81khiszk0hl-_sl1500_Olympus WS-852 Voice Recorder Review:

I have been interviewing people professionally for 20 years. Most of my work has been for articles for newspapers, magazines or press releases – things of a shorter nature. Now I do professional family history and oral history. When I first started doing interviews to write articles and stories I did try using recorders but found them to be clunky and not user friendly for me. Times have changed. New recording devices are much more user friendly, even sleek for a decent price. I am an avid note-taker and that has always worked well for me for shorter pieces, but now that I am working on writing longer things, I see the vital need for using recording devices and am now looking for the best one to meet my needs. Hence, a series of product reviews. For me, I need something simple. I want to use my time to do the interviewing and the writing and not worrying about my recording device.

The Olympus WS-852 seems to be just that – simple and user friendly. It has some more complex features, like having several files and modes, but I don’t really need that, so I can use the simple mode to decrease my options or use the normal mode if I want to set some specific settings like voice filtering, languages, lighting or many other specific details. I look forward to using some of those settings in the future. The recorder has five different recording settings ranging from conference room to office to even phone recording. I haven’t used the phone recording setting as it requires some headphones, but I think it may come in handy from time to time. I tried recording on all the settings and found the conference room setting to be the best. It picks up great sound and I don’t need to use a separate microphone to get good, loud sound from my subject. The volume does go pretty high and on some of the recordings that seemed a little lighter (the office wasn’t as clear) but when I turned up the volume all the way I could hear things well.

One of the bonuses of this recorder is that it has 67 hours of recording time right on the device – no outside card needed, although one can be used if you want. I like this option because it’s one less thing I have to worry about gathering when I’m on my way to an important interview. I can hook the device directly for easy transfer of information as well. It comes with a USB cord. Note that some less expensive models (even of good brands) do not come with a USB connection port, so that can account for price differences. The device is lightweight, at only 2.7 ounces and can fit nicely in your pocket – only 1.5 inches in diameter and .71 inches thick. I love that it can fit nicely in the palm of my hand! It also has a built-in stand in the back to set it on the table to get maximum use from the two speakers situated on the either side of the top of the device. I feel like this is a perfect device for the beginner.

One option I like with the Olympus WS-852 Voice Recorder is that when I hit the “erase” button it asks me before if I’m sure I want to erase. That is a great reminder in case that button is pushed by accident too. There are multiple folder options so if you are working on different projects you can save in different folders. This may a bit complex for my liking, but in time I may find it worthwhile. For now, I just need different folders for each interview to keep it simple. Another handy feature is the ability set playback speed.

Sometimes we at Evalogue.Life have typed up notes directly from the device (such as on the train following an interview) and this is super helpful. The Sony model at a similar price point doesn’t seem to have this ability. You can generally find it for under $60 on on Amazon. Next week I will be reviewing some other devices and picking my favorite. By Rachel J. Trotter, Evalogue.Life Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, but we only review products we use and think would be helpful to share.

Other articles and resources to help you record voice and capture oral history:

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