5 Best Voice Recorders for College Lectures (2020)

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Most Affordable Option
Tchisen Noise Reduction Voice Recorder


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This was my top pick even before I saw the amazing price. Responsive sturdy buttons, crisp recording and lasts for ages. Jump to my full review of the Tchisen Voice Recorder.

As a university professor I’ve played around with a lot of voice recorders in my life.

Here are my thoughts on the best voice recorders for college students.

The best voice recorders for college lectures are:

  • Tchisen Noise Reduction Voice Recorder
  • Wohlman Digital Voice Recorder
  • ADOKEY Digital Recorder
  • Fuhuim Digital Voice Recorder
  • Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder
  • Sony ICDUX560BLK Digital Voice Recorder
  • Homder Touch Screen Lecture Recorder

Here’s a quick run-down of my Top 3 voice recorders:

Recorder

Quick Overview

Tchisen Noise Reduction Voice Recorder

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My Rating: 8.5/10

Get this one if you like sturdy clickable buttons. It’s got an unbeatable price, too.

  • Storage Capacity: Medium-High
  • Battery Life: Long
  • Buttons & Navigation: 8/10
  • Microphone: 8/10
Wohlman Digital Voice Recorder

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My Rating: 8/10

Get this one if you like a sleek modern feel and color screen display. Won’t break your budget.

  • Storage Capacity: High
  • Battery Life: Long
  • Buttons & Navigation: 6.5/10
  • Microphone: 7/10
ADOKEY Digital Recorder

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My Rating: 7.5/10

Get this one if you don’t want to compromise on battery life and storage capacity.

  • Storage Capacity: Exceptional
  • Battery Life: Medium-High
  • Microphone: 8/10
  • Buttons & Navigation: 7/10

Best Voice Recorders for Lectures

1. Tchisen Noise Reduction Voice Recorder

Quick Review: Crisp sound, great battery life, decent storage, and nice sturdy buttons. One of the most affordable out there, too!.


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The solid clickable buttons are the main drawing card for me – I like that I can actually feel the buttons clicking under my fingers.

But it also has some other benefits that make this one my favorite overall. You won’t be disappointed by the battery life or memory capacity – it lasts ages and can record hundreds of hours of audio.

The dual microphones give it a crisp sound that’s above the expectation of most dictaphones on the market.

Other aspects I like include the ability to vary the playback speed for quick review and connect headphones to turn it into a music play.

I Don’t Like:

The screen resolution and black and white display are not amazing, but that’s to save battery life and keep things simple.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: Medium-High (8GB).
  • Battery Life: Long life, rechargeable battery.
  • Buttons & Navigation: I love the sturdy and simple button interface.
  • Microphone: The dual mic is above industry standard.

2. Wohlman Digital Voice Recorder

Quick Review: Get this if you like a sleek modern design. Large color screen display, long battery life, and touch-response buttons for a modern feel. Comes in at a decent price.


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I like the sleek modern feel of this voice recorder. It has a large color screen display and tap responsive buttons. It’s small, thin and discrete.

It lasts a long time (at least 12 hours of continuous recording). The battery is one of the best you’ll get in a sound recorder and is USB rechargable.

Great memory capacity. It can hold many hours of recording (depending on the quality of the recording – but we’re looking at 150+ hours of storage capacity on the 16GB internal drive).

I Don’t Like:

Tap responsive buttons annoy me. I like buttons I physically can feel clicking under my fingertips.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: High (16GB).
  • Battery Life: Long life, rechargeable battery.
  • Buttons & Navigation: Tap responsive. I prefer clickable buttons, but there’s no denying the tap responsive buttons add to the sleek feel.

3. ADOKEY Digital Recorder

Quick Review: With exceptional storage capacity and above average battery life, this one also rates very high in my books. I’m also impressed by the mic and button interface.


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The great thing about this recorder is its huge 32GB memory – I honestly can’t see a college student getting anywhere close to recording 32GB worth of lectures and seminars in a year. The battery life is also very long and you’ll probably find you only need to recharge it once a week, if that. 

This is one of the few recorders that supports an external microphone in case you really want to crank things up a notch and do some serious sound recording for podcasts.

I Don’t Like:

There isn’t much not to like in this recorder.

The difference between the top three on this list is a bit like splitting hairs – it really does come down to personal preference. I personally prefer the intuituve button interface and slightly stronger battery of the Tchisen (my #1 pick), but this one comes in pretty close behind in my ratings.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: Exceptional storage capacity – best in class. 
  • Battery Life: Lasts for days. It is a high quality rechargeable battery. 
  • Microphone: I love the quality of the dual-mic microphone recorder on this one.
  • Buttons & Navigation: Sturdy clickable buttons. Feels a lot like a thin version of one of the old sturdy iPods, which a person my age is very comfortable with!

4. Fuhuim Digital Voice Recorder

Quick Review: A recorder with a sleek modern feel, tap interface and large color screen display. A fair amount of storage space for recording all semester long


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The appeal of this dictaphone is is large color screen display. It also has a whole lot of storage space for you to record just about as many lectures as you like.

The internal rechargable lithium-ion battery is decent, but certainly not the best in the market. Simply plug it into the computer or wall to recharge.

You can also use it as an MP3 player to play your favorite music while on the way to and from college.

I Don’t Like:

As with the Wohlman device, it’s nice and sleek, but I personally don’t like the tap interface. Regardless, it is still a quality device that I’m happy to list in the Top 7.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: Tons of storage capacity (16GB) – record the whole semester’s lectures on this! 
  • Battery Life: Decent life, rechargeable battery, but not as high quality as #1 and #2 on this list.
  • Buttons & Navigation: Tap responsive. If you’re okay with tap responsive buttons, I’d give the slight edge to the Wohlman’s tap interface over this one (see #2 in this review).

5. Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder

Quick Review: Get this one if you like the idea of a recorder that feels like a USB memory card. Plug it directly into the computer. I don’t like that it requires AAA batteries. 


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There is a lot to like about this voice recorder, but a few things not to like, too.

Things I love inlcude the great easy to learn button interface, option for a micro SD slot to increase memory, and the fact that it plugs directly into your computer. That saves the need for an additional cable that, let’s face it, ends up getting lost eventually.

I Don’t Like:

I’m not sure why anyone would still require AAA batteries these days – and while they’re included in the pack, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind this. There doesn’t seem to be a price effectiveness reason because it comes in at a price point above many competitors that have lithium ion batteries.

The AAA batteries also make this recorder significantly fatter than sleeker newer designs.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: Medium (4GB), which is still plenty.
  • Battery Life: Lasts a while, but requires non-rechargable AAA batteries.
  • Buttons & Navigation: Good quality, easy to learn button interface
  • Microphone: Dual-mic with decent quality sound.

6. Sony ICDUX560BLK Digital Voice Recorder

Quick Review: This one’s a slight step up from the Sony model above. I really love the button interface and it’s easy to navigate.


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Things I love about this one include the fact that it plugs directly into the computer (no cord required), amazingly intuitive interface, and super long battery life (it charges quick, too).

I also like that it has settings to catch close-up voices vs. voices at a distance, which is great for students in lecture theaters.

The coolest thing about this one is that it has built-in FM radio. So, it doubles as a portable radio! We took it to the drive-in cinema the other day and tuned into the cinema channel using it. So, it’s served a few purposes for me! (Yes, drive-in cinemas still exist).

I Don’t Like:

The price point. You can get voice recorders of the same quality for much cheaper.

I am also not a fan of the 4GB memory space (that’s about the baseline you’d expect, and it’s fine – just not outstanding). You can also insert your own SD card to increase the memory space if required.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: Medium (4GB), which is still good but not great.
  • Battery Life: Lasts a long time and charges fast.
  • Buttons & Navigation: This is my favorite most user-friendly voice recorder – it’s a pity the other specs and price point aren’t where I want them.
  • Microphone: Dual-mic with decent quality sound.

7. Homder Touch Screen Lecture Recorder

Quick Review: Affordable, thin and sleek. The color screen is larger than most, but still not huge.


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There’s a lot to like here. It comes in at an affordable price point, has a huge 16GB memory drive, long color screen, and a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Ticks all around here. It’s also nice and thin and fits in your hand nicely – but as you’ll see below, that’s a downside, too.

I Don’t Like:

I keep ‘accidentally’ hitting the wrong buttons! It’s too small and thin, and without the feel of an actual button under your fingers, that’s just annoying.

Specs:

  • Storage Capacity: High 16GB
  • Battery Life: Medium-High. You’ll not need to worry about the battery life.
  • Buttons & Navigation: As always, I get frustrated at tap screen buttons. I like the old fashioned ‘click’ under my fingers.
  • Microphone: I do like the dual-mic microphone quality – crisp and catches

What to Look for in a Voice Recorder for College

There are some things that come just about standard in most voice recorders. They’re things I wouldn’t worry about because they’re just so standard that you can expect them. These include:

  • Thin and compact design.
  • Sturdy – They’re all able to cop a beating.
  • MP3 player – They will all be able to double up as good old MP3 players.

There are also some negative things you’ll just have to accept as standard. Mainly:

  • Poor screen size and resolution – Dictaphone companies keep the screens small and simple with poor resolution so the battery life lasts longer.

But below are some things that really will affect the quality. 

Dual Microphone

Some recorders have single mic capacity, while others have dual mics. I find the dual mic capacity significantly enhances the quality of the sound that is recorded.

While you’re at it, check if your device has the ability to toggle between close-up voice and distance recording. Distance recording would be best for a lecture hall.

Button Preference

You can probably tell by now from this review that I am not a big fan of those tap (‘touch screen’) buttons. You’re constantly checking to see if you actually pressed the button successfully and you can accidentally press the button with a swipe of the finger.

But it’s also worth looking at the interface – are the buttons confusing? Is it a a clear and logical setup? 

Storage Capacity

4GB is your low end, 32GB is your high end. At 4GB you can still expect to store a heck of a lot of data, but you might want to download it to your computer at the end of the week to leave it fresh for the next week. At 32GB you can store several weeks’ worth of data.

You could also get one of the Sony options that include micro SD ports for you to fit your micro SD drive in and add extra storage space.

Battery Life

For battery life, you can get a lithium-ion battery or one that runs from AAA batteries. I’d recommend a lithium-ion battery. I didn’t get into the details in this post (because nobody cares), but there are 500, 600 and 800mAh lithium-ion batteries available. They all work fine and last for ages. I’ve been pretty impressed with the battery life of most voice recorders on the market in the past 5 years.

Do I need to Ask my Professor for Permission to Record?

It depends. Personally, I would – because it’s polite. Many students have asked me throughout my career whether they can record me and I’ve always said yes.

Most professors are aware that it is a student’s right to record the lecture. In fact, many students with a disability have the right to record the lectures recorded on their access plans.

Final Thoughts

Make sure you sit toward the front of the lecture theater so you get a nice crisp recording. I’ve been happy with all the sound recorders on this list, but I’ve been very unhappy with several that aren’t on this list! The top 3 in particular have high specs and are at affordable price points – but at the end of the day, when students ask, I always recommend the Tchisen Noise Reduction Voice Recorder.

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