Olympus DS-50 Voice Recorder

Olympus DS-50 Voice Recorder (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

Two brand-new Olympus DS-50 voice recorders just arrived at SHU. I’ve ordered two DS-40s as well.

My students have been learning podcasting basics with some older voice recorders, but the virtue of that older equipment is that it’s very easy to understand.

The DS-50s are state-of-the art, but I realized with dismay just now that they only record in Microsoft’s proprietary WMA format, rather than the more common MP3 format. The open-source Audacity audio editing tool does not currently have the ability to open WMA files. I can, of course, just plug the voice recorder’s output into the computer’s mic jack, push PLAY on the voice recorder and REC on Audacity, and transfer the file that way. That’s how my students are importing audio from the voice recorders they’re using now, so it’s really not a burden when you think of it individually.

But that wouldn’t be at all efficient if I asked students to fan out and bring back raw audio for me to incorporate into a workshop of some kind.

Microsoft says Windows Media Player 10 will export a WMA file into an MP3 format, but I found Windows Media Player a bewildering labyrinth of features that are completely irrelevant to my needs. The menu interface is not like any of the hundreds of other Windows tools I have used, so I can’t even tell where I am supposed to look to find out what version of Media Player I’ve got.

Fortunately, I found a free tool called Switch, which quite painlessly converts WMA files to MP3s.