If you need to do an occasional off-site interview there are many choices. Early
on I experimented with many different portable recording methods including a digital
porta-studio and a laptop computer. All the methods worked, but none were very convenient.
At PSR I do a weekly interview with an expert and the majority of those interviews
are done off-site. I mostly interview professionals who have very limited time which
means that I typically have from 0-10 minutes to set up my gear and to start recording
the interview. Add to this fact that I sometimes don’t know where I will interview
a guest. It may be in their consulting room, a conference room or a lunchroom. Once
I did an entire interview in a camper trailer! The bottom line is that I need a
recording method that is not only easy to set up but also fool proof. I think that
I have found the answer in the digital flash recorder. These are dedicated audio
recorders that silently record to digital media (like a compact flash card). Since
they are dedicated recorders they are very intuitive to use. Press a button or two
and you are off and running. Digital flash recorders are sold at a variety of price
points, starting at around two hundred dollars and moving all the way up to several
thousand dollars. If you need an occasional sound bite, find a cheap way of doing
it. If you do a lot of off-site recording, this is the way to go.
I have two basic setups that I use. Option 1 is tiny and can be set up in seconds.
Option 2 takes 5-10 minutes to set up but offers studio quality recordings. Use
the descriptions below as a springboard for your own ideas.
Option One-small and lightweight (instant setup)
(All of this fits in a pencil case like pouch)
1. Edirol R-1 recorder (this model has been discontinued). The R-1 is the size of
a small paper back book. It operates on 2 AA batteries and connects to microphones
and headphones using consumer-type mini-jacks. It offers superb quality recordings
in both WAV and MP3 formats. The R-1 has the “plug-in-power” needed for electret
2. Giant Squid Audio electret condenser stereo microphones ($65). This set up consists
of two lavaliere mics, each with a 6 foot microphone cable, terminating in a single
stereo mini-plug. These microphones are a great value but like other inexpensive
electret mics they sound very good, but not fantastic.
3. Ear-bud headphones
4. 2 extra AA batteries
Option Two-professional sound (5-10 minute setup)
(All of this fits in a soft-sided brief case)
1. Marantz PMD 670 professional recorder. This recorder is the size of a cigar box.
It has large, solid controls and professional connections including 2, XLR ports
(with phantom power) for professional microphones. It offers superb recordings in
both WAV and MP3 formats. Although the Marantz can be battery operated, it uses a
lot of AA batteries, so running off the included adaptor is the way to go. The 670
also features ALC, which is great for recording interviews.