Customer Reviews: Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder (Black)
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on April 28, 2010
I purchased the Sony ICD-PX820 to record meetings. My first use was in a conference room about 20x35 ft. Eight people around a large table. The recorder was placed at one end. Ninety (90) minutes of recording on HQ, noise reduction, high sensitivity. Sound quality was amazing. At the meeting I had trouble hearing some softer voices. Sound quality was reasonably good from the built-in speaker. Playback on my laptop was crystal clear. Headphones sound great too. Softer voices came in clearly. 90 Minutes at HQ created a 80mb mp3 file.

Why I bought this recorder and think it is excellent:

1. Device records in MP3 format.
2. Connects to PC via USB.
3. Drag and Drop files directly to PC in Windows explorer.
4. 4 Quality Levels SHQ, HQ, SP, LP.
5. Record time SHQ 22+ hrs, HQ 33+ hrs, SP 89+ hrs, LP 535+ hrs.
5. Voice Activated Recording (Starts recording when there is sound, stops when there is no sound)
6. Noise reduction setting eliminates background noise like rustling papers.
7. High sensitivity for meetings, Low sensitivity for dictation.
8. Adjustable speed playback.
9. Sturdy Build quality.

Basic use is very easy. The buttons and interface are easy to use and understand. I was comfortable using the recorder after I played around with it for about 5 minutes. It took another few minutes to get familiar with the menu navigation. I would recommend testing the settings before you need to use them.

I have not tried the included voice editing software.

I am very pleased with my purchase. This is an excellent value.
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on June 5, 2010
I purchased this for my wife who is a technophobe and who wanted something easy to use. She was able to figure out how to record memos on this with zero prompting from me.

So I'm rating this 5 stars simply for the following reasons:

-No nonsense controls/interface
-When plugged into the PC (or Mac!), shows up as a generic Flash drive
-Files are MP3 format
-Generous capacity

It really could not be any easier to use and I've seen a lot of terrible gadgets in my day. I really appreciate the fact that no software installation is necessary to get files off of it and the files are a very portable format (MP3). And since it's a generic Flash drive, you can use it like a regular Flash drive for file transport. I put a text file on it with basic contact info in case it ever gets lost.

I can't really vouch for the quality of the recordings since we haven't used it in a wide variety of circumstances yet, but the one use so far was of a seminar in a large auditorium and, given the conditions, it did a fine job of it (at the highest quality setting).
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on July 14, 2010
If you are looking for a reasonably priced voice recorder that records in a high quality MP3 format, look no further. (Official release date of February/2010) Sony's new SHQ mode (Super High Quality) can record an MP3 file at 192 kbps, with a frequency range of 75Hz - 20,000Hz, and at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. And for a voice recorder, those are EXCELLENT audio specs! According to the manual, the 2 GB of memory in this unit will hold approximately 22-hours of recording time in this SHQ mode, with a rated 30-hours of battery life in this same SHQ recording mode.

As a self-proclaimed "audiophile", 192 kbps has forever been my MP3 sweet-spot for music (even back when 128 kbps songs were all the rage). To me, 192 kbps has always been the perfect compromise between small file size & high quality audio, so I am VERY pleased to see that there is finally an affordable voice recorder with this high quality recording option. And by the way, these recorded files are just like any other MP3 file, which means they can be dropped right into an iPod's Playlist Folder.

My 2nd favorite feature is its built-in "recording buffer". When you set the unit to record in VOR (Voice Operated Recording) and there is no sound for a few seconds, it will automatically "pause" the recording, and then automatically resume the recording when it detects another sound (or spoken word). What the recording buffer does, is that whenever the recording resumes (in a lecture for example), it will record "almost all" of the first syllable of the first spoken word. In comparison, my previous Olympus voice recorder would usually MISS the WHOLE first word after a recording pause. As a result, every sentence after a recording pause usually began with a missing word, which I always found a bit irritating. This Sony recorder will not do that.

Though I am not as big of a Sony fan as I used to be in years past, you really can't go wrong with this voice recorder, and I highly recommend it.


