A Mac Olympus DS-30 review

Mac Olympus DS-30 review: Here's my quick take on the Olympus DS-30, from the perspective of a Mac user.

If anyone is looking at an Olympus DS-30 voice recorder, and wondering if it will work with Mac OS X (in particular for making podcasts), the answer is both yes and no (with a little extra emphasis on the "no").

Mac Olympus DS-30 review: The "yes" part

The "yes" part means that you can plug your DS-30 into a USB port on a Mac, and the Mac will recognize it as a file system. You can then open up the Mac Finder (or work from the command line) to copy your recordings off the DS-30 and onto your Mac hard disk. The files are organized into the A-E folders you see on the DS-30 display, and each recording is created as a separate "WMA" file.

Mac Olympus DS-30 review: The "no" part

The "no" portion of the answer has two parts. First, Olympus does not provide any software to simplify this for Mac OS X users; all you get is the filesystem approach. Second -- and more importantly -- because the files are created in the WMA format ("Windows Media Audio") you won't be able to listen to them on a Mac. From what I'm told you should be able to convert the WMA files to something more Mac-friendly using Audacity, or similar programs. I haven't tried that yet, but will try it very, very soon.

FWIW, regarding the quality of the recordings, I have listened to them on a Windows PC, and emailed a few files to other people, and we all agree that the quality is very good, and that they can be used to create podcasts.

Mac Olympus DS-30 review - Summary

In summary, if you're a Mac user and you can find another recording device that makes good quality recordings and supports the Mac natively I'd use that instead. The Olympus DS-30 costs over $150, and that seems like a steep price for a product that doesn't support the Mac. If you can't find another device, well, I'll try to download Audacity soon and let you know how that goes.

Follow-up (July 18, 2008)

In my earlier post I mentioned that a program named Audacity might let you convert WMA files into a file format that you can use on Max OS X. Unfortunately this is not true, Audacity doesn't provide drivers to convert WMA files into a format you can use on the Mac. I also tried to open the WMA files in GarageBand, but that didn't work either.

So, I don't think there are any free solutions to this problem, but I'll check soon to see if there is any commercial software for the Mac that will do the trick.