CategoryAudio for Research

Tascam DR-05 Review

My wife needed a good portable digital recorder for work, so I set out to find one in our price range. Naturally, since this was for a work project I did some extra research. Battery life was an important criteria, and it needed to be easy to use.

I was relieved when she started using the Tascam DR-05 to find it does have a long battery life, and the features are easy to use. She found the menu is simple, and she was able to transfer the files onto his PC with no problems. All hse has to do is drop and drag the files she wants. For the most part sound quality is good in that she can easily hear everything she needed to record as long as she carries earphones for the playback.

There are a few annoyances such as it picks up more background noise than she anticipated. Also, she needs to use earbuds to hear the playback until she’s moved it to her PC. She can’t really allow people to listen to the recording on the device as the speaker is very small. The device is a little bigger than she thought it would be, so she can’t put it in her front pocket. She discovered while making recordings that it does pick up some interference from nearby devices like cell phones, if these are too close while she’s recording. You can’t plug in another mic and make it work, and you can’t change the angles of the mic, so you need to line it up correctly to record.

Overall, for the price you really can’t expect any better this recorder. Expect to need a small case to carry it in, and some type of good quality earphones in order to record and playback.

 

Picking the best microphone

Now that you have the best voice recorder… usually most buyer’s attention goes to the next piece of kit in any producers arsenal – the microphone (or microphones).  There are so many options when it comes to picking the right microphone for the job.  Is it for a studio?  Is is for in the field?  Are you connecting it to a computer, or are you just connecting it to your recording device?  What is the difference between uni-directional, omni-directional, cardioid or dynamic?  USB or XLR?  Shotgun or Lavalier?

So many questions that you need to answer, and so many choices to sift through to find the best microphone for the job.

To help you navigate the microphone market, we have set up a sister product review site just for microphones.  The Best Microphone is all about helping you find exactly that – the best microphone for the job.

Check them out once you have picked the best voice recorder for your job!

Recording University/College Lectures – What to buy?

If you are heading to university or college and need a  device to record your classes with – how to you make the right choice of the hundreds of voice recorders on the market?  Here are a few things to think about:

You will need a reliable recording device for recording lectures, as well as taking the usual notes. What you will need for great note taking is a device with a good battery life, a mic that will pick up what is said in the lecture hall easily even from the back of the room, and one that’s easy to use.

The Importance of Battery Life

Everyone has experienced the frustration of a cell phone or recorder with a low battery life. Often while going to school it’s hard to find a way to recharge a device or its batteries.

A device with a strong internal battery, or one which allows reliable rechargeable batteries is the safest option.

A Strong Microphone

You can’t ask a professor to hold the recorder while giving his lecture. The best selection in recorders or mic is one capable of picking up voices from as far away as the back of a lecture hall.

While it should pick up voices easily, there shouldn’t be any distortion, or feedback while in use, allowing for a quietly running recorder.

Ease of Use

The best recorders are those you find easy to use. An easy to use device will start quickly, and you will not need to make adjustments often.

Plug and play options are the best, since there’s no drive necessary. You can concentrate on the lecture, and not the recorder when you have one with easy to use features.

Best Options for Recording Devices

Zoom H2 vs Zoom H1

When it comes to buying Zoom Digital Audio Recorders, discount some people often mull over, there whether Zoom H1 would be better than H2. Even though one is the predecessor of another, decease some often wonder which one is better given the price range and the features.

Indeed, both of them have their own advantages, but when put side by side, does H1 surpass H2 in its reliability? Or does H2 come off as the stronger bet among the two? Let us assess their strengths and weaknesses in detail.

