Customer Reviews: Sony ICD-AX412 Stereo Digital Voice Recorder
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on October 22, 2011
I was really hesitant about buying a voice recorder. I thought about it years ago but thought it would be a waste to hear 2 hr lectures again, BUT with the "T-Mark" button which allows me to "bookmark" a part of the recording, I can easily skip through all of the other stuff to things I thought were important. I especially like that I can also place a T-Mark after the recording has been made and I have reviewed it. The sound quality is great on this recorder, and the Noise Cut is a great help when reviewing with ear buds. Especially since I tend to move a lot of paper around during lecture. I also really like that you can record in different folders, and you can come back to where you left off if you leave the recording. The speed control is also great in case the person said something too quick, you don't have to sit there and try to figure it out. Although I have yet to try it, I'm really looking forward to being able to transfer things onto my computer. I really like that this function is available, or you can also use a memory card for transfer. I like that it has a little "stand" attached to it so it does not have to lay flat as it is recording (reduces noise). The recorder also saves batteries by shutting down after about 1 minute of non use (not playing/recording/deleting). You can simply place it on hold if you need to step away for a small period to say for example take a quick phone call or bathroom break. Overall great product, lightweight, easy to use, and comes with a carrying bag. Although it is a bit on the higher side of the price scale for all of the recorders I looked at here on Amazon, it is well worth the investment if you plan to use it for a long period of time.

*UPDATE*- Have been using this for about 6 months now with no problems. Sounds great when played back and has come in real handy after a LONG day of lectures in multiple classes. I sometime listen to it in the car instead of the radio. Also, if you ever find that you transfered one of the MP3 files to the computer and it's a 6 hour long file that you forgot to break up, there is a program I use called Slice Audio File Splitter. It is free to download on CNET. It lets you choose how many pieces you want the file broken down to or you can choose to break it down by any amount of time you choose. I use this for audiobooks as well that I listen to on my MP3 player. Hope this helps!
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on June 25, 2011
I use a voice recorder extensively for my work in on-the-road sales as an important supplement to my regular note-taking. I also use it extensively for personal reminders and other personal matters. I used an RCA voice recorder prior to this for a number of years before it bit the dust. The Sony AX412 puts the RCA to shame in all respects. Recording quality is excellent and it does a pretty fair job of blocking out road noise and noise from my noisy a/c unit. I've even used the Sony to record sounds that I use in my 3D animations and they've turned out extremely well. Since my primary use of this recorder is for note-taking, I have not tested this device yet in meeting/lecture situations, therefore my review is admittedly somewhat limited in terms of it's effectiveness in other situations.

For my purposes, which is primarily riding around in a van all day, I started checking out the various voice levels to see which ones would be best suited for my needs. The device has various recording "scenes" to choose from such as Voice Notes, Interview, Lecture and Meeting. After some experimentation, I decided the Interview scene mode worked best for my situation. The Meeting scene also worked almost as well, but I believe (and I could be wrong about this) that the Meeting mode actually requires more memory. Voice Notes, which you would logically assume would be the best choice, was actually the least desirable in terms of volume level on playback. The volume was way too low and because I'm hard of hearing, that just made it totally unacceptable.

The manual is pretty clear on most things but it got a little hard for me at first to understand when it came to adding files to existing files, but it turned out to be pretty easy once I began experimenting with the software that comes with it. I like the fact that this software allows me to combine separate but related files into one file. In fact, the Sound Organizer software is really quite excellent overall and provides a wide range of tools that can be used to manipulate your sound files. Beyond that, the manual is very well written and very clear. Transferring files from the device to the computer was very important to me and this works flawlessly.

