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Olympus Digital Voice Recorder DM-420

3.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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  • 533 Hours of Recording
  • 2gb memory and Micro SD Compatible
  • MP3 & WMA Recording
  • Built-in Stereo Microphone
  • 51 Hour Batt.Life
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Product Description

An ultra high-quality stereo microphone steps up to the plate and special sound editing software brings it on home. And in between are a series of features-from 2GB of internal memory, to MP3 and WMA recording format capabilities, to sophisticated user-friendly editing software-that make the DM-420 the recorder of champions.

Product Information

Product Dimensions 0.6 x 1.5 x 4.3 inches
Item Weight 3.2 ounces
Shipping Weight 10.4 ounces
Item model number DM-420
Customer Reviews
3.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #85,228 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
#595 in Electronics > Portable Audio & Video > Digital Voice Recorders
Date first available at Amazon.com October 2, 2001


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Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
I needed this primarily for recording personal coaching sessions both in person and on the phone. I wanted a stereo recorder that saved files in a non-proprietary format such as WMA or MP3, and I needed it to run on an external AC power supply as well as on batteries. This is one of very few recorders that meets those requirements.

At first I was disappointed because, out of the box, you cannot make recordings while it's plugged in to the power supply. The default configuration assumes that when the USB connector is plugged in to the power supply, you are really doing file transfer rather than recording. In this respect, my old Olympus DS-40 is better, because the external power supply connects to a mini power jack that is separate from the USB port. Another non-intuitive difficulty I encountered in using the power supply is that it will NOT recharge the internal batteries unless you hold the "STOP" button down while plugging in the power supply.

It takes some digging through the PDF manual hidden in one of the recorders file folders to discover the "USB Connect" configuration settings, where I was able to change the configuration to ask on startup whether I was charging the device in PC mode or in recorder mode. The quick start printed manual does not contain that information. Frankly, I prefer the intuitive simplicity of the separate power connector on the old DS-40. Also, the DM-420 manual says you cannot leave regular alkaline batteries in place while running the recorder on the power supply, and yet the power supply does not work if the batteries are removed. My old DS-40 can run on the power supply with batteries removed, and it doesn't care if the batteries are regular or rechargeable because it's not trying to recharge them.
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Verified Purchase
I bought this to record forensic examinations I do. So people may be speaking quietly, whispering, crying etc. The initial couple of times I tried it, I could not get enough volume out of the internal mikes. I tried the different scene settings and still the sound wasn't there. It wasn't until I fought through the manual and found out how to use the monoraul zoom microphone setting that I was able to get acceptable sound from two people speaking in a modest size room. Which brings me to the manual. Of course, it's only on disk, so you either have to read it on screen or print it out. And it's written in Japanese English... "the functioning of the Euphony will be the sound enhanced." Thereby, making it next to useless when trying to drill down through the various menu settings to try to make adjustments. Olympus is a huge company--you think they could afford an English speaking technical writer.

The software that comes with it seems to be first-rate, enabling all kinds of conversions, joins of separate files, volume-matching etc. It is very helpful in making adjustments for what is recorded.

One other point--I know websites are supposed to sell things, but I went to the Olympus site multiple times to see which of their digital recorders would do the job I needed done. The site is so loaded with praise for every product that it's very hard to make a reasonable decision about which of their devices to buy. Is the $400 professional dictating one really the one I should have gotten? Why did this one win Hammacher-Schlemmer's 'best' rating as opposed to the others? Would the $99 one have been as good?

I now own it and still have no idea if I got the right one.
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Verified Purchase
The Olympus DM420 is an excellent recorder. The control buttons and menus are very easy to use. Even the battery compartment very well designed and much easier to use than anything else I've seen. The display shows the battery level and plenty of information about the settings in use during recording and playback, as well as the timestamp. It is an excellent recorder for both voice and line input. Although not advertised or specified as having a line input, it is sensitive enough to accept a tape out signal using the microphone input, so that there is no need to worry about setting the volume level of the earphone output of the radio being recorded. The pdf instruction manual is stored in the memory and can be copied to your computer for learning all the options not obvious on the screen menu. I had to read the manual to understand the settings related to using the USB connection for file transfer versus external power for recording or playback. Another useful feature not indicated in the published specifications and reviews I had seen, is the ability to program the recorder to record at three separate times with various settings for program length and quality. The feature of this recorder most important for my choosing it over others is the ample playback speaker which produces enough volume, with 320 mW power output, for listening without earphones, and still, the replaceable, rechargeable batteries last many days between charges.
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Verified Purchase
For professional reasons, I need sometimes to record interviews and lectures.
I had already an Olympus DM-520 (an outstanding product) and decided to buy this DM-420, which is essentially the same, but with half the recording capacity. If you have to record important interviews, lectures and so on, you should better use 2 recorders at once, to guarantee a backup, just in case: the double recording is far cheaper than the possible loss of data.
The reason for the choice of a DM-420 instead of another DM-520 was the color: the DM-520 is black and the DM-420 is silver, so it is quite easy to identify the recorders. And, as a matter of fact, I think that, for most users, 500 hours or 1000 hours will mean the same. Just remembering: 500 hours mean some 21 continuous days of recording time and the batteries will not last for 1 day.
As told before, the DM-420 and the DM-520 are very similar. They use the same technology, the same microphone (wich is the most critical component of a digital recorder) and the same software. They are, by far, the best portable non-professional digital recorders I've ever seen, for several reasons:
1. The microphone is very, very accurate. Other cheaper recorders (including other Olympus models) distort the sound and, in some cases, it is not easy to listen and undestand what was recorded;
2. The rechargeable batteries last for a long time (I'd say some 20 hours of continuous recording);
3. The software is nice. For sure, it could be better, but it is at least ok and represent a huge improvement compared to previous Olympus software releases;
4. They are so light and small, and come with a stylish protective case;
5. The operation is very easy and quite intuitive. The manual is reasonable;
6. The voice activation feature (i.e.
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