What are the main features of this model?
The WS-520M is a combination digital audio recorder/mass storage device/music player. Its built-in flash memory can store 8 GB of data, which equates to more than 2,170 hours of voice recordings in LP mode or up to about 2,000 songs in music mode.
The WS-520M can record and play files in the Linear PCM (.WAV), MP3 and WMA (Windows Media Audio) formats. OLYMPUS Sonority software is included to manage and edit1 the audio files on Windows and Macintosh platforms. Both environments natively support PCM (.WAV) and MP3 files, and Windows systems also natively support WMA files.
The recorder supports VCVA (Variable Control Voice Activation) to minimize “dead air” time in lengthy recordings. Up to 16 index marks can be inserted into recordings to bookmark important sections for quick reference. The recordings made by this device are compatible with the Dragon NaturallySpeaking® voice-recognition program.
In music mode, the WS-520M offers a graphic equalizer and SRS WOW XT technology to permit customization of the sound space. Support is built-in for Microsoft Corporation’s DRM9 digital rights management technology.
As a Mass Storage Class USB flash memory drive, the recorder can be used to transfer files from one computer to another. Its USB connector is built-in, so it can connect to most computers without a separate cable. (To expose the connector, slide the connector lever in the direction of the arrow.)
The earphone jack permits playback through earphones. The microphone jack accommodates accessory microphones in place of the built-in stereo microphone.
The recorder is bundled with one AAA NiMH battery (BR401)_that can be recharged in the device through a computer’s USB port.
¹MP3 files created by this recorder can be imported and exported into OLYMPUS Sonority. OLYMPUS Sonority PLUS, an upgrade available at additional cost, is required to convert files from other formats into MP3 format.
What file formats does this recorder support?
Because this recorder acts as a Mass Storage Class device when it is connected to a computer, files of any type may be transferred to the recorder for storage. However, files in unsupported formats cannot be played by this recorder, and they may not be displayed on the LCD monitor.
The following table illustrates which types of audio files the WS-520M supports:
¹This recorder supports Microsoft Corporation’s DRM9 digital rights-management technology but does not support DRM10 or Apple Computer Inc.’s FairPlay DRM. Music files protected by unsupported digital rights-management technologies cannot be played even if they were recorded using a supported sampling frequency and bit rate.
²Music files must be stored in the recorder’s Music folder.
³This recorder can only play WAV files that were recorded in the Linear PCM format.
4Variable bit rate MP3 files (in which conversion bit rates can vary) may not play properly.
Which computer operating systems support the WS-520M?
The WS-520M is supported by Windows® 2000 Professional, Windows XP Home Edition and 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista and Windows 7™. On Macintosh® systems, it is supported by Mac® OS X 10.2.8 (“Jaguar”) through 10.6 (“Snow Leopard.”)
What software is needed to manage my recordings on a computer?
Because this recorder 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.
Windows and Macintosh platforms can play recordings in the PCM (.wav) and MP3 formats using native applications such as Windows Media® Player or iTunes®.
Windows platforms can also play recordings in the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format using the same native applications. 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 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 including those used by popular voice-recognition programs.
OLYMPUS Sonority is bundled with this recorder. The Plus edition can be purchased online directly from The Olympus Store. After installing the Plus edition, the music-editing plug-in can be purchased by clicking on a link on the software's welcome page.
¹MP3 files created by this recorder can be imported and exported into OLYMPUS Sonority. OLYMPUS Sonority Plus is required to convert files from other formats into MP3 format.
Does the WS-520M 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-520M?
The length of the potential recording time available is one of several audio file properties goverened by the selected recording mode. 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.
This table shows the maximum recording times possible (assuming there are no other files saved in the recorder).
||Maximum Recording Time|
|PCM 44.1 kHz/16 bit
||Approx. 12 hours, 50 minutes|
|MP3 256 kbps
||Approx. 71 hours|
|MP3 128 kbps
||Approx. 142 hours|
||Approx. 139 hours|
||Approx. 278 hours|
||Approx. 556 hours|
||Approx. 556 hours|
||Approx. 1,090 hours|
||Approx. 2,170 hours|
The different recording modes save a digital recording with different levels of faithfulness to the original sound. The PCM, MP3 and ST XQ (Stereo Extra-high Quality) modes are recommended for music, drama or interviews that may be made for broadcast. They use a wide frequency range and high bit rate 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 lower bit rate that uses up the available flash memory more slowly. These modes would be useful for audio note taking and for situations when large capacity is more important than high audio quality, such as when recording lectures or seminars.
