Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Digital Voice Recorders - Recommendations for an ethnographer?

My digital voice recorder has died, and I am glad for it. It unfortunately used a proprietary format for recording,and while it created a high-quality, memory-efficient recording--it was ultimately AGONY waiting for it to convert its files to a WAV file (of all things). That, and the software (once you lose the 3 year old CD... come on, we've all done it) is difficult to find online, and once you find it, it -might- be available for a price. Sound familiar? It's lame, and the forums agree... with many users ditching recorders that do such short-sighted, ill-advised things. It's enough to drive me back to mini tapes. Well, maybe not quite.

Having learned from previous frustrations with the now dead recorder, this is what I would want my next recorder to have:

1. Good background noise filtering (probably in the form of different speech settings)
2. NOT proprietary format that requires special software in order to play recording on a computer or anywhere else.
3. Preferably records in MP3 format
4. Memory-efficient
5. Feedback on successful recording (flickring LCD bar, or LED will do).

So far, my experiences with consumer reviews and forums do not adequately address these specific concerns, nor are they targeted to my particular needs. They are also not the most up to date.

Anyway, it's time to move on and move up. So I am looking around and researching what to get as my faithful fieldwork companion. I'm soliciting recommendations from people who regularly do field interviews (ethnographers, journalists,and others of similar ilk) who are familiar with the conditions in which such interviews are conducted, and later processed. If you're like me, that processing will take place on a laptop, in a tiny room, in unfamiliar conditions.

There's got to be a better option than just using 'record' on my MP3 player... or is there?


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Blogger Cyrus said...


11:52 PM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

This is what I use for my pro radio work:

11:52 PM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

Aka: Marantz PMD660

11:53 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Hi Florence! I just did a round of 24 user interviews for a site design project we're working on and I used my (wait for it)... iPod Nano and an iTalk microphone from Griffin.

Along with the notes I was taking in the meeting, it worked great. Saved the files as WAV's, then converted them to MP3's when I got back to the office. If you've got an iPod, you can consider it for sure.

We should visit again soon!

5:32 PM  

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