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Table of contents of this article
- Basic tips & tricks for recording interviews
- Recording with dictaphone and microphone
- Recording with mobile phone apps
- Video recording or audio recording?
Basic tips & tricks for recording interviews
In addition to the preparation and planning of an interview, the right technical equipment is crucial for success. Particularly for the following content evaluation and transcription, it is essential that the recording of the interview is as free of interference as possible. Accordingly, mistakes in this area are particularly annoying, as they can render work that has already been done unusable. To prevent this, the tools for a successful interview are explained in detail in this chapter.
As you will see in the following section, you do not need any expensive equipment at all to make a recording; there are many simple and inexpensive ways to use your mobile phone as a dictation machine, for example, and to record interviews with it.
In principle, it is not absolutely necessary to record an interview. Alternatively Notes Alternatively, you can make recordings during the interview and use them as a basis for later analysis. However, a recording with subsequent transcription is much more precise. Moreover, this process allows the interviewer to concentrate fully on the conversation. This creates a more natural conversation, whereas constant note-taking can distract and unsettle the interviewee.
A recording is not absolutely necessary - notes are an alternative. However, these can distract from the interview itself. At recording, the interviewer is more interviewer is more concentrated and a natural conversation.
Once the decision has been made to record the interview, the next step is to decide on a suitable recording tool. To facilitate and thus speed up the subsequent transcription, the audio quality is the decisive factor for the choice.
Recording with dictaphone and microphone
When recording with the aid of a dictation machine, there are basically two variants: a Digital dictation machine or one with a cassette or mini-disc. Here, the former is recommended because the battery lasts much longer and it is easier to transfer the recordings to the PC. Alternatively, a mobile phone app can be used for recording. What should be considered and which apps are suitable is discussed in the following chapter.
The digital dictation machine is analogue - the battery lasts lasts longer and the transfer to the PC is easier.
Dictation machines with cassettes or mini-discs are a somewhat outdated method, but are still sometimes used. However, some of the older devices with this technology consume a lot of electricity and are therefore dependent on an external power supply. There is always a risk that the recording will stop if the power supply is interrupted. Analogue dictation machines are no longer up to date and are far inferior in quality to digital dictation machines.
Every digital dictation machine has its own sound and thus individual advantages and disadvantages; there is no such thing as the one best machine. However, you should not save money when buying a digital dictation machine, but choose a high-quality one. Important factors are Factors such as battery life (especially if there is no external power supply at the interview location), good operability, the presence of all necessary functions and overall high reliability. Individual devices should be compared with each other in this regard.
Important factors in the selection of dictation machines are: Battery- battery life, ease of use and availability of the necessary functions.
Another useful function that should be available is the automatic leveling function. This means that the recording volume is automatically adjusted during the call.
In addition, the accessories supplied can also play a role in the purchase decision. A External microphone for example, is always of interest. Most current devices have sufficiently good internal microphones built in, so that no additional microphone is needed for interviews under normal conditions (quiet environment, e.g. indoors). Nevertheless, an additional external microphone can be useful in some situations, e.g. if the interview takes place outdoors or if a particularly high audio quality is to be achieved. The best choice is a 3.5 mm connection, as this is compatible with all common microphones. In addition, a fur windscreen is essential for outdoor recordings to minimise wind noise.
For outdoor recordings, we recommend an external microphone and a and a fur windscreen - this helps to noise in the recording. recording.
Group interviews are another special case, as they place significantly higher demands on the dictation machine. Requirements are demanded of the dictation machine. In order to be able to distinguish and classify the individual speakers later, a microphone with sufficient surround sound is needed. With groups, it is also more important to have a clear emphasis on the high frequencies and to minimise background noise, whereas with individual speakers a deeper sound is advantageous. When buying a dictation machine, you should therefore have a rough idea in advance of what kind of conversation you want to have.
This should be considered when buying be considered: Depending on whether individual or group interviews interviews are conducted, the requirements differ.
When buying a digital recorder, it is also important to ensure that the file is in a format that can be used for further work. For longer or many interviews that are to be conducted in succession, the storage capacity also plays a role. To ensure that the recording can be used over a longer period of time, e.g. for transcription, Pleasant to listen to the dictation machine should provide a bright, detailed recording with as little inherent noise and bass as possible.