Pros and Cons:

    1. Battery life: H1 has a serious issue with battery drains. Even though the equipment itself works pretty well, the battery not being able to put out longer is a major issue with the recorder. In this aspect, H2 as not faced such issues or complaints from the users yet.
    2. USB support: In the previous version, there was not firmware that supported the USB cable, but they have released a latest firmware which supports this feature perfectly in H1. While H1 has been having upgrades, you can swiftly change the SD card of your H2 recorder and install things into it by connecting it to your PC.
    3. Ease of use: Let’s face it, how many times have we actually tried to read the manual, but ended up taking advice from our teenage son on how to use it? So the ease of use and the interface matters a lot. In our opinion, H2 is more easy to use and simple. H1 has chunks of features, but at times it can become a little difficult to access these features due to its complicated workings.
    4. Metronome feature: If you are a musician looking to buy a decent recorder, then beware. H1 does not have the metronome feature which some might find very important. H2, however, does have it. Also, there is no pitch tester in H1 which the audio people might need so much.

Tascam DR44WL vs DR100MkII

Thinking about buying a digital voice recorder?  We compare two popular options, clinic the Tascam DR44WL and the Tascam DR100 MkII.

The Tascam DR44WL and the Tascam DR100MkII are both very similar in rugged construction, pilule and design. Each has unique features, and both have a few issues that separate them.

The DR-44WL

The Tascam DR-44WL allows you Wi-Fi transport control from a remote start so you can set up and walk away before recording. The sound is comparable with other more expensive recorders, and you can transfer files and stream to smartphones or computers over Wi-Fi. If recording with four channels or dual recording mode to create a safety track are among the features important for your purpose this is a good choice for the price. You can also create a 96kHz/24-bit recording for an MP3, but you also have the option to create a WAV or BMF. You have options when transferring files of popular OS software, including Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android. The issues for some are the “click” wheel instead of button menu, it uses only 2 batteries, the SD cover is not well protected, “real-time” is often difficult to use, and some have had issues with the Android app.

The Tascam DR-100mkII

Two sets of microphones and a dual battery system, giving you hours of play are strong pluses for the DR-100mk. This device also has a rugged construction giving those who need to use it in the field a better opportunity for clear recording. While it does have wireless remote control (RC-10) it is more limited than the DR-44WL. A windsock does offer you a better chance of getting solid, great recordings no matter the conditions, and omnidirectional pickup makes it a great choice for the outdoors.

Looking at the Choices

In looking for a recorder that has the quality of preamps, and can match the abilities of more expensive recorders both are good buys. The differences between the two will mean taking a good look at what you need, and which is more suited to your needs.

Portable Digital Voice Recorder Buyers Guide 2017

A portable recording device is useful for on the go recordings of any kind. These are usually handheld devices that can be used to record music, cialis sounds of any kind, pilule conversations, buy and thoughts – just about anything. Of course professionals require it to tape interviews or to record their music. So what are the top three essential things which you should be looking out for when buying these digital recorders?

  1. Internal or external microphone: Do you want an internal microphone or an external one is more appealing to you? Take a closer look at your work field and find out which one your nature of job requires more. Some devices have both internal and external microphone while some have only one. Others have built in microphones so you don’t have to worry about carying additional gear.
  2. Memory: How much memory do you need? Do you use and store a lot in your device? Again, assess your requirement to come to a conclusion about it. Pay attention while buying though, because many come with microSD or SD card support, while others do not. It is always good to have some additional features. Not having a microSD or SD slot may be a disadvantage.
  3. Accessories: Do you need a tripod, a Pop Filter or windscreens for better recording? Make sure all your necessary accessories are present in your device before purchasing it. If you need only one accessory then pick any one that has it, but we suggest you always pick the ones which come in a wide range of accessories.

Top 3 voice recorders which have these features:

  • Etekcity Dictaphone/Pen: This device is on the lower budget end and has all the basic features including 8GB memory drive. If you want a simple voice recorder with just plug and play feature, then this is the best one. It costs only 16 USD.

 

 

  • Zoom H4: The Zoom H4 is our favourite portable recording devices in the 200 USD price range.  and comes with prominent features such as noise cancellation, windscreen, etc.

Recording Qualitative Research Interviews

Qualitative Research Set up with the Zoom H4n

As a Master of Business (Research) (Management) student I have just commenced the most exciting part of my research – data collection!  My study is qualitative in nature, with my data being captured through approximately 30 interviews.  With about 20 questions, each interview will probably go for up to 60 minutes.

