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Olympus DS-40 Digital Voice Recorder

by Olympus
4.1 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews
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  • Professional-grade digital voice recorder with high-sensitivity microphone
  • Up to 136 hours of recording time; 30-hour battery life
  • Connect to PC to transfer files or download podcasts
  • Store and listen to favorite music anytime, anywhere
  • Timer recording, alarm playback, slow/fast
1 new from $378.99 3 used from $129.99

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Technical Details

  • Built-in Microphone

Product Description

Product Description

Recorder, DS-40, digital voice


In addition to capturing stereo sound from meetings, interviews, and important lectures, the Olympus DS-40 allows you to download and create Podcasts for later listening. The DS-40 offers users up to 136 hours of recording time with its 512 MB worth of internal flash memory. For easy organization and storing of files, the player allows users to set up five voice folders, and each folder can save up to 200 messages. Internal files can be easily navigated on the player's high-contrast backlit monochrome LCD panel. Other great features include a built-in variable control voice actuator (VCVA) function, and a timed recording and alarm feature so you can set up automatic recording and playing. Running on two AAA batteries, the player offers up to 30 hours of continuous playback in the following modes: ST XQ mode (8 hour 40 minute capture time), ST HQ mode (17 hour 20 minute capture time), HQ mode (34 hour 45 minute capture time), SP mode (68 hour 30 minute capture time), and LP mode (136 hour 15 minute capture time). For added user convenience, an optional AC adapter can be used with the recorder. Compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional operating systems and later, the player measures a pocket-friendly 4.37 x 1.48 x 0.63 inches and weighs in at a scant 2.80 ounces.

What's in the Box
DS-40 digital voice recorder, stereo microphone, USB cables, stereo earphones, DSS Player v.7 software, instruction manual, strap, and two AAA batteries.

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.5 x 0.6 inches ; 2.9 ounces
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • Item model number: 141910
  • Batteries 2 AAA batteries required. (included)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,689 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
  • Discontinued by manufacturer: Yes
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: October 2, 2001

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I purchased the Olympus DS-40 as an upgrade to my Olympus WS-320M. As mentioned by another reviewer, the DS-30/40 series improves upon the WS-300/310/320M series. I have owned a number of digital voice recorders from Voice-it to Sony and Olympus.

The DS-40 without its external microphone is about the same size as the WS-320M. It is slightly thicker and heavier. The exterior of the DS-40 is mostly metal. On the bottom, the battery door is plastic and hinged like the Olympus DS-4000. The mini-USB port is covered by a tethered plastic cover. On the lower right side, there is a power/hold slide switch. If you do not power the DS-40 off, it will enter a power save mode and the display will blank. Pressing a key brings it out of power save mode. The power save mode time is user adjustable. The control buttons are well spaced and shaped to make the DS-40 an acceptable dictation recorder unlike the WS-320M. The WS-320M has small flat closely spaced keys. The LCD screen is backlit in white and is very legible. The speaker is located in the back and produces enough volume to be heard in a moving car. On the top of the DS-40 is a stereo microphone jack which supports an optional remote control / microphone jack and is where the external stereo microphone is plugged in. Curiously, Nuance in their Dragon testing of the DS-30/40/50 writes that this recorder does not accept an external microphone.

The DS-40 is setup as a standard plug and play external USB drive. So you can transfer audio by using the supplied DSS Player software, Windows Explorer, or Windows Media Player. The USB audio transfer speed is about 140mb per minute. That is about five times faster than the WS-320M.
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I wasn't sure what to expect with this thing but I've been pleased thus far.

SOUND: Great quality, amazingly crystal clear sound in STXQ mode (highest setting). Stock stereo mic is actually pretty nice as well; I expected to have to buy another mic, but I don't know quite yet if that's necessary.

INTERFACE: Controls are a bit clumsy but a small price to pay for this quality, and given the extremely limited real estate on this tiny thing, I suppose they did a great job with design. It's plug and play so it's easy to use. It acts just like a jump drive for storage as well. Not to mention that I've been wearing this thing out and the batteries are still fully charged.

APPLICATION: I use it for lectures, business meetings, reminders, all the usual stuff. **HOWEVER, I actually bought it to try it out as a field recorder. I'm a musician and experimenting with sampling, and I've found that this is perfect for that. It was after all designed for podcasting. The specified field recorders out right now (Zoom H4, Edirol R9, etc.) have gotten tons of bad press; loud, clunky, low quality, etc., and there's no way I was going to buy an MD recorder. For less than half of the price of one of those, I bought this and the quality difference is unreal.

SHORTCOMINGS: Not many of these, but the big ones are the inability to rename files on the fly and the inability to resume a recording once stopped (you can do this if you simply pause the recording however but I'd like to be able to resume from a stopped or even powered `off' recording); it may do both of these, but I haven't figured it out yet. Also a problem is the fact that it doesn't come with a case of some sort.
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This recorder has excellent sound quality, impressive voice guided menu, easy to read display, great performance and key response, and is a great size and can conspicuously be put in your shirt pocket. It records to WMA files and can be plugged into your computer via USB as a USB drive. No software is even required to grab the files from it. It has a file system just like most digital cameras. The external speaker sounds quite good considering its size. The sound quality with headphones is fantastic. I didn't try it with music as there are much better things to listen to music with (i.e. iPod). The Music playback isn't a useful feature to me.

I first bought the Sony ICD-SX46VTP which had terrible sound quality and required software that complained of missing files during the install. I took it back in favor of the Olympus DS40 and I am really glad that I did. The Sony ICD-SX46VTP was terrible all around.
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I am very happy with this device which produces good quality recordings and is easy to use (didn't need to read the manual).

Here are a list of good and not-so-good points:

... Good bits ...

Very good sound quality. The supplied stereo mic (ME-53SH) does a great job and recordings sound very lively. I tend to use the middle sensitivity which gives great near-field recordings. The XQ quality setting sounds fine.

Good battery life. Using XQ (highest quality) I get nearly 8 hours of recording from a set of alkaline AAA cells. To save power I switch off the back-light because I hardly need it. I don't switch the device off, instead it goes into standby which means it is ready to use by pressing REC twice.

The supplied stereo mic is sufficiently directional to reject some ambient off-axis noise, giving better recordings.

I found the buttons quite usable, mostly you can operate the device without looking.

It is a very discrete unit - tiny! I've even made good recordings while it sat in my shirt pocket. You can switch off the red recording LED if it is distracting during an interview.

... Not-so-good bits ...

The supplied stereo mic does not fit firmly onto the device - it wobbles slightly. It is secured by a small jack plug in the middle and two small plastic locator pegs on the top of the unit. This means the mic doesn't feel firmly attached and isn't a robust connection. It is possibly subject to damage if mishandled. Perhaps this is why Olympus sell replacement mics for $25.

Olympus should supply a case for the device. I bought the $20 case (CS-113) which is expensive for a piece of felt but it protects the unit. The case also probably reduces some handling noise during recording.
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