* Has a SHQ (Super High Quality) recording option which records at 192 kbps with a wide frequency range.

* The VOR (Voice Operated Recording) mode records every word spoken, which is particularly helpful when recording important lectures with lots of "pauses". It's not 100% perfect, but it's pretty darn close.

* Has a DPC (Digital Pitch Control) mode which allows playback of a the speaker's voice at any speed without changing the "pitch" of their original voice. This is good for slowly writing down notes from a recorded lecture.

* Has a very user-friendly button interface which could not have been designed better, (an area in which Sony has always excelled at). It's the perfect compromise between full functionality & user-friendly simplicity.

* The optional software is not buggy on my XP computer, and has a nice interface. It's a simple screen that allows easy access to all of the unit's features.


* For a compact recorder, this unit is not "all" that small. In other words, I would not label this as a "slim line" voice recorder. The total width on the bottom half of this unit is actually 3/4" thick. The reason is because the item's battery pack (which holds 2 AAA's) tapers "out" on the bottom half. So on a front-angled picture you don't see it's overall true thickness. Not a big deal, but it's worth mentioning if your looking for something super thin.

UPDATE: If you are looking for a "super-thin" voice recorder, look at the new "Sony ICDTX50 Digital Flash Voice Recorder", which I also wrote an extensive review on.
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on April 25, 2010
I've had this for about a week now and use it at work. It works exactly like a flash-drive and I have had absolutely no problems loading the Sony editing software into my Windows 7-64 bit computer. The sound is great and the software seems to work as advertised. I don't even need the software if I want to simply burn a disk. The recorder records in MP-3 and the software allows it to be converted to a number of other formats. The only thing I wish it had was the ability to rename the folders that are in the recorder itself, and a direct USB connection to an MP-3 player so I didn't have to go through the computer to put stuff onto the player. Otherwise, I love it. I'll make additional comments as I use it more.

Two weeks later: This is an update from Jack. I still really like this recorder. If I had the internal USB jack I wouldn't have the speaker, and I like the speaker. So far I would not change a thing.
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on October 14, 2010
The Sony ICD-PX820 does most of what I want, and even more of what I wish it didn't. The menu is cluttered with unnecessary or indecipherable options, including an alarm clock feature, overdubbing, audio appending. But most annoying is the fact that when used with an external mono microphone, it creates a stereo mp3 file. This means that audio is only on the left track... This can be fixed in post production, but it is just mind-blowing that someone thought that stereo recording was a good idea for this device.
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on June 20, 2010
I've had this recorder for a couple of days now. The basic operations such as record, playback, recording quality setting, erase and moving files and setting microphone sensitivity took less than 15 minutes to memorize and master. Compared to the old Panasonic digital recorder I had before, the sound quality on this model at the SP setting (next to the lowest quality recording) blows away my old Panasonic at the HIGHEST quality setting. The microphone sensitivity setting works VERY well! For strictly voice recordings in a quiet environment, I noticed little difference between SP and SHQ. I imagine that under different conditions, there are noticible differences. SLP is USABLE, but the sound quality isn't very good... but again it is adequate for voice only. At the low microphone sensitivity setting you should hold the microphone no more than about two inches on the side of your mouth. That will give you plenty of volume! This is the perfect recorder for dictation... it does have vox (voice actuated recording). I have not tried the software that comes with the recorder yet. I will after I return from Europe in late July. I am completely satisfied with this recorder for any voice recording application I can think of!

The only additional feature that would be nice would be the ability to add more folders. The recorder comes with only five folders. Each folder is limited to 99 files. At SP speed you get over 89 hours of recording. My average note is around 30 seconds. However, with only five folders at 99 files per folder, that comes out to a total of only 495 notes with around 247 minutes of recording time (4 hours seven minutes)for all 5 folders combined. I know MANY people use these for recording meetings or classes that can take hours. It's just that it would be nice to have the OPTION to add folders. Right now I use folder A for general notes, folder B for ideas in photography or photojournalism either in the car, at home or on vacation. Folder C I use for recording names of people I photograph with my digital camera frame reference number along with phone and address, folder D I use for recording titles to new songs I hear in my car that I really like. I use folder E for personal thoughts on the news and my political commentary!! :) This is a great recorder!! Very highly recommended!

