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Olympus Pearlcorder Transcribers


Transcribing a meeting from an audiotape is a cumbersome task. First you have to press play on your recorder, start typing, then stop the recorder when it gets ahead of you. Then you have to rewind the tape, press play again, type, stop, rewind, play, type, stop…you get the idea. So when transcription machines offer some simple conveniences, work becomes a lot easier.

Olympus manufactures two such devices—the Pearlcorder T1000 and the Pearlcorder T1100.
Equipped with foot pedals, these units allow you to keep your hands on your keyboard as you search through and play recordings. They also come with binaural (2-ear) headsets, variable playback speeds, and auto-backspace so you can work without interruption at the pace you desire. For as little as $199.99, a transcriber can eliminate a lot of the headaches caused by what should be a straightforward task.


The sole purpose of these machines is to improve the quality and speed of your typing, and thus make your transcribing tasks significantly simpler. This is accomplished through four distinct features:


      • Foot switch - The foot switch has three large pedals: REW, LISTEN, and FF. The LISTEN pedal is in the center and is wider and closer to the floor. This makes it easy to find the appropriate function, even with your shoes off.
      • Auto-backspace - When you mishear something, taking your foot off the LISTEN pedal will automatically stop the tape and activate the auto-backspace feature. This adjustable feature rewinds your tape anywhere from 0 to 1 second.
      • Variable playback speed - The speed at which you play a tape can be changed from -15% to +30% using a slide control on the face of the unit. This feature is especially useful for meetings with frequent pauses.
      • E-marking (T1100 only) - When you press the SCAN button, the Pearlcorder T1100 looks through the microcassette tape and "e-marks" the beginnings and ends of recordings. Then, when you are listening to the tape, you can easily jump to between files. While you are listening, the file length (in tenths of minutes) is displayed on the unit's LCD. Unfortunately, e-marking isn't the easiest feature to master and occasionally the unit misses a break between recordings.

Using your transcriber
Once your recorded microcassette tape is inserted in the deck, you can listen via the (included) binaural headset or the unit's external speaker. Standard tape recorder buttons are on the unit (PLAY, REW, FF, and STOP) or you can use the foot switch. Regrettably, you must use another handheld or desktop microcassette recorder to record conversations or meetings—neither Pearlcorder has the ability to record.

When using the foot switch, each of the pedals must be depressed and held. If you want to give your foot a rest, pressing the LISTEN button on the device will initiate constant play until you press the listen pedal on the foot switch.

A few other settings and features
Most recorders allow you to make recordings at one of two speeds: 2.4 cm/sec or 1.2 cm/sec. A slower speed gives you better recording quality but less recording time. In either mode, the tone quality and volume can be adjusted with slide switches found on the face of either of these units.

Though you can't record with a Pearlcorder, you can erase tapes. By holding down the ERASE button along with the FF or REW button, old files can be quickly removed.

Final comments
Transcribing audio files is a somewhat mechanical task. If you use a standard recorder it becomes difficult and time-consuming, too. With their array of time-saving conveniences, the Pearlcorder T1000 and T1100 Transcribers improve accuracy while increasing typing speed.

What I Liked Best   What I Didn't Like
  • Foot switch vastly improves speed
  • Auto-backspace encourages accurac
  • Variable playback speeds
  • Built-in speaker or headset listening
  • Quick erase
  • Can't record
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