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Gerry

Sound recording on a pc

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My wife is trying to compile family audio recordings from her relatives. I need to be able to explain to various not-very-computer savvy people how to record audio on their pc's.

 

I've bookmarked this page for the basic info, but do pc's have built-in mic's or do I recommend external mic's? USB or "regular"?

 

I'm open to advice but it needs to be low-level.

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I always prefer USB, simple to use and quality is generally better than the line in mics. And no, most desktop computers don't have built in mics, but some laptops do with their webcam

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well, the oldest type of PC I've used a USB mic on is an XP, but the way to know would be according to the mic itself. Look at the system requirements. I would assume most if not all USB mics would work with any PC that uses USB 2.0

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Are her audio recordings already on tape somewhere or is she going out to capture them now?

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yeah, good question, cause if they're on a cassette tape or something, you need a whole different set of equipment

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Well it became a problem because they initially sent a minicassette with just awful sound quality, so it was a tossup between trying to convert and "fix" the tape, or just asking them to re-record to a digital format. We're going with the second choice because cleaning up the tape recordings would have been a nightmare. They're being recorded out in Oklahoma so I have zero control over quality.

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They have a computer? they know how to work it? They know how to record audio? They know how to send you the file?

 

That sounds like a tall order for people who made a bad cassette recording. :(

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If you already have the Data on a mini tape you get a Male to Male 3.5mm cord and use your sound cards line in or mic input(using the mic in may take some time to get the sound level right) Then use something like http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ to record off the tape. This program is free and has some editing capabilities.

 

I went to http://www.youtube.com/ and searched audicity and there was some good videos on how to use the software(and it's free!)

 

I hope this helps a little.

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How 'close' are you with the relatives/family. Having gone through this process for my short, I can offer some advice. If you do not have control over the process, the quality of the recordings you get back, regardless of the method, will invariably be poor if the people doing the recording have little or no idea what they are doing. It's not as simple as plugging a mike into a PC and pressing record.

 

Depending on how important these recordings are, I would recommend the purchase of a digitial recorder and each visit you have with family members, spend a little time taking the recordings yourself. (Digital recorders are far superior to PC/Laptop with Mike recordings - far, far, far superior)

 

Cheers

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They have a computer? they know how to work it? They know how to record audio? They know how to send you the file?

Those are all question to which I don't know the answers!

 

jason, good suggestions. I've got Audacity and use it frequently and I did think about just plugging our mini-recorder into my Mac. May still try it as an experiment but the sound is a mess. Tinny, lots of ambient noise and tape hiss.

 

david, also lots of good advice and I couldn't agree with you more. But I'm in NY and the family is in OK so doing it "hands on" is close to impossible. They are all totally jazzed about contributing their family stories so we're on the spot to deliver something eventually. The quality as I said is totally out of my control, but anything that's even slightly better than what I've got so far would be an improvement.

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Do they have or have access to an mp3 player? Lots of them have audio recording features...then they would simply USB it to the computer and email it to you.

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They probably used an omni-directional mic when they did the cassette.

 

If you could get them using a USB headset that would be a huge improvement, but then they gotta work a computer.

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I was thinking about getting a small digital recorder and sending it around and have everyone record into it, then send it on to the next person. I'd probably never see it again.

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I agree that your best bet might be a USB headset. This would have the added advantage that as they speak they can get some feedback in the headphone to help them control their level of speech natrally, like speaking on a telephone, which most people are used to doing. The USB microphone also has the D/A converter built into it, so it is far less likely to pick up hum.

 

USB 1.0 (as old as can be) has plenty of bandwidth for recording audio, so, aside from problems finding USB 1.0 compatible drivers, any computer with USB should be usable.

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If you have a good family phone plan, how about recording an interview of the phone? This would have the advantage of a live interview, but I suppose the phone bill could add up after a while.

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If you have a good family phone plan, how about recording an interview of the phone? This would have the advantage of a live interview, but I suppose the phone bill could add up after a while.

 

 

How about Skype? That would be easier to record on your end and sounds as good or better than phone audio.

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What we're after is monologue-style family stories as opposed to an interview format. Also talking to my wife last night, the family members are scattered around several states, not just OK. I'm thinking of getting an MP3 recorder and sending it to just one family at a time and telling them to record their stories and send it back in a week. This way I don't lose track of it. Not the most convenient method, but the only real alternative is to travel around and do it in person, and that's not an option.

 

Ultimately the aim is to create an oral history dvd or website with family photos, recipes, stories etc. We haven't really settled on a delivery medium yet, just trying to gather content.

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Well I got a portable digital recorder, an Olympus factory refurb through Amazon and it came in the mail today. This thing is TINY! I expected something about the size of a TV remote but this is, well, if I had to I could smuggle it into prison no problem :rolleyes: !

 

I was worried before that it could get misplaced by any one of the relatives but now I'm thinking this could get lost in the folds of my shirt. I downloaded the manual from the Olympus website and I'm hoping I can send it around with a simple "press this button and speak" instructions, but that remains to be seen.

 

It came with a noise suppressing mic and a lapel clip so you could do video with the mic clipped on just like on TV!

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that's a good idea. It does have a corner ring for a strap and I need to put a "property of..." identifier somewhere.

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