expensive, the service promises 99%+ accuracy and an average of less than 12 hours of turnaround time. This may not be worthwhile for a lecture class, but journalists and others may get a lot of value out of the time they save in transcription. Aside from transcription, the app features light editing features to cut down a lecture to its most important material, and it is optimized specifically for voice recording and dictation purposes for clear, usable audio playback.
- Organize and edit recordings
- Share recordings via multiple platforms (Dropbox, Evernote, iTunes, etc.)
- Transcription services
- Only 30 minutes of free recording time
- Limited features
- No free option for voice-to-text transcription
4 ways recording lectures can help college students succeed
Improve focus during class
Students who record lectures typically have a much easier time focusing in the classroom than students who attempt to rely solely on handwritten or typed notes. When jotting down notes by hand, it’s easy to become so focused on what you’re writing that you miss important points that the professor or lecturer is making. Likewise, even the fastest typists can fall behind when attempting to type out notes during a class. When you know that you’ll have a full recording of the lecture, you can feel free to take shorter notes and participate more in the class discussion.
While taking notes on your laptop or tablet can be convenient, it can also open students up to a lot of distractions. It’s hard to avoid the temptation to check social media, email, or text messages during class when you have your laptop open right in front of you. You may think, “I’ll just check this message,” but before you know it, you’ve completely lost track of what’s happening in class and you don’t even know where to start with your notes. With a recorder, you can skip taking notes on your laptop and stay in tune with the lecture. And, if you do get distracted, you’ll still have a recording to refer back to later.
Enhance productivity outside of class
A good voice recorder is also useful outside of school or work. Consider how often you think of a task that you need to do when you get home or something that you need to add to your grocery list. The thought occurs to you, but by the time you get somewhere with a pen and paper to write it down, it’s already gone. Instead of leaving yourself sticky notes all over the place or racking your brain for a lost thought, why not record a quick message for yourself for later? People use voice recorders to keep digital diaries, to-do lists, and personal reminders, and the practice can be great for improving productivity and reducing frustration.
Record inappropriate behavior
Finally, we never want to think that a professor or someone in a position of power would behave or speak inappropriately, but it happens all the time. And, unfortunately, when it does happen, it can be very difficult to prove. Who’s going to believe a student when they report a well-respected professor for making inappropriate comments during a lecture? Having a recording of the lecture gives you the proof you need if you’re ever put in this difficult situation.
How to choose a voice recorder for lecture classes
When choosing a lecture recorder, you’ll need to determine what matters most for your purposes. Are you recording one-on-one interviews? Are you recording a lecturer who may be standing several yards away from you? Do you need to be discreet with your recording, or can you openly record the person speaking? Answer these questions for yourself and consider which features may matter most to you, such as storage, battery life, durability, and ease of use.
Keep in mind that a journalist who uses a lecture recorder to capture interviews on the fly may need a more durable recorder that can be started with a single button. On the other hand, a student taking multiple lecture classes at university may need a recorder with longer battery life and more storage capacity.
Can you legally record lectures?
In most cases and most states, you can legally record lectures without asking permission. If you’re in a state that only requires single-party consent, you may record someone you’re speaking with or a lecture in school with no repercussions. However, you should be aware that there are 11 states in the U.S. that require two-party consent.
So, if you’re trying to record a lecture in California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, or Washington, you may want to obtain consent before you start recording. Even in these states, if you’re only using your recordings for your own personal reference, you will not usually run into any issues. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to obtain consent before recording.
Conclusion: What to look for in a lecture recorder
So, what is the best recorder for you? With the reviews in this article, you should have all of the information you need to make an informed decision – but how do you make a choice? What’s most important for your voice recorder? When perusing reviews and info, keep these things in mind and you’ll be sure to make the right choice for your needs:
- Ease of use: Consider how each of the recorders’ functions. If you’re recording part or all of a lecture in a quiet room, you may prefer a recorder with a touchscreen (or an app for your phone) or quiet button functions instead of a voice-activated recorder.
- Storage and battery life: If you’re recording multiple lectures in a day, you’ll need a recorder with a long-lasting battery and plenty of memory.
- Playback and edit features: You can save a lot of time (and storage space) if you can edit your recordings, and you can streamline studying or review time if you can quickly skip to specific parts of a recorded lecture.
- Other features: Consider when, how, and where you’ll be taking recordings. If you’ll be using your recorder for dictations, lectures, and interviews, you may want one that has multiple microphone settings to get the clearest audio. On the other hand, if you’ll be solely recording video conference calls, you may be better off with a screen recorder like Movavi Screen Recorder that will capture the audio and video of the online lecture without capturing background noise on your end.
Frequently asked questions
Is it good to record lectures?
Lectures tend to be long and detailed, so writing down everything is nearly impossible. If you record a lecture, you won’t miss any important information. Moreover, you can return to the recorded lecture at any time to transcribe it or make important notes.
What is the best voice recorder for college lectures?
Here are some of the voice recorders that, in our opinion, are best for college lectures:
- Sony ICD-PX470
- Olympus WS-853
- Zoom H1
- Tascam DR-05
- Philips DPM6000
What is the best digital recorder?
Depending on the user’s purpose, each of the recorders listed below can be the best. We recommend you to take a look and decide for yourself which one is better suited for your needs.
- Sony ICD-PX470
- Olympus WS-853
- Zoom H1
- Tascam DR-05
- Philips DPM6000
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