Best Voice Recording App For Mac

Posted By admin On 16.02.22
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Runner-Up, Best Overall: Zoom H2n at Amazon, “Auto gain, auto-record and pre-record features work along with the data-recovery function to add even more options.” Best Battery Life: Olympus Digital Voice Recorder at Amazon, “Promises a whopping 110 hours of battery life and 2,080 hours of recording time.”. The Competition. While there are a ton of voice recording app out there, most of them don’t offer much more than Apple’s own Voice Memos (Free) app. In fact, Voice Memos is great for most people.

Your guides

  • Anna Perling

  • Séamus Bellamy

After doing 52 hours of research and testing 12 voice recorders over the past two years (adding four recent models for this update) in real-world settings—a college classroom, a noisy coffee shop, and a quiet office—we’ve determined that the best audio recorder for most people interested in capturing meetings, lectures, dictation, and in-person interviews is the Sony UX560. It recorded the most intelligible audio of all the recorders we tested and offers the most useful collection of features: It’s rechargeable via USB; it has a legible, backlit screen; and its menu system is the easiest to navigate.

Our pick

Sony UX560

The Sony UX560 is an easy-to-use recorder that provides crisp, clear audio in the most-common recording situations. It recharges via USB and lets you easily transfer files to a computer.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $80.

The UX560 is similar to our previous, now-discontinued pick, also from Sony. In a new round of testing in mid-2017, the UX560 received the highest overall ratings from our panel of test listeners. It produces clear, understandable audio in classroom, quiet office, and noisy coffee shop settings. It also offers a better collection of features than the other models we tested, with an easy-to-navigate menu system, a bright backlit screen, 39 hours of recording time (in MP3 format), 27-hour battery life, voice-activated recording to pause and restart after silences, and a pop-out USB 3.0 connector that lets you recharge the recorder and transfer files to a computer easily. Like many of the other recorders we looked at, it comes with an adequate amount of onboard storage (4 GB) but accepts microSD cards, so you can record and store hundreds of hours of recorded audio should you need it. The UX560 is also the slimmest recorder we tested—at 0.43 inch thick it can easily fit in a shirt or pants pocket.




Olympus WS-853

Although its audio quality isn’t as good as our main pick’s, the Olympus WS-853 has more internal storage and longer battery life.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.

The Olympus WS-853 is the recorder we’d get if our main pick is unavailable. We found its menu system harder to navigate, and its recordings didn’t fare as well in our listening tests compared with the Sony UX560’s. But with 8 GB of internal storage, 130 hours of recording time, and a battery the company claims lasts 110 hours when recording in MP3 format, the WS-853 has the best storage and battery life of the recorders we tested. Like our pick, it’s slim enough to fit in a pants pocket, although it’s nearly twice as thick (0.71 inch) as the UX560. The WS-853 also has voice-activated recording to stop and restart recordings after silences, and a pop-out USB 3.0 connector for easy recharging and file transfer.

Budget pick

Sony ICD-PX470

The PX470 is a bit bulkier than our main pick, and its audio quality isn’t as good, but it has a similar layout and navigation system. It does best in quiet settings with minimal background noise.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $63.

If you’re on a budget, we recommend Sony’s ICD-PX470. The PX470’s buttons and navigation system are very similar to that of the UX560, but our listening panel didn’t rate the PX470’s audio quality as highly. Recordings were understandable enough, however, and if you don’t need the absolute best audio quality, the PX470 will save you some money. It also has longer battery life than the UX560 at 55 hours, but it isn’t rechargeable—you have to remember to keep AAA batteries on hand. It’s also physically larger, measuring twice as thick as the UX560.

If you don’t want a physical recorder, or need to only occasionally make recordings, we also have picks for the best iOS and Android voice-recording apps.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Sony UX560

The Sony UX560 is an easy-to-use recorder that provides crisp, clear audio in the most-common recording situations. It recharges via USB and lets you easily transfer files to a computer.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $80.


Olympus WS-853

Although its audio quality isn’t as good as our main pick’s, the Olympus WS-853 has more internal storage and longer battery life.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.

Budget pick

Sony ICD-PX470

The PX470 is a bit bulkier than our main pick, and its audio quality isn’t as good, but it has a similar layout and navigation system. It does best in quiet settings with minimal background noise.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $63.

