What are the main features of this model?
The WS-400S is a combination digital voice recorder/mass storage device. Its built-in flash memory can store 1 GB of data, which equates to more than 272 hours of voice recordings in LP mode. As a mass storage device (e.g. USB flash memory drive), it can be used to transfer files from one computer to another. The USB connector is built-in, so it can connect to most computers without a separate cable. To expose the connector, slide the connector outward.
Because the WS-400S records in WMA (Windows Media Audio) format, its files are supported natively by Windows Media Player. This means Windows computers do not require additional software to download and manage the files. The earphone jack permits playback through earphones. The microphone jack accommodates accessory microphones in place of the built-in stereo microphone.
Does the WS-400S display in languages other than English?
The recorder’s display language can be changed. Models sold in North America have the following display language options: English, Français and Español. The language can be selected and set via the LCD/Sound Menu.
How much recording time is available in the WS-400S?
The length of the potential recording time available in the WS-400S is governed by the quality mode that is selected. When a quality mode is selected, a number of audio file properties are put into place that determine the level of detail in 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.
The table below shows the maximum recording times possible (assuming there are no other files saved in the recorder).
||Maximum Recording Time|
|Stereo XQ Mode
||17 Hours 20 Minutes|
|Stereo HQ Mode
||34 Hours 45 Minutes|
|Stereo SP Mode
||69 Hours 35 Minutes|
||69 Hours 35 Minutes|
||137 Hours 00 Minutes|
||272 Hours 25 Minutes|
The different quality modes save the digital record of the recording with different levels of faithfulness to the original sound. The Stereo HQ Mode is recommended for music, drama, or interviews that may be made for broadcast. Stereo HQ (High Quality) Mode makes a very detailed digital record of the sound and uses a very wide frequency range that uses up the available flash memory very rapidly. Lower-quality modes, such as SP (Standard Play) and LP (Long Play), make a less-detailed digital record of the sound because they use a narrower frequency range and use up the available flash memory much more slowly. These modes would be used for audio note taking or recording lectures or seminars in which large capacity is more important than high audio quality.
How is the flash memory shared by the voice folders?
The WS-400S has 1 GB of flash memory. A small amount of that memory is reserved for the “overhead” – firmware and system files needed to run the recorder. The remaining free memory is shared between the various folders – Folders A through E – plus any files that may be saved to the recorder when using it as a mass storage device.
Which computer operating systems support the WS-400S?
The WS-400S is supported by Windows® 2000 Professional, Windows XP Home Edition and 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista™.
The WS-400S is supported on Macintosh® Mac® OS X operating systems from 10.2.8 “Jaguar” through 10.5 “Leopard.”
What software is needed to manage and play my recordings on a computer?
Because the WS-400S is a Mass Storage Class device, Windows® and Macintosh® operating systems treat it as an external drive. Files can be transferred between the recorder and the computer using standard drag and drop or copy and paste techniques. No additional software is needed to transfer the files.
On Windows® platforms, the recordings can be played in Windows Media Player®, which is native to Windows operating systems. No additional software is required.
To play WMA recordings on Macintosh platforms, it is necessary to download a program that supports the WMA format.
Telestream Inc.’s Flip4Mac® WMV Player, also known as Windows Media Components for QuickTime by Flip4Mac, enables WMA file playback in Apple Computer Inc.’s QuickTime™ Player as well as QuickTime-compatible media players. (Upgrading to QuickTime Player Pro will also enable editing of the WMA files.) For more information, please review these pages maintained by Microsoft and Telestream.
The WMA files created by this recorder are also compatible with the Olympus Sonority family of audio software: OLYMPUS Sonority, OLYMPUS Sonority Plus and OLYMPUS Sonority for Editors: Music. These applications offer a variety of archiving and editing functions, including joining and splitting files and converting recordings into other audio file formats.¹
OLYMPUS Sonority Plus can be purchased online directly from The Olympus Store. After installing the Plus software, the music-editing plug-in can be purchased by clicking on a link on the software's welcome page.
¹OLYMPUS Sonority Plus is required to convert files into MP3 format.
What is Voice Recognition?