How is the flash memory shared by the voice folders?
The WS-520M has 8 GB of flash memory. A small amount of that memory is reserved for firmware and system files needed to run the recorder. The remaining free memory is shared among the six top-tier folders – Folders A through E and the Music folder – and any files that may have been saved to the recorder while using it as a mass storage device.
How many songs can I store on this recorder?
This recorder will hold approximately 2,000 music files at 128 kbps and assuming 4 minutes per song. This estimate assumes that no other files exist on the recorder. Making recordings or transferring files to the recorder while it is connected to a computer in USB mode will use some of the recorder’s storage capacity, resulting in less space for music files.
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 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® 9 Preferred (and later).
Voice-recognition programs must be trained to understand individual speakers, who read prepared text under controlled conditions into the 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 files, they can learn to enunciate words so that the software can better understand their speech patterns, thereby increasing the accuracy of the text-file conversion.
What is DRM?
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is technology embedded in some digital files to prevent unauthorized duplication. DRM is commonly used on files containing copyrighted music and video content.
Under U.S. copyright law, any voice, music files and music CDs downloaded from the Internet without the copyright holder’s permission may not be reproduced, distributed, publicized/re-publicized on the Internet or converted into WMA or MP3 files for the purpose of commercial business or sale.
DRM restricts a user’s ability to copy or distribute digital files that are converted (ripped) from a CD or that were downloaded from digital entertainment distribution services. Copying DRM-protected files to a portable device such as this recorder requires the use of approved methods or programs, such as Windows Media Player, and may be restricted.
This recorder is compatible with Microsoft Corporation’s DRM9 but not with DRM10. It is not compatible with Apple Computers Inc.'s FairPlay DRM. Files protected by unsupported DRM technologies may not be displayed in the folder menus and cannot be played by this recorder.
What is the purpose of the Equalizer function in the MUSIC mode?
The Equalizer function is a graphic equalizer that can be used to further customize the recorder’s sound space. It allows the user to select one of several audio environments that create variations in the emphasis of different frequency ranges, or to create a custom environment. The options are Off (default), Rock, Pop, Jazz and User.
In the User option, you can adjust the levels of individual frequency bands, from -6 levels to +6 levels, in 1 dB increments. The available frequency bands are 60 Hz, 250 Hz, 1 kHz, 4 kHz and 12 kHz. Use the [<<] (Left) and [>>] (Right) buttons on the four-way rocker switch on the front face of the recorder to select a frequency band, and then set the level using the [+] (Up) and [-] (Down) buttons.
What is the purpose of the WOW function in the MUSIC mode?
WOW refers to SRS WOW XT, an audio technology that uses the scientific principles of psychoacoustics to create a psychological impression of the music players’ sound space. In practical terms, WOW provides two options, the effects of which are detailed below.
- SRS 3D (Sound Retrieval System) enhances the surround sound effect. The expansive feel and the clarity of the sound can be increased.
- TruBass adjusts the low-frequency range to make low frequencies richer. This gives the impression of bass “punch” in ear buds without using a subwoofer.
Both effects can be set to HIGH, MIDDLE, LOW or OFF.
While WOW is active, Slow Playback and Fast Playback are disabled. The SRS WOW XT effect will be weakened if the bit rate of the music file is less than 32 kbps.
Can this recorder be used as a USB flash drive?
Yes. Because this recorder 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 from 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 Class 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 or cut and paste.
The data occupies space on the recorder’s flash memory. Therefore, the device will have less capacity and recording time available to it when it is acting as a digital audio recorder. Files imported into the device will not be displayed on the LCD screen or in the menu because the device only recognizes files that it creates. The device 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 the files from the “drive” displayed on the computer screen. However, the 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, rendering 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.
How is the recorder turned on/off?
The [HOLD] switch is the recorder’s power switch. Slide the switch in the direction indicated by the arrow to turn off the recorder.
