Updated October 13, 2018 by Richard Lynch

The 6 Best Voice Activated Recorders

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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. One of these voice-activated recorders can ensure that you never miss important content from a meeting, lecture, or interview again. They are highly portable and ready to go at any time. Plus, many are easy to conceal and can go unnoticed when you need to play at being a spy. Make sure you only use them when and where legal to do so, though, and with the appropriate permissions. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best voice activated recorder on Amazon.

6. Loker Watch

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5. Evistr L150

4. Dictopro X100

3. Sota Surveillance Mini

2. SecurityProGear MR720

1. Sony ICD-UX533

Why Use a Voice-Activated Recorder?

As the name suggests, these devices begin recording audio the minute they register some sort of sound.

If you've never used a voice-activated recorder, you may not realize how versatile they can be, and how much hassle they can save you.

As the name suggests, these devices begin recording audio the minute they register some sort of sound. That way, you don't need to have them constantly running, and you don't have to scramble to turn them on to start recording. This ensures you don't miss anything, while also preventing you from having to slog through a ton of dead air when playing your recording back.

Being able to start the tape remotely makes them tremendously convenient for capturing important information before it slips your mind. You don't need to sprint out of the shower, hunt down your tape recorder, and fumble with getting it set up — distractions which could cause you to lose your train of thought. Instead, you can just start talking, with no interruption to your work flow.

That's a big reason why college students love them. You don't have to try to force yourself to be awake and alert for your 8 a.m. class — you can let the recorder do that for you. Or, if you're the over-achieving type, you can pay attention in class and then use the tape to improve your study session later on.

And of course, they can help you spy on people. If you suspect your nanny is mistreating your kids, or that your spouse might be stepping out on you, hiding one of these can give you a ton of information you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This isn't always legal (more on that later), but if you just want the info for your own piece of mind, it's an easy way to know for sure.

Even better, since many of them look like everyday objects (like flash drives or wristwatches), you can set them up in prominent places without anyone being the wiser. This allows you to get great audio without tipping your hand.

You'll be tempted to ditch that manually-operated recorder once you realize how much more convenient a voice-activated model can be. Plus, they let you feel like James Bond — well, James Bond if he needed to remind himself to order more Post-It notes, that is.

What to Look For in a Voice-Activated Recorder

Buying a basic recorder is easy. You just find one that captures audio, and you're done.

Voice-activated recorders, on the other hand, require a little more forethought.

Your decision will mainly depend on what you're using it for. If you just need something to jot down ideas with, then just make sure it has good range and won't be in your way. If you're trying to be sneaky, though, you'll want something that's sneaky-looking. Take the time to find one that will blend in with its surroundings, because if it doesn't, using it will be a waste of time (and may force you to explain to an angry spouse why you're trying to spy on them).

Voice-activated recorders, on the other hand, require a little more forethought.

Decide how much audio you need to capture as well. Some can hold massive amounts of data — as much as 8 GB in some cases — but when it comes to data storage, bigger isn't necessarily better. Think about whether or not you'll be able to sift through that much audio when you need to.

Some have noise filters that can cut through any clamor in the background, which can be a godsend during transcription. After all, you don't want to assume that you recorded your professor, only to get home and discover that your device only captured those frat guys a few rows behind you arguing about who was more hungover.

Think about how you'll listen to the files after you capture them. Many have headphone jacks, so you can play the audio right off the device, while others let you transfer the files to your phone, mp3 player, or computer. Make sure that your recorder is compatible with whatever your preferred listening method is.

There's an assortment of bells and whistles that you can find on certain models. Some have high-definition LCD screens, others can play music, and still others contain alarms and other notification sounds. You don't necessarily need any of those things, but they can come in handy.

Once you've found one that meets your criteria, the only thing left to do is find the right place to stash it. We recommend humming the Mission: Impossible theme song during the hiding process.

Are They Legal?

If you're planning to buy one of these things so that you can listen in on private conversations surreptitiously, you should know that doing so might not be legal.

If you're planning to buy one of these things so that you can listen in on private conversations surreptitiously, you should know that doing so might not be legal.

The laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, it's against the law to record someone without their knowledge in private. It's OK to record if both parties consent, or at least are aware that the recording is taking place, but that can defeat the purpose if you're trying to catch a troublemaker in the act.

There are one-party consent states, in which only one person involved in the conversation needs to give consent in order to legally record it. However, it's pretty much universally illegal to secretly record a conversation you're not personally involved in — so if you're trying to snoop on your spouse and their lover, you're going to have to break the law to do so.

Also, keep in mind that even if it is legal for you to record those conversations, they're likely not going to be admissible in court. Don't expect to play your recording at a dramatic moment in the trial — using these recorders as spy gear should pretty much only be for your own benefit.

As such, they can still be useful, as they can enable you to know when it's time to use more conventional methods to get the evidence you need. Just be very careful, or else you could end up in the clink.

And someone's always listening in the clink.

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Richard Lynch
Last updated on October 13, 2018 by Richard Lynch

Richard grew up in the part of New York state that doesn’t have any tall buildings. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time reading and playing video games. A massive fan all things sci-fi, he’ll happily talk with you for hours about everything from the deserts of Arrakis to the forests of Endor.


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