While most phones have their own built-in voice recorder — whether it comes with the phone itself or it’s on an app you can download in the store — purchasing a separate, portable voice recorder undoubtedly has its own perks. Considering their one and only job is to, well, record sound, they’re far superior to a “jack of all trades” phone device in that regard. Not only do they produce high quality, crystal clear sound on both ends, but they’re far more intuitive and customizable than some random app on your phone. For journalists, reporters, professors, or anybody else who might need a voice recorder for their job, they’re certainly a bit more professional. Gone are the days of the cassette-tape recorders, so you might not be able to resemble an old-school reporter from a noir film, but the new, digitally-enhanced voice recorders on the market are far superior in a multitude of ways. If you’re going to shell out the money for a singular voice recorder, however, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best. But depending on your own needs, there are a few “bests.” So we’ll take a look at some of the best voice recorders — for a few different purposes — and you can determine which one is right for you.

Best Overall Voice Recorder

For professional journalists, lecturers, professors, etc, the SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder is a can’t-miss purchase. This particular device delivers crystal clear audio, thanks to an intelligent noise cut feature and Mono MP3 recording ability. It contains 4GB of internal flash memory off the jump — the equivalent of 1,000 hours of recording time — but it features a microSD Expansion Memory Slot in the event you need to record more, whether it’s for schoolwork, a tough assignment at work, a series of lectures, etc. It also comes with an easy-to-use A-B repeat function, a track mark function, an easy-to-navigate menu and display, and even a voice activation function that allows you to control the device without having to press any of the buttons; a perfect featuring for lecturing. The device itself requires two AAA batteries, but we found the battery life to be super long-lasting (our suggestion is to pair it with a rechargeable battery). You can also monitor the live recording through the 3.5mm headphone jack (headphones are not included). The device comes with a USB cable that allows you to transfer files to your laptop, Macbook, or PC. It’s compatible with Windows XP (SP3), Vista (SP2), 7, 8, and Mac OS X 10.3.9 to 10.8.

Best Value Voice Recorder

As you can see, some high-quality voice recorders can get a bit pricey. If you’re looking for something that is a bit less expensive, yet still manages to check all of the boxes in terms of sound quality, intuitiveness, and design, this 16GB Digital Voice Activated Recorder by aiworth is your best bet. Featuring up to 1536Kbps PCM high-quality recording, this professional-style voice recorder is the best bang-for-your-buck deal you’ll find. This E36 voice recorder is made with a double mic that’s capable of picking up sound from hundreds of feet away and make it sound like the speaker is literally standing right next to you. It comes with plenty of memory — 16Gb flash, to be exact, which can store up to 1160 hours of recording files. If that’s, shockingly, not enough for you, it can also support up to 32GB of micro SD card expansion. Its battery life is also quite impressive, as it features a built-in 800mAh rechargeable battery that can support up to 45 hours of non-stop recording. The device also features a variety of useful features like 16 variable speeds so you can slow down, speed up, or fast forward your recording to get to the desired point, a playback function, an optional power-on 3-digit password to protect your intellectual property, voice activation, an intuitive, smartphone-esque design, and free lifetime software upgrades.

Best USB-Charged Voice Recorder

While the last two voice recorders were both (technically) battery-powered, if you prefer a device that’s USB-compatible for quick and convenient charging, the EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder is a great alternative. This digital recorder features a dynamic noise-cancellation microphone and an impressive 1536kpbs of crystal clear audio. Audio can also be set to MP3 (128kpbs, 64kpbs) / WAV (1536kpbs), to easily transfer your recordings to your PC, MAC, or Linux device through the micro USB cable that is provided. The USB cable also charges the recorder itself, so you don’t have to rely on batteries. The device itself is fairly easy to figure out right off the jump — the REC button begins recording, STOP stops the recording and saves them automatically, and there are simple A-B repeat, fast forward, and rewind functions during playback. There’s also a convenient AVR voice activation mode that can help you better pick and choose the desired parts you want to record, thus cutting out some of the “fat,” so to speak. And if you’re still a bit confused after purchasing this product, it comes with a free E-book to better help you get acclimated to all of the diverse functions.