Particularly pleasant to listen to are bright, detailed recordings with little inherent noise and bass - this helps when transcribing.
In the case of particularly relevant interview partners, it is advisable to record with two devices in parallel. The back-up device can also be an inexpensive alternative, such as a smartphone. The next chapter explains in more detail what needs to be considered when recording with a smartphone and which apps are suitable for this.
The best dictation machines for recording interviews
Digital Dictaphone 1536 Kbps from Tschisen
- Price: 29,99€ at Amazon
- Supported file formats: MP3, WAV, PCM
- Battery life: 12 hours recording
- Memory: 8 GB
- Scope of delivery: Dictation machine, USB cable, user manual, quick guide
The digital dictation machine from Tschisen impresses at first glance with its modern and high-quality design as well as its compact size, which roughly corresponds to that of a lighter. The OLED display has a high-quality finish. All important information is clearly shown on the display and the buttons are self-explanatory. This guarantees easy operation without a long learning curve.
The two built-in microphones allow three-dimensional recording with a range of up to 10 metres. Despite intelligent audio noise reduction, there is unfortunately a slight hiss even in good conditions. On the other hand, the audio quality is convincing in difficult recording conditions.
Files can be transferred to the PC without any problems via USB connection; the device is recognised as a mass storage device.
Grundig Digta 7 Starter Kit (with DigtaSoft One)
- Price: e.g. 570,00€ at Amazon
- Supported file formats: DSS, DSS Pro, WAV and MP3
- Battery life: 25 hrs.
- Memory: 2GB
- Scope of delivery: Digta 7 dictation machine, powersupply unit 477, battery pack 962, USB cable, case, wrist strap, foot control 540 USB, swingphone 568 Jack, DVD-ROM with PC software DigtaSoft One incl. licence for one user.
The Grundig Digta 7 Starter Kit is a complete starter set for digital dictation. This means that in addition to the actual dictation machine, a foot switch, headphones and suitable software are also included. If you have a lot of material and decide to transcribe the audio recordings yourself, it makes sense to buy this set.
After an initially long period of familiarisation, the operation is easy to handle. Especially in the beginning, the integrated simplified mode for beginners helps. The backlit LCD display is easy to read even in sunlight. Overall, however, the workmanship is not as high quality as that of the Tschisen device.
Although the sound quality can be classified as very good for indoor recordings, the competitor product from Tschisen performs better for outdoor recordings. Wind in particular causes problems for the device and leads to a strong deterioration of the sound quality.
The difference in quality between dictation machines and apps is barely perceptible, which is why the Purchase of a dictation machine seldom worthwhile. If a smartphone is not available, we recommend buying the device from Tschisen because of the much better price-performance ratio.
Recording with mobile phone apps
In principle, there is nothing to stop you from using your own smartphone for recording. Especially in the context of Bachelor's or Master's theses, this is a simple and inexpensive option. In most cases the Quality at a suitable interview location is sufficient, since today's smartphones usually already have a high-quality microphone built in.
Mobile phone apps are a inexpensive alternative - the quality is usually perfectly adequate. sufficient.
Using the mobile phone as a dictation machine - Recording with the mobile phone
However, when recording the interview with the mobile phone, one should keep the following in mind:
- The smartphone should be switched to flight mode during the interview so that no incoming calls or messages can disturb the conversation or the recording.
- When preparing for the conversation, it is important to check where exactly the microphone is located on the smartphone so that it can be directed towards the conversation partner.
- It should be checked whether there is still enough memory capacity free on the smartphone to record the entire conversation. If the memory space is not sufficient, it can be expanded with an SD memory card if necessary.
For recording audio, every smartphone, regardless of the operating system (Android or iOS), has a pre-installed memo or audio recording function. DictationApp. This can be easily called up and used via the app menu, but these usually do not offer any additional functions. It is therefore recommended to use a separate app that can increase the quality of the recordings through various additional functions.
In most smartphones are pre-installed with memo or dictation pre-installed - but usually without additional functions.
Since there are a large number of dictation apps on the market, we have tested various ones for both iOS and Android to make the search for the right app easier. We present the best ones below.