The research

Why you should trust us

For the fall 2017 update to this guide, Wirecutter’s Anna Perling spoke with several experts to learn what makes a great recorder. These included Jerad Lewis, a field application engineer working at TDK, which manufactures microphones, including MEMS mics (microelectromechanical microphones for smartphones), and Rob O’Reilly, a senior member technical staff at Analog Devices (which makes a range of audio and video electronic devices). She also consulted with Wirecutter writer Lauren Dragan, who has a degree in audio production and vocal performance, heads our headphone coverage, and has designed audio-quality and appraisal-testing procedures for our site; Lauren helped Anna design a listening panel to assess the audio quality of the recorders we tested. Anna personally uses recorders and apps for her work as a writer, and she polled fellow Wirecutter staff members about their favorite apps and recorders for work.

Who is this for, and is a smartphone app enough?

For people who need to record audio regularly for school or work, a dedicated device will give you better audio quality and more features than an app. Recorders have built-in storage space, more file-management options, and longer-lasting batteries that are dedicated to recording and playback—you won’t need to worry about saving battery power for sending and receiving texts, emails, or phone calls. The best recorders will have the ability to record in multiple file formats; offer settings that automatically adjust their microphones’ sensitivity for best results in common scenarios like lectures, meetings, and interviews; and have filters (EQ, akin to the bass and treble controls on a stereo system) to reduce excess low and high frequency background noise while you’re recording. Some even use software-based noise cancellation to digitally reduce noise in your recorded files.

If you need to record only occasionally, it may be more convenient to record with a smartphone that you already have (and usually have with you) rather than spending money on a device you’ll infrequently use. Good voice-recording apps have easy-to-use interfaces that let you quickly navigate files and folders, as opposed to the more complicated file storage systems of most hardware voice recorders. Many apps can sync automatically to Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud so you can share or store your files without having to transfer them to a computer via USB.

Smartphone apps can record understandable audio, which may be all you want in a recorder or app. Jerad Lewis, an engineer at TDK, said, “In terms of the noise performance, the MEMS mics that are in phones are getting to the level where they’re probably on par with what’s used in these voice recorders.” But our testing and audio listening panel found that apps still aren’t quite there yet. The comparatively poor sound quality of their recordings may grate on you if you need to listen for extended periods of time—say, for transcribing. Smartphone microphones and noise-cancellation systems are optimized for close-up voice capture as well, and while some apps will let you tweak settings for better recording quality, you can generally get better results from a dedicated recorder. Your choice will come down to features versus convenience, and your particular needs.

If you’re a musician, a professional podcaster, or a radio journalist who needs to publish audio, or if you belong to some other profession that requires the use of a high-quality audio recorder on a regular basis, this guide isn’t for you. Although our picks can record high-quality audio, spending more than about $100 will get you larger, higher-quality microphones, and settings you can further finesse. (If true-to-life sound is your primary goal but you don’t know what hardware to get, the podcasting site is a great place to start.)

How we picked

Wirecutter colleagues agreed that $100 is the maximum amount that most people should spend on an audio recorder.

We looked for any new editorial reviews of voice recorders that have appeared since our previous update, but we didn’t find much. Despite the fact that voice recorders are still useful to a lot of folks, they’re not a commonly reviewed item, and only a few publications cover them. We scoured roundups from Top Ten Reviews and Consumer Search, as well as a buying guide from retailer B&H Photo, but these were mostly outdated, or they included expensive professional models. We also considered reviews from Lifewire and Best Products.

We looked at the latest offerings from reputable manufacturers of recorders like Olympus, Sony, and Philips, and we browsed Amazon’s 40 best-selling digital voice recorders. To find out what makes a good recorder, we spoke to two experts: Jerad Lewis from TDK, and Rob O’Reilly at Analog Devices.

To narrow down the contenders, the first thing we looked at was price. Wirecutter colleagues agreed that $100 was the maximum amount that most people should spend on a voice recorder. These days, the audio quality and functionality that you can get from a recorder costing $100 or less is more than good enough to earn it a place in your kit if you record vocal audio fairly frequently and care even a little about sound quality. The only people who should consider spending more are professionals who need to publish the audio they record, and they likely already know which recorder is best for their specific needs.

