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DS-50

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What are the specifications for the DS-50?

Olympus DS-50 Digital Voice Recorder

Olympus DS-50 Digital Voice Recorder
Product Number 141915
Shipping date: January 2007
Box Contents
DS-50 Digital Voice Recorder
Stereo Microphone (MS-53SA)
USB 2.0 Cable (CB-USB4)
Stereo Earbuds
Remote Control RS29
Carrying Case
Two AAA Alkaline Batteries
CD-ROM: DSS Player Ver. 7
Instruction Manual
Warranty Card

Specifications
Model DS-50
Recording Format WMA (Windows Media Audio)
Recording Media 1 GB built-in Flash memory
Recording Time STEREO XQ mode: 17 hours 30 minutes
STEREO HQ mode: 35 hours 10 minutes
HQ mode: 70 hours 20 minutes
SP mode: 138 hours 30 minutes
LP mode: 275 hours 20 minutes
Card Format n/a
Input Level -70 dBv
PC Interface USB
LCD 26 x 25 mm
LED 2 colors (red = record/transfer, green = playback)
Folder Messages 5 folders, 200 messages per folder, plus Audible, Music, and Podcast folders
Sampling Frequency STEREO XQ mode: 44.1 kHz
STEREO HQ mode: 44.1 kHz
HQ mode: 44.1 kHz
SP mode: 22.0 kHz
LP mode: 8.0 kHz
Overall Frequency Response STEREO XQ mode: 50 - 19,000 Hz
STEREO HQ mode: 50 - 16,000 Hz
HQ mode: 50 - 13,000 Hz
SP Mode: 100 - 8,000 Hz
LP Mode: 100 - 3,000 Hz
LP Mode Yes
Voice Activation Available, Switchable ON/OFF
Demographic Data Input Yes
Practical Maximum Output 250 mW
Write Protection Yes
Speaker Built-in 23 mm round dynamic speaker
Microphone Jack 3.5 mm mini-jack, impedance 680 ohms
Earphone Jack 3.5 mm mini-jack, impedance 8 ohms
Power Supply 2 AAA Alkaline or 2 AAA NiMH batteries (BR-401)
External Power Supply Optional AC Adapter A321 (120 VAC) or A322 (220 VAC)
Battery Life Alkaline
Recording:
STEREO XQ mode: Approx. 20 hours
STEREO HQ mode: Approx. 22 hours
HQ mode: Approx. 24 hours
SP mode: Approx. 28 hours
LP mode: Approx. 32 hours
Playback: (all modes)
Speaker playback: Approx. 12 hours
Earphone playback: Approx. 26 hours
NiMH (BR-401)
Recording:
STEREO XQ mode: Approx. 15 hours
STEREO HQ mode: Approx. 16 hours
HQ mode: Approx. 18 hours
SP mode: Approx. 21 hours
LP mode: Approx. 22 hours
Playback: (all modes)
Speaker playback: Approx. 9 hours
earphone playback: Approx. 20 hours
Size 4.37" x 1.48" x .63" (111 x 37.5 x 16 mm) with bundled microphone, excluding protrusions
Weight 2.81 oz (80 g) including bundled microphone and alkaline batteries
OS Supported Windows® 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional, Windows Home Edition
USB Port One free port
Audio Output Earphone output or speakers

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What are the main features of this model?

The DS-50 digital voice recorder is part of a new generation of Olympus Digital Voice Recorders. It features a removable stereo microphone styled to match the design of the recorder. When the stereo microphone is removed, the recorder switches to a discreet, built-in monaural microphone for recording dictation. The stereo microphone can also be connected with the bundled RS29 Remote Controller that controls RECORD and STOP functions.

The DS-50 recorder includes features to enable use by the visually impaired. Buttons feature ridges and grooves that make them more identifiable by touch. The recorder has a Voice Guide that can be set to speak button functions when pressed, aiding navigation by touch.

