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What are the specifications for this model?

Olympus VN-120 Digital Voice Recorder

Olympus VN-120 Digital Voice Recorder
Product Number 141708
Shipping date: March 2004
Box Contents
VN-120 Digital Voice Recorder
Two AAA Alkaline Batteries
Instruction Manual
Warranty Card

Model VN-120
Recording Format ADPCM (WAVE)
Recording Media 16 MB built-in Flash memory
Recording Time HQ mode: 43 minutes
SP mode: 1 hour 5 minutes
LP mode: 2 hours 1 minute
Card Format n/a
Input Level -70 dBv
PC Interface n/a
LCD 23 x 23 mm
LED 2 colors (red = record/transfer, green = playback)
Folder Messages 3 folders, 100 messages per folder
Sampling Frequency HQ mode: 16.0 kHz
SP mode: 10.6 kHz
LP mode: 5.75 kHz
Overall Frequency Response HQ mode: 300 - 7,200 Hz
SP Mode: 300 - 4,700 Hz
LP Mode: 300 - 2,600 Hz
LP Mode Yes
Voice Activation Available, Switchable ON/OFF
Demographic Data Input n/a
Practical Maximum Output 120 mW
Write Protection n/a
Speaker Built-in 28 mm round dynamic speaker
Microphone Built-in condenser microphone (monaural)
Microphone Jack 3.5 mm mini-jack, impedance 2 kohms
Earphone Jack 3.5 mm mini-jack, impedance 8 ohms
Power Supply 2 AAA Alkaline or 2 AAA NiMH batteries (BR-401)
External Power Supply n/a
Battery Life Alkaline: Approx. 25 hours
NiMH: Approx. 19 hours
Size 3.9" x 1.5" x .8" (99 x 39 x 21.5 mm) excluding protrusions
Weight 2.4 oz (68 g) including alkaline batteries
Audio Output Earphone output or speakers

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What are the main features of this model?

The Olympus VN-120 digital voice recorder records in ADPCM (Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation) WAVE audio format. The three recording quality modes provide options for recording high-quality sound files or expanding the memory capacity by using a lower-quality recording mode. The VN-120 also has options for setting an alarm. The microphone and earphone jacks allow the use of audio accessories.

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The recorder will not allow me to record, what could be wrong?

Check the following:
Press the STOP button repeatedly while the recorder stops, check if the display shows:

  • The remaining recording time in the selected folder may have reached "00:00".
  • The number of files is 100
Check if the display shows FULL by pressing the REC button. The number of files of the same date in folder S may have reached 10. Your recorder could be full, please delete some recordings.

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Why can’t I move a file?

The number of recorded files in the destination folder may have reached 100.
Make sure that you haven’t transferred to or from the S folder.

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What is the major difference between the VN-120 and the VN-120PC?

The VN-120PC ships with a USB cable and software so that recordings can be downloaded to a computer for storage, management and editing. The VN-120 cannot be connected to a computer.

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What is ADPCM?

Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation (ADPCM) compresses files by saving them as WAVE files with a bit depth of four bits rather than the 16 bits typical of other audio formats. It also uses the built-in flash memory more efficiently by comparing a sound wave to a previous sound wave and digitizing the difference.

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How much recording time is available in the VN-120?

The length of the potential recording time available in the VN-120 is governed by the recording quality mode that is selected. An HQ (High Quality) mode recording uses more memory than an LP (Long Play) quality mode recording because the HQ mode makes a more-detailed digital record.

The table below shows the approximate maximum dictation recording times possible in the VN-120 in the different quality modes:

Quality Mode Maximum Dictation Recording Time
HQ mode Approx. 43 minutes
SP mode Approx. 1 hour 5 minutes
LP mode Approx. 2 hours 1 minute

Notes: Recording times are estimates based on the recording of one continuous file. The total available recording time may be less if several files are recorded. Recording time is a measure of memory capacity and is not a guarantee of battery life.

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How is the VN-120 turned off?

The HOLD switch is the power ON/OFF switch on the VN-120. Set the switch to HOLD when replacing the batteries to preserve the time and date settings.

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How is the recording volume controlled?

The VN-120 always records at 100% volume level to prevent accidentally recording with the volume set too low.

The recorder has two levels of microphone sensitivity:

  • LOW is a low-sensitvity level used for close-up recording.
  • HIGH is a high-sensitvity level used in conference or lecture situations.

Microphone sensitvity is set in the recorder menu. The function is identified by an icon that looks like a microphone.

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How is the playback volume controlled?

The playback volume is controlled using the VOLUME control dial on the right side of the recorder.

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How is the playback speed controlled?

Pressing the PLAY button during playback changes the playback speed to -20% normal speed. SLOW appears on the LCD screen during slow playback. Pressing PLAY a second time changes the playback speed to +30% normal speed. FAST appears on the LCD screen during fast playback. Pressing the STOP button stops the playback and resets the recorder to normal playback speed.

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How can I format the VN-120?

The VN-120 is formatted using the CLEAR function. Using the CLEAR function erases the time and date settings as well as all of the files, so be certain the files are saved elsewhere before clearing the recorder. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Hold the STOP and ERASE buttons simultaneously for three seconds or longer.
  2. Press the - or + button to select YES.
  3. Press the ENTER button. The recorder will be formatted.