The sound quality, whether the recorded voice or music,is outstanding when played back through my computer speakers. It serves as a very respectable MP3 player. Of course, it records in stereo MP3 format. I will say that because I deal with a lot of road noise, I do have to hold the microphone(s) fairly close to my mouth when recording if I want nice and crystal clear recordings, which is just fine with me. I have done quite a bit of experimenting holding the device away from me and below my mouth level, etc and find that sound quality suffers pretty radically, so I simply keep it close to my mouth when recording and it does the job just fine. Again, bear in mind, that my van is noisy, there's a lot of traffic noise and the a/c is very noisy. It would take a pretty expensive and sophisticated mic setup to overcome all that. We're talking about a device that sells for under $100 here and, keeping that in perspective, the AX412 does a remarkable job.

There are some features that this device has that I have not really tested. One of those is voice-activation. Personally, I don't have much use for it at this time. The AX412 also has a plug-in for an external mic which I think is another very cool feature to have as an option. An external mic coupled with voice activation could be very useful in meeting and lecture situations. Obviously, it has a headphone input as well. Memory can be expanded by use of micro SD cards. You can slow down or speed up speech and/or playback. It has a noise cut filter than can be turned on or off. I usually leave the noise filter on for all of those reasons previously stated.

The unit is very durable. I have dropped it a number of times and it had held up very well. Now I'm not saying it could take a lot of punishment, but it has survived my clumsiness so far. By the way, it comes with a nice protective draw-string bag to keep it in. Very helpful for people like me.

One very nit-picking complaint I have is that the erasure procedure is somewhat more cumbersome than i would like. However, it is probably a good thing that you can't easily accidentally erase your files, so maybe it's actually a good thing that you have to go through a series of procedures first before the file can be erased. Again, it isn't that big a deal; it isn't that hard. With my previous RCA recorder, all I had to do was hold down a button and it would erase the recording.

If I had to single out any real complaints, it would be that the playback volume on the device itself is not as loud as I would like when using it in the company van. Even at the maximum volume levels, I have to hold it pretty close in order to hear it, but again, bear in mind that I am hard of hearing. Also, I have discovered that most of the problems I've had with playback volume can be solved by simply remembering to hold the microphone closer to my mouth. Battery life is pretty decent. It uses 2 triple A's. I like the fact that the device will turn itself off if no recording activity is detected after a period of time.

In spite of of these nit-picks, I have to give the AX412 five stars because I believe that, for this particular price point, it may just be one of the hidden jewels and best deals around. "At rest" sound quality is outstanding. That it records as well as it does in the noisy environment that I use it in is remarkable. It's easy to use and versatile. It can even act as a flash drive for those that need that capability. To be quite honest, this device is probably more than I really need, but I certainly don't regret having purchased it. I can highly recommend this to anyone looking for a reasonably priced, but powerful little digital recorder.

Update: April 18, 2012
Well, it's been going on a year now and this recorder has held up beautifully. I have now used it to record product demonstrations & company lectures. For these last, I think it would have been better if I would have had a more powerful mic placed in a more appropriate spot. Or perhaps with a little more experimentation (like changing the "Scene" mode), I would have had better results. Nevertheless, this has been an extraordinarily useful and easy-to-use tool for my work as a roadman-type sales rep. I even use it to track my mileage! And yes, I'm still clumsy and this thing has continued to take it's share of knocks and still performs flawlessly. I have yet to buy or try out a microSD memory card with it, but I also have never yet run out of memory and I often record 2 hours a day (or more) with it without transferring it to my computer. I know, that's not too smart, but still, it amazes me how much data this thing will hold. As before, I still highly recommend it.
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on February 1, 2012
I am a volunteer for a local agency that collects oral histories for the Veterans' History Project(Library of Congress). I wanted a recorder that is easy to use, provides good quality sound and enables me to easily import the audio files to my laptop and then burn a cd copy. This recorder met all of my requirements and fully exceeded my expectations! I have used it several times and have been pleased with the quality of the recording and ease of use.
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on January 11, 2012
I bought this to record lectures in my History class. Four hours of pure lecture a week for a full term, this unit worked to perfection. I sit in the back of the class, and with a few settings changes, I was able to pick up my professor from the back of the classroom with perfect clarity. It also does a good job of cancelling out other sounds while recording (like zippers and general shuffling that occurs in the classroom). I have the entire term recorded in mp3 128mbs quality, and have like 80% of the memory left. Also, it is still using the pair of batteries that came with the unit. They are close to dead, but this is because I left it on accidentally over the course of several weekends. I highly recommend this to anyone that has a lecture heavy class, or just wants to make sure they don't miss anything.
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on November 25, 2012
I'm a reporter, and I used it to record public meetings. It ran quietly, competently recording without complaint. I WISH it had more volume on replay--but I bought headphones to deal with that. I also WISH I could figure out how to put in the markers...The instructions are NOT simple.