Voice Recognition technology enables an application to “listen” to the playback of an audio dictation file and convert its contents to a text document. The WMA files created by this recorder are compatible with Dragon NaturallySpeaking® 8 Preferred (and later) and IBM ViaVoice Pro USB Edition 10 (and later).
Voice-recognition programs 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 used with the applications. A transcriptionist can make corrections to the text, and these can be incorporated by the voice-to-text software to “learn” how the dictator speaks. If users correct their own text files, they can also learn to enunciate words so that the software can better understand their speech patterns and increase the accuracy of the text-file conversion.
Voice Recognition performs poorly in meeting or lecture situations because of the presence of untrained voices and varying acoustics that will confuse the software.
Can I rename files in my recorder while it is connected to a computer?
It is not recommended. The recorder’s file-management software may not be able to find a renamed file.
Ideally, files should be renamed prior to syncing with the recorder. Use the computer's file browsing program (My Computer or Windows Explorer on Windows systems and Finder on Macintosh systems) to rename the source music file before adding it to the Windows Media Player Library.
Never rename a file in the recorder’s flash memory. When the recorder is connected to a computer, the computer’s browsing program displays the contents of the recorder’s flash memory. The Sync List window of Windows Media Player’s Sync tab is also connected directly to the flash memory of the recorder. Renaming a music file using any of these methods may corrupt the file and render it unusable.
To change the name of a file after it has been synced with the recorder, do the following:
- Rename the file on the Windows Media Player Library tab (not the Sync tab).
- Connect the recorder to any free USB port on the computer.
- In Windows Media Player, switch to the Sync tab and sync the renamed file. This will place a second copy of the file on the recorder.
- Safely disconnect the recorder.
- Use the recorder’s menu to navigate to the original file and delete it. The renamed version will remain.
How do I download files from the WS-400S to a computer?
Slide the USB port out of the recorder using the control on the left side of the device. Listen for it to snap into place. Connect the recorder to a computer running a supported operating system. The LCD will display a Please Wait prompt while the connection is established. This may take a few moments.
On a Windows® platform, the recorder will appear in My Computer as a hard disk drive named WS400S. On a Macintosh® platform, the recorder will appear on the desktop as a drive named WS400S.
On a Windows computer, the files are accessed by double-left-clicking on the drive in My Computer and then double-left-clicking on a folder to display its contents. On a Macintosh computer, the files are accessed by double-clicking on the drive icon, which will open a window on the desktop screen, and then clicking on a folder to display the files.
In either environment, files can be transferred to any folder in the computer using the operating system’s standard copy and move procedures (e.g. drag and drop, cut and paste).
The recorder should not be disconnected from the computer simply by pulling it out of the computer’s USB port. Any device that uses a USB port to interface with a computer should be disconnected by first shutting down the USB connection between the device and the computer in order to prevent files from being corrupted.
On a Windows platform, the Safely Remove Hardware option found in the Taskbar in the lower right corner of the desktop screen should be used. Be sure to close any files before starting the procedure.
On a Macintosh platform, the drive icon on the desktop screen should be dragged to the Trash icon, or the EJECT button should be used. Wait for the icon to disappear from the desktop screen before disconnecting the recorder.
Can the WS-400S be used as a USB flash drive?
Yes. Because the WS-400S is a Mass Storage Class device, its built-in flash memory can be used like a USB flash drive to transfer data between computers. Text files, graphics, music and images form one system can be uploaded into the recorder's memory and then later downloaded to another system. The two computers do not need to be running the same operating system, but they do need to support the USB Mass Storage Device protocol.
The recorder uses native operating system drivers to interface with each computer. To the operating system, the device appears as an external hard drive. Double-clicking on the "drive" that represents the recorder causes the recorder's contents to be displayed in a window within the operating system's file-browsing application (e.g. My Computer for Windows®-based systems, Finder for Mac® systems). Files are transferred to and from the device using the operating system's standard copy and move procedures, such as drag and drop and cut and paste.
The data occupies space on the recorder's flash memory. Therefore, after uploading data to the recorder, there will be less capacity and recording time available the next time it is used to record audio. Files imported into the device will not be displayed on the LCD screen or in the menu because the device only recognizes files it creates. The recorder is only aware that "other data" is taking up space in its memory.
