How to Ensure High-Quality Recordings
To ensure the quality of your recordings:
- The equipment should house a condenser or omni-directional microphone.
- Conduct the interview in a quiet environment. Turn off TVs
and radios; close doors and windows; try not to sit under a fan or
motor; and excuse anyone not being interviewed.
- Use the AC feature of the recorder. Plug it in; don’t
rely on batteries.
- Check all the settings on the recorder (such as volume, Dolby, high
bias) and conduct a test after the recorder is positioned, but before
the first question. Adjust settings according to the test and
retest until it is satisfactory.
- Do not record using the condensed or slow speed.
- Do not use voice activation.
- When using one microphone for two people, place the microphone
close to the person being interviewed.
- When using a tape instead of a digital recorder:
- Use only quality, brand-name tapes like Maxell, TDK,
use store brands.
- Use brand name tapes that are designed for recording
the human voice, not tapes with features essential for
high-quality recording of music. These
are tapes void of features to pick up especially high or especially
low tones. In other words, don’t use tapes
that have features like high bias or Dolby options.
- If interviewing more than one person, and if you want the individuals
identified on the transcript, have each person talk about him or
herself (name, profession, connection to your project) for two to
- Try not to speak simultaneously, and avoid interviewing more than
one person at a time.
- Repeat garbled responses using phrases such as “Let me make
sure I understood what you said.”
- Provide notes with the recording. Include a running list of
names, dates, words or phrases that may be hard to hear, old-fashioned,
technical, or otherwise difficult words.