The recorder also has an Audible folder, permitting download of purchased audio content from Audible.com®. The Music folder permits the download of WMA (Windows Media Audio) and mp3 music files using Windows Media Player.

The bundled DSS Player Version 7 software can be used to manage, archive, and edit audio files made with the recorder. Files can be downloaded to the software via a bundled USB 2.0 cable. The software also enables subscription to and download from podcast URLs. The podcasts can be transfered to the recorder for playback at the user's convenience.

Technical support for the DS-50 is provided by Olympus Professional Dictation Products dealers.

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Where can I find an authorized Olympus Professional Dictation Products Dealer?

For up-to-date information regarding dealers in the US and Canada, call 888-553-4448.

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What operating systems support the DS-50 digital voice recorder?

The DS-50 digital voice recorder is supported by the following operating systems:

  • Windows®:
  • Windows Vista™ (requires free firmware and software downloads)
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Windows XP Home Edition
  • Windows 2000 Professional

  • Macintosh™:
  • OS X version 10.3.9 and later (requires DSS Player for Macintosh version 7.0.1, available separately)
    Download it here.)

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How much dictation recording time is available in the DS-50?

The length of the potential recording time available in the DS-50 is governed by the recording quality mode that is selected. When a quality mode is selected, several audio file properties are put into place. These properties determine the level of detail of the saved file data. A higher-quality data file saves more-detailed information and creates a larger data file that uses more memory space. A lower-quality recording makes a less detailed data file, so the memory goes a lot farther. Podcast and Audible files use up portions of the recorder's built-in Flash memory, as do files saved on the recorder used as a "jump" drive. This usage will reduce the amount of memory available for recording new files.

The table below shows the maximum dictation recording times possible (assuming there are no other files saved in the recorder).

Quality Mode Maximum Dictation Recording Time
STEREO XQ mode 17 hours 30 minutes
STEREO HQ mode 35 hours 10 minutes
HQ mode 70 hours 20 minutes
SP mode 138 hours 30 minutes
LP mode 275 hours 20 minutes

The different quality modes save the digital record of the recording with different levels of faithfulness to the original sound. The STEREO XQ and HQ modes are recommended for music, drama, or interviews that may be made for broadcast. These quality modes make very detailed digital records of the sound and use a very wide frequency range that may exhaust the available Flash memory very rapidly. Lower-quality modes, such as SP (Standard Play) and LP (Long Play), make less-detailed records of the sound and use a narrower frequency range, so they will use up the available Flash memory much more slowly. These modes are best used for audio note taking or recording college lectures or seminars in which large content capacity is more important than high audio quality.

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What are the maximum recording times per file?

A maximum recording time per file is set in the recorder for each quality mode. Even if a recorder's memory is not exhausted, a single recording cannot be continued beyond the limit.

The table below shows the maximum recording times per file.

Quality Mode Recording Time
STEREO XQ mode 26 hours 40 minutes
STEREO HQ mode 26 hours 40 minutes
HQ mode 26 hours 40 minutes
SP mode 53 hours 40 minutes
LP mode 148 hours 40 minutes

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How is the recording volume controlled?

The DS-50 always records at 100% volume level to prevent accidentally recording with the volume set too low

The recorder has three levels of microphone sensitivity :

  • LECTURE: The highest recording sensitivity, it is suitable for conferences with large crowds and recording audio at a distance at low volume.
  • CONF (Conference): Suitable for recording meetings and seminars with a small number of people.
  • DICT (Dictation): The lowest recording sensitivity, it is suitable for close-up dictation.

Microphone sensitivity is set via the [MIC SENSE] slide switch on the upper left side of the recorder.

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How is the playback volume controlled?

The playback volume is controlled during playback using the [+] (plus) and [-] (minus) buttons on the circular pad on the face of the recorder. Pressing [+] increases the playback volume. Pressing [-] reduces the playback volume.

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What is the function of the LowCut Filter?

The recorder has a LowCut Filter function to minimize low-frequency sounds and record voices more clearly. The function can reduce noise from air conditioners, projectors, and other types of "white noise."

