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What Recorder Should I Use?

Thursday 19 December 2019 |
Annette Pike
Which recorder should I use?

There’s one question we consistently get asked and that’s, “what recorder do you recommend?” The answer we always give is that you and your recording technique are far more crucial to the quality of the final transcript than the actual recording device.

You can have a high quality recording device with all the features but if you haven’t adjusted the recorder settings, or the interviewing technique and environment haven’t been considered then the investment won’t be realised. 

Audio Recording Quality

Think about it…you’re going to invest good money in having this recording transcribed and the quality of that transcript very much depends on the quality of your dictation or interviewing technique. So the big take home point is this – record yourself dictating or conducting a practice interview first.

Did you realise that the way you held the recorder muffled your words? Did you hear that when you affirmed the interviewee with ‘yeah’ it tended to override their responses and that information was lost? And did you hear how clearly and loudly all that paper rustling, giggling, coffee cup chinking was picked up by the recorder?

Preparation is key to everything in life and so too with your audio recordings. Create a checklist of points to cover before hitting that record button:

  • Have all your paperwork, reports or interview questions in front of you.
  • Ensure background noises are kept to an absolute minimum: traffic, coffee machines whirring in the background, cutlery tinkling, peripheral conversations and/or music, fans and air conditioners.
  • If you’re outdoors, avoid windy areas.
  • Breathe! Before commencing the recording take a minute relax and you will proceed confidently – trust me, you’ll be happier with the results.

Recording Devices & External Microphones

Today you can produce excellent quality recordings with relatively cheap devices.  I recently picked up a secondhand cheapie Sony ICD-UX300F for $30 which has great functionality and audio quality, so price point is not a determining factor.  Having said that an external microphone is recommended, whether it be for a smart phone or dedicated recorder. 

  • omnidirectional are particularly useful for group discussions 
  • greater recording distance
  • add a wind sock for outdoor recording
  • increased audio quality


It's a buzz word but when approaching an audio recording it's all about mindfulness.  Be mindful of your environment.  Be mindful that each speaker is being captured clearly on the recording.  Be mindful that you are not subconsciously interrupting the flow of speech with constant affirmations or comments.  But above all be constantly mindful throughout the recording that to obtain a quality transcript, and have a good return on your financial investment, a transcriber can only work with what you produce.

We like to think we can work magic for our clients, but in reality the magic is in your hands.


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