Friday, July 18, 2008

How to convert VOC files (and how to run a C program)

Update: There is a new website by Aria Stewart based on Dave Coffin's program to convert RCA-VOC files. Here is the link.

I have an RCA voice recorder and wanted to convert the VOC (specifically RCA-VOC) files to something I could use. I found the perfect program on Dave Coffin's page.
1. First install "sox" using synaptic.
2. Then, simply download Dave Coffin's free C program called "devoc.c."
3. You then have to make the devoc program into something you can use. Do this by running the following command:
gcc /path/to/devoc.c
This will spit out a file called "a.out" to the same directory where devoc.c is located.
4. Rename "a.out" to something else, such as "devoc" (no file extension is needed)
5. To run devoc from where it is, change to that directory in terminal and type ./devoc with an option. However, to make running devoc a little easier, move the new devoc file to /usr/bin by typing the following into the terminal:
sudo mv /current/path/to/devoc /usr/bin
6. Now to run devoc, simply open a terminal and type devoc with an option
7. To see a list of options, type the following into the terminal:
8. Finally, run the program with the option you desire, for example, to convert a VOC file to a WAV, type the following:
devoc -w /path/to/file.voc
This will convert the file and put the new WAV file in the same directory as the VOC file. I like soundconverter (available in synaptic) to then convert the WAV file to an MP3.

Sources: Dave Coffin AND
Webpage Converter
Windows Conversion Program link


Anonymous said...

The RCA model has a VOC to WAV converter in it's player program. Open the software
Hook up the USB cable to the recorder and to the computer
Look for the VOC file you want to convert
Highlight it.
Then look for the icon in the software window next to the question mark. It looks like squiggly lines, like running water.
Click on it, and another window will come up - coaching you to specify the file in which you wish to store the file you are converting from VOC to WAV.

Then it converts. You can play WAV files with lots of different types of software, and it is not hard to find freeware to convert WAV to just about any audio file type you want.

Hope this helps

Juan Carlos said...

Hi, I tried gcc /path/devoc.c but I don't get the a.out file. Can you help?

Someone said...

That's true, the RCA model has software stored on the voice recorder itself that you can install if you have windows. However, the method here is if you have linux instead.

When you try the gcc command, what was the output? Did anything happen?

Anonymous said...

The current version of Dave's VOC to WAV converter seems to offer functionality surpassing what is described on this blog, as of Feb 2009. A pre-compiled executable is available which now permits batch operations like "devoc -w *.VOC" with output appropriately named to match the source content filename.

Listen, folks. The RCA products have been a supreme frustration to me and many other people on the web, often trashing critical audio data collected in the context of phone harassment, of breach of contract, of fraud, of employment concerns, and even of the abuse of small children. I can't tell you how many times my heart has sunk in my chest with the chilling realization that yet another critical audio session has been lost by three different versions of these RCA devices! I kept purchasing them because I liked the price and thought that my first unit must have been defective. No. The problems are the product of design. Even so, the "devoc" utility has actually not only converted but RECOVERED some of the data for me, and, for this, I am deeply grateful.

To anyone who stumbles across this note, I would strongly advise you to avoid all RCA digital voice recorders, until they adopt a more universal file format, such as MP3 or WMA, dispensing with the nonsense they now produce that simply does not work reliably. Go read what others have said concerning them. In my opinion, it's just absurd, bordering on the criminal, to market a product with such awful stability. My advice: once you've converted data using Dave's utility, go buy a SONY or ANYTHING ELSE, and take the RCA unit back to its source, if your recordings are expected to have any value to you at all. To those who have not purchased an RCA DVR, I'd say "Avoid it. You'll be glad you spent an extra buck on something you can trust."

My thanks to Dave Coffin!

Someone said...

You're right by saying that there is an executable on Dave Coffin's site, however, it is for windows and this blog contains directions for linux. The executable will not work with linux (unless it works with wine...maybe). Therefore, you still have to go by the directions posted here to get it working or use the website listed at the top of this post to convert a file. I agree that devoc is a great tool, however, I have found that if you have an appended file (one that you recorded, stopped, and then added some more), you may have some problems with devoc. Therefore, if you have windows on your system, you might as well use the program that cam on your RCA recorder or download it from the RCA website.

Anonymous said...

The correction from Someone is right. I failed to mention that I was running the other OS, when I tried the executable version of the "devoc" utility. I apologize for the oversight.

But let me correct one important thing, which, in the spirit of "TMBH", is relevant to anyone who uses the RCA device, regardless of OS. The "might as well..." comment is incorrect, though I do not fault Someone for not knowing it. This was and still is the point of my addition to this attractive and aptly-titled blog page: DAVE COFFIN'S "DEVOC" CODE READS AND CONVERTS RCA VOC FILES, EVEN WHEN THE RCA SOFTWARE DOES NOT. PERIOD.