We also decided that, at this price level, any recorder should include these key features:

  • Good recording quality: While audio doesn’t need to be podcast quality, recordings should be intelligible and free from hiss, rumbles, echoes, or the excessive background noise that plagues poorer-quality recordings.
  • An easy-to-read display: We preferred larger, uncluttered screens, and if possible, a backlight to make the screen readable in low-light or dark settings.
  • A simple-to-navigate file system: This should include self-explanatory buttons, shortcut buttons, and a convenient back button.
  • At least 4 GB of internal memory: This amount allows for about 40 hours of recording time, depending on the chosen audio format.
  • At least 10 hours of battery life.
  • A microSD card slot: This allows for memory expansion beyond the 4 GB minimum.
  • Easy file transfer: For moving files between the recorder and either a Mac or Windows computer via USB.
  • Format flexibility: We preferred the capability to record audio in a number of file formats and at various bit rates or sample rates to optimize for storage space or sound quality.
  • Extra features: We looked for recorders with presets that adjust mic sensitivity and equalization to optimize for specific recording situations (these are sometimes called “scene select”) and background noise cancellation.

Even with these restrictions in place, we ended up with dozens of recorders to choose from. To thin the herd even further, we nixed any models with an Amazon rating of less than four stars. We also paid close attention to the availability of each model we were considering, and we excluded any recorders that companies couldn’t confirm were still being made.

In 2015, we looked at eight models, and for this 2017 update we looked at four more. Using the above criteria, we whittled down the size of our 2017 test pool to these models:

For this update, we tested four recorders (from left): Olympus WS-853, Sony UX560, Sony ICD-PX470, Philips DVT2510/00.

For voice recording apps, we consulted 10 editorial roundups covering both iOS and Android apps, noting the apps with the highest review ratings, best-reviewed interfaces, and most-useful features. We also polled Wirecutter reporters and editors about the apps they use for work. We dismissed transcription and call recorder apps, since this guide is geared toward in-person recording of meetings, lectures, and interviews. We then used the following criteria to choose our finalists:

  • Easy-to-navigate, uncluttered interface
  • Option to sync to popular cloud platforms like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox
  • Multiple storage and recording formats (MP3, MP4, WAV, as well as bitrate and sample rate options) to control for file size and audio quality
  • $5 or less, since we focused on apps for people who don’t need the features and audio quality of a hardware recorder

Based on recommendations and this criteria, our final app list consisted of:



How we tested

For our 2017 update, we tested the voice recorders and apps in three settings: sitting at the back of a college lecture hall during class, in a loud coffee shop to simulate an interview, and in a quiet room to mimic dictation. We hit record on all the hardware recorders at the same time in order to directly compare how each captured the same audio; for the apps, we took turns recording with an iPhone 6 and a Samsung HTC 10. (Newer phones may have better microphones, but our experts said that on most smartphones, the app will have more of an effect on recording quality than the microphone.)

We recorded with noise cut (high- and low-pass filters) enabled on the recorders that had it (all of our test models except for the Philips) and scene-setting features appropriate for a given test situation turned on, based on the recommendations of our experts. “There are a lot of recorders out there today that will do a good job recording conversations in the presence of lots of other background noise,” said O’Reilly of Analog Devices. “There are others out there that are horrible because they record everything.”

We tested recorders in common settings and asked a listening panel to score recordings based on quality.

Most of the recorders have options to select recording modes for scenes like lectures, meetings, interviews, or dictations. Recording modes do the work for you: Selecting a scene automatically changes the recorder’s settings for that situation.

Wirecutter writer Anna Perling recorded MP3 audio at the highest bit rates available on each device in order to get the best possible audio quality—this showed what each recorder was capable of. That meant 192 Kbps for all recorders except for the Olympus, which maxes out at 128 Kbps (though even this should be good enough for voice recordings). For the lecture scene, Anna sat in the back of Sahithya Reddivari’s engineering class at Georgia State University in Clarkston, Georgia, and lined recorders up next to each other, with the mics facing toward the lecturer. For the coffee shop scene, she headed to a crowded Starbucks and sat near the bar with her mom. The two read a Seinfeld dialogue, with the mics facing toward the “interviewee,” or main speaker, to mimic an interview. For the office scene, Anna read a different Seinfeld monologue in a quiet room in her house to mimic dictation, placing recorders on a table 2 feet away from her mouth. Once she had the recordings, she noted how each recorder and app let her store the files, and how easy or difficult it was to transfer those files to her computer, label and organize them, and then upload them to Dropbox.