Recommended iOS apps for recording interviews
Voice Recorder Pro (iOS)
- Link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/voice-record-pro/id546983235
- Free (for 7,99€ ad-free, in the App Store, as at 12.11.2019)
- Supported file formats: MP3, MP4, WAV
The Voice Recorder Pro app is visually based on an old cassette recorder and offers some useful features. For example, a needle always shows the volume level, which allows you to check the volume at a glance during the interview. Since the volume of the microphone is also adjustable, adjustments can be made during the interview.
In addition, the recording can be immediately and easily sent by e-mail or uploaded to one of the many different cloud providers, such as Dropbox. Transmission directly to the PC is possible via Bluetooth or WLAN. In addition, notes and images can be added to the recording directly in the app if you want to record thought processes and ideas during or after the interview. The recording can be shortened and edited with some effects directly in the app. In addition, the playback speed can be adjusted during playback. The only drawback is that the app's user interface is only available in English so far.
- Link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/recordium-highlight-annotate/id637494062
- Free (Full version for 8,99€, in the App Store, as at 12.11.2019)
- Supported file formats: MP4, WAV, CAF, AIFF
- Special MP4 compression format (1 hour of audio with less than 30MB)
The price for the full version of the Recordium app is relatively high compared to other apps at €8.99, but it also offers a wide range of functions that are not available in any other app.
For example, you can mark special highlights of the conversation during the interview so that you can easily find them again later. In addition, in contrast to Voice Recorder Pro, you do not have to switch your smartphone to flight mode, as the app has automatic interference protection before calls. In addition, pauses in the conversation are automatically skipped during recording, which makes transcription and evaluation much easier.
The recordings are automatically and continuously saved so that nothing can get lost. If one of the speakers is further away from the microphone, as is often the case in a group discussion, for example, Recordium offers an audio amplification function for this. Basic functions such as adding notes, keywords or photos and editing the recordings directly in the app are of course also included.
Despite the high price, we consequently recommend the Recordium app for the iPhone, as it offers a very good range of functions. However, for smaller projects with well-controlled environmental conditions, cheaper variants are also sufficient.
Recommended Android apps for recording interviews
Voice Recorder Plus (Android)
- Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.coffeebeanventures.easyvoicerecorder&hl=de
- Free of charge or as Pro Version (for €3.99, in the App Store, as of 12.11.2019)
- Supported file formats: PCM, AAC, AMR
The free version of this app does not offer a particularly wide range of functions, which is why we recommend the Pro version here. For 3.99€, in addition to the standard functions, you get the use of Bluetooth microphones, increasing the volume to amplify the microphone and skipping silent sections.
Smart Recorder (Android)
- Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.andrwq.recorder&hl=en
- Free (for 1,49€ ad-free, in the App Store, as at 12.11.2019)
- Supported file formats: WAV
The Smart Recorder app is easy to use and mostly self-explanatory, but offers only very limited functions. Skipping pauses in conversations is still in the beta phase, but already works in most cases. Currently, only the internal memory of the smartphone can be selected as the storage location, i.e. SD cards are not supported. The app has the advantage that the recordings have a good audio quality; even under poor conditions, such as outdoor recordings, there is only a slight noise.
Hi-Q MP3 Recorder (Android)
- Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hiqrecorder.free&hl=en
- Free trial version (10 minutes) or Pro version (for €3.79, in the App Store, as of 12.11.2019)
- Supported file formats: WAV, OGG, M4A and FLAC
The Hi-Q MP3 Recorder app offers a wide range of settings, including a choice between the more sensitive front microphone or the clearer, rear microphone (availability depends on the device). With the help of the widget function, recordings can be started and stopped directly from the home screen. In addition, the volume and numerous other quality features can be adjusted. The recordings can be automatically saved in Dropbox or on Google Drive, so that a loss of the recording is prevented. During playback, there is also the practical loop function to listen to individual passages several times in succession. Finally, the app also includes the option to skip forward or back 10 seconds in the recording, which proves extremely useful for transcription, for example.
Overall, the Hi-Q MP3 Recorder app offers the most functions. However, the free Smart Recorder app is also suitable for simple applications.
