Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Recording phone interviews

As I mentioned in a previous post, I just recently conducted my first phone interview. Part of the reason I've avoided doing this until now is because I hate phones, but another big part is that I wasn't sure how to record the call.

I am not one of those people who can follow a conversation while I'm taking notes and jotting down quotes. I feel like I need to devote my full attention to the interview, so I much prefer to record the conversation and take notes from the recording later on.

In the past, I've used everything from an old-school mini-cassette recorder to an MP3 player with a voice recorder feature. My MP3 player really didn't do so well as a voice recorder, no matter what the box said, and anyway it bit the dust not too long ago. My digital camera has a voice recorder option, but it won't work for a phone call.

I decided it was high time to invest in a better system, one that would allow me to record phone calls when necessary. The trick was that I needed something that would work on cell phones, since we don't have a land line. I searched the RadioShack website, and came up with this:

Wireless Phone Recording Controller

Basically this little gadget serves as an interrupt between your phone and your hands-free device. There are two wires, one of which you plug into the phone's hands-free port. The other goes into your voice recorder's microphone jack. The hands-free device then plugs into the controller.

There was another device that just plugged into the recorder. It had an earbud microphone to record everything; you just put it in your ear and put the earpiece of your phone up to it. Personally, I didn't think that was a method I could count on to pick everything up, so I opted for the interrupt-style device.

Of course, this also meant I needed a voice recorder. I wanted one that would enable me to store the files on my computer; I like keeping all research and other records for each article together. However, I also didn't want to spend an arm and a leg, so I picked out a voice recorder that was relatively inexpensive and could do everything I wanted:

Olympus VN-3100 PC Recorder

I love the recorder, and the controller is pretty easy to use, too. The only thing I've noticed is that because my phone tends to create some interference with speaker devices, I had to be sure to keep the recorder and the phone fairly far away from one another. The interference sometimes covered my voice with some static, but I never had any problems hearing my interviewee's voice on the recording!

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