Anna then conducted a blind listening panel: Four Wirecutter staffers listened to 15-second samples of each unlabeled recording and rated the overall audio quality and intelligibility of words for each.

Our pick: Sony UX560

Our pick

Sony UX560

The Sony UX560 is an easy-to-use recorder that provides crisp, clear audio in the most-common recording situations. It recharges via USB and lets you easily transfer files to a computer.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $80.

The Sony UX560 received the highest overall scores from our listening panel, and it has the best combination of features of any recorder we tested. The UX560’s bright, backlit screen makes the display easier to read than the other recorders we tested except the Philips DVT2510, which has a color display. The recorder is also the easiest to navigate, with an intuitive toggle menu to access settings and recordings. Plus, the UX560 conveniently comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, so you won’t need to keep spare batteries on hand (though you will need to bring a charger or wall adapter if you need to charge on the go).

The Sony UX560 ranked roughly the same as two other models in two of the three recording settings. The UX560 did the best in the coffee shop scene: One listener said, “You could hear some background noise, but it never drowned out the speaker.” Of the office test, a listener observed that “this was a calming recording to listen to. You can kind of hear some room interference, but that's such a minor problem for a voice recorder that it's barely worth mentioning. Otherwise this was a pleasant if somewhat filtered recording.” The panel picked the Philips DVT2510 in the lecture recordings, but just by half a point (on a scale of one to three, with three being the highest score), and listeners said that the lecturer still sounded clear on the UX560’s recording. The Sony PX470, the budget pick, barely edged out the UX560 in a quiet office.

Customizing settings on the UX560 is more intuitive than with the other recorders we tested.

The UX560 was the easiest recorder to navigate and use among those tested. It’s intuitive to use out of the box: Pressing the home button leads you to a simple toggle menu where you can record, fine-tune settings, and listen to music (that can be uploaded to the device from a computer) or recordings. Buttons are clearly labeled, unlike on the Philips DVT2510, and a back button makes menu navigation much simpler than on the Olympus WS-853. The UX560 has a built-in USB 3.0 plug, which can be extended or retracted by sliding a button on the side of the recorder that lets you connect the recorder to your computer to download your recordings. Once the connection has been made, you can also name files and folders on the device from your desktop—those changes are clearly reflected on the device, something that couldn’t be done with the other picks and might come in handy for long-term organization. The Philips recorder lacks this function altogether; on the Olympus, Anna was able to rename files and folders from her Mac, but the device no longer saw them (the Olympus manual does warn against this possibility).

With a built-in USB plug, you can recharge the UX560 and easily transfer files to a computer for organizing and sharing.

The Sony UX560’s extra features make an already-great recorder stand out from the rest.

The UX560 also has a rechargeable battery that charges via that USB plug. This means you won’t have to worry about having disposable batteries on hand. The UX560 doesn’t come with a wall charger—you’ll need to use a USB charger or connect the recorder to a computer to charge; if you have a recent Apple laptop or other computer with only USB-C ports, you’ll need an adapter. With a full charge, you can record for 27 hours in the commonly used MP3 format, or 23 hours at the 560’s highest-quality setting (uncompressed LPCM audio at 44.1 kHz, or “CD quality” audio). Anna recorded for about two hours, and the battery indicator showed that the recorder was still fully charged.

The recorder comes with 4 GB of storage, which allows for roughly 39 hours of recording time using MP3 format at 192 Kbps; that’s comparable to what you get with most of the recorders we tested. A covered but easily accessible microSD slot allows for 32 GB more of storage space if you need more recording hours. The UX560 offers a range of file and recording formats so you can opt for better audio quality or smaller file sizes.

