Since the dawn of digital recording technology, access to and use of voice recording devices has spread. No longer are we required to take out that daft miniature cassette tape and somehow manage to fit it inside the weird cartridge that lets us play it on a normal take deck. (If you understood more than 50 percent of that sentence, you might be feeling old right now). Now we can stick our digital voice recorders straight into an appropriate device and we’re away! Digitisation of these devices means we can handle the data and recording with a lot less hassle. We can email, store, share and amend the files as we please with relative ease. Digital voice recorders have a number of applications. The type of voice recorder you need will depend entirely on the manner in which you intend to use it and the purpose of the final recording. Here are the most common applications.

Note taking

Journalists, translators, private detectives, people who hate writing things down - joking aside, digital voice recorders can be very useful for people with dyslexia - all make regular use of digital voice recorders. The best types of digital voice recorders for this application are the ones with one-touch start/pause functionality. Even better are the ones with voice-activated recording. You simply pop it where you’re working and when you speak into it, the little device kicks in and starts recording.

Dictating

If you’re the sort of person that has her best ideas in the car, just before dropping off or indeed anywhere where you’d not really want to keep your laptop or a pen and pad, a digital voice recorder for capturing those moments of inspiration is a great idea. And when you come up with that unmissable TV show idea, you know you’ll be committing it safely to MP3.

Safeguarding

Sometimes it’s just better for everyone if a conversation goes down on tape. Whether you’re in negotiation with a business contact, resolving a family conflict or speaking to an employee about his or her behaviour and don’t want to be accused of saying things you didn’t, a digital voice recorder is extremely useful. Remember though, do not breach anyone’s reasonable expectation of privacy and certainly don’t be careless with the resultant media.

Memory aid

Directions, phone numbers, people’s names; if these are the sort of things you’re always forgetting, a digital voice recorder can be a God-send. At a party and getting introduced to a lot of people at the same time can be a daunting and quite stressful experience for anyone with a dodgy memory. A discreet prompt into your digital voice recorder can be all the help you need. But do remember to be discreet. Otherwise you’ll be the weirdo who got caught saying “Janice, blue dress, married to Clive, quite hot” to himself. Don’t be that weirdo.

Evidence gathering

You can only record people without their knowledge if it’s part of a legitimate investigation. So if you genuinely suspect someone is in danger, at risk of crime or you’re otherwise concerned about criminality, a discreetly gathered recording can be excellent for evidential purposes. Remember to respect people’s privacy and take good care of the media that you gather in this regard. If you suspect a crime has been committed or may be about to be committed, contact the police. Discreet evidence gathering may require a disguised digital audio recording device. These recorders are typically voice-activated or remotely controlled so you can turn them on and off without putting yourself in contact with the person or people you are trying to record.

What to do with the recording

The majority of digital voice recorders have USB connectivity, meaning you can plug them straight into your laptop or tablet. Once in, extract the file - typically an MP3 - and save it to your machine. For double security, email it to yourself too. A Google email address is a good idea for storing audio evidence as they are cloud-based, meaning you can access the evidence from anywhere and you’ll still have it, even if your computer finds its way to the bottom of a lake.