The XJS 5000 Dictaphone From Suits

I like to keep an eye out for audio recording references in pop culture, such as when watching television shows, movies, etc. This past week (June 21st, 2012) on the USA network series, Suits, the character of Louis Litt (an attorney), received a gift from one of the managing senior partners (the despicable Daniel Hardman). When Louis opened the box he saw what appeared to be a hand-held audio recorder. He said “The XJS 5000 Dictaphone. How the hell did he know?”

Several things went through my mind at that point, such as confusion as to why a guy who wears 5-thousand dollar suits would be impressed by a gift like this, especially since his iPhone could do the same thing; and why he would say “how did he know?” as if he had been longing for one of these dictaphones but had not purchased one for himself.

But the most pressing matter was to look up whether there was even such a thing as an XJS 5000 Dictaphone. My wife and I both started with the research, her on the laptop and me on my iPhone/dictaphone.

It turns out that the XJS 5000 was in reality the Sony ICD-SX712 digital voice recorder. (Note: The 712 was apparently discontinued in 2014 and replaced with the Sony ICD-SX733 Digital Voice Recorder – though you can still get them at Amazon). It costs about $190 (US) (though the original 712 is now quite a bit more expensive – probably due to scarcity). And just like the package on Louis’ XJS 5000, the Sony boasts hundreds of hours of recording time, which is probably more than an iPhone. Or at least more than you’d want to put on your phone:).

But still I wondered why a lawyer would need one of these; and why, when he probably spends more than that on lunch, Louis had not dropped the 120 bucks to get his own recorder rather than secretly pining away for one.

I don’t have any really great answers to these questions. But I decided to look into the features of the Sony ICD. I mean what could possibly be so great about being able to record your voice all the time, especially when you’d have to schlep around yet another electronic thing along with your wallet and smart phone.

One feature did catch my eye – the description that said: Software Prints Out Your Recordings. By the way, that last thing is just for the “D” model (Sony ICD-SX712D), which is a bit more expensive because it comes with Dragon Naturally Speaking software, with which you can “have your dictation files automatically transcribed to text when you upload them to your compatible Windows computer.” Since the original 712D is so hard to get now, a great (and cost-effective) substitute is the Philips Voice Tracer DVT2700 for only about $80 US!

That sounds very cool. It turns out that the Sony includes speech-to-text software which converts your recorded audio into text and saves it for you so you can print it out later. Now THAT is handy. I’m constantly grabbing my iPhone to type notes into Evernote. It would certainly be a lot faster to be able to speak to my iPhone and have it create the note for me. No doubt there is a way to make this happen, perhaps via something like the Dragon Dictation app (which is the same company that makes the software for the Sony, BTW).

So I’m still not convinced a lawyer would need a separate digital voice recorder. But for some of us, especially the ones who don’t have smart phones already, this can be a pretty cool little tool. If you’d like get a Digital Voice Recorder for yourself, click right here.

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28 comments on “The XJS 5000 Dictaphone From Suits”

  1. It’s not about a lawyer affording or needing a dictaphone. Later on in that episode, Louis is in his office dictating notes about how the office is going to be renovated, that means the dictaphone represents a promise – a new office, a new position.

  2. Well when you think about it.. Dictaphone is handy to give to a paralegal or a secretary when you don’t want to give over your iPhone.

  3. I disagree with Andrej. Louis Litt is a recognition-ill lawyer, very important for his law firm, but after years still not senior partner. He loves do dictate into Dictaphones, perhaps, because he dictates something some other person has to make. (We never see his secretary Norma, and that is one of the miracles in Suits, like the can opener). When he gets a Dictaphone of a kind, he loves, he feels recognised by the Founding partner. That is why he is happy.
    But Ken is still very right; it is quite astonishing, that Louis did not buy himself such a thing! It does not make sense in the series! Because, it is also not right, what Andrej says when he means, that the Dictaphone is a promise for a new office. When Louis Litt is talking into his Dictaphone about the renovation of an office, it is about Daniel Hardmans Office! He says to Jessica Perassson about what he is talking into the Dictaphone: “I want it to be perfect for when Daniel gets back”! If you want to check this, here are the Subtitles:

    1. Well, if it was Sony doing the marketing, it probably would have been more effective if they had paid for product placement instead of the show putting forth a made-up brand and model.

  4. I used to work for a law firm where all of the lawyers used dictaphones for everything. Every letter we wrote, all billing entries, memos, etc. We dictated everything and our secretary would type it up. Once you get good at dictating letters, it is much faster than typing it yourself.

