Having a portable digital recorder offers you the freedom to record anywhere you like. This also presents challenges. Nothing ruins a great recording the way electric and radio interference does. These types of interference can overpower what you are actually recording and can sweep across many frequencies including those which are home to voice frequencies. In techie parlance, you’re signal-to-noise ratio will be skewed towards the noise leaving you less signal to work with. You always want strong signal, ideally with no noise. If you have any noise, you want it in the fewest frequencies as with a very low level.
Here are a few pointers for picking a good place to set your sound recorder:
- Carry an extra set of charged batteries (I use re-chargeables) so that you don’t have to depend on plug-in power. If you record using batteries, warn any guests that you will occasionally be looking at your recorder to make sure it is still running and to make sure the batteries are still strong. Tell them not to be distracted when you do this (some people will think you’re not interested in what they’re saying or that they should be concerned if you’re looking at the equipment). If the batteries do get weak (I wait till my battery light starts flashing since that’s roughly my five minute warning), wait until your guest finishes their current thought before interrupting the session to change the batteries.
- If you do plug in to the wall at a ‘remote location’, listen to your digital recorder through headphones (if it offers real-time input monitoring) before you start recording to ensure that there are no grounding problems that will impact your recording. If there are grounding problems, unplug your digital recorder and run off the batteries.
- Don’t place your recorder too close to an electric outlet or electronic equipment.
- Don’t place your recorder too close to a radio device like a radio or cell phone, or a device that can give off radio interference such as a fluorescent light. If you can’t separate your recorder and cell phone, turn your cell phone completely off. If you can, don’t forget to turn off your cell phone ringer so that it doesn’t interrupt your recording session.
- In the case of a coffee shop, make sure that your recorder is out of harm’s way. Cups of hot coffee and tea, and glasses of water can really mess up a great electronic device (this is NOT from experience, thankfully).
Do you have any stories about remote recording, problem audio and digital recorders?