In addition to the recorders that you can check out from Macaulay, which you used to record audio during the Night at the Museum last semester, you can also check out recorders from the Brooklyn College Library. However, you may want to use your smart phone to record audio. In fact, you may want to have both a recorder and your smart phone along, for, “Good standard practice is to always use two recorders, so that if one dies you have a running backup,” as ITF Stephen Boatright pointed out when the ITFs discussed this issue. Other good, practical advice for recording includes:
- test your device(s)/apps at home; asking yourself questions like:
- Am I comfortable with how recording works, and do I know how close I need to be to get good sound?
- Do I have my settings correctly configured (see below)?
- Do I have enough space and battery life to record a 30 min.-1 hr. interview?
- do a test recording at the interview before you start the real interview so that you’re sure that both you and your interviewee are audible
- check in periodically during the interview to make sure your device is still recording
- make sure that your recording environment has as little background noise as possible. It’s easier to get a good recording in the first place rather than trying to correct it later.
While the recorders you can check out are fairly straight forward (and we can discuss this more!), when it comes to your smart phone, you may wonder: what app should I use? The following answers, suggestions, and resources come from the cohort of ITFs across the various Macaulay Honors College campuses.
- The native Apple app, Voice Memos, may work for you. The audio files will be generated in Apple’s proprietary format and will need to be converted. This short guide gives a rundown of the features and drawbacks of Voice Memos.
- Another suggested option is Voice Record Pro (free). As ITF Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land reports, “My favorite part is that [Voice Record Pro] links to my Dropbox so as soon as I was done interviewing I could immediately back up the interview.” The end of this short review gives an overview of the app’s features.
- There is in-built capability to record on the Android phone, but the standard advice on the Internet is that this feature supports the recording apps you can download and isn’t really meant to be used alone.
- ITF Kevin Ambrose suggests One Note (free), a note-taking app with recording capabilities, and he touts its “native voice recording and transcription features.” This link, also provided by Ambrose, overviews One Note and other note-taking apps, some of which also have recording capabilities.
- Recommended by Brooklyn College Professor Miguel Macias are Sound & Voice Recorder – ASR and WeTransfer, two apps which he uses in tandem for audio recordings as shown in the short demo below.
Audio File Format
The interviews you’ll be conducting for the Brooklyn Listening Project will ultimately need to be in WAV file format when you submit them. It’s easiest to record in WAV from the get-go, so you should check your app’s settings to set this feature. If, however, you cannot record in WAV (and that’s the case with Voice Memos), you can convert the file later on in iTunes as described in this helpful post from Apple. This post also touches on the differences between certain audio formats.
If you need to transcribe your audio, here are some programs.
- ITF Stephen Boatright recommends Express Scribe, but also points to the transcription abilities of “iTunes, Quick Time, Dragon Dictate, and perhaps even Audacity.” Regarding Express Scribe, he writes: “I like Express Scribe because you can set the keyboard short cuts for stopping, starting, skipping back/forward, etc. to whichever keys fit your typing style best. You also have good control over the speed of playback.”
- ITF Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land recommends transcribe, while noting “It is not particularly fast or efficient or anything, but it does let you set up keyboard commands to slow down, speed up, go back, etc.”