While the recorder is connected to a computer, files that were imported into the device may be safely removed by using the computer's file-browsing application to delete files from the "drive" displayed on the computer screen. However, files should not be removed by using the computer to format the "drive" that represents the device. Formatting the device this way may corrupt the device's firmware, rednering it non-functional.
Note: Virtually all commercial operating systems now have native support for the USB Mass Storage Device Class protocol, and older operating systems such as Windows 98 SE and Mac OS 8.5.1 can support it through third-party drivers. However, if the operating system does not support the file format of the transferred file, it will not be able to open or run the file.
Can I save my audio files to an audio or data CD?
Yes, audio files from the WS-400S can be burned to audio and data CDs. When deciding which format to burn, here are some factors to take into account:
- AUDIO CD - An audio CD should be playable in a portable, home or car CD player. Check if the burning software writes the CD using the Red Book audio CD standard, which is used in commercial audio CDs (PCM, 44.1 kHz sampling frequency, 16-bit, 2-channel). An open CD may not play on audio CD players, so the CD must be closed by formatting. CD-RW discs are not recommended for creating audio CDs because some players cannot read that media.
- DATA CD - Data CDs are suitable for archiving audio files for playback on a computer. CD-RW discs can be used for data CDs. The CD can be left open.
How can I transfer a recording from another device into the WS-400S?
Analog sound files can be imported and exported to other audio devices using a male/male patch cord with 3.5 mm plugs on each end. Olympus makes a patch cord -- the KA-333 Compaticord (item # 145122) for this purpose.
To import a file into the WS-400S, put one end of the KA-333 into the microphone jack of the WS-400S and the other end into the earphone jack of the other device. Press [REC] in the WS-400S and then [PLAY] in the other device.
To export a file from the WS-400S, put one end of the KA-333 into the earphone jack of the WS-400S and the other end into the microphone or input jack of the receiving device. Press [PLAY] in the WS-400S and [REC] or download in the receiving device.
The jacks in the WS-400S have a maximum input voltage of 10 VDC. Higher voltages may damage the recorder.
Note: The KA-333 Compaticord is available for purchase from Olympus’ online store. Click here to order.
Will using an accessory microphone with an extended frequency range improve the quality of my recordings?
The WS-400S has an overall frequency response of 50 Hz to 19,000 Hz in the Stereo XQ quality mode; however, its built-in stereo microphones can at best achieve an overall frequency response of 50 Hz to 15,000 Hz. Therefore, using an accessory microphone with a frequency range that extends up to 19,000 Hz can improve the quality of recordings made in the Stereo XQ mode.
However, 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. Except in Stereo HQ mode, the recorder will cap the overall frequency response at 50 Hz to 15,000 Hz even though an accessory microphone may be able to capture a wider range of frequencies.
The table below shows the overall frequency response in the different quality modes:
||Overall Frequency Response|
|Stereo XQ Mode
|Stereo HQ Mode
|Stereo SP Mode
¹ The overall frequency response is 50-15,000 Hz when using the built-in stereo microphones.
Can the playback speed be controlled?
The WS-400S provides for playback speed control. It may be desirable to use Fast Playback to run through recordings of meetings or Slow Playback to review a language lesson. Setting up the recorder for the playback speed mode is done in the recorder’s menu in the Play Speed option.
The Slow Playback settings are: x0.5 Play, x0.625 Play, x0.75 Play and x0.875 Play.
The Fast Playback settings are: x1.125 Play, x1.25 Play, x1.375 Play, x1.5 Play and x2.0 Play. X2.0 Play may not be available if a high-quality recording mode is used that has a high bit-rate and high sampling frequency, in which case the maximum playback speed will be x1.5.
The speed must be selected and preset in the menu. During playback, selecting Slow Play, Fast Play and Play is done by pressing the [OK] button. The speed mode in use is indicated in the upper right corner with an arrow.
How is playback volume controlled?
The playback volume is controlled during playback using the [+] (plus) and [-] (minus) buttons on the four-way rocker switch on the recorder face. [+] increases the playback volume. [-] reduces the playback volume.
How is recording volume controlled?
The WS-400S always records at a 100% volume level to prevent accidentally recording with the volume set too low.
