Recording in the Field ~ Actual Examples Part 1

Sometimes, most times when dealing with individuals doing their thing, a quiet controlled recording space is

not always possible. You still need to collect the tape for your organisation’s podcast but who wants an unpleasant listening experience? No one does.

There are a few ways around this dilemma, thankfully. People have been recording in the field since not long after the recording first burst upon humanity with Edison’s wax cylinders in 1877. With increasingly sophisticated mics and editing and polishing software we can achieve an acceptable level of sound recording. Indeed there are times when being outdoors is critical to the storytelling process. 

True enough, interviews can be conducted in controlled spaces and outdoor soundscapes added in the background, this though is less than honest and again, not always possible.

What then are our options? 

Well the traditional fallback, traditional since 2007 and the first iPhone, is to use your smartphone. This section of this episode is being recorded using my current iPhone SE. You can hear the standard of the quality. Not exceptionally great but, in a pinch, acceptable enough. Especially if we let our listeners know what’s coming. This gives them fair warning, allows them to prepare to adjust their listening and still provides the content we need to deliver. And that’s the point, the content really does need to be essential to the story and you have no other choice.

The next couple of options involve field recorders. Recorders specifically designed for use away from as well as within a controlled space.

From this point on this episode is being recorded on a Zoom F2-BT with a lavalliere, sometimes called a lapel mic. It has a foam covering to reduce the effects of the wind but that’s not an issue as I’m in a cafe. You can discern a difference in the quality of the sound but I think you could get away with either. The F2-BT is preferable and ideally one for each person in the recording would be best. It’s a tiny little thing weighing in at 56 odd grams with its two AAA batteries and clips on the belt or into your pocket. 

And here we are back in the studio. The qualitative differences are obvious but so too is the “reality”, in inverted commas, of the field recording. 

In the next episode I’ll be demonstrating the sound from a more complex outdoor setup using the Zoom H2n as the recording device. I’ll use it in the controlled space and in the field so you can hear and feel the differences.

If you’re ready to start discussing your organisation’s podcast adventure, DM on Linkedin or drop me an email, both links in the show notes.

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