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Olympus DS-2 Digital Voice Recorder

3.0 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews
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  • Compact digital voice recorder with 64 MB of internal memory and USB docking station
  • Up to 22 hours of recording time in LP mode; 12 total speed levels (8 fast playback and 4 slow playback)
  • Each of 5 file folders holds 199 files; includes DSS Player editing software
  • USB dock connects to Mac or PC for file transfers; voice activation for hands-free recording
  • 18 hours of operation on 2 AAA batteries (included); 1.48 by 4.8 by 0.69 inches (W x H x D)
3 new from $479.99 12 used from $53.71

Product Description

Product Description

The DS-2 is the high-performance instrument professionals need to get the job done. A built-in stereo microphone ensures crisp stereo sound and 64MB of internal memory supplies 22 hours of recording time (LP). Record via voice activation or from the easy-to-use buttons on the face of the recorder. With slow, fast, skip, and repeat playback options. Featuring DSS Player software for editing, archiving and more and a USB docking station for fast and easy file transfers. 12 different speed levels (8 in fast playback, 4 in slow playback) Skip playback and Repeat playback options Variable Control Voice Actuator (VVCA) setting saves time and battery life by recording only when sound is sensed AAA batteries supply up to 18 hours of continuous operation PC Interface USB cable Folders Messages - 5 folders capable of storing up to 199 files each DSS (LP/SP), WMA (HQ/SSP/SHQ) Recording Format with Built-in 64MB Recording Time - 22 hours 20 min (LP), 10 hours 25 min (SP), 4 hours 20 min (HQ), 2 hours 10 min (SSP), 1 hour 5 min (SHQ) Sampling Frequency - SHQ 44.1kHz 128kbps, SSP 44.1kHz 64kbps, HQ 44.1kHz 32kbps, SP 12kHz 13.7kbps, LP 8kHz 6.3kbps Overall Frequency Response - SHQ 100-17000Hz, SSP 100-8000Hz, HQ 100-7000Hz, SP 200-5000Hz, LP 200-3000Hz System Requirements - Intel Pentium II class 333 MHz processor or more, Power Mac G3 233 MHz or faster, Microsoft Windows ME, 2000 Professional, XP professional, Home Edition, Macintosh OS 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, RAM 128 MB or more (256MB or more is recommended), Sound Board Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 or 100% compatible sound card, USB Port, Earphone output or speakers Dimensions - 4.8 x 1.5 x 0.7 inch Weight - 80 grams


The advantages of digital voice recorders are numerous: superior sound, long recording times, and the convenience of built-in memory (much handier than hauling around several microcassettes). Enter the high-performance Olympus DS-2, which makes professional interviewing and dictation easy and efficient. With 64 MB of internal memory delivering up to 22 hours of total recording time in Long Play mode, the device is great for archiving long meetings or lectures, or for researching huge projects that require dozens of interviews. Users also have the choice of recording at several other speeds, including extreme high-quality modes that offer far less recording time (as little as one hour and five minutes) but much better audio resolution. The latter modes are more suitable for recording soft voices or when taking down complex song ideas--a process that's further assisted by the built-in stereo microphone designed to pick up all sides of a conversation with equal clarity.

The DS-2 is a breeze to use thanks to its straightforward front panel, from which users can quickly access or move files (the recorder comes with five folders, each capable of holding 199 files), set the alarm, or change the recording mode. Multitasking users will also delight in the voice activation function, which enables hands-free recording--a must when you're busy taking notes. Voice activation also saves battery life by powering off when no sound is detected. And when you just don't have time to attend to the details on the spot, you can set the DS-2 to record automatically over a fixed span. Simply enter the start and end times and the timer function is ready to go.

And though the DS-2 is primarily a recorder, the package comes with DSS Player software for editing and archiving files. The software offers a nice way to delete long silences, eliminate small talk, or combine two small but related passages into one large statement. Users can then transfer the files (they record in high-compression DSS and WMA formats) to a PC or Mac via the included USB docking station and cable. Once transferred, you can save them in perpetuity while freeing up the internal memory to record other interviews or meetings.

Additional features include a backlit LCD screen that shows the date, time, battery life, and more; 3.5 mm headphone and microphone jacks for added flexibility; and several basic and advanced playback options, including slow, fast, skip, and repeat. And best of all, the variety of functions come packed in a chassis that fits conveniently in your hand or pocket--quite unlike the bulky tape recorders of yesteryear. The DS-2, which also comes with a pair of earphones and a carrying case, runs for 18 hours on a single pair of AAA batteries (included) and carries a one-year warranty.

What's in the Box
DS-2 voice recorder, USB docking station, USB cable, stereo earphones, carrying case, DSS Player software CD, two AAA batteries, user's manual.

