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Olympus DM-520

Olympus Dm-520 digital voice recorder

Best buy: The Olympus DM-520 is the USA name for what is known elsewhere as the DM-550. It offers CD quality recording and playback at a reasonable price.

It is exactly the same recorder - just differently named to prevent grey imports. It also boasts a huge 4 GB of integral memory as well as a slot for microSD and microSDHC memory cards - plenty of space for everything you'd need to record and lots left over to store music, audiobooks or podcasts..

It has 40 hours of battery life, handy battery save technology and can be charged via USB.

The DM series has been designed with the visually impaired in mind offering tactile precision buttons, intuitive operation, and a 'Voice Guidance' menu.

A range of practical accessories and brand new Olympus Sonority software are also on hand for increased flexibility

Olympus DM-550 at a glance...

Features

  Micro SD card slot     4GB internal memory
         
  WAV, WMA or MP3     2 x AAA battery
         
  CD quality recording     Stereo low noise mics
         
  Voice guidance     50 hours recording
         
  Sonority software     Timer recording
         

Specs

Display:   27.3 x 28.5 mm / 1.56 '' backlit LCD
Memory:   4 GB internal memory + MicroSD/microSDHC card
Input:   Mic mini-jack 3.5mm
Output:   Headphones mini-jack 3.5mm, USB
Visually impared :   voice guidance system, spoken menu
USB Interface:   hi-speed USB 2.0
Power:   Two rechargeable AAA size(LR6) batteries or supplied adaptor
Battery Life:   up to 51 hours recording, 39 hours playback
Dimensions:  

110(W)x16(D)x39(H)mm

Weight:   84g with batteries
Recording format:   PCM (WAV) / MP3 / WMA
File system:   5 storage folders, 128 files per folder
Tools:   Olympus Sonority software
Speaker:   Built-in ø23 mm round dynamic speaker
Mic:   Two stereo microphones

Audio

Listen to these 'road test' recordings of the Olympus DM550 using the player or click on the link to download the file for further testing.

Music

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Download Music clip
It's a very rough guide but we played a CD on a fairly good stereo and recorded the music using the Olympus DM550 recording through it's onboard mics to give you an idea of the music recording quality. We plan to record the same clip using as many different types of recorder as we can get our hands on - so you can compare them all.

The track is Midnight Shaker by the Bobby Blackston Band - you can find out more about them and/or buy their music here



Speaking voice

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Download Speaking voice
Reading a poem using the recorder at its highest recording levels. In the background you can faintly hear a neighbour using an electric drill.

Images

Click on the images to view larger versions











Video

Here's some video on the Olympus DM-550. You can judge it's size and see it's controls in action. You can also hear it's its voice menu for the visually impaired in action (This feature can be turned off if you don't want it)

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Review

Olympus DM-550 review

PROS:
Voice guidance menu for the visually impared
CD recording quality
Doubles as MP3/podcast player

CONS:
Microphone could be better
Lack of instructions

STYLE:
The Olympus DM-550 comes in an attractive black and chrome. It is solidly built and has a satisfyingly heavy feel about it. There is nothing plastic-y about this model. It has a good-sized screen (?) with well-spaced, easy-to-use controls.

POWER:
Two rechargeable AAA batteries supplied
The DM-550 comes with rechargeable batteries that are recharged by connecting the recorder via USB to the pc (while holding down the 'stop' button on the side of the recorder). The batteries last for around 50 hours of recording.

OPERATION:
Turn on the power by sliding down the discreetly-placed power switch on the side of the recorder and holding it down for a second or so.

The first thing you notice when you turn it on is the voice menu feature telling you what your battery level is.

You are then presented with a choice. RECORDER - to go stright to recording, MUSIC, to play mp3's you've uploaded onto the recorder or PODCAST - to listen to podcasts you've uploaded.

Scroll between the menu items using a scrolling wheel of the sort familiar to anyone who has used a tv remote control unit - up, down, left, right with a central OK button in the middle to select your choice once you've scrolled to it.

To record, use the 'play', 'stop' and 'record' buttons on the side of the machine. Press 'record' and it instantly starts to record until you press 'stop' . Press 'play' and it plays that recording back to you through the onboard speaker.

You are given a choice a five folders to record into - each can contain up to 200 seperate recordings. By default, it records into the first folder - unless you specify another folder by navigating into that folder (using the up and down buttons on the menu wheel) before starting your recording.

To navigate to all the other features on the DM-550, hold down the OK button in the centre of the menu wheel. You are then presented with a huge selection of editable features - from all the differerent recording settings to voice activation and turning on and off the voice guidance system.

RECORDING:
Recording options include Mono: LP, SP, HQ Stereo: STSP, STHQ, STXQ Linear PCM 44.1/48kHz 16bit. This linear PCM recording quality is equivalent to that of a CD. The recorder has three microphone sensitivity levels and the built-in stereo noise cancelling microphones can record clear sound in challenging circumstances (conference halls with a lot of background clatter and chatter, for example)

PLAYBACK:
Files can be played back through the average quality onboard speaker or uploaded to your pc

STORAGE/CONNECTIVITY:
Internal 4gm memory with microSD / microSDHC card slot for extra recording options

VOICE ACTIVATED:
Olympus VCVA functionality. When the microphone senses that sounds have reached a preset threshold volume level, the recorder starts recording automatically, andstops when the volume drops below the threshold level. This seems to work very well and cuts out all the silent bits between whatever it is you are trying to record.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
Voice Guidance
Visually impaired users can reord and playback with ease using the tactile precision buttons, specially designed intuitive operation and voice guidance menu.

Sonority software
Install the included Sonority software on your pc and manage your files on the recorder from your pc screen. Upload/download files, order them and perform basic editing functions.

INCLUDED EXTRAS:
Olympus's own 'Sonority' file management/editing software
Earbud headphones
Recorder to pc USB cable
Leather case that converts to table-top stand
Cord strap

DOWNLOAD THE MANUAL
The Olympus DM-550 manual that ships with the recorder is very brief and uncomprehensive and what there is of it is written in tiny print in a very small booklet.

The full pdf manual is much clearer with full size illustrations and much more detailed instructions. You can download it by clicking here

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