The UX560’s extra features make an already-great recorder stand out from the rest. Choose from a “noise cut” filter (which rolls off both low and high frequency sounds) or a low-cut filter to reduce boomy lower frequencies and rumbly sounds alone. Scene selection presets let you optimize EQ and microphone sensitivity settings for lectures, meetings, interviews, voice notes, and loud and soft music scenarios. You can mark locations in your recording on the fly, so you can return to them later as you listen, and voice-activated recording can automatically stop you during pauses in conversation. (This feature was on all of the recorders tested, though you’ll probably prefer to manually pause and restart recordings to make sure you’re getting the audio you want.)

Selecting the Clear Voice function during playback helped reduce background noise in our coffee shop and lecture recordings but didn’t make as big of a difference as the noise-cancel feature on the Olympus. The UX560’s other playback options, however, made it overall a better choice than the Olympus for people looking to transcribe interviews or lectures: an A-B Repeat function lets you go back and replay the same section repeatedly, and digital pitch control lets you adjust the playback speed if you need to listen more closely to difficult-to-decipher passages. The UX560 has a transcription mode that will give you a cleaner interface with fewer distractions while transcribing if that’s something you prefer, but you can still fast-forward, rewind, and adjust the digital pitch control in regular playback mode. Oddly, you won’t be able to use the A-B Repeat to replay the same section repeatedly in transcription mode.

For better audio quality, you can plug in an external mic, though we think that would be unnecessary for most people given the good results we were able to get with the onboard mics in our varied test situations. The UX560 also has a headphone jack for monitoring recordings and listening to playback.

The UX560 is a small, compact recorder that feels nice in the hand, and its matte plastic and sleek design make it look a little less cheap than others that were tested. At just 4 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide, and 0.44 inch thick, the UX560 is the slimmest recorder we tested. It can easily fit into a shirt pocket or in the pocket of skinny jeans, while the other recorders are almost twice as thick and fit better in a purse or bag.

The UX560 is half as thick as the PX470, making it easy to fit in a shirt or pants pocket.

Like all of the recorders we tested, the UX560 also comes with a strap loop if you want to add a wrist strap or lanyard; you’ll need to provide your own, though it’s easy enough to find an inexpensive option.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The screen on the UX560’s fades and eventually shuts off during recording, which is a little disconcerting, but an LED indicates that you’re still recording. This recorder also lacks a convenient erase button, so you’ll need to navigate through its menu to delete recordings.

Long-term test notes

Wirecutter staff writer Anna Perling has been using our top pick, the Sony UX560, to record interviews over the past year. The audio files from the voice recorder have been notably better than the ones her smartphone has captured, and she hasn’t had any problems or durability issues. She reported, “The sound quality on our pick is infinitely better than when I use my phone—there's less background fuzz, voices are louder and clearer, and everything sounds a lot closer (vs. tinny and distant). I used the recorder [with] my phone as a backup when recording an interview in a retail store, and I was surprised at how much better the recorder did. While I like the look and feel of the matte black finish, it can pick up fingerprints. But no problems with durability—it has held up fine thrown in a backpack.”

Runner-up: Olympus WS-853


Olympus WS-853

Although its audio quality isn’t as good as our main pick’s, the Olympus WS-853 has more internal storage and longer battery life.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $70.

If you can’t find the Sony UX560, or its price increases dramatically, we also like the Olympus WS-853 for its superior combination of storage space and battery life, each of which was better than with everything else we tested. The Olympus didn’t do as well as the UX560 in our listening tests, ranking lowest overall for audio quality by our panel, though its recordings are still understandable and it scored well on the lecture test, tying with the UX560. The main complaint from listeners was that the lecture and coffee shop audio samples sounded “tinny.” We also found that the Olympus’s menu system is less intuitive than that of the UX560.

The Olympus’s 8 GB of storage is double that of most of the models we considered, including the UX560, and you can expand it even further with a microSD card. The Olympus boasts 110 hours of battery life when recording in MP3 at 128 Kbps, or about four times as long as our main pick.

With 8 GB of internal storage, the Olympus has the most memory of the recorders we tested.

The Olympus has one of the largest screens of the models tested, larger than that of our main pick. The larger screen makes the menus slightly easier to see in daylight, but the Olympus’s screen isn’t backlit, making it harder to use in low-light settings. Navigating the menus is also more difficult than on our top pick. It seemed counterintuitive to navigate using the up and down buttons to access different folders, and to have to press the side buttons twice to select items; it’s also missing a back button. On the other hand, it does have a convenient erase button for one-step file deletion.