In some instances, using the CLEAR function will reset the recorder if it is performing erratically. Files deleted using the CLEAR function cannot be retrieved.

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What is VCVA?

Variable Control Voice Actuator (VCVA) is a function that configures the recorder to record automatically only when sound is detected at a pre-set level and to stop when the sound drops below the threshold level. The purpose of the function is to eliminate "dead air" during recordings, thereby conserving memory and shortening file times.

VCVA is enabled in the recorder menu.

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How are files erased from the VN-120?

Individual selected files or the entire contents of a selected folder can be erased from the VN-120.

To erase a selected file from Folder A, B, or C:

  1. Press the MENU/FOLDER button to select Folder A, B, or C.
  2. Press the - or + button to select the file to be erased.
  3. Press the ERASE button.
  4. Press the - or + button to select YES.
  5. Press the ENTER button.

To erase the contents of Folder A, B, or C:

  1. Press the MENU/FOLDER button to select Folder A, B, or C.
  2. Press the ERASE button twice.
  3. Press the - or + button to select YES.
  4. Press the ENTER button.

Erased files cannot be retrieved.

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How are the date and time set on the VN-120 Digital Voice Recorder?

The following procedure should be used to set the date and time on the recorder:

  1. Press and hold the MENU button for 1 second or longer
  2. Press the STOP or PLAY button until "TIME" flashes on the display
  3. Press the ENTER button
  4. Press the STOP or PLAY button to set the hour.
  5. Press the ENTER button to accept the minute. The minute indicator flashes. Pressing the "-" button enables the hour setting.
  6. Press the STOP or PLAY button to set the minute
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to continue to set the year, month and date in the same way.
  8. After setting the date, press the ENTER button. This completes the time/date setup procedure.
  9. Press the MENU button to exit.

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How does the ALARM function work?

The ALARM function can be set to play back an audio file at a pre-determined time. This means the VN-120 can be used for audio reminders or as a travel alarm. An alarm setting must be attached to a particular file in a particular folder. The recorder does not have to be set to the folder being used--when the alarm time comes, the recorder finds the file.

To set an alarm:

  1. Select or record a message file to be linked to the alarm.
  2. Open the menu by pressing the MENU/FOLDER button for three seconds.
  3. Using the STOP or PLAY button, scroll to the ALARM menu icon (looks like a dot with double-parentheses around it).
  4. SET flashes on the LCD screen. Press the ENTER button.
  5. Enter the alarm time by setting the hour with the STOP or PLAY button. Press the + button to select the minutes setting, and set the minutes using the STOP or PLAY button.
  6. Press the ENTER button to set the time.

When the alarm goes off, it will beep for five minutes or until any button is pressed to play the recording. The alarm will sound even if the HOLD switch is in the power OFF position. The alarm will sound daily until the ALARM function is set to OFF.

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What are index marks?

Index marks are annotations that can be placed in a file during recording or playback to provide a quick and easy way of navigating to important sections of a file.

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How do I reset the voice recorder to the factory default settings?

Hold the [STOP] button and the [ERASE] simultaneously for three seconds or longer until the word "CLEAR” is displayed on the screen. Release the buttons and then select “YES” from the menu by using the “+” or “–“ button. Press the [ENTER] button. The word “CHK” will display briefly during the reset process. When the process is complete, the date and time will need to be reset.

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Can I use rechargeable batteries in my voice recorder?

Yes. Optional rechargeable Olympus batteries are available from authorized dealers and also directly online from The Olympus Store. To order the BR-401 Ni-MH Battery Pack (Product #147423), which includes four Olympus AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries, click here.

The B-90SU Ni-MH Battery & Quick Charger Set (Product # 200899) includes the BU-400 Battery Charger, which is required to charge the BR-401 batteries. To order the B-90SU battery charger, click here.

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What is the battery life expectancy of the VN-120?

Battery life is estimated by Olympus, but varies according to the type of batteries and the conditions in which they are used.

The bundled AAA alkaline batteries can last for approximately 25 hours. The optional Olympus BR-401 AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries can last for approximately 19 hours per charge and can be recharged about 300 times.

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What types of earphones or headphones can be used with the VN-120 Digital Voice Recorder?

This recorder accepts monaural earphones and headphones that use a standard 3.5mm jack.

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I don’t hear any sound or I hear quiet sound from the speaker during playback,. What could be wrong?

The earphone plug may be plugged into the recorder or the volume may be set to the minimum level.

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I have switched the HOLD button so that the voice recorder is activated, but nothing happens. What could be wrong?

The batteries may be depleted or inserted incorrectly. Hold the voice recorder in an upright position, and insert the batteries in the battery compartment so that the positive terminals are facing downward on BOTH batteries.

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Nothing happens when a button is pressed. What could be wrong?

Please check the following:

  • The HOLD button may be set to HOLD.
  • The batteries may be depleted.
  • The batteries may be inserted incorrectly.

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A message stating that the remaining recording time in the selected folder may have reached “00:00” is displayed. What could be wrong?

You may have reached the limit of 100 files. To verify this, press the REC button. If the LCD displays the word “FULL,” files must be deleted to allow for new recordings. If the LCD does not display the word “FULL,” then the number of files may have reached the limit of 10 files in a date subfolder in folder “S.” Files will need to be deleted from that folder.

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