Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder Review (DS30)


I have sold many brands and models of Digital Voice Recorders, during this time I have tested many recorders. I would have to say that the Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder is one of the most well rounded voice recorders as far the design and features it offers for the price. I like the Olympus DS-30 so much that I use it for a lot of my dictation and personal recording.

I use this recorder for dictating a daily audio journal, recording memos, and recording meetings. Recording memos works great because of the compact design of the DS-30, I can carry it around easy in my pocket and I hardly notice its already there, and when I need to record a quick reminder or an idea its always with me!

I have been very impressed with the ability of the DS-30 to record in settings where there is a large group of people. I have used the recorder in many of my church meetings; I record in a meeting room complete of at the minimum 200 people including children and babies. I just set it to record in lecture mode with the low-cut filter on and then when I play it back I set it to play back with noise canceling. When I play back recordings from church meetings I am very impressed with how clearly I can hear the speaker despite all the back ground noise and poor recording conditions!

One of the greatest features the Olympus DS-30 has is the ability to Index Mark. Index Marks: are digital tags that can be inserted while recording or during playback. They are used to skip forward or backward in recordings to pre-chosen points. Up to 16 Index Marks can be additional to a single file. When I am listening to a lecture and I hear something interesting I can mark meaningful points in the audio file that I can easily navigate back to at a later time.

Recording Modes

With three recording modes Olympus really knows how to make a Digital Voice Recorder they have taken into account all the environments someone would need to record in with the DS-30. Lecture Mode: has the highest microphone sensitivity and works great with large crowds and recording audio at a distance or low quantity. Conference Mode: works great in recording meetings and seminars with a small number of people. Dictation Mode: perfect for individual dictation. The DS-30 records as much as 67 hours in the lowest audio quality mode while it records about 4 hours in the highest recording quality mode.

There are also other recording settings you can adjust with the Olympus DS-30; my favorite is the LowCut filter. The LowCut Filter: minimizes low-frequency sounds and record voices more clearly. The function can reduce noise from air conditioners, projectors, and other types of white noise.

Playback Modes

You can set the DS-30 to several playback modes so that you will get the best quality playback and optimum speed. The Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder features Noise Cancel: which can be enabled to reduce background noise in recordings made in noisy surroundings. In effect, the function treats the loudest sounds as the most important and reduces other sounds to make dictation clearer.

You can adjust the playback speeds with the DS-30 to meet your listening needs! Playback speeds vary from .5 times the speed of the original recording for slow playback to 1.5 times the original speed for faster playback. The slow speed comes in handy when you are transcribing while the faster speed comes in handy when you need to listen to a lenthy recording that you need to speed by.


As an overall voice recorder the pros of the DS-30 far outweigh the cons! The characterize on the DS-30 is a blacklist characterize that lights up when being used, so you can easily see the screen in complete darkness! The external speaker packs a punch and can easily be heard already in a noisy room. The DS-30 has five different recording folders that can keep up 200 files a piece; you can custom name these folders with the DSS Player software that comes with the recorder. The DS-30 recorder also comes with a USB cable that easily enables you to move files to you computer, your computer automatically recognizes it when you plug it in! An external detachable microphone (ME-53) comes with the DS-30 which enables higher quality stereo recording. Cosmetically the DS-30 just looks sleek, stylish, and compact. You can also load some of your favorite MP3 music files and play them back.


Believe it or not, I did find a few cons for the DS-30. It records in WMA format which can a bit of headache for people using a Mac computer because it can only be played on a Mac if you get Windows Media Player for Mac. The DSS software that comes with the recorder does not have a characterize to transform the audio into any other format. So youre stuck with WMA files unless you download or buy a third party audio conversion program.

I was not impressed with the overall quality of MP3 audio playback, if you are looking for a recorder that gives better quality MP3 playback I would consider the Olympus WS series. The WS series has an equalizer and SRS Wow technology for enhanced playback.

The DS-30 has a good amount of memory, 256 megabits; this is enough for most folks but can come up short for many users. The DS-30 Boasts an incredible 67 hours of recording time but this in the lowest possible quality mode, which I never use (the quality is simply awful) and it only records 4 hours in the highest quality mode. For someone who wants to record for long periods of time in high quality modes I would recommend the Olympus DS-40 or DS-50 which are basically the same recorder but with more memory.

© RecorderGear.com (Dan Robison)

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