Olympus DS-7000 Digital Voice Recorder
The successor to the hugely popular Olympus DS-5000 digital voice recorder is here. Olympus believes the new DS-7000 Digital Dictation System improves on its predecessor in almost every way and so has abruptly discontinued production on the older model.
Was this a good move? The DS-5000 was so successful because it delivered excellent ergonomics and ease of use, offered high recording quality and came bundled with the Professional level dictation management software, DSS Player Pro.
Let’s find out if the new Olympus DS-7000 Digital Dictation System stacks up…
Look and Feel
The look and feel of the new Olympus DS-7000 is similar to the Olympus DS-5000 it has replaced, featuring a black metal casing, thumb slider operation and
a near-identical face button layout. It is slightly wider, but has the same height and thickness. I couldn’t detect much of a weight difference either.
Something that has obviously changed is the screen. The new screen is slightly wider and around 50% taller than the now small-looking DS-5000 screen. Turn it on and you’re greeted by a nice full-colour LCD screen, which immediately gives the machine a more exotic feel.
Build quality is typical Olympus. The machine feels reassuringly solid, with good weight and a nice, consistent “clickiness” to the buttons. Olympus claim the slider is also improved, but I struggled to tell the difference. Not a bad thing, as the DS-5000 was already equipped with a smooth, reliable slider that is easy to get into position.
The functionality of the new Olympus DS-7000 is more or less identical to the outgoing DS-5000. All the buttons are where we’d expect to find them and the usual features expected of a professional voice recorder – rewind, playback, overwrite, insert, etc. – are all present.
The power switch has been relocated to behind the larger microphone area, which makes sense as one of the quirks of the DS-5000 was that the switch was
blocked when docked. It’s also harder to accidentally switch on and off.
Speaking of docking, the new docking connector is supposedly also improved, but seems to be exactly the same. Again, not a bad thing as the DS-5000 was blessed with perhaps the most reliable docking of the (then) current crop of dictaphones. The Olympus DS-7000 also now has the ability to USB charge while switched on (the DS-5000 could only USB charge when switched off, otherwise the AC adapter was required).
The battery has been upgraded to a new Lithium Ion unit which charges faster and lasts longer than the outgoing NiMH battery. This is great, but the redesigned battery compartment no longer allows for AAA batteries to be used in urgent instances of battery failure. We believe this is a major oversight as the current Grundig Digta 7 machines have both the Lithium Ion battery AND option for standard AAA’s. We would recommend purchasing an addition battery and battery charger so that you are never caught short due to unexpected battery depletion or failure.
Now back to that nice big colour screen. The background colour actually changes while recording to alert the author of the current mode, as though the recording LED and counting timer weren’t enough already, but it’s a nice touch. There isn’t really any additional information displayed on the screen, but the increased size means it’s all presented much more attractively and with less clutter – making it easier to read and reduces the instance of accidental operation.
Olympus has focused heavily on the quality of the built-in microphone. The DS-5000 already had a good one, but it wasn’t particularly suitable for certain applications like speech recognition, where background noise had the potential to spoil the party.
The Olympus DS-7000 features a larger microphone element, which should increase the voice clarity of recordings. Olympus also claim the new microphone housing is an isolated chamber, which should minimize the audible omovement and button presses, etc. while recording.
With regular dictations, voice was crisp and clean. The DS-5000 microphone had a tendency to sound bright to the point of sibilance, which could have a negative impact of speech recognition. The DS-7000 sounds slightly more subdued, with a flatter frequency response.
Speech recognition with Dragon produced a better signal to noise graph that the DS-5000. Inital testing of the Olympus DS-7000 with Dragon were extremely positive.
The Olympus DS-7000 and the associated Olympus ODMS Dictate Software can be used for real-time (on-line) speech recognition and also background (off-line) speech recognition.
It is also worth noting that the Olympus DS-7000 is only supported for use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional V10 & V11 and also Dragon NaturallySpeaking Legal 11. Currently the DS-7000 is NOT supported for use with Dragon Medical.
The DSS Player Pro software has been renamed to Olympus Dictation Management System (ODMS) for the new version (R6), but it is functionally very similar. One major change, however, is the introduction of integrated speech recognition (very much identical to the Philips SpeechExec Pro V7 ) using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional and Legal.
This allows dictations to be queued and recognised in the background, rather than the clunky dictation-by-dictation Recognise -> Correct -> Repeat process of R5, cementing Olympus’ intent for the DS-7000 to integrate with speech recognition.
The new software also supports the new 256bit AES file encryption from the recorder for added security over the DS-5000’s now-dated 128bit offering.
ODMS Admin tool is now available separately for larger installation sites. Previously, many of these tools were included with the Olympus DSSPlayer Pro. This allows for some Citrix / WTS installations and administrators control, plus the advantage of Multi User Licensing – an essential requirement for managing licenses in medium and large sites.
ODMS Admin definitely allows the software to be easier to use and manage in sites with multiple users, but it is still not as feature rich or as flexible as some other centralised dictation management software, such as Philips SpeechExec Enterprise.
Compatibility with older versions
We have given a BIG tick to Olympus for making the Olympus DS7000 both backwards AND forwards compatible.
Yes…. You can you the Olympus DS-7000 and AS7000 with the DS-5000 and AS5000 system
Yes…. You can use the Olympus DS-5000 and AS5000 with the DS-7000 and AS7000 system
Yes… You can use the new ODMS Admin Software to manage both 7000 and 5000 system users
Users of the older Olympus DS-4000 and AS-4000 digital dictation systems should consider upgrading both the software and hardware. The 4000 system is
not compatible with Windows 7 and has been deemed “end-of-life” by Olympus; meaning that parts and accessories will soon (if not already) be discontinued.
Overall Olympus have once again provided a practical and reliable digital dictation system and we at VoiceX Communications expect it to be one of our top sellers.
- Subtle improvements without taking away from user familiarity
- Backwards AND forwards compatible with DS-5000 / AS-5000 system
- Impressive colour screen
- Proper integration with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional and Dragon Legal speech recognition software
- No longer compatible with AAA batteries
- Side placement of earphone/microphone jacks is questionable
- Nothing revolutionary
- Not licensed for use with Dragon Medical 11
VoiceX are a fully authorised Olympus Pro Dealer and can be contacted on 1300 551 778 or you can view their website at www.voicex.com.au for full product information.
VoiceX supplies all states of Australia and New Zealand. Delivery of the Olympus DS7000 can generally be over night and they have a range of installation and support options.