UPDATE: Feb 28th, 2011:
I lost this recorder last week.. so I have ordered this same model again... but THIS time I ordered it from B & H Photo for about $7 less TODAY.

WARNING: I originally ordered this via Amazon from DataVision Computer Video about two weeks ago. I was told on my order that this would be shipped about 4 days after I ordered it and that it would arrive between 2-24 and March 1st. Yesterday was the end of the "window" for delivery, yet it had not even shipped yet. I called DataVision Computer Video TODAY and was told the order was cancelled!! WHAT A TRIP!!! Amazon didn't cancel the order, and neither had I!! After checking again, I can see why DataVision cancelled my order. They raised their price on this recorder!! They didn't WANT to sell it to me at their price the day I ordered it! This retailer should be removed and banned permanantly by Amazon!! They are CROOKS! I would recommend that you avoid DataVision Computer Video LIKE THE PLAGUE when ordering this. It appears that they make promises they REFUSE TO keep. Amazon no longer lists them as the seller of this recorder. But they ARE still on Amazon's list of "partners"! I am shocked!
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on February 9, 2011
I got this recorder because it was considerably cheaper than the professional digital recorders I was looking at. First off, I can assure you that if you're deciding between the ICD-BX800 and this ICD-PX820 you should definitely choose this model. It has a crucial ability to connect via USB cable to a computer to save your wanted recordings.

My main purpose for this recorder is for in-class note taking. I first tried using this recorder using LP (Long Play Mode) and the playback was terrible. It had a lot of noise (sounding like those computer labs in old movies with a bunch of subtle beeps); then I switched to SP (Standard Play Mode; which can record over 89 hours). The sound quality at SP mode is a lot better (for note taking that is). I also tried recording in LP Mode with the Noise Cutter on and it still sounds terrible (so stick with SP or higher).

So this recorder should be taken into consideration when you have lectures to record and notes to take; however, as for you singers and musicians, I highly suggest you spending more money for a better quality recorder (one preferably with 3 microphones with microphone wind-guard).

I pushed the recorder a little further and began using HQ (High Quality Mode). At this mode, the quality is not noticeable from the recorder's speaker; however, when you play it on a computer using quality headphones, earplugs, or hi-def speakers, you can actually hear the sound to be a lot more crisp than SP Mode. Finally, I used SHQ (Super High Quality Mode) and just like HQ Mode, it requires good speakers to listen to specific pitches and notes. What I also noticed when comparing SHQ to SP mode is that I can hear my classmates' mumbling and can make out a few words on SHQ Mode whereas in SP Mode all I can hear is the professor. Take into consideration the size of your classrooms. I tried all these modes in classes that fit about 35 people and in class/auditoriums that fit over 200 people (auditoriums are a bit harder to record; however, sitting in front will make a big difference; also helps if your professor speaks loudly).

So you can definitely use this digital recorder for multiple purposes, but I highly suggest this recorder to be used for note taking. While you can use this recorder for recording your own musical mixtapes, I still recommend you to-be-artists, singers, and musicians to use a more professional grade digital recorder.

With that, here are my pros and cons:

- Relatively inexpensive when comparing to professional grade digital recorders
- Digital! Forget those old tapes!
- Recording content uploadable
- Nice, easy to see and feel buttons (Easy to tell what button is what instead of guessing)
- Fairly simple to use (glance at the manual just once and you should understand it 99%)
- Has 5 folders to separate your recordings (Gives you A to E folders; also holds 99 files per folder)
- Easy to use menu with a lot of features (Voice Operated Recording, Noise Cut, Recording Mode, etc.)
- Comes with USB cable
- Has a lock ability
- Playback volume can be turned up quite loud
- Comes with 2 AAA batteries
- Not bulky nor heavy (should weigh less than your average smart phone)