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What is the functions of the Voice Filter?

The Voice Filter cuts low- and -high frequency tones to create a playback frequency range encompassing tones in the human voice, thereby making the playback of dictation recordings clearer. Voice Filter works in Normal, Fast, or Slow playback.

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What is the function of Noise Cancel?

Noise Cancel can be enabled to reduce background noise in recordings made in noisy surroundings. In effect, the function treats the loudest sounds as the most important and reduces other sounds to make dictation clearer.

The Noise Cancel options are OFF, LOW, and HIGH. The options are set in the recorder's menu. The LOW or HIGH settings remain valid until Noise Cancel is set to OFF. Noise Cancel is not available while the Voice Filter is set, and it cannot be used during slow or fast playback.

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What are Index marks and Temp Marks?

Index Marks are digital tags that can be inserted while recording or during playback. They are used to skip forward or backward in recordings to pre-selected points. Up to 16 Index Marks can be added to a single file.

Index Marks cannot be placed in files created on machines other than Olympus digital voice recorders. This means they cannot be placed in podcasts. Instead, Temp Marks can be placed in podcasts to temporarily remember desired locations. Up to 16 podcasts can be added to a single file.

Both Index marks and Temp Marks are inserted using the [INDEX] button on the recorder. Index Marks and Temp Marks cannot be added in the Audible function.

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Can I rename my files when they are displayed in My Computer?

Files in the DS-50 should not be renamed when displayed in My Computer because the recorder's file-management software may not be able to find a renamed file.

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I want to clear my recorder of all loaded files. How do I format the recorder?

The recorder should be formatted only by using the internal FORMAT function found in the Menu. Formatting using the computer may corrupt system files needed to run the recorder and may delete the Voice Guide Data and Audible system files, so computer formatting is not recommended. When the recorder is connected to a computer, individual files can be deleted using My Computer without negative effects.

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I formatted the recorder using my computer and the Voice Guide Data is gone. Can I restore it?

If you format the recorder and erase the Voice Guide Data by mistake, the Voice Guide Data can be copied from the DSS Player software to the recorder via the following procedure:

  1. Make sure the recorder's Voice Guide is set to ON.
  2. Connect the recorder to the computer using the bundled USB cable.
  3. Start DSS Player.
  4. If the recorder does not have Voice Guide Data, the File transfer dialog box will appear.
  5. Clicking Yes in the File transfer dialog box will cause data to be copied to the recorder. A window showing the copy progress bar will appear.
  6. When copying is complete, safely disconnect the recorder from the computer.

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How should the recorder be disconnected from a Windows computer?

Any USB device should be disconnected from a Windows computer using the [Safely Remove Hardware] button located in the taskbar in the lower right corner of the Desktop screen. The button's icon features a green arrow pointing to the lower left over a device.


Any open files should be closed before starting the disconnect process. Simply removing the device from the USB port without using the recommended disconnect procedure can result in corrupted files or firmware.

Double-clicking on the [Safely Remove Hardware] icon opens a dialog box to shut down the USB connection so the device can be safely disconnected.


Clicking on the [Stop] button launches another dialog box to confirm the devices that are to be stopped. Clicking the [OK] button closes the USB connection.



The Desktop screen will display a message balloon above the taskbar indicating that it is safe to disconnect the hardware.

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I recorded a file and the battery ran out. Now I can't play or find the file. Why?

When a recording session begins, a file is created to contain the incoming audio content. This file remains open throughout the session until the recording is manually stopped. If the recorder lasts longer than five minutes, the recorder will save the audio content at five-minute intervals.

If the battery runs out during a recording session, only the portion of the recording that has been saved will be available for retrieval. For example, if a recording session is interrupted by power loss at the 37th minute, the audio file of the recording will contain only the first 35 minutes worth of content. The remaining two minutes worth of content is not available because it was never saved to the file. In the case of recordings that are shorter than five minutes, the entire recording will be lost because the file is not able to close due to the lack of power. 