How is recording volume controlled?
The WS-520M always records at a 100% volume level to prevent accidentally recording with the volume set too low.
The recorder has two microphone sensitivity levels:
- Dictation is a low-sensitivity level used for dictation and up-close recording.
- Conference is a high-sensitivity level that can record surrounding sounds. It is useful in conference or lecture situations when the speaker is not near the recorder.
Microphone sensitivity is set in the recorder's menu.
How is playback volume controlled?
The playback volume is controlled during playback using the [+] (Up) and [-] (Down) buttons on the four-way rocker switch on the front face of the recorder. Pressing [+] increases the playback volume. Pressing [-] reduces the playback volume.
Can the playback speed be controlled?
This recorder provides options for controlling playback speed. 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.
Can I play my recordings in iTunes and on my iPod®?
After transferring the recordings to a computer and adding them to the iTunes Library, the files can be played in iTunes.
To add the recordings to an iPod, the files must first be converted to .AAC format. iTunes can convert files in its Library to AAC format.
Please refer to the iTunes documentation for details on how to perform these operations.
Can this recorder play music files that I transfer from iTunes®?
This recorder can play music files that are transferred from iTunes to the recorder’s Music folder if the files are in one of the supported audio file formats and are not restricted by digital rights management (DRM) technology.
Music files that use the AAC encoding scheme, such as those purchased from music-distribution services like the iTunes Store, cannot be played by this recorder. Music files of this type may have any of the following file extensions: .aac, .m4a or .m4p.
How can the blind and visually impaired set the time and date in the WS-520M?
This recorder has built-in audio cues that can help blind or 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 [+] (Up) and [-] (Down) buttons on the keypad will ascend and descend the values, respectively. When [+] (Up) is pressed, the recorder issues a high-pitched beep. When [-] (Down) 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 2009Y.
Setting the Time & Date
- Turn on the recorder, and then press the [MENU] button.
- Press the [+] (Up) button on the four-way keypad to select the Device Menu.
- Press the [>>] (Right) button once to enter the Device Menu. Time & Date will be selected by default.
- Press the [OK] button to enter the Time & Date menu. The first variable to be set is the hour. Press the [+] (Up) or [-] (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.¹
- Press [+] (Up) 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 [-] (Down) and count backward from 12 AM if the correct time is a PM value.
- Press [>>] (Right) to move to the minute variable. Press [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) until the recorder chirps instead of beeps. The chirp means the minute variable has been set to its baseline value of 00.
- Press [+] (Up) the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct minute value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the minute value, press [-] (Down) repeatedly to arrive at the correct minute value.
- Press [>>] (Right) to move to the month variable.² Press [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) 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 [+] (Up) the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct month value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the month value, press [-] (Down) repeatedly to arrive at the correct month value.
- Press [>>] (Right) to move to the day variable. Press [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) 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 [+] (Up) the number of times necessary to arrive at the correct day value. If it would be quicker to count backward to the day value, press [-] (Down) to arrive at the correct day value.
- Press [>>] (Right) to select the year variable. Use either the [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) button to select a year value. The baseline, 2009Y, is identified by a chirp.
- Press [OK] to set the time and date settings.
- Press the [STOP] button to close the menu.
¹To use a 24-hour clock (e.g. military time), press the [LIST] button while the cursor is on the hour or minute variable.
²To change the order in which the month, day and year variables are displayed, press the [LIST] button while the cursor is resting on any of those variables.
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 are dictation and music files erased?
To erase a selected file, first press the [INDEX/ERASE] button. Next, press the [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) button to select File Erase, and then press the [OK] button. On the next screen, use [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) 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 [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) to select Erase in Folder, and then press [OK]. Next, press [+] (Up) or [-] (Down) to select Start, and then press [OK] to erase the contents of the folder. Choose Cancel at either screen to exit without erasing the files.
I want to clear my recorder of all of the loaded files. How do 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.
Note: When the recorder is formatted, music files with DRM might not be able to be transferred to the recorder again. If voice and music files have been loaded onto the recorder and the intention of formatting is to delete the voice files, the recommended procedure is to erase individual files or to erase the contents of a voice file folder. Files can also be safely deleted (not formatted) using a computer.