- The quality of construction feels cheap (however, I had no defects of any sort appear)
- When it said LED, it was easy to misunderstand that the device had a LED backlight screen (it does not, instead the LED refers to a small LED at the top right that will flash/or stay on when in use)
- Sony only posts the LP Mode recording time (they should have posted all the recording times for each mode, since I'm not going to use the terrible LP Mode, those 535 hours and 55 minutes of recording won't do me any good)
- Has a lanyard hole but DOES NOT come with a lanyard (What's up with that?)
- Memory not expandable
- Hard to use in the dark since nothing is lit up

Other Note(s):
- According to the manual it comes with, here are the recording times for each mode:
SHQ: 22hr 15min
HQ: 33hr 25min
SP: 89hr 15min
LP: 535hr 55min
- Comes with 2 AAA Sony batteries

- BE SURE TO KEEP THIS RECORDER AWAY FROM CELL/MOBILE PHONES WHEN RECORDING (or just turn off or change your phone into airplane mode), the cell/mobile phone's signals will create those fast tiny beeps in your recordings like your hear when you put your cell/mobile phone really close to a speaker and then you will ruin your recording (by the way, the beeps have nothing to do with having the recorder in LP mode)
- Also be sure to point the microphone towards what you are trying to record (for lectures, you want to sit in front of the class for a more direct path to the lecturer)
- Try using the LP mode first and see if you hear the same problems I hear (if not, continue using LP because you can record way more at this mode)
- Get a lanyard and attach it to this if you can because it's quite slim so having a lanyard might reduce loosing this recorder
- Buy a screen protector for this recorder
- Most importantly, upload your recordings frequently not just because for backup but also to hear the recordings more clearly and so you can organize the recording according to your notes or whatever it is you use it for

Ultimately, I gave this a (4/5) stars mainly because this recorder does not perform well at LP recording mode and the fact that I felt that this recorder is lacking a bit in features for it's price (even though it is cheaper than the more professional recorders).

Thanks for reading this review, cheers!
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on August 11, 2010
This is the first voice recorder I have ever used (save for the mic on my MP3 player) and I must say I am very satisfied with this product. I skipped even trying to finagle my way through the settings without the manual--basically started it up initially with the manual in my hands. The manual is extremely well-written. It covers everything in easy-to-understand, yet explicit instructions on every function. The getting started section most definitely got me started--as well as excited about how useful this device will be!

One of the things I thoroughly enjoy are the ports for both a microphone and headphones. I have a headset that it worked flawlessly with.

Another thing that I enjoy is the shape and design of the device. It fits comfortably in your hand (very ergonomic whether you hold it with your left or right hand) and the buttons for recording and playback are easy to distinguish when not looking (a depressed record button and a rounded play button).

Oh High microphone sensitivity, the unit picks up sounds from all around (front, back, sides)--papers rustling, fingers snapping, etc. These background noises can be annoying, but Sony thought of everything! There is an option to reduce frequencies not in the range of the human voice, basically cutting out the junk noise. Low sensitivity works perfectly for dictation straight into the device and background noises are not picked up.

I have not used the software included with the device, but I can say that when the unit is connected to a computer running Windows 7, the device is immediately recognized. The folder structure is as on the device itself (five folders, A-E) making known where your recordings are an easy find.

OVERALL: Very good quality, ergonomic device that is user-friendly with a well-written manual.
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on November 30, 2010
Need a no-brainer? This recorder is so intuitive and (virtually) idiot-proof. It can be used "right out of the box", but can be fine-tuned even better if you scope out the manual. It is said to be Dragon-compatible; I haven't tried it yet (haven't got Dragon yet), but I've used this non-stop daily, and it's my second brain. I have a folder for stuff I think of after going to bed; it really helps me to sleep with it. Then I don't worry about remembering something, and I can actually sleep better knowing I left myself a message.

