Recording Equipment for Interviews | Focus Groups | Seminars | Conferences

How to record interviews

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to record interviews – these are our FIVE key things to keep in mind when recording.

  1. Microphone Position

    The absolute key to getting a usable recording is using mics that can be setup close to the person/s talking. Sitting a recorder in the middle of a room can mean problems and unusable recordings, for example, lots of background noise, faint speakers at the back of the room etc.

  2. Select File Format

    Remember to record in either .wav or .mp3. MP3 and WAV formats are used by most transcription software. Some recording equipment has their own formats however, these can end up in large files, making it hard to send the recordings. We recommend this (free) software to convert files to .mp3 or .wav formats see: here.

  3. Turn off the ‘noise reduction’ setting

    Remember to turnoff “noise reduction” settings on the recorder. These often do not work and end up making the recording more difficult to hear.

  4. Control Background Noise

    Remember to control the background noise. Choose an area that is closed off from external sound. Not a cafe, or public space. If you have limited choice, then we recommend getting the microphones as close to the speaker/s as possible.

  5. Control cross talk & over talking.

    Remember to maintain a level of decorum with the people talking. Especially in groups, people can end up talking over one another. The moderator or facilitator needs to lay the ground rules and maintain control of the situation in order to get an accurate recording.

How to record an interview

What Gear to Use to Record Interviews for transcription

We have no affiliations or associations with any of these brands or makers.

BEST SMARTPHONE RECORDER APP:  Another option is to use a recording app on your phone. We do suggest that you use external mics, the mic on your phone is not designed to record at any distance. Using a multipurpose device like a phone to record, does introduce some risk, judging how apps work with other apps and phone settings may be a problem when suddenly your phone decides to update something or someone calls.

BEST MICROPHONE FOR INTERVIEWS: If you cannot secure a quiet environment, or the speakers have difficulty in speaking clearly, using lapel (also called Lavalier) microphones are going to be a good investment. These are very common and are the small mic’s seen in television broadcasts clipped onto a speaker’s shirt/tie. A very well regarded mic, that is hand-built and really solid in construction, is the Giant Squid lapel range. This version is set up specifically for one to one interview recording

Upgrade mic option: If you are using a smartphone the Rode SmartLav interview mic (which is commercial level equipment) is probably the best, but more pricer option. You will need to buy two on for each speaker, along with a microphone splitter to allow input for two mics, a suitable splitter is detailed here.

Recording Focus Groups

What Gear to Use to Record Focus Groups

We have seen great success using ZOOM products. We highly recommend the ZOOM H1n for interviews and small groups (no affiliation).

What gear to use to record Conferences, Lectures, Question & Answer Sessions

For this you will most probably need multiple microphones, as speakers are more likely to be in different areas of a room. We recommend a base unit like the ZOOM H2n. This unit enables extra external mics to be plugged into the base unit and mic setup. If you are recording a question and answer session we recommend a roving wireless mic system see: here (no affiliations).