Review: Olympus DS-2 Stereo Voice Recorder
Subject:   Meeting Room
Date:   2005-10-04 17:12:02
From:   DavidBattino
Response to: Meeting Room

After writing the review, I discovered that the WS-series uses stronger data compression than the DS-series—64kbps vs. 128kbps. That’s why the recording time on the WS-200S is quadrupled although its memory is just doubled respective to the DS-2. The additional data compression doesn’t seem to affect the sound much, though.

The higher the frequency response of the recorder, however, the more intelligible the recorded sound becomes—to a point. I’d guess that’s because consonants have more high-frequency information than vowels. When you hear someone talking through a wall, it’s the consonants that disappear and make the sound muffled. That said, the U.S. telephone system tops out at 3.2kHz and remains reasonably intelligible. (To achieve 3kHz, you’ll need to sample at twice that frequency.)

I also found that stereo recordings had increased clarity in conference situations. Try plugging one ear at a cocktail party to prove that to yourself.

So the best Olympus recorder for your situation may be one of the new WS-300M-series models, which have four to eight times the RAM of the WS-200S. See my blog here:

—David Battino

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Showing messages 1 through 6 of 6.

  • Meeting Room
    2007-01-22 15:02:29  Shelbyjean [View]

    I read your DS-2 review. Sounds like my DS-2 (bought Dec '06) is a lemon. (1)Batteries would drain just from sitting 1-2 days--Olympus said that's normal--so had to take batteries out between uses.
    (2)I tried using the DS-2 to digitize audio tapes via a Radio Shack connecting cord, but the recordings drag. Didn't notice it right away but when I timed it, I found they were several seconds per minute slower than the recorded source. I ruled out all other possible causes - cord vs air, usb connection, listening on computer vs ds-2, & using different tape decks. (3) Could never use stereo settings with cord because the sound was incredibly harsh with extra noise no matter what the volume. (4) When I did attempt stereo settings, my understanding was it would still be recorded in mono.

    Olympus would not budge on the 1-yr warranty although I was just 2 weeks beyond when formally complaining. The battery issue I complained about midway thru warranty but put up with it since they said it was normal.

    Still need a way to digitize tapes, so am currently on hold.
    • David Battino photo Meeting Room
      2007-01-22 17:54:56  David Battino | O'Reilly Blogger [View]

      @Shelbyjean: Sorry to hear about your recording problems.
      1. Did you set the DS-2 to Hold or Off mode between uses? On my WS-200S, which uses just one battery, the charge lasts for weeks. And what type of batteries are you using?
      2. Did you have the Variable Control Voice Actuator (VVCA) activated? That would have changed the recording length by omitting silences, but would also have made the recording shorter, not maybe you do have a dud.
      3. As noted below, I had to turn the output level of the source way down to avoid distortion at the DS-2 input when recording.
      4. Also as noted below, the DS-2 wouldn't be my first choice for digitizing line-level sources because of its automatic gain control and data compression. I'd go directly into the computer instead, ideally using an external audio interface.
      • Meeting Room
        2007-01-23 15:59:07  Shelbyjean [View]

        Thanks for responding. 1) The choices are ON or HOLD, so I always put it on hold between uses. I did switch to lithium and then rechargeable and that worked better. 2) The VVCA was not activated.

        So now I need to educate myself about an external audio interface and use the DS-2 for other purposes. Thanks again.
  • Meeting Room
    2005-10-05 09:20:09  kikiboy [View]

    Finally, today I just purchased ws-200s. Good sound! however, very irritated by the "rubbing" sound whenever I touch the casing....abit too sensitive. I think I have to put the recorder on the table during recording, no good for me to hold it.

    Anyway to counter this problem? :)
    • David Battino photo Meeting Room (handling noise)
      2005-10-06 03:00:04  David Battino | O'Reilly Blogger [View]

      Another reader said he got dramatically better results by plugging in an external mic. See here:

      You might try setting the recorder on something soft or, if you have to hold it, remembering not to slide your fingers around on the case. We have a review of a much more expensive portable recorder in the works. I’ll keep you posted. —David
      • David Battino photo Meeting Room (handling noise)
        2005-12-05 11:05:21  David Battino | O'Reilly Blogger [View]

        The other recorder I mentioned is now reviewed here: