Whether you need it to record a conversation, or any other reason, a spy microphone can be an interesting device to buy. However, the market is actually full of them, and you wouldn’t be surprised at how difficult it is to come across one that does the job well and can actually stay hidden. That’s the whole point of a spy microphone – to do its job while remaining inconspicuous.
So, with that in mind, we’ll try to help you in the endeavor of finding a good spy microphone. First, we’ll take a look at 7 options that we consider to be some of the best ones around, then we’ll talk about their characteristics a bit, so you can better understand what their job is and how to pick one. Once we’re done with that, . They’re all pretty reputable, and they come in different shapes and sizes, but more on that later.
Now, there is one thing that we must mention here. When you’re using a spy microphone, you should know that it may not be completely legal to record your conversation with someone. There are some states that are a single-consent situation, where you can do so, but that doesn’t apply when it’s a conversation that other parties reasonably expect to be private. If you want to be sure, you should check the specific laws where you live, so you can know for certain you aren’t breaking any laws.
Quick Summary: Best Spy Microphone of 2020
Our editors go through and research, test and qualify our recommended products. We receive commissions on purchases from certain links.
- Best Overall: EVIDA Mini Voice Recorder
“Unique design with metal body and great disguise for recording”
- A Great Pocket Alternative: TCTEC 16GB Pen Recorder
“Super clear audio with great storage capacity”
- Best Tiny Option: ATTO Small Voice Recorder
“With size of just a paper clipper, this makes an excellent pick”
- Best Budget Variant: RECJOY Mini Voice Recorder
“Store plenty of recordings in this 16GB clear audio recorder “
- Most Secure Option: ATTO Mini Voice Recorder
“Get the comfort of protecting Your files with the ATTO recorder”
- Best Extended Recording: Hfuear Mini Voice Activated Recorder
“Never run out of battery or storage, equipped with 32GB storage and 3200mAh battery”
- Best Premium Option: SOTA Mini Voice Recorder
“Never miss out on any conversation, with this voice activated recorder”
Battery: 110 mAh
Memory: 8GB (36 hours recording)
Recording: 512Kbps PCM
Our top pick is EVIDA’s mini voice recorder, a compact device that comes in a familiar shape, works admirably, and won’t set you back too much. At first glance, it looks just like a conventional USB drive.
The metal body is durable and looks nice, and there’s a small button that, when pushed up, starts recording, and when pushed down, saves the recording. It’s as simple as it gets.
The sound quality is excellent, and you’ll get a 512Kbps PCM high quality recording in the end. The mic itself is pretty sensitive, and we had no problem getting a clear recorded voice. The battery life is also pretty impressive, and with the rechargeable battery you can expect around 13 hours of continuous recording.
Last but not least, the EVIDA comes with 8GB of internal storage. While this may not be too much by today’s standards, for voice recording this is actually good for around 36 hours of recordings, which is impressive. It’s overall an excellent pick, especially because a USB drive doesn’t look out of place on a shelf or a desk.
Best Pocket Option
Recording: 192Kbps PCM
Memory: 16GB (260 hours recording)
Smart Voice Activated 4.0
If you’d rather get something that you can carry in your pocket, and it won’t look out of place there, the TCTEC Pen Recorder could be a good option for you. It looks just like a regular pen, and you can have it on a desk as well – it will record pretty good quality sound.
Whether you use it to record a lecture, or conversations in your office, the TCTEC is voice activated, so you don’t have to press any buttons for it to start recording. It does work as a conventional pen, too, so you could also use it while you’re writing, for example, if you want to remain inconspicuous.
With 16GB of storage, you have the ability to keep about 260 hours of recordings on it. It does also have the ability to work as an MP3 player, and those 16GB will actually store a respectable amount of MP3 files, too. The battery can go up to 15 hours of continuous recording, and charging it takes a little over two hours. If you want your spy microphone to be as inconspicuous as they come, this is the one to go for.
Best Small Recorder
Memory: 8GB (141 hours recording)
Recording: 128 Kbps
Even though most of the options on our list are admittedly compact, few come close to the tiny size of the ATTO Small Voice Recorder. What’s interesting is that even though it is so small, it makes no compromises when it comes to sound quality, battery life, or functionality in general.
The entire thing is 1.6 x 0.7 inches, with a 0.35 inch thickness. With a weight of less than 1/3oz, you can take it pretty much anywhere. Despite this, the battery when full can record around 20 hours of audio, which is quite good. The sound quality is excellent, because you have a very sensitive microphone that picks up even quieter sounds that are further away.
Operating it is very easy – the button is pretty large and all you have to do is slide it down for the ATTO to start recording. With the 8GB capacity that’s included, you can expect to store around 141 hours of audio recordings on it. Those 8GB can be used for other files, too, because this plugs into your computer like a conventional USB drive. If you’re looking for one that’s as small as possible, yet doesn’t cut corners, go for it.
Best Budget Variant
Memory: 16GB (72 hours recording)
While there are some slightly cheaper options on the list, the RECJOY is actually our top pick if you’re on a budget but still want to get a lot of features. It comes with everything you need, and it’s apparent no corners were cut.
First things first, it looks like a USB drive (and works like one), and it has 16GB of capacity. The button is at the bottom, right next to the microphone itself, but the texture makes it impossible to see unless you know what you’re looking for.
The sound quality is absolutely great, thanks to the PCM chip which picks up even the quietest sounds and gives you a clear recording. You can enjoy up to 13 hours of continuous recording thanks to the long battery life, and charging it only takes around 2 hours. You could also use it while charging, which is really nice. (1)
Overall, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, without spending a lot of money, the RECJOY is definitely the one to go for.
Most Secure Option
Recording: 192 kbps
Memory: 4GB (286 hours recording)
If you don’t want just anyone going through your voice recordings, your best bet would be to get one that’s password protected, like this ATTO Mini Voice Recorder by attodigit@l. It’s a very compact, yet somewhat pricey option that does a great job of recording and keeping things safe until you need them.
The ATTO comes in with a size that’s a touch larger than a coin. It’s 1.2 x 0.6 inches, which means that you’ll be able to put it in just about any pocket and keep it well hidden. The size, however doesn’t affect functionality – you can record up to 20 hours at a time, thanks to the excellent battery life. The footage is saved at 192Kbps, which means that with the included storage, you’ll get around 286 hours of recordings before you need to empty the storage.
The password protection is definitely the highlight of the ATTO Mini Voice Recording, because it lets you, and only you, listen to your recordings. It works with PCs and MACs, as well as Android devices, but it is not compatible with iPhone or iPad devices, unfortunately.
Best for Extended Recording Sessions
Memory: 32GB (2400 hours recording)
While most of the devices give you around 15 to 20 hours of battery life, sometimes that’s just not enough. If that’s the case, the Hfuear could be your best pick, because it’s a tad bit larger than the competition, but packs a 3800mAh battery.
This allows it to record continuously for about 50 hours, and it comes with a standby time of a whole year. Yes, you read that right.
The voice quality is absolutely excellent. You get a pulse code modulation recorder that has noise reduction and a GMY chip, which means that it will pick up high quality audio for later playback. It also works at distances of up to 50 feet, which is pretty good.
The 32GB of memory can store an impressive 2400 hours of footage, at 32Kbps. There’s also a password locking option that you can set up on your computer, for a bit of security. And last but not least, the Hfuear has a magnet which allows you to place it on a metal object if necessary, and have it record. If you want to hide it somewhere, such as under a desk, it’s just perfect.
Best Premium Option
Memory: 8GB (288 hours recording)
If you’re looking to spend a bit more money on a spy microphone, the SOTA Mini Voice Recorder might just be the premium option you’ve been looking for. It’s a compact USB flash drive that records extremely clean, high quality audio, and it’s really easy to operate.
You can just move the switch to either side to start or stop recording, but you also get the option to have it work as a voice activated recorder. Whenever it hears a sound, it’s going to start recording immediately. But to add to this, when it’s silent, it’s going to save the recording and go into sleep mode, which saves both storage space and battery life.
With an 8GB capacity, the recorder can store up to 288 hours of high quality audio. To add to this, you can expect around 24 hours of continuous recording battery life, and about 25 days of standby. If you need more, SOTA have made sure that you can use the recorder even if it’s plugged in, which gives you pretty much unlimited recording. Even though it’s pretty expensive, this is a great premium pick.
Our Buyers’ Guide
If there’s one question that you should ask yourself when you’re buying a spy microphone, is what you’re going to use it for. There are many different types, and they serve different purposes, so you should know what you need it for. For example, if you’re getting it for yourself, something like a lavalier microphone can be hidden easily enough. However, if you need to record or monitor conversations in a place such as your office or your home, you’ll want one that can be easily disguised as some household object. Nobody is going to look at it twice, and you should be good to go.
Obviously the most important factor that you’ll be considering when getting a spy microphone is sound quality. After all, you want your recordings to be useful, don’t you? There are a couple of parameters that you should know impact the sound quality. The first one is the sensitivity, which directly impacts how well the microphone will capture quiet sounds. Then, you’ve got the level of noise. This is usually measured in decibels of sound pressure (dBA SPL), and a good level is somewhere around 40 dBA SPL. Last but not least, you have the impedance, which is how much AC resistance the microphone offers, depending on the sensitivity. However, we know that you might not be willing to learn all these specs and how they work with each other, so for the products below, we’ll let you know whether or not they have good sound quality.
The range and coverage matter next, especially if you’re going to be using your spy microphone somewhere outdoors. For indoor usage, this isn’t too important, but when you want to record the sound of birds in nature, for example, this is key. The coverage often depends on what kind of integrated microphone you get in your device, as well as the technology it uses. For example, it is reasonable to expect around 100 yards of coverage with a UHF spy microphone.
Moving on, you should consider the shape and size of the microphone. When it comes to a spy microphone, a smaller device is usually a lot more useful. It’s a lot easier to hide, and you can make sure that nobody will be able to detect it. Fortunately, as you’ll see later on, most of today’s options are actually pretty well hidden. This also has to do with the shape, because a spy microphone today is usually hidden in a common household device, such as a pen, or a USB drive, or a similar item you’d usually leave on a desk or a shelf. This helps quite a bit when it comes to hiding in plain sight.
Connectivity is another thing you’ll want to consider, and here you’ll usually get a few options. With most spy microphones that store data on the device’s internal memory, or on a memory card, you get to either remove the memory card and insert it in your computer, or a USB connection that lets you transfer the recorded data. However, you’ll also come across some slightly more advanced devices that you can connect with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and they’ll make things even more convenient. Sure, you could also get one that uses a SIM card and connects to a phone network, but this is surprisingly easy to find with a bug detector.
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider the battery life. This is especially true for devices you’ll be leaving in your office or home unattended for a longer period of time, because you can’t just leave a pen plugged in – it’s going to raise some alerts. Fortunately, today’s devices, even though small and compact, can last for a good while. To add to this, it’s also a well known fact that their batteries charge rather quickly, so you can re-use them pretty quickly.
Now, one thing to note with all of the aforementioned things is that you might not come across all of them in a single spy microphone. This is especially true if you’re working with a pretty limited budget, because it might be difficult to find one that checks all the boxes without it being priced way above all of the competition. If that’s the case, you’ll want to grab this list of features, and turn it into your own priority list.
As we said in the beginning, first and foremost you’ll want to see what you’ll be using it for. For example, if you’re using it indoors, in a home office, you don’t need long range and too much coverage. And you don’t need it to transmit via a SIM card. However, you do want the sound quality to be good, and you want that spy microphone to look like something that isn’t out of place on your office desk. On the other hand, if you want to record bird noises, it doesn’t matter how it looks. What does matter is the sound quality, first and foremost, and then the range of the microphone.
(1) – PCM in Audio – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-code_modulation