It is crucial to change the battery once the battery indicator shows only one hash mark of power remaining. Removing the battery while the recorder is in use may also corrupt a file.

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What enhancements does the PLUS upgrade to DSS Player offer?

Purchasing the DSS Player v.7 PLUS upgrade adds the following features to the version of DSS Player bundled with the DS-50:

  • Splitting files--Individual audio files can be split into smaller units. This is especially useful if a file is longer than the capacity of an audio CD used for archiving.
  • Joining files--Individual audio files can be joined together into a longer single file. This is useful when there are many short recordings on a similar topic that would be more convenient to archive or share as a single audio file. Files that are to be joined must be recorded in the same quality mode.
  • Voice Recognition--Creates compatibility with voice-to-text applications IBM ViaVoice® 10 or Dragon NaturallySpeaking® 8 and 9.

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What is Voice Recognition?

Voice Recognition is technology that enables an application to "listen" to the playback of an audio dictation file and convert its contents to a text document. DSS Player version 7 is compatible with IBM ViaVoice® Pro USB Edition 10, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking® versions 8 and 9.

The Voice Recognition software must be trained to understand individual speakers. The applications can create accounts for individual speakers who have read prepared text under controlled conditions into the digital voice recorder to be used. Corrections to the text by the transcriptionist can be incorporated by the voice-to-text software to "learn" how the dictator speaks. If the users correct their own text files, they can also learn to enunciate words so the software can better understand the speech and increase the accuracy of the text file.

Voice Recognition performs poorly in meeting or lecture situations because of the presence of untrained voices and varying acoustics that will confuse the software.

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Will using an accessory microphone with an extended frequency range improve the quality of my recordings?

Using an accessory microphone with an extended frequency range may not improve the quality of the recordings in a DS-50. The recorder has an overall frequency response of 50 Hz to 19,000 Hz, but the different quality modes modify the detail of the saved file data by saving some frequencies and discarding others. This is how the recorder varies the potential recording time and uses the built-in Flash memory more efficiently.

The table below shows the overall frequency response in the different quality modes:

Quality Mode Overall Frequency Response
STEREO XQ mode 50-19,000 Hz
STEREO HQ mode 500-16,000 Hz
HQ mode 50-13,000 Hz
SP mode 100-8,000 Hz
LP mode 100-3,000 Hz

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How is the recorder turned off?

The recorder is turned off by sliding the [POWER/HOLD] switch on the lower right side of the recorder downward and then releasing it. The switch should then be moved to the HOLD position to prevent accidental activation of button functions.

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How are music files imported into the DS-50 using a Windows computer?

Note:The following instructions pertain to Windows Media Player version 11, which is available as a free upgrade from Microsoft. This version will also be included standard with the Windows Vista operating system.

  1. Save music tracks from CDs or Internet downloads to the Library in Windows Media Player.
  2. Connect the DS-50 to the computer's USB port.
  3. Click [Sync] on the Windows Media Player toolbar. The [Sync List] window opens to the right of the Library.
  4. Select the tracks from the Library that are to be synchronised and drag them into the Sync List.


  5. Click on the Start Sync button.

Windows Media Player will transfer the music tracks into the DS-50. When the sync is completed, a display will show how much free memory remains in the recorder.

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What music formats does the DS-50 accept?

The DS-50 accepts the WMA (Windows Media Audio) and mp3 music formats

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What is the purpose of the Audible folder?

The Audible folder is present to download and play audio content from the Audible.com® website (http://www.audible.com). Audible.com is a source for audio books and audio newspaper and magazine articles. Audible also has web sites for the United Kingdom, France, and Germany for content in other languages.

Audible files are not managed by the DSS version 7 software. When users purchase a subscription to Audible.com, they receive Audible Manager software. The DS-30, DS-40, and DS-50 are listed in the Mobile Device listing in Audible Manager. Audible Manager is used to download audio content from the Audible.com web site and transfer files to the recorder's Audible folder.