Has headphone & microphone jacks, can choose from folders A-E to separate recordings(it will use folder A if you don't choose). It also comes with all necessary cords...not microphone or headphones, of course. You can always see at a glance: What folder you are in, how many recordings are in each folder and which recording you are on (ex: The picture above shows folder "A" in the very top left of the screen, and 7/77, the 7th recording out of 77 in that folder), what quality level you are using, how much time you have left, how long the recording is (so if you're looking for the 4-hour recording you made, or the 30 minute one, you'll find the right one in 2 seconds or less), fast-forward and rewind by holding the << or >> button down, or don't hold it and flip through your recordings. Everything is fast, easy, and well-organized. You can stop, start, rewind, and fast-forward it without even looking at it. You can set the date and time, do voice activated recording or not, change sensitivity levels, set an alarm, whatever. It does more than I need it for, and I like to have organizing features. I love this thing. Quality is top-notch.

Don't want a complicated recorder, don't want to mess with folders? You don't have to. Nothing about this recorder is complicated; the many features are just a "scroll-through and select" thing if you want them-or just ignore them and hit "record" and "stop", the two biggest buttons.

Just buy it and be glad you have it! There's a lot of junk out there, and this is a gem.
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on September 5, 2010
After reading reviews for different sound recorders, this one appeared to be excellent for recording lectures, so I ordered it. I'm very disappointed. The crappy microphone on my laptop produces better recordings, even at a distance of 15 ft.

Conditions and settings I've used for recording:
* I sit around 7 ft away from my professors.
* The microphone is pointed at the professor and the recorder is on the desk ~1 ft away from me in order to prevent it picking up the sound of my writing.
* SHQ (super high quality recording)
* H (for recording distant/low sounds)
* N-Cut on (supposedly reduces distortion of very low/high frequencies outside the normal human vocal range, making the recorded voice sound more clear) I've recorded lectures with it on and off, but this setting barely makes a difference.

What I'm trying to record:
* Two male professors who speak with an average lecturing volume/tone.
* One male professor who nearly shouts his lectures.

Playback methods I've tried:
* Lectures are uploaded to my computer from the recorder.
* Various programs with different audio playback settings, though I've settled on using my MP3 player due to constantly needing to press pause/play.
* Laptop speakers (Sony Vaio) - Like most laptops, these speakers have horrible sound quality and can't play anything loud enough.
* Desktop speakers (non-cheapo stereo speakers) - Can't clearly hear the recordings at a decent volume.
* 3 different sets of earbuds. My noise-cancelling ones work the best, though I still have to turn up the volume way too much just to hear what's being said.

* Professor #1: He has a good lecturing volume. People 30 ft away can hear him just fine, yet this recorder can barely pick up his voice from 7 ft away. It sounds like he's talking into a pillow. When I turn the volume up while playing back the recording, his voice competes with the sound of static.
* Professor #2: He speaks softer than professor #1 and sometimes mumbles. His recordings are full of static, plus a hissing sound that drowns out his voice. These recordings are useless because I can't make out what he's saying.
* Professor #3: He speaks very loud in a small classroom (loud enough that he hurts my ears no matter where I'm sitting). On the recording, his voice sounds more pronounced than my other professors and is picked up quite well, though his recording also has a constant hiss, making it difficult to understand his accent.

Persisting through every recording is the beeping/screeching sound of cell phone interference. You know the obnoxious sound a speaker makes when a nearby cell phone sends/receives a signal? That sound. Really loud. Nonstop. It's beyond annoying and makes it impossible to focus on what's being said. It's difficult enough to hear a muffled voice through a constant hiss. Since the voice is muffled, I have to play the recording at a high volume. The sound of the interference is so loud that I have to hit pause and lower the volume to its lowest setting, causing me to miss out on vital parts of the lecture. I've tried listening through the beeping/screeching, but it ends up making me lose hearing for the rest of the day.

I hate this recorder. It was a waste of money and has literally given me headaches. If you know of a better recorder for lectures, please leave your recommendation as a comment!
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