Product Information

Product Dimensions 2 x 1 x 5 inches
Item Weight 1 pounds
Shipping Weight 1.1 pounds
Domestic Shipping This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
International Shipping This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
Item model number 141757
Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #120,833 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
#759 in Electronics > Portable Audio & Video > Digital Voice Recorders
Date first available at Amazon.com March 23, 2005

Technical Specification


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Erb #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2005
The Olympus DS-2 Digital Voice Recorder is one of those breakthrough products that makes me want to recommend it to everyone I see.

Digital voice recorders have been around for a number of years and I have owned a few, a Sony and an older Olympus model. They have previously been very disappointing, mostly because of the poor sound quality. Comparing the DS-2 to older digital voice recorders is like comparing a high-end stereo system with a Victrola.

The DS-2 is a reasonably sized, very configurable digital voice recorder. But the term "voice recorder" is not the best description of this little gem. You will discover, as I did, that the quality of recording can be so good that you can easily record music and be quite satisfied with the incredible sound. It has a built-in stereo microphone and you can also attach an external stereo (or mono) microphone using the mini-jack mic input.

The built in speaker has decent output for its size. You can also use headphones or connect to a stereo or other audio device using the headphone output jack. I use a cassette tape adapter in my car which enables me to listen to my audio notes on my car stereo while driving.

The DS-2 has 5 different recording modes. 2 of them are Stereo (Stereo HQ-Stereo High Quality recording and Stereo SP-Stereo Standard recording) and the other 3 are mono (HQ-high quality, SP-standard recording, LP-long term recording). Olympus uses two different recording formats, WMA and DSS, depending on which recording mode you are in. WMA mode is used for all stereo recordings as well as the highest quality mono mode (HQ). The DSS format is used for the 2 lesser quality recording modes, SP and LP.
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As far as I can tell only Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus manufacture digital voice recorders. The Sony web site SORELY lacks good technical information on their units. In contrast the Olympus web site is rich in technical info and specs for their units. You can even download the DS-2 manual in .pdf format. The DS-2's sofware (DSS Player) is Macintosh compatible (OS X). It is clean, intuitive, and very functional even though it looks a bit OS 9-ish. It converts the .wma or .dss files to .aiff for manipulation in Garageband, iTunes, or Quicktime Pro. The DS-2 is simple to use and I am pleased with the sound quality right out of the recorder.
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The Olympus DS-2 has become my memory, and my safety net at work. I can't imagine working without it.

So why would I only give it 4 stars? It's not perfect. Let me give a few reasons and caveats:

First, the bad...

It's 64MB. I knew the recording time going in, and I'm not complaining -- it's just a touch expensive given the memory size in my opinion. Wish it were 128 for this price.

There is no on-off; just a "hold" that essentially turns it off, sort of. Not a big deal, but you wouldn't know it unless you read the instructions thoroughly.

Finally, the menus. I really would suggest reading the manual about the recording lengths and qualities. Within the menu structure, it doesn't say whether you're recording as .wma or .dss, just hi-quality, super hi-quality, etc. etc.

Now the good...

It records in .wma file format. This is key for me. I did not, and will not be installing the software that comes with the product. I'm sure it's fine, but a great selling point for me was that the recorder acts as a mass storage device under Windows XP. What's that mean? You plug it in, and it's recognized as a drive. You open it, and it has a matching 5 folders - the same 5 folders that are available on the menu. Open them, and you see the .wma files. Drag them on your desktop. Double click, and they play. Windows Media Player goes to work without any conversions or proprietary software. Also, Ctrl-Shift-G speeds up the recording to 1.5 times. Even better! Read the manual to be sure that you have the device in Mass Storage Class mode.

The microphone is excellent! You'll notice the frequency response on the specs. It's pretty darn wide. Nothing below 100hz, but that's fine for voice.
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I just got my DS-2 the other day and I have been putting it through its paces before I take it out to the real world. Here is what I have learned:

Recording is fairly simple. There are some features & options associated with recording, and it's a little annoying at first figuring out how to manipulate those features. But once you get past that initial learning stage, it's pretty easy. And the recording quality is good, no complaints there, even at the lower quality levels.

The main reason that initial learning curve exists is because manual that comes with the product sucks. Clearly, it was written by people for whom English is not their first language. In addition, key steps are often omitted from the instructions. This becomes especially apparent when you try to plug your device into your computer and go forward from that.

But now that I've gotten past the various technical hurdles, I think I'll really like using this recorder. I've decided my favorite recording level is HQ mode, which provides a high level of clarity, and it still gives me over 4 hours of recording time. A higher quality level would trim back my recording time too much for my needs. The playback is very clear, and lots of aspects of the playback are adjustable.

For transcription purposes, the DSS player software allows as much functionality as a cassette transcription machine with foot pedal. Instead of using a foot pedal, you can stop, rewind, raise the volume, or make other adjustments using the function keys, or other keys you customize. You can set it to auto-rewind back 0 seconds or up to 5 seconds, you can slow the playback, reduce background noise, or raise the volume, all on the fly.
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