It can be difficult to choose the best solution for recording in cockpit audio. Personally I record my flights more for educational and reflective purposes than to go on YouTube, however, I would still like clear audio when playing it back. To record video I use GoPro’s scattered throughout the cabin and for the longest time I have used the ‘audio in’ on the GoPro to record audio. In an attempt to get better sound, I decided to test out a purpose built audio recorder. My weapon of choice – The Olympus VN-711PC.
The Olympus VN-711PC is a light weight, user friendly voice recorder with an impressively long battery life. It is ideally suited to beginners and is positioned at the cheaper end of the scale when looking at tech packed voice recorders. Unlike its big brother, it doesn’t come with a storage case though due to its size can be easily stowed in the aircraft side pocket and it does have a lock feature to stop inadvertent pressing of buttons. The Olympus VN-711PC has a mic in port to allow you to connect a GA audio adapter to record voice and ATC transmissions.
In the cockpit, when connected to a GA audio adapter, the sound is ok, not great, but ok. I would suggest it’s not much of an improvement on the sound you get straight out of the GoPro, though it is more convenient as you don’t have cords hanging throughout the cockpit, getting in the way.
The Road Test
The first time I used it, it performed quite well and easily recorded 3 hours of flight. I had a GA audio adapter connected to the aircraft and to the headset and then an extension cord allowing me to put the Olympus VN-711PC in the flight bag on the back seat instead of in the side pocket of the C172. When playing it back, the audio seemed quite dull and muffled, though this is just the speakers on the unit, as when I connected it to the computer, the audio was much clearer. The real test came during editing the videos from the flight. Whilst it was great not having to separate video and audio, trying to sync the audio with the video did become quite tricky even when using a professional editing suite.
The second flight I had didn’t go so well and made me lose faith in the recorder somewhat. I connected it in the same way as the first flight, though for some reason, the audio only recorded for about 10 minutes and then stopped. Causing me to lose two and a half hours of flight audio which was very frustrating. I’m still not sure why this happened, there was plenty of battery (the devise was still on after the flight) and there was heaps of storage available.
The device itself is very well built and feels good to hold. It looks professional and records audio well in a standard office type environment. However, in the rugged environment of the cockpit, it seems to be a little too fragile and temperamental. I won’t be using it again for this purpose, though I will still be on the hunt for a device that can handle the GA cockpit.
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Have you used this Voice Recorder? Rate it!
1. Solid Construction 2. Great for recording in an office environment 3. Excellent battery life 4. Plenty of storage space
1. No protector bag / carry case 2. Not ideal for in a noisy cockpit 3. Difficult to sync the audio with video 4. Easy to accidentally delete files