When the Audible folder is selected on the recorder, the recorder automatically switches to the Audible mode. The Audible mode is able to play the downloaded Audible files in any of the three formats used by Audible. The different modes determine the quality and file size properties of the downloaded files. Only those Audible files that have a .aa file extension are displayed in the Audible mode.

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The DS-50 digital voice recorder has a Podcast folder. How are podcasts transferred to the recorder?

The DSS Player version 7 application has provisions to subscribe to podcasts and download the podcasts into the recorder's Podcast folder. Briefly, the process is as follows:

  1. In the DSS Player version 7 application, the Dictation Tree View window shows a Podcast folder. Right-click on the folder to open an options box.


  2. Click on Subscribe Podcast. The Subscribe Podcast dialog box opens
  3. Enter the URL of the podcast web site, and press the [OK] button.


    Clicking on the [OK} button registers the podcast web site in DSS Player version 7. When a program is registered, a list of broadcast content provided by the program will appear in the Podcast folder's list view.
    By default, programs registered in the Podcast folder will be automatically updated. To change update intervals, in the DSS Player menu go to Tools then Options. The Options toolbox opens.



  4. Click on the Podcast tab. Change the intervals by selecting a new interval from the Update Interval of the Episodes drop menu.
  5. Content from the podcast website can be downloaded into the Podcast folder by highlighting the file and clicking on the [Download] button in the toolbar of DSS Player version 7. The file will then be downloaded from the web site into the Podcast folder.

Alternatively, the files can be downloaded into the recorder directly. Briefly, the process is as follows:

  1. Connect the recorder to the computer with the bundled USB cable, and in the Device Manager list, click on the DS-50 device listing. A list of folders in the recorder will be displayed.



  2. Click on the Podcast folder in the Dictation Tree View. This displays the contents of the folder.
  3. Highlight a podcast file, and then drag it into the Podcast icon in the Device Manager. This will download the file and install it in the recorder.



  4. Click on the Podcast folder in the Device Manager. This will display the contents of the folder in the recorder. (Highlight and right-click on the file to display the [Delete] function so that the file can be deleted from the recorder.)



  5. Detailed instructions on managing podcasts using DSS Player version 7 can be found in the Online manual on pages 142-145. The Online Manual is installed when the DSS Player version 7 software is installed. To access the manual, open the operating systems' Program Files list and navigate to Olympus DSS Player.

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How are files erased from the recorder?

Dictation, Audible, and podcast files can be erased from the recorder by selecting the file and pressing the [ERASE] button. The LCD screen will flash Cancel. While Cancel is flashing press the [+] button to select Erase, and then press the [OK] button. The LCD screen will briefly flash File Erase! and then Erase Done.

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What is VCVA?

Variable Control Voice Actuator (VCVA) is a function that sets up the recorder to record automatically only when sound is detected at a pre-set level, and stop when the sound drops below the threshold level. The purpose of the function is to eliminate "dead air" during recordings, thereby conserving memory and shortening file times.

VCVA is enabled in the recorder's menu. In the DS-50, the VCVA can be set to any of 15 diffferent values. The higher the value, the more sensitive the recorder is to sounds. At the highest level, even the faintest sound will activate recording.

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Is there an AC adapter available for the DS-50?

The DS-50 uses the optional A-321 AC Adapter in countries with 120 VAC current and the A-322 in counties with 220 VAC current.

The A-321 adapter can be purchased directly from Olympus' online store by clicking here.

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Can the playback speed be controlled?

The playback of files in the DS-50 can be changed to between 50% and 150% of the default playback speed in increments of x0.125. The tone of the file will be adjusted digitally without changing the pitch so that the recording sounds natural.

The play speed is changed in the recorder's menu, under Play Speed. The options are:

  • S. Play (Slow Play): x0.5, x0.625, x0.75, x0.875
  • F. Play (Fast Play): x1.125, x1.25, x1.375, x1.5

S. Play and F. Play are not available while Noise Cancel is enabled. During fast/slow playback, stereo files will be played in monaural even though the files were recorded in stereo.