HOWEVER, after six meetings, the little recorder says "memory full," but when I try to erase, it says "no file" in every folder. Try "record" again, "memory full." And apparently it doesn't let one re-format a screwed-up memory.

So I bought a memory card. It took 12 minutes for it to finish "accessing." I got it formatted, then recorded 10 seconds of test sounds. After I verified that it had recorded, I hit erase....and the only way I could get it to stop 15 minutes later was to remove the batteries.

AND when I put the batteries back it, it went back to "accessing."
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on October 30, 2011
I noticed my mom was using an old cassette recorder to record her Real Estate seminars online. I ordered this for her, its really nice, I luv the sound quality and ease of use. It has a micro SD slot, I popped in a few I had and the device didnt reconize them, reading the direction it stated I needed to buy specific brands of which one was sandisk, so I ordered 2 8 GB micro SD's and guess what? it still dont reconize these. But its so easy to drag and drop ur recordings to folders on ur PC, then erase the unit, the PC instantly recognizes the device. Its made my Moms life so much easier. Now I want one.
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on March 20, 2012
This recorder was purchased to document discussions with aging family members on our ancestors. They average 90 years of age. The small pedestal stand is handy and my first attempts to record my father was successful. The recordings were made in a dining hall with plenty of background noise (other conversations, sounds of dishes and silverware, etc.) yet the device picked up my father's low and quiet voice without difficulty. I am sure the quality will improve once I master the various pre-programmed settings.
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2011
I bought this for my dad who has insisted on using his dependable high end tape voice recorder -also a Sony- for twenty years.

There were some initial hurdles introducing this device: it has about 15 buttons all over it (old device: volume + tape controls), it takes almost 2 seconds to turn on (old device: instant) and it looks significantly cheaper (old device: metal).

Surprisingly, what won this hard-core tape user over in the end was the playback sound quality and small size. The entire gadgetry (pitch control, folders, safe erase, computer download, ...) made much less of an impression - I suppose these speak to different kind of users such as interviewers or transcribers, not "voice note takers".

All in all, this is a really sweet little recorder, easy to operate and with great voice sound quality. I'm withholding one star because it doesn't turn on instantly. I realize that the current competition is probably the same and it won't matter for many use cases, but when you give this to an older person who takes impromptu voice notes as they go about their day, it's a bit of a drawback.
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on October 2, 2011
I am very pleased with the Sony ICD-AX412. It is an extremely versatile digital voice recorder. The quality of the recorded audio is impressive. There are 4 recording modes available (SHQ, HQ, SP and LP). In SHQ mode, the 2GB of built-in memory can store up to 22 hours of stereo recordings with a frequency response of 75 to 20,000 Hz. In LP mode, 536 hours of mono recordings can be stored at a reduced frequency response of 75 Hz to 3,500 Hz.
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on January 16, 2012
I bought this as a gift for my husband who has previously used a cassette recorder to help him learn lines for his part in plays with the local community theatre. We haven't figured out all the bells and whistles yet, but the goal is to record the lines and be able to play them back at home or while out jogging. I like the multiple folders and files for different things he can record, although I haven't found a way we can actually put a name on each folder. He can pause, add to a file, etc. Those are features he will use. My only other concern is that the instructions aren't as user friendly as I would have liked.
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