Community Media/MARAA/Community Radio/Production/Field Recording

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Using Flash Recorders

This is an important aspect of community radio because a lot of times, community members will not have enough time or will be too far away to come to the studio to record audio. So many times, you will have to go to them and that means recording on the field. This way, flash recorders are very useful tools for reporters, and community radio producers. These are usually compact devices which record audio and store it in a digital format like mp3, or wma. The storage happens on internal memory chip or external memory card, which can be replaced when the recorder fills up. A headphone jack is provided for listening to levels of sound while recording, to listen to the recording after you've stopped, and to block out the outside ambient noise for the person who's recording! Usually all the sound recorders have an input jack for inserting an external microphones. Here is an example of an affordable digital sound recorder. Here is an example of an affordable external microphone for your recorder.

There are a wide variety of brands out there in the market. Ultimately, it is up to you to go out there, see what works for your specific needs, and then select the model which works for you best. Some of the better known flash recorders are Zoom, Sony, Olympus, Transcend etc.

General Tips

Some tips of recording which are to be generally kept in mind will usually save you a lot of effort.

  • Ensure that the person is talking in a quiet environment, without too much ambient noise.
  • All cell phones close by to the source must be switched off, not just on Silent mode. The signals being received by the cell phone will be registered on the recorder
  • If a person (s) is recording in the studio, tell them to remove the bangles, or any other personal accessories which are bound to make noise while recording.
  • If you are recording and its windy outside, make sure to stand in such a way that your back is turned facing the direction of the wind. This way, your body will block out the wind as much as possible and will not affect the sound too much
  • If your recorder does not show levels before recording, then do a small test recording by speaking into the microphone yourself. Listen to the levels, so you get an idea of where to place the microphone in terms of distance from source.
  • If you are recording on the field, hold the microphone yourself, and don't hand it over to the source, because they might hold it too close or too far
  • Use a pop filter for your microphone so that phonetic sounds like the letter P, don't cause disturbances.
  • Notice the lines which are engraved on the end of the wire which is connected to the microphone, or which is there on your earphones. If there are two rings/bands, then it is going to record/playback on stereo, and if there is only one line, it is going to record/playback in mono.
  • Before going out to record on the field, make sure you have spare batteries, enough free memory
  • If you think that the sound you have recorded is bad, don't hesitate to ask the source to repeat the quote. It is always better to be safe than sorry.