As with the Sony UX560, a pop-out USB 3.0 plug lets you easily upload files to a computer and recharge the two replaceable AAA batteries, which takes about 3 hours. The Olympus doesn’t have quite as many high-quality recording options as the UX560, but it still has a range of formats that let you optimize quality or maximize storage space. It also has a low-cut filter to reduce excess low-end rumble. Although the Olympus doesn’t have a scene setting aimed at recording music like our main pick, it has presets that tailor recording settings for dictation, meetings, conferences, and telephone recordings. Like the UX560, the Olympus has a voice-activated recording setting to automatically stop and start recordings based on volume levels so you don’t have to manually pause if you’re recording a lecture or conversation with lots of breaks.

While playing back audio, the WS853 can compensate somewhat for problems you might have run into while recording: a noise-cancellation setting can reduce overall background hiss (though this comes at the expense of battery life), while a voice balancer setting can even out recordings that were made with the mic sensitivity set too low or high by compressing the overall level for a more even sound (though you might run into increased noise).

During our testing, noise cancellation was effective at reducing background hiss, clangs, and the noise from the coffee grinder, while the voice balancer did even out recorded levels though it made voices sound flat. The effects of both features were more obvious than Sony’s Clear Voice mode and did help make recorded voices clearer, but the Olympus lacks Sony’s handy track mark list, dedicated transcription mode to let you fast-forward and rewind, and digital pitch control to slow or speed recordings, making it overall less useful for transcribing than the UX560.

A neoprene case protects the Olympus from bumps and scratches.

The Olympus is made of shiny plastic and has raised buttons that some people will find easier to use. It’s the only recorder we tested to come with a case—a neoprene sleeve—which is useful for protecting the recorder during storage.

Budget pick: Sony ICD-PX470

Budget pick

Sony ICD-PX470

The PX470 is a bit bulkier than our main pick, and its audio quality isn’t as good, but it has a similar layout and navigation system. It does best in quiet settings with minimal background noise.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $63.

If you mainly record voice memos in your office, or interviews in quiet rooms, you can save some money by choosing the Sony ICD-PX470. While our panel ranked the Sony PX470 lower than the UX560 in overall audio quality, the PX470 did get the highest scores for our interview recorded in a quiet office. It rated poorly in the lecture test, however, as listeners said that background and foreground noises overpowered the speaker’s voice.

If you mainly record voice memos in your office, or interviews in quiet rooms, you can save some money by choosing the Sony ICD-PX470.

The PX470’s menu system is similar to that of the UX560 and has an identical button layout. The screen, however, is smaller, dimmer, and harder to read than the UX560’s. The PX470 is also slightly larger and bulkier—while the UX560 is about the thickness of an iPhone, the PX470 is closer to the thickness of two iPhones. At that size, it’s not as convenient to carry around in a pocket. However, with its larger overall size it may be better for people who have trouble using smaller devices like the UX560 and the Olympus. The PX470 doesn’t look as sleek as the UX560 (as you might expect for a cheaper model).

The PX470 has a battery life of 55 hours, which is longer than that of our main pick, but it doesn’t have a built-in rechargeable battery; it uses AAA batteries. It has 4 GB of storage with a microSD slot if you want to add memory—similar to what you get with our top pick, but less than what you get with our runner-up. It also has a built-in USB 3.0 plug for easy file upload. Like the other Sony models, the PX470 can record in a range of uncompressed high-quality and space-saving compressed formats, and it has voice-activated automatic recording, noise cut and low cut filters, and scene options to quickly optimize for varied recording situations you might encounter. The PX470 has transcription-friendly playback options nearly identical to the more expensive UX560’s that work just as well, including Clear Voice noise cancellation, a transcription mode with a cleaner interface, A-B Repeat, and digital pitch control, but it doesn’t have a track mark list to jump to highlighted parts of a recording.

The best smartphone apps for occasional recording

iOS pick: Just Press Record

Our pick

Just Press Record

Customizable recording settings, along with automatic transcription and cloud backup, make this a better option for important recordings.