    1. Thanks Josh. That part about leaving the machine with a secretary is a good reason not to just use your smart phone (which is perfectly capable of doing the recording part, I would have thought. But I hadn’t thought of having to leave it with someone. You sure wouldn’t want to do that with your phone. Thanks for the tip!



  5. Thanks! Luis Litt’s XJS 5000!
    I wish to open the same box and utter: “The ‘Sony ICD-SX712D’ Dictaphone. How the hell did he know?”

  6. I still don’t get it. Why is someone who has that much money excited over a $200 piece of junk. Makes me wonder how much Sony paid to have the item placed into the show.

    1. Mike,

      I wouldn’t call it a piece of junk. But yeah, as a partner he gets like thousand-dollar haircuts so it does seem strange. However, I am often amazed at how something very inexpensive can still cause me to smile as much as an expensive thing. Also, I don’t know if Sony paid them or not. It seems unlikely. If I were paying a hit TV show for product placement, I’d want my name front-and-center. I wouldn’t want the guys with an audio recording website to figure it out and then post it to the world. In fact, they should pay me!:-).

    1. Interesting! It seems to be all over the place price and availability-wise. B&H discontinued it. The link on the page currently USED to go to a $128 model, and now goes to one for $359. On the other hand, the search results here ( show (on the right side of the page) a bunch for about $140-$150. The ICD-SX733 seems to be the successor, and it is $148. I’m guessing the higher price on the 712 is due to a few merchants selling the last of the remaining units – supply and demand kind of thing maybe? Anyway, I really appreciate your telling me about this!



  7. Should have went for the Olympus DS 7000 with encryption for better security-dont think his clients would be happy if he lost his XJS 5000 and anybody could hear the confidential recordings!

    1. Thanks Mike. Yeah, great point! Especially considering the stuff Louis puts on that “dictaphone.”:).

  8. An iPhone is a not an alternative to a quality voice recording device. The iPhone’s microphone and recording quality does not compare. Also, iPhone’s/smart phones are much slower to respond. If you want to record with one you have to unlock it, find the app, wait for the app to open, and then press the button. With a dedicated device you just press one button and it’s going immediately. That’s why these devices continue to sell for prices up to $200 when most people who can afford that already have smart phones.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I was REALLY surprised when my article started being the one that Google served up at the top of the list for this. Just good timing, I think:). So glad I could help in some way!



  9. Let me offer another perspective on the accursed Louis and his reaction to receiving the dictaphone. Sometimes there are things I want and can afford without thinking twice about the cost BUT, for some obscure reason, don’t want to actually buy them. I want them to magically appear or to receive them as a gift. Examples: an alarm clock that also plays a series of nature sounds to sooth me to sleep (150$ tops?) or a foot massage accoutrement (also very inexpensive). It has nothing to do with money. I think this attitude compares to waiting in line to receive the free whatever is being given away that one does not really want nor need to start with. There are certain things you should never buy because, if you buy them, what is there left to want? A WHOLE LOT that is not for sale.

  10. Later in next season they mentioned that price of this dictaphone XJS5000 is 62,000$

  11. I think there is another possible reason.
    Remember that Louis doesn’t feel respected in the firm at that time, and he’s contemplating working elsewhere (for instance, he’s not aware of Hardman’s discussions).
    A moment before Louis received the dictaphone, he was looking at an external employer’s biz card.
    Then he gets the device along with a personal message from Hardman.
    Then he says “How the hell did he [Hardman] know?”, and he’s checking the room, a bit worried.
    Then he puts away the biz card under the keyboard, and feels relieved.

    The “How the hell did he know” refers actually to Hardman knowing Louis might want to quit.

  12. I am just viewing Suits and I am on S2E2 34:07 and I just right used Google which returned this search result.

    It is also quite weird. I have not yet clue what happens after this, bu I didn’t see any voice recorder until in the serie.

    Personally I am quite interested while I own the Olympus DS-40, Olympus DM-650, a Olympus VPN-10, an Sony-ICS-UX570 and Sony-ICS-UX560.

    In this case he is a lawyer and he should use a recorder with encryption. And yes, they are on the market.

  13. Louis Is probably like many cheap rich guys, buys $200 worth of lunch, but will drive across the city and soend more on has then it is worth to save a $0.01 on a grocery item.

  14. Yves
    I think you hit it. He looks around as if checking for a camera. It appears as he gasps , he feels badly for thinking of going elsewhere, turns the card facedown as he’s hiding the consideration, because he’s loyal to the firm…he’s a complex jersey lol
    Extra layer

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