The Digital Audio Recorder
for Journalists

Your voice box, in a BLACKBOX.


About Our Project

It’s the age of smartphones. These portable and versatile devices offer seemingly endless features, including digital cameras, notepads, and audio recorders, which have effectively consolidated the journalistic profession into a single tool. However, even though journalists can now store mobilized versions of their entire media arsenal in their pocket or palm, many still opt to use digital audio recording devices such as the Sony ICD-UX560 for professional-grade sound quality. What separates these singular audio capture devices from multi-faceted smartphones for journalists in this age of high-speed digital news production? Team HOYAudio will attempt to unpack the “blackbox” of digital audio recording technology by analyzing it’s architecture, algorithm, and the socio-technical system that surrounds and drives its evolution.

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Digital Voice Recorder

History & Description

The Sony digital voice recorder (ICD-UX560) captures and stores high quality audio recordings on it’s 4GB built-in memory and expandable memory via MicroSD (SDHC/SDXC) cards. The high sensitivity S-Microphone records audio in MP3/LPCM files and is transferable to a computer via the voice recorders built-in USB system. With a capacity of 5,000 files (including the number of folders), Sony’s digital voice recorder provides a unique user interface that allows for the user to manipulate the audio recordings that are captured, and even optimize the settings for each situation for which the user might want to adjust/re-calibrate the audio. These files can easily be played, tracked, organized, and deleted within the UI of the recorder. With a built-in lithium battery, a three minute charge provides the digital voice recorder one hour of consistent recording time.

Sony was the first major company to create a mass produced digital recorder in 1978 (the Sony PCM-1600). Initially as a Betamax video recorder modified as a digital audio recorder, the Sony PCM-1600 was used in music studios to make the master recordings for the first CDs in the 1980s. From there, the use of digital recorders gradually increased, branching out in use from record mastering to the recording studio, and then later becoming a common consumer good by the late 1990s.

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Digital Voice Recorder


Digital Voice Recorder

Algorithm Description

The Sony ICD-UX560 Digital Voice Recorder offers multiple different environmental settings to accommodate nearly any audio recording situation, including VOICE NOTES, INTERVIEW, MEETING, LECTURE, SOFT MUSIC, and LOUD MUSIC.

Digital Voice Recorder

Socio-technical Analysis

Journalists delegate the task of recording and memorizing information to the digital voice recorder. They use the recorder in the scenes like interviews and conferences to record every pieces of audio information which might be useful later when they compose their reports.


Digital Voice Recorder

Video Interview

We invited Der Speigel  journalist Karin Assmann to talk about her experience with voice recorders and how they are affecting the professions of journalism and news production.


Meet the Team

We, team HOYAudio, are now dedicated to the socio-technical system of the voice recorder; to unpack its black-box and reveal its impact on journalists, the profession of journalism and the entire news industry.  

Shahin Rafikian

Shahin is a born-and-raised Washington, D.C. resident attending Georgetown University in the Communication, Culture and Technology graduate program. He spent the previous four years as an undergraduate student studying sociology with a concentration in organizations and institutions. With a wide variety of interests, and juggling school with three part time jobs within different professional fields, Shahin has come to terms and discovered his profound love for music and hopes to some day become a cultural music analyst for a music publication/platform.

Wenyuan Deng

Wenyuan Deng, normally called Wynn by his friends, is a first year CCT student from Shanghai, China. Just getting his bachelor’s degree in communications and political science, Wenyuan now goes to graduate school at Georgetown University, focusing on media effects in American politics. The mixture of his culture backgrounds of growing up in China and studying in the U.S. inspires his interests in different political systems and the use of communication technology in those systems. For the future, Wenyuan hopes he can become a professional marketing analyst.

Yi Pan

Yi is a Chinese student in her first year of the CCT program. Graduated from a journalism major, she worked in 4 major Chinese media organizations as a trainee journalist and has a true passion for journalism. During her 4 years of experience with interviewing people, Yi was a heavy user of the Sony Digital Voice Recorder. She became curious about the impact of voice recorders to journalism and the news industry when she heard about the ‘lost techniques’ of journalists from senior colleagues and witnessed how a recorder saved a journalist’s career. Her favorite type of recorder is Sony ICD-UX560 which she has been using for years.

Zach Omer

Zach is a first-year CCT student from Washington, Missouri, about 40 miles west of St. Louis. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2015, with an emphasis in Strategic Communications. He spent the last two years serving in AmeriCorps near Portland, Oregon, working as a tutor, coach, and after-school program coordinator at Forest Grove High School. He is most interested in media ecology, or the study of how our communication technologies affect the way we think and behave, and hopes to someday design his own curriculum for an advanced high-school level media ecology course.


Bibliography & Design Justification


Someone might also do an interview with you and they might talk about four different programs for their iPhones on how to record an interview, and I’ll just think: “Uhhh, you can’t use your iphone.”


Matt Roeckl

You don’t underestimate how good audio can be just because consumer products– like the iPhone that double up as recording devices– can also be used in a professional way. For really good professional audio, it’s also good to get really good, professional equipment.


Karin Assmann
Full BibliographyFull Design Justification Back to MENU

If we talk about audio production, you should definitely choose an audio recorder that is portable, that records in a good quality… You definitely want something that sounds warm and rich.


Matt Roeckl