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How can the blind and visually impaired set the time and date?

The recorders' built-in audio cues can be used to enter the Time & Date settings. These same cues can be used to set Timer Recording and Alarm functions as well.

Using the Keypad

When executing a menu function that requires time and date setting, use the buttons on the recorder's four-way keypad to enter the settings. The settings are hour, minute, month, day, and year. Press the PLUS (UP) and MINUS (DOWN) buttons, respectively to increase and decrease the values. Press the REWIND (LEFT) and FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) buttons to move between variables. Press the OK/MENU button to complete the set-up and start the clock.


Each time and date variable has a baseline value, from which it is possible to calculate the number of times the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) buttons must pressed to reach a particular value. The baseline settings for hour, minutes, month, day, and year are respectively 12 AM, 00, 1M, 1D, and 2007Y. The values appear on the recorder screen as shown below:


When setting time and date variables the recorder emits distinct audio cues to determine that the variables are being changed. Pressing the PLUS (UP) button causes the recorder to emit a high-pitched beep. Pressing the MINUS (DOWN) button elicits a low-pitched beep. When a baseline value is reached from either direction, the audio cue becomes a chirp.

The DS-50 digital voice recorder has a Voice Guide that speaks the menu items. However, it cannot speak the time and date or file names. When the recorder is turned on for the first time , the Voice Guide function is enabled. If the Voice Guide is disabled, use the following steps to enable it:

  1. Turn the recorder on by sliding the POWER/HOLD button downward.
  2. Launch the menu by holding down the OK/MENU button in the center of the four-way keypad for 1 second.
  3. Press the MINUS (DOWN) button 13 times to arrive at the Voice Guide setting in the menu.
  4. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button on the keypad twice.
  5. Press the OK/MENU button in the center of the keypad once to enable the Voice Guide.
  6. Press the REWIND (LEFT) button on the keypad once to return to the menu.

Setting the Time and Date

  1. If the Voice Guide has just been enabled and returned to the menu, press the MINUS (DOWN) button 7 times to arrive at the Time & Date setting. The Voice Guide will speak, "Time and Date Setting."
  2. If the menu has been newly opened, press the PLUS (UP) button four times to arrive at the Time & Date setting.
  3. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to open the Time & Date menu. The first variable to set is the hour. Press the PLUS (UP) button or MINUS (DOWN) button until the recorder chirps instead of beeps. The chirp means the hour variable has been set to 12 AM.
  4. Press the PLUS (UP) button the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct hour value. Remember: The baseline value for hour is 12 AM. Therefore the first 11 button presses represent AM values. It may be quicker to press the MINUS (DOWN) button and count backward from 12 AM if the correct time is a PM value.
  5. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to move to the minute variable. Press the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) button until the recorder chirps instead of beeps. The chirp means the minute variable has been set to the baseline value of 00.
  6. Press the PLUS (UP) button the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct minute value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the minute value, the MINUS (DOWN) button can be used to arrive at the correct minute value.
  7. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to move to the month variable. Press the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) button until the recorder chirps instead of beeps.The chirp means the month variable has been set to its baseline value of 1M, representing January.
  8. Press the PLUS (UP) button the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct month value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the month value, the MINUS (DOWN) button can be used to arrive at the correct month value.
  9. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to move to the day variable.Press the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) button until the recorder chirps instead of beeps.The chirp means the day variable has been set to its baseline value of 1D, representing the first day of the month.
  10. Press the PLUS (UP) button the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct day value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the day value, the MINUS (DOWN) button can be used to arrive at the correct day value.
  11. Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to move to the year variable. The year value is selected by using the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) button. The baseline value is 2007Y and is identified by a chirp.
  12. Press the STOP button (center button on the right side of the recorder) to set the time and date settings and close the menu.

The same entry procedure is used in the Timer Recording and Alarm functions.

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