The Sony ICD-PX440 digital voice recorder is an excellent and affordable option for students. Not only is it one of the few digital voice recorders at this price point with stereo recording, but it also features special EQ filters for environments like lectures, interviews, seminars, workshops, proceedings and other spoken word events to capture clear audio. That said, it doesn’t compare to higher-end recording devices for business and creative professionals.
We researched digital voice recorders between $30 and $70 to find the best one for students, and the Sony ICD-PX440 was a finalist because it’s one of the few in this price range that records in stereo. That said, in head-to-head tests, the Sony ICD-UX533 proved to be the better recording device. Still, the ICD-PX440 easily beat out the Olympus VN-541PC.
The Sony ICD-PX440 comes with a USB port and cable, so it’s easy to transfer recordings to your computer. You can add up to 400 folders, which you can customize with names to indicate the type of audio files they contain. For example, you can have folders named Group Study Notes, English Class, Work and so forth. The device also has 4GB of storage.
While this digital audio recorder has two microphones for stereo recording, the highest fidelity it records at is an automatically compressed 192kbps MP3. In other words, it doesn’t record in a lossless format, only compressed formats. This means the audio quality doesn’t compare to that of higher-end devices. Students typically just want to record lectures and group study discussions; so audio quality isn’t a high priority. As long as you just need to hear recorded voices clearly, this device is worth considering.
The Sony ICD-PX440 has Intelligent Noise Cut technology, which reduces ambient noise in recordings so they sound clear during playback. There are three setting: low, medium and maximum. We found the low setting did little to remove ambient frequencies while the maximum setting made much of the talking unintelligible, so it doesn’t work effectively in every setting.
The recorder has an A-B repeat function that allows for continuous automatic replay of a recorded passage – you just have to place marks at the points where you want the loop to begin and end. This feature works well for learning a language or otherwise studying by repetition. There's also an Easy Search feature that rewinds and fast forwards in short increments to find segments in lengthy recordings.
While it’s not the best digital voice recorder for students, the Sony ICD-PX440 is still an excellent option. It records in stereo and is among the most affordable recording devices in our review.