Buying Options

Just Press Record costs $5, but we think it’s worth it if you want better sound quality and features like automatic transcription and automatic iCloud Drive backup. Just Press Record’s interface is intuitive and easy to use—as the app implies, you just tap Record and Stop to create recordings.


Our listening panel gave Just Press Record the highest audio-quality scores for an iOS app. One panel participant said that audio recorded in the coffee shop was “very clear, the background noises were pleasantly balanced with the foreground, and I felt like actual voices had a pleasing quality to them.” In the lecture setting, listeners commented that while the recording picked up background noise, the lecturer was still understandable.

Just Press Record has an easy-to-navigate interface, with one large red button that you press to start and stop recordings. You can’t pause and resume recordings, though—Just Press Record creates a new audio file each time you stop, though it organizes all recordings from the same day in a single folder. You can browse files and folders on the same page.

One of Just Press Record’s most useful features is that the app can automatically transcribe your recordings to text after you stop recording; you can share the transcript with a couple of taps. In our tests, only recordings made in quieter environments like a home office had decent transcription accuracy, so you can’t rely on Just Press Record to transcribe everything, but it’s a nice option for dictation or interviews in quieter settings.

Left: Just Press Record uses only one button to record and stop. Center: You can easily label files and automatically transcribe them in the app. Right: Just Press Record offers several file-format and sample-rate options for recording.

Although Just Press Record won’t let you edit or trim recordings like Voice Memos, it does allow you to customize settings for file and recording formats. Unlike Voice Memos, this app gives you the option to store files in a variety of the commonly used audio file formats.You can also opt to have the app automatically upload recordings to iCloud Drive, which is a nice feature to have when recording important interviews or meetings that you don’t want to lose. It’s also simple to share both files and transcriptions via iMessage, Mail, Drive, and more from the iOS Share screen.

Just Press Record doesn’t allow you to name folders and organize them; it automatically creates folders of recordings by date. Although this is frustrating, none of the iOS apps we tested had great organization options.

Android pick: Parrot

Our pick


Parrot has the most ways to fine-tune recording and playback out of the free apps we tested.

Best Voice Recording App For Android

Buying Options

The Parrot app for Android has the best range of recording options and the cleanest interface of the free Android apps we tested. Our office recordings received the highest ratings from our listening panel, and only Hi-Q Pro (our upgrade pick, below) had higher overall recording ratings from our panel. But even in the scenarios where it wasn’t the top-rated (the noisy coffee shop and the lecture hall), listeners said audio clips from Parrot were understandable enough. Of the coffee shop scene, one listener said that “the sound quality itself was actually pretty good” though the background noises were “a bit loud and distracting.”

Parrot is the rare free recording app that isn’t littered with ads. The interface is clean and intuitive, and you can choose between a dark or light theme. Multiple buttons at the top of the home screen make it quick to adjust recording settings. For example, you can access mic source and effects by tapping the on-screen Settings button once. Other free apps, like Easy Voice Recorder, require several taps to get to the appropriate menu.

With Parrot, you can opt to store files in compressed and uncompressed formats, with options will let you adjust your file size and audio quality to your needs.) You can easily name files right after recording, whereas even with a pricier app like Hi-Q, you need to navigate to a separate screen to rename your files. You can share files to Gmail, messages, and Facebook Messenger, and transfer files via Bluetooth.

Parrot’s simple interface makes it easy to name files, and share them, immediately after recording.
Parrot offers multiple file format and recording options, as well as features like echo cancellation and noise suppression.

Parrot also has the most features of any app we tested, including noise suppression, echo cancellation, automatic gain control, and the ability to skip silences—a combination of features you can’t even get in apps you have to pay for.

Upgrade Android pick: Hi-Q Pro

Upgrade pick

Hi-Q Pro

The paid version of Hi-Q has even more features to finesse recordings and scored highest out of all the apps in our listening test.

Buying Options

Although you’ll need to pay $3.50 for Hi-Q Pro if you want to record more than 10 minutes of audio, Hi-Q has the most features to control recording settings and file formats of any app we tested. If you want the most granular control of recording format, sample rate and bit rate to optimize for file size, audio quality, or even just to use open-source formats like OGG or FLAC, it’s the app for you. While most people won’t need these features, Hi-Q also scored the highest in our audio-quality tests of the Android apps we tested. Listeners said of the coffee shop sample, “Wow! Great separation of background noise from foreground. The voices were the tiniest bit unnatural, but overall this is definitely my favorite sample so far.”