After a lot of discussion with my supervisor regarding interview technique, and revising the interview question schedule a few times, we were finally ready to go.  The last piece of the puzzle was a RELIABLE way to record how the subjects of my research were responding to my questions.

There are a few different options – I could have:

WP_20140702_001In the end, I went down the path of a dedicated piece of audio recording hardware – for me it reduced the risk of losing data.  This was really important for me – as a part time research student I don’t have the luxury of time (and to be honest the patience) to go back and re-interview people if I lose the data due to a software crash.  After an exhaustive look at a lot of different voice recorder options from brands like Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, TASCAM and more… I settled on the Zoom H4n.

Recording an interview with the Zoom H4n

With the room and my subject’s calendars booked, it was time to set up for my interviews.  I used a reasonably relaxed, out of the way room in our office.  My room setup was pretty simple – with me I had my laptop (which had my interview questions loaded on it), my notebook and pen, a class of water… and my Digital Audio Recorder to capture everything that both the interviewer (me) and my interviewees say.

WP_20140702_004One of the things you need to try to do in any qualitative research interview is to ensure that your subject is as comfortable as possible.  The Zoom H4n does look a little imposing at first sight – which could raise the heart rate of any one you talk to.  In fact one person commented when they first saw my Zoom H4n that it “looked like a taser!”.   Fortunately this can be overcome by using the windshield which comes as standard with the Zoom H4n.  Simply cover the built in microphones with the wind shield, and the device looks like a much friendlier microphone.

As I wasn’t near a power point, ensuring that you have a fresh set of AA batteries on hand is very important.  The Zoom H4n should record for about 6 hours on a fresh set of good quality AA batteries.   Switching to the stamina mode by popping the battery cover off and sliding the Stamina switch on will almost double the life of the device – perfect if you plan to spend a bit longer in the field, or have some of your interview subjects telling some very, very detailed (or very waffly) stories!

WP_20140702_007Just before my first victim subject arrived, I turned on the device to do a quick test run of the audio.  I got out a pair of earbuds which came with my mobile phone, and plugged one end them into the side of the Zoom H4n, and the other ends into my ears.  To test the recording levels I simply pressed the “REC” button once.  I sat in my “interviewer” chair and said a couple of the questions out loud – it sounded very clear and had good volume.  I then sat in the “interviewee” chair and repeated the process.  Again sound quality and volume was very good – I was good to start.  I removed the headphones as I wouldn’t need them for the rest of the day, and hit the “STOP” button.   Now just a few more nervous minutes needed to pass until my first interview candidate would arrive.

WP_20140702_006Once they arrived and were seated, I confirmed that their interview consent form had been signed and ran through a few of the context setting discussions for the interview.  When I was ready to collect data, I looked across at the Zoom H4n, and:

  1. Pressed the “REC” button once
  2. Checked that the “MIC” button was lit red (to ensure it was still recording from the built in stereo microphones
  3. Checked that the levels were appropriate for the volume that the interviewee was speaking at (in this case they were a soft talker so I increased the recording level by 10 using the switch on the right hand side of the unit)
  4. Checked that I had enough empty space to record the entire interview (with my 32gb SD Card I had another 46 hours of capacity left so that shouldn’t be a problem!)
  5. Checked that the battery indicator showed that there was plenty of juice left
  6. Crossed my fingers, took a deep breath, pressed “REC” for a second time, and then commenced the interview

My first interview went for approximately 45 minutes – lots of great content and very vivid stories which will contribute to a some great discussion in my thesis.  Once the interview had finished, I simply hit the “STOP” button and the recording was saved to my SD card.

The Zoom H4n really did it’s job!  I just wish it could transcribe the recording for me as well!  The good thing is that the quality of audio is so good that it really makes transcribing a breeze – whether you do it yourself, try to use machine based transcription, or outsource your transcription to a 3rd party provider.

 

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