Table 2a

Digital Audio Recording Purposes, Recording Kits and Audio Quality

 

NOTE: Hardware determines the maximum possible quality of an audio recording, but field recordings can easily fall below what is possible. To maximize audio quality in field recording, avoid noisy environments, place the mic close to the source, and adjust the recording levels accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximum quality this equipment can achieve

 

 

Purpose

Digital recording equipment

Microphone

Upgrades

Downgrades

Analog Recording Equivalent

Everyday listening equivalent

 

A

Recording your own voice memos, notes, and audio reminders.

IPod w/ iTalk, etc.

MP3 recorder

Entry level digital voice recorder

Built in

Quiet room

Close mic

Ext mic

Noisy environment

Mic too far away

Bad mic

Bad record settings

Entry level microcassette with built in mic = $40

 

AM radio station heard through miniature, low-quality speakers; medium quality telephone

 

B

Recording interviews and conversations to prepare written transcripts

 

Better quality digital voice recorders: (e.g. Olympus 330, 660)

 iPod with iTalk accessory is ok

Recent model iPod with iTalk Plus or MicroMemo is much better

 

Built-in is possibly ok

External=ok

Quiet room

Close mic

Ext mic

Noisy environment

Mic too far away

Bad mic

Bad record settings

Entry level  cassette recorder w/ built-in or external mic = $40/100

Good AM radio heard through miniature speakers, or  decent quality telephone,

 

C

Recording interviews and conversations that preserve the quality of individual voices, recording believable ambient sound and music

 

Hi-Fi voice recorder (e.g. Olympus DM-10, 20, DS-2)

Mini-Disk recorder, esp. HDMD models

PCM videocam

Flash memory recorder (e.g. M-Audio 24/96; Edirol R-1, R09; Marrantz PMD 660)

 

Built in is ok, but not available on many models

External=very good

Quiet room

Close mic

Better mic

Noisy environment

Mic too far away

Bad mic

Bad record settings

High quality cassette recorder with external mic (traditional kit for field recording of broadcast audio) = $600

 

Good FM Radio heard through good speakers or headphones (e.g., NPR field reporting was done until recently with MD —now many use flash memory recorders)

 

D

Highest quality recording:  life-like talk, music,  and ambient sounds

DAT

CDR

Flash memory

Hard Disk

High quality external mic is standard practice

Quiet room

Close mic

Better mic, Audio engineering

Noisy environment

Mic too far away

Bad mic

Bad record settings

Bad audio engineering

Professional level high-quality field tape recorder = $600-2500

Good quality commercial CD’s heard through good speakers or headphones

 

HEAR HOW SOME OF THESE KITS SOUND HERE!


 

 

Table 2b

Copying Audio Recordings to a Computer: Converting, Transcribing and Editing Files

 

 

SOURCE / RECORDER

Copy Audio Files to Computer

Convert / Edit / Transcribe

 

Analog audio source: cassette or micro-cassette tape

Patch to “audio in” (PC) or use external AD converter for Mac (iMic) along with audio recording software

Requires separate audio record/convert/edit/transcribe software (several good free or inexpensive (e.g. $30) programs are available—e.g. Audacity, Audio Hi-Jack, Amadeus, AudioRecorder, QuickTime Pro)

 

IPod or MP3 recorder

 

Automated: software frequently included

A few provide audio file convert, edit and transcribe software, but many do not.  See listing above for alternatives.

 

Low-end digital voice recorder

 

USB connect and drag & drop features for many, but not all units.  Low priced units may lack computer link

 

Audio convert, edit and transcribe software is usually supplied with better quality and more expensive units

High-end digital voice recorder

USB connect, drag & drop

 

Audio convert, edit and transcribe software is usually supplied with unit

 

Minidisc

Older model: analog in (PC) or AD converter with USB cable (e.g. iMic = $40)

 

Newest models HDMD: USB cable, drag & drop

 

 

Older: Requires separate audio record/convert/edit/transcribe software

 

Newest models: convert, edit software included, but not necessarily transcription

 

Digital video cam w/ PCM audio

1394/Firewire cable, + video import software

Requires separate audio record/convert/edit/transcribe software

 

DAT recorder

USB connect provided, drag & drop files to PC

Some convert/edit software included; transcription requires separate software

 

CDR

USB connect provided: import, drag & drop files to computer

Some convert/edit software included; transcription requires separate software

 

Computer Hard drive

USB or Firewire connect provided, drag & drop files to computer—if they are not already there

Requires separate audio record/convert/edit/transcribe software

 

Dedicated Flash Recorder

USB or Firewire connect provided, drag & drop files to computer

Some convert/edit software included; transcription requires separate software