Simple Record and Stop buttons at the top of the home screen are intuitive to use. You also get quick access to the most-important settings, like file format and bit rate options, right at the top of the screen. You can additionally select a mic to record from.

Hi-Q has a wide range of format (left) and bit rate (middle) options to tweak file size and quality, and you can easily share files (right) via Bluetooth, Gmail, and more.

You can automatically upload your recordings to Dropbox, or share files via Bluetooth, Android Beam, Gmail, Messages, Facebook Messenger, and Google Drive.

The competition

Hardware recorders

The Philips DVT2510/00 Voice Tracer is an entry-level model that offers fewer features than the competition. Its bright, color screen makes looking at folders and files easy. But it lacks a USB plug (it requires a USB dongle to connect to your computer), making it less convenient for file upload and storage, and has the fewest recording options of the stand-alone recorders we tested.

We skipped over the Sony ICD-PX333 for this round of testing in favor of the comparable, newer PX470. The PX333 also records only in mono, compared with stereo for the PX470.

Best Free Voice Recording Software For Mac

We eliminated the Olympus VN-722PC in the first iteration of this guide, as it received low scores from our original listening panel. This recorder has a neat built-in stand, but we disliked the fact that using this stand exposes the SD card slot on the side of the device.

We previously tested the Tascam DR-05, a music-oriented recorder that allows for recording higher quality MP3s at 320 Kbps (this is high enough that most listeners would find it difficult to distinguish from CD-quality audio; most models we tested max out at 192 Kbps). Its microphones are incredibly sensitive, but in the field this model picked up a lot of background noise. Beyond that, the DR-05, at 2.4 by 5.6 by 1 inches, is comically large next to most of the other devices we looked at—it occupies about twice as much space as our top pick.

Best Voice Recorder For Mac


We used to recommend Apple’s Voice Memos app but after hearing several reports about Voice Memos being unreliable, we removed it. Several Wirecutter staffers have also noted that the app will produce corrupted, unplayable files that can’t be opened. We liked that it’s one of the simplest ways to start and stop recording, it’s easy to quickly share your audio files, and it doesn’t include annoying ads like many free apps. Voice Memo’s interface has clearly indicated Record, Play, and Done buttons; but it also lets you trim, save, and delete recordings without having to navigate away from its main screen, functions that set it apart from other iOS apps we tested. Like all of the iOS apps we considered, you can easily share recordings made using Voice Memos via email, iMessage, Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or any other app or service that integrates with iOS’s Share Sheet. If you need to record in a pinch, it’ll work well. But if you can’t risk losing a recording, spend the $5 for Just Press Record.

Voice Recorder for iOS is free and has a wide range of file formats, but comes with ads and has the clunkiest design of all the iOS apps we tested. Recordings are noted by cassette-like icons instead of a list, and an animation of a cassette spins while you’re recording, which is unnecessary. To remove the annoying ads you’ll need to pay $2, and we don’t think this app is worth it.

We experienced some glitches while testing the $4 Easy Voice Recorder on Android. Some files that we sent via email never arrived, and after trying and failing to pause a recording in the app, it still wouldn’t stop—even after closing the app. Annoyingly, this app also automatically plays recordings when you select them to share. Easy Voice Recorder does have noise suppression, echo cancellation, and automatic gain control, but our top Android pick offers these features for free, and was a more reliable app overall.


Best Voice Recording App For Singers

  1. Jerad Lewis, field application engineer at TDK, phone interview, May 23, 2017

  2. Rob O’Reilly, senior member of technical staff at Analog Devices, phone interview, June 6, 2017

  3. Lauren Dragan, Wirecutter headphones writer, phone interview

  4. The Best Digital Voice Recorders of 2017, Top Ten Reviews, January 27, 2017

  5. Best Voice Recorders, Consumer Search, February 9, 2017

  6. Portable Digital Recorders Buying Guide, B&H Photo

  7. The 6 Best Voice Recorders to Buy in 2017, Lifewire, July 14, 2017