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Choosing the best Dictation solution for you
In the past, if you used a Dictaphone, you were likely to be a manager in a business, recording letters and memo's that would end up being typed by a lucky typist in the typing pool. Nowadays you could come from all sorts of different settings, with many different uses for the Dictaphone. Accordingly, the makers of these types of voice recorders, smartphone apps and transcription kits, have created new products to fit the typical requirements of the different types of Dictaphone users, and typists who transcribe the recordings.

Take a look to see if any of these scenarios sound like you.

Lectures and meetings

You need a way to record a university lecture or business meeting, so you can transcribe it later, or make it into a podcast; a kind of "notetaker buddy" that won't nod off when you do. You're after a Dictaphone or Voice recorder. Your iPhone doesn't cut it this time. It needs a decent microphone with a long range, so clearly picks up a speaker's voice from a distance, and is simple to use with just "stop" and "start". If the meeting runs on for a couple of hours, the recorder can go the distance in both recording capacity and battery life. Quality digital files easily load onto your computer or phone, to play or store for later.

Not you? Are you more of a letter and note recorder?

Letter and notes

Maybe you usually record business letters or notes for someone else to transcribe. You get interrupted a lot, and sometimes come back to the voice recording later. The ability to rewind, review and erase are part of the process, so you can reconsider and edit what you said last. Quality sound is vital as you use complex industry jargon all the time, and your assistant ultimately has to understand what you've said, to type it up. You usually send the digital file via the internet. The file therefore needs to be encrypted to protect confidential information, to be small and fast to send, and in a format that is compatible with your typist.


Perhaps you want a small device to make audio notes on the go, or record small interviews that you'll transcribe later.


If recording music is your thing, either recording yourself, others, or even streaming off the web, you probably want a device that will reproduce extremely high quality sound.

So what do you really need?

Each of these scenarios requires different features so here are a few things you may, or may not need.

You probably need high quality omni-directional microphones to pick up all speakers in a meeting, while a uni-directional microphone will suit you better if you are dictating letters and notes.

You may even prefer to have an external microphone. If so, then you need to ensure you choose a model of Dictaphone that can connect an external microphone.

If you are dictating, the review and rewind functionality is very useful. It let's you pause then continue to add to the same file. The simple "stop and start" functionality, with no ability to pause and restart that file, in most cases is all that's required for lectures and meetings.

For the music buff, Linear PCM 96khz/24bit delivers the superior sound you need, and low cut filter eliminates low frequency sounds and background noise.

There is a choice of what type of memory you would like in digital recording devices. This influences how many hours of recording you can store. Some devices use memory chips which have limited capacity. Devices with flash memory have better storage capacity and low power consumption. Storage capacity can vary from 128MB to 2GB.

If you need to send encrypted files by email, you will need a small file format like DSS. This format requires specialist programmes, like transcription kits, to listen to the file later. High function file formats like MP3, PCM(WAV) and WMA produce much larger files, but can be played on you phone, computer and a wide range of sound players.

Transcribing is a breeze

Now if you are the typist who transcribes the dictation, you may need a transcription kit.

The transcription kit is for people who want hands-free control over the transcription process making it much easier to transcribe.

The transcription kit has a handy foot peddle, that lets you stop, start, slow down and playback the recordings, while you are typing. The audio format allows you to run another application, like a word processing programme, while you listen and type. The kit also lets you adjust the volume and the tone of the voice to make it easier for you to hear what has been said. If you receive large volumes of files to type, from multiple people, you would probably like to be able to organise the files by person. Most transcription kits would play a range of different common file formats and run on either Windows or MAC operating systems.

The Cackle range

When you've decided what kind of user you are, and the types of features you need, take a look through Cackle's range of voice recorders, smartphone apps and transcription kits. We sell Olympus products because they offer a range of products with features that appeal to both business professionals as well as students.

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