Best Digital Voice Recorder with Overwrite Function

Olympus DS-9000

So. Yesterday, I opened my email and found this question from a reader. “[Sony ICD-]ux560 was provided by my company for dictation purposes. Unless I missed something, it doesn’t seem to allow me to “edit as I go”.  In other words, I dictate a paragraph or sentence, review it and want to “redo” it…or I misspeak and, before continuing, I want to correct (i.e. “type over”) what I just said.  Is that possible?  If not, any recommendations for another recorder? Ren. And it got me reminiscing the good old days of tape recorders (boy, do I miss those). When you could stop a recording, rewind, hit record and redo another take. Is this possible with modern digital voice recorders? Yes it is. Though it’s a function that only found in digital voice recorders that are primarily built for dictation. It’s commonly known as an overwrite function. How does it work? The overwrite function enables you… Continue reading…

Understanding Audio Recording Formats

Mono Audio vs Stereo Audio

…or why I always recommend using the LPCM audio recording format to capture your research data. And there are many audio recording formats, but we are going to focus on the mp3 and the WAV/LPCM recording formats. Why? Because these two format are currently the most popular audio recording format that you’ll find on most digital voice recorders. Also WAV and mp3 recording formats are great, ubiquitous examples of compressed and uncompressed audio recording formats.   But before we get to that. Let’s first lay the foundation for understanding audio formats. And for that we need to understand 3 key features of recorded audio; sampling rate, bit depth, and bit rate. And since this is a basic guide to understanding audio recording format, I’ll also briefly touch on audio channels (mono vs stereo) and digital sound quantization. Audio Channels; Mono vs Stereo The easiest way to understand audio channels is to think of tracks or traffic… Continue reading…

Taking Care of your Sony ICD-ux560 Voice Recorder

Taking Care of your Sony ICD-ux560 Voice Recorder

Today, I’m going to offer unsolicited advice. Why? Was at the office and made the mistake of plugging my Sony ux560 straight into my computer. Moved my chair to talk to a colleague, crunch! I’d smacked the recorder. Fortunately, nothing broke. It still works, but I was really disappointed for not following my own advice. So here we are, I’d like you to learn for my experiences (good or bad) and hopefully take better care of your digital voice recorder. And yes, I’ve shared similar advice on the Sony ICD-ux560 review post, but I feel that this topic is worth a separate post, if for anything, to stress the importance of taking care of your digital recorder. Connecting Sony ICD-ux560 to your Computer Use a cable. Use a cable. Use a cable. If I could, I’d SHOUT this tip. Please use a USB cable to connect your Sony ICD-ux560 recorder to your computer or USB… Continue reading…

Understanding External Voice Recorder Memory or microSD Cards

Understanding External Voice Recorder Memory or microSD Cards: micro SD logo

Understanding Secure Digital (SD) cards, the most popular external voice recorder storage memory cards, is not easy. Back in the old days, all we cared about was the form factor and storage capacity of floppy disks: physical size and how much you could store in them. But that’s changed. SD cards have so many features that will make your head spin. But here’s the secret to getting a grip of SD cards; purpose. How do you intend to use the SD card? SD cards have multiple purposes, they’re more than a storage media. And they have become ubiquitous, the default external storage media for all of our portable devices; phones, cameras, recorders etc. In this post though, we’re looking at SD cards for voice recorders. For voice recorders, you don’t need to pay attention to sequential(or random) read/write speeds, bus speeds etc of microSD cards;you don’t need to understand all the little symbols and numbers on… Continue reading…

Best Way(s) to Record Telephone Interviews

Best Ways to Record Phone Interviews: TP-8 telephone pick up microphone

“Hi Isaac, what would be the best way to record telephone or Skype interviews? I’m interviewing busy business people who have agreed to telephone and Skype interviews.” Louise The best way to record telephone interviews, that’s tough question. But I’ll attempt to answer it; this might turn out to be a long read. Bear with me. For Skype interviews, I’ve penned a great post, with a walk-through video. If you have any questions on recording Skype interviews, please leave them on that post and I’ll get back to you. For this post, we are going to focus on telephone interviews: mainly cell phones and “old skool” phones. There’re lots of different phone models, but majority are either corded or wireless. And here we are talking about the transmission of the data, not the hardware. Because that’s the key feature that determines recorded phone interviews sound quality. Let’s begin with wireless phones. Recording Cell Phone Interviews… Continue reading…