With "devoc", I have recovered multiple, irreplaceable files which, for whatever reason, I could not get to even pre-load for play, never mind play or convert, using the RCA software. The files were present, but somehow corrupted through no deliberate choice I had made. The result was an error message and the imprisonment of otherwise intact audio data on my hard drive. I tried multiple releases of the RCA DVM software to no avail. All code provided by RCA flatly failed. The "devoc" code, on the other hand, effortlessly did the recovery and conversion of the otherwise lost material - with the added benefit of wild-card (batch) processing! Whether recovery is an unintended functionality of the code or not, I am so grateful.

Considering how widespread the problem with the RCA products (if web discussions are any indication), I think the facts in my experience go beyond the OS used to accomplish the task, and I just wanted to share that glimmer with fellow Linux (or other OS) users who hit this page in the desperate search for a means of recovering and converting audio data important in any critical context. If the compiled version of "devoc" run under XP is based on the same source as is provided for the rest of our OSs, then "helpful" is an understated description of the utility to which this page links.

Thank you for setting-up this blog. It has, indeed, been helpful to me. Respects.

Moebius said...

I had been frustrated like everybody else. I like the RCA unit but the prospect of having to dump the longer files by way of audio and redigitizing was daunting. Then I found the windoze executable and voila, it works. Then the hint by Anonymous for the built-in wav conversion came right on its heels. The devoc-produced wav is over three times as big as the one from the built-in utility, at least on my first test file, but they sound the same. I'm glad to have both options.

Dave Coffin said...

Moebius, the larger WAV size is because devoc does not compress its WAV output. You already have compression artifacts from VOC format -- recompressing with a different algorithm only adds more artifacts.

The lack of a batch mode in the RCA software hides the fact that it's much slower than devoc. It calls subroutines for even the simplest tasks, like adding or subtracting two numbers.

I've had one serious failure with this device. A two-hour interview with my aunt played the same 10-minute loop again and again. I'd already deleted the VOC file, but hadn't recorded anything else, so I raw-copied the whole RCA memory to my hard drive, wrote a brute-force algorithm to match each block to a VOC file on my hard drive, and recovered the entire interview. Now I play it safe by zeroing and reformatting the memory before any important recording.

Anonymous said...

The devoc program was helpful, but it recovered only 1 out of 3 files. I have a 2 hour recording that is now 2 min and 5 seconds.

I copied the files to my PC, and this I deleted the files from the RCA device. I haven't recorded in that area (folder D) again.

Any ideas for how I can recover the other files?

My wife is recording her college classes on the unit. I'm glad she likes listening to them on the recorder rather than putting them on the PC.

I'm running Windows XP, and I am not a PC programmer.


Someone said...

First, do you have all of the voc files on your computer? If so, I would first suggest the webpage linked to on Dave Coffin's site. See the sources at the bottom of the original post. I have updated them to link to the webpage. That way you don't have to worry about the correct command. If that doesn't work, the other way is to use the windows program that came with the recorder. If you don't still have it, I put a link to the program in the sources as well. Let me know if either of these options work.

Anonymous said...


I have all of the .voc files on my computer. Unfortunatley I deleted them from the recorder. I have downloaded the latest Digital Voice Manager software from the RCA site. My files do not play.

For instance, about 1 minute into a 48 minute recording I get an end of file.

I ran David Coffin's programs on the files. Some help, but not much.

I also spent an enjoyable 30 minutes (gag) with the RCA / Audiovox service desk. I thought I had run into terrible customer service people before ...

Is there a way to recover the programs from the recorder? I deleted them, are they still there like the way Windows leaves them behind?



Robert T. said...

Many thanks for this. I bought one of the "refurb" recorders for a few bucks (hopefully they upgraded the firmware), and with the information here had everything up and running in Ubuntu (Linux) in just a few minutes. By associating the .VOC file extension with "devoc -p" in Nautilus I can just click on a file and it plays.

Most of my use is just for memos, so given the capability of playing the more compressed format on the PC I imagine I'll just delete them once the information is preserved, probably not much need to convert to other formats (permanently), though that's simple enough.

Mike said...

For any linux users out there. the included windows program runs fine in wine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Works awesomely.

Nery Alveal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm trying to convert voc files from this same recorder (RCA RP5022B)to my computer using Windows XP so I went to Dave's page, clicked on "click here for a Windows executable," then opened devoc(1).exe,and received "The program cannot run due to incompatibility with 64 bit versions of Windows." Can someone please tell me what I need to do to get the steps Dave outlined to work on my computer. Thanks!!