The recorder has two microphone sensitivity levels:
- Dict is a low-sensitivity level used for dictation and up-close recording.
- Conf is a high-sensitivity level that records in all directions. It is useful in conference or lecture situations.
Microphone sensitivity is set via the [CONF/DICT] switch on the recorder’s left side.
What is VCVA?
Variable Control Voice Actuator (VCVA) is a function that sets up the recorder to record only when sound is detected at a preset level. This extends recording time by not recording “dead air” or background noise that can use up memory.
What are Index Marks?
Index Marks are 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.
How is the recorder turned off?
The [HOLD] switch is the recorder’s ON/OFF switch.
How are dictation and music files erased?
To erase a selected file, first press the [INDEX/ERASE] button. Next, press the [+] (plus) or [-] (minus) button to select File Erase, and then press the [OK] button. On the next screen, use the [+] (plus) or [-] (minus) button to select Start and then press [OK] to delete the file. Choose Cancel at either screen to exit without deleting the file.
To erase all files in a folder, first select any file in the folder and press the [INDEX/ERASE] button. Next, press the [+] (plus) or [-] (minus) button to select Erase in Folder, and then press the [OK] button. Next, press the [+] (plus) or [-] (minus) button to select Start, and then press [OK] to erase the contents of the folder. Choose Cancel at either screen to exit without erasing all files in the folder.
I want to clear my recorder of all of the loaded files. How should I format the recorder?
The recorder should be formatted only by using the internal FORMAT function found in the recorder’s menu. Formatting using the computer may corrupt system files needed to run the recorder, so computer formatting is not recommended.
Is there an AC adapter for the WS-400S?
An AC adapter is not available for the WS-400S. When the recorder is connected to a computer, the computer’s USB port powers the device.
While recording a file, 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.
How long does the battery last?
Battery life varies depending on the type of battery and usage patterns. One AAA alkaline battery will power a WS-400S for approximately 21 hours in the LP recording mode.
How can the blind and visually impaired set the time and date in the WS-400S?
The recorder has built-in audio cues that can help the blind and visually impaired users set the time and date.
When the recorder is in the Time & Date menu, the four-way keypad is used to set the hour, minute, month, day and year variables. Each variable has a baseline value, and pressing the PLUS (UP) and MINUS (DOWN) buttons on the keypad will ascend and descend the values, respectively. When the PLUS (UP) button is pressed, the recorder issues a high-pitched beep. When the MINUS (DOWN) button is pressed, the recorder issues a low-pitched beep. When the baseline value for any variable is reached from either direction, the audio cue for that value becomes a chirp. Once a baseline value has been identified, setting the time and date becomes a simple matter of counting beeps.
The baseline values for hour, minute, month, day, and year are, respectively, 12 AM, 00,1M, 1D, and 2007Y.
Setting the Time & Date
- Launch the recorder menu by turning the recorder on in the VOICE mode and holding down the OK/MENU button for one second.
- Press the PLUS (UP) button once to select Sub Menu.
- Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button once to open the Sub Menu.
- Press the MINUS (DOWN) button once to open the Time & Date menu. The first variable to be 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 its baseline value of 12 AM.
- 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 eleven 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.
- 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 its baseline value of 00.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Press the FAST FORWARD (RIGHT) button to select the year variable. use either the PLUS (UP) or MINUS (DOWN) button to select a year value. The baseline, 2007Y, is identified by a chirp.
- Press the STOP button (center button on the right side of the recorder) to set the time and date settings and close the menu.
My recorder freezes and I get the following error message: “Cannot find the system file. Connect to PC to delete the necessary files.” What is the problem?
If the recorder has been used as a mass storage device to transfer data, the data may have exceeded the capacity of the flash memory and the header for the last file may be incomplete. Data must be deleted to restore operability.
Connect the recorder to the computer. Use the file-browsing application (My Computer or Windows Explorer in Windows operating systems or Finder for Macintosh operating systems) to select the drive that represents the recorder and click on [Properties]. The display shows the amount of Used Space and Free Space in the recorder’s memory. Note how much space needs to be freed up, and then exit the Properties view. Double-click on the drive that represents the recorder and delete files until sufficient free space has been created.