Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Don't call them tape recorders

While hanging out with my parents this week, I was reminded of how much I'd like to start making family recordings. Audio, that is. Ideally, I would record them in a digital format that could be uploaded to my laptop. Using some sort of Mac-compatible program, I would then edit the voice recordings and, in some places, put music and other ambient sound under them.

The problem is that I can't find a suitable audio recorder. For digital recording, most places sell only the hand-held, memo-to-self, personal recorders. Someone gave me one as a gift and I rarely use it. The sound quality is awful. (My to-do lists and eurekas end up scrawled on post-its, anyway.)

I've made casual inquiries about sound equipment with acquaintances who know a lot about technology. All these people have urged me to buy a videocamera. But I want to work exclusively with sound first. Surely this is still possible, right? Digital movie-making I've experimented with before. For now, a stylish radio-style recording is what I'm aspiring to create.

I once had a few of my more dedicated students craft "This American Life"-style radio essays. Back then, we had the benefit of a friend at a local community radio station, one that kindly gave us access to its sound equipment. Do I need to start befriending radio DJs in my new town? Or is there another way?


At 9:22 PM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

What about a mini-disc recorder?

Also, I just got a new iPod with a voice recorder. Not sure how the sound is yet since I haven't tried it, but I'd be glad to let you know once I do...

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much are you interested in spending? I can make several suggestions that yeild pretty good sound quality, but they are all pricey.

Check out Marantz analog and digital (memory stick or DAT tape) recorders.

Also, consider a paddle mic rather than using the recorder's built in microphone.


At 11:10 AM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Profgrrl and Amanda,
Thank you very much for these helpful suggestions! Profgrrl, please do let me know about your iPod experience. I've noticed that you know a lot about Mac products. Do you also happen to have any experience with the new Airport Express? (Adam has been coveting one of those.)

Amanda, I've done some superficial web research on the Marantz products, and they look quite promising. Paddle mics (useful tip!) and DAT tape I've heard of. But "memory stick"? Obviously, I have a lot to learn. As for the price, I don't have a lot of money right now, but this is something I would save up for over the next several months. I'd be willing to invest in some good equipment if I could be confident that I had found the right technology for the high-quality recording that is my goal. Ideally, the technology would be relatively easy to use, reliable, and stable (i.e., not obsolete after 12 months). And if it were something I could use with my students, as well as for family recordings, then all the better.

Any other tips on getting started would be greatly appreciated. And I'd be interested to learn how you are using the equipment you seem to know a lot about.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Hmm... I commented earlier, but it hasn't appeared yet. To repeat:

Profgrrrl and Amanda, thank you so much! Profgrrl, I would like to hear about your experience with the voice recorder on the iPod. Amanda, I did a quick search on the Marantz equipment and it looked really promising. As for a budget, I really don't know. I'm definitely on a tight one, but this is something I'd be willing to save up for, especially if I could feel confident that I was making a wise investment in equipment that would make possible my recording goals. Ideally, I might even be able to use it with students as well as for my own personal (family) use. So any other advice you might have to offer on getting started would be very appreciated!


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