Audio-Technica ATR-3350iS Lav Mic Review

Audio-Technica ATR-3350iS Lav Mic Review

This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write. And that’s because the ATR 3350is features are a double edged sword; good and bad. Regardless of its shortcomings, I do like this microphone and do recommend it as one of the best clip-on microphone for interviews. Why, the awesome sound, and that’s the main reason we buy microphones. I was really impressed with the sound that you get from the Audio-Technica ATR-3350is Lav Mic. Summary: Audio-Technica ATR-3350iS Lav Mic Review  The Good and the Bad: terminated with a 3.5mm TRS mic plug. 20ft cord and 1.5v LR44 button sized battery module, makes this a bulky lavalier microphone. Very good full, rich sound, once you add a bit of gain to it. Verdict: 20ft cord is great if you need it, cumbersome is you don’t. A low sensitivity mic, it does need a decent amount of gain. Works very well with the Sony ICD… Continue reading…

Best Clip-on Microphone for Interviews

Best Clip-on Microphone for Interviews--$2 Lav Mic

Most digital recorders work great for recording research interviews, expect when you’re in a noisy environment. I just penned a #howto record interviews in a noisy location, and on this post I’ll share the 3 features of any perfect clip on mic for interviews and then I’ll my top 3 recommendations for the best clip-on mic for interviews. Why use a clip-on mic to record your research interviews in a noisy environment? Proximity. By having a microphone closer to the source or the sound, your mouth, the background noise (cars, fans, noisy neighbors etc) will not overpower your respondent’s voice. The resultant interview recording will be clear and easily transcribable. Summary: Best Clip-on Microphone for Interviews Giant Squid Lav Mic: works very well with the Sony ICD ux-560. 6ft cord, not too short, not too long: perfect. TRS 3.5mm plug. Easy to use. Sturdy build. Full, rich awesome sound; not the tiny sound that characterizes… Continue reading…

Giant Squid Lav Mic Review

Giant Squid clip on mic

Confession. I am a utilitarian. I had the pleasure of reading J.S. Mill’s, “On Liberty” in my late teens and it made a huge impression. Utilitarian principles guide my epistemology and tend to seep into my reviews of products; I try to answer the question “what’s its use?” And the Giant Squid lavalier microphone is a utilitarian masterpiece. We all use products that try to do many things, have a multitude of features; all bells and whistles, but are terrible at performing the basic task they were made for. But the Giant Squid lav mic does one thing, record external audio into a digital recorder, and does it exceptionally well. Summary: Giant Squid Lav Mic Review The good: you get a full, rich awesome sound; not the tiny sound that characterizes lavalier microphones. 6ft cord, not too short, not too long: perfect. Easy to use. Sturdy build. The Bad: the form windshield keeps falling off.… Continue reading…

How to Record Interviews in a Noisy Location

How to record interviews in a noisy location

What gives transcribers nightmares? = Research interviews and focus groups recorded in a noisy location. And that’s because researchers expect us to perform miracles and turn poorly recorded data into immaculate transcripts. We don’t like disappointing our clients, but we’re not magicians! More importantly, is a concern for the validity and reliability of data collected; recording high quality audio not only allows your transcriber to have a good night sleep (lol), but also improves your research’s trustworthiness. That’s the main reason I blog: to assist researchers collect better qualitative data and make their research project a success. Yes, I’d appreciate it if you’d hire us to transcribe your interviews and focus groups, but that’s a bonus. I want you to record valid and reliable data. A few tips on recording interviews in a noisy environment. Please Don’t The first tip may seem counter intuitive: don’t record your research interviews in a noisy location. This is… Continue reading…

Zoom H1n Review

Zoom H1n Review

A few years back I bought the Zoom H1. After a couple of days using it, I returned it (amazon return policy is awesome!). Last month, I bought the Zoom H1n – the newer/better(?) version of the H1. And I’m going to keep it and recommend it for researchers. In this review, I let you know why. Summary: Zoom H1n Review The good: very good recorded sound. Lots of recording versatility – 96 kHz 24 bit wav. 5v plug in power, you can power this recorder using the USB and use it as a USB microphone. The bad: no internal memory. Max 32GB micro SD card external memory. Cannot recharge batteries, 10 hours battery life. Verdict: great for recording interviews in quiet locations, using lav microphones, focus group discussions with the ME33 boundary mic. Definitely best recorder for powering ME33 boundary microphones. Buy the Zoom H1n from Amazon. The Zoom H1n is an entry level… Continue reading…