Video recording or audio recording of the interview?
This section goes over audio or video recording of face-to-face interviews, i.e. with all participants in one room. If you want to find out about recording telephone calls or video conferences, here is the detailed guide to Remote interviews.
Video recording of an interview can be useful in certain situations when, in addition to what is said, information about visual components, such as facial expressions or gestures, should also be recorded and analysed. These are particularly Group discussions relevant, as non-verbal signals can give clues to existing group dynamics. These include eye contact, light touching or lowering of the gaze. In addition, a video recording makes it easier to identify the speaker. Especially in group discussions, this can become a challenge without a video recording.
Video recordings are especially for group discussions - non-verbal behaviour can be recorded and analysed.
For video recordings, the effort is higher than for pure audio recordings, because additional visual factors have to be taken into account. Perhaps the most important factor is the lighting. With a few tips and some preparation, good results can be achieved with simple means. For example, one should use the light already present in the room by always placing the interviewee facing the light. Not only the existing lamps can be used for this, but also passive light from the sun's rays, provided there is a window. The light should not be too harsh for a good result. An inexpensive trick is to soften the light with sandwich paper, but it is important to be aware of the heat generated. Small clamp lights are also an inexpensive alternative to improve the light.
One of the most important visual factors in video recording is the lighting - existing light should be existing light should be used (lamps (lamps, sun, etc.).
A basic knowledge of cinematic lighting often proves helpful. The basic rule here is 3-point lighting with highlight, guide light and fill light.
Apart from lighting, however, there are other factors that are crucial for high-quality video recording. First of all, a tripod may be necessary to fix the camera in the appropriate position and at a reasonable height. In addition, a External microphone is obligatory for cameras, as the sound quality is otherwise insufficient. Alternatively, the sound can be recorded in parallel with a dictaphone. In order to be able to capture all non-verbal signals well, the classic interview position should be chosen for the interviewee. This means that the person is placed at the intersection of two thirds of the picture, always facing the open half of the picture. In this way, the interviewee is always easily recognisable and what is said appears more natural.
When recording video, an external an external microphone should be should be available.
Despite the aforementioned advantages of a video recording, there are also some disadvantages. For example, it is much more difficult to ignore a camera during the interview than a small dictaphone or smartphone lying casually on the table. The Presence of a camera can inhibit the openness of the interviewee and thus negatively influence the interview. Although this effect can be mitigated somewhat by placing the camera further away and resorting to the zoom function, this method can lead to a loss of quality. It is not without reason that many researchers share the view that the less conspicuous device, i.e. the dictaphone, should be preferred when recording an interview situation.
Disadvantage of video recordings: The presence of a camera can easily distract or even inhibit.
Another advantage of audio-only recording is that audio files are significantly less storage-intensive. With video recordings, this can be a problem, especially with long interviews or a large number of interviews. As a result, post-processing and transcription may also be more time-consuming.
In conclusion, from a methodological point of view, video recordings are relevant when no formulated, concrete hypotheses are to be tested, but when it is about the Exploring unknown contexts are at stake, whereby the research questions only emerge during the investigation. In such cases, video enables new perspectives due to its multicodality.
Video recordings are useful when no hypothesis is being tested, but hypothesis is being tested, but when research of unknown connections - the choice of recording of the recording device therefore depends also depends on the research approach.
The choice of recording medium thus depends on the research approach and should therefore be answered in the individual case. For most purposes, an audio recording is completely sufficient and is more practicable and recommendable due to the lower effort and ease of handling. For group discussions, however, a video recording is advantageous, especially if correct speaker attribution is needed. Find more information here about the Requirements for video recording if you plan to transcribe at a later stage.
It is basically very easy to make calls with the cell phone to make calls. Newer smartphones can do this in very good sound quality, and the storage space is sufficient even for long conversations.
When selecting the app, it depends on whether dictation, an interview or a phone call is to be recorded. For an interview , the preloaded apps "Voice Memos" (iOS) or "Dictaphone" (Android) are well suited.
If a dictation is spoken clearly and distinctly, the built-in speech recognition already works quite well, e.g. with Apple Siri with the preinstalled app "Notes".
Telephone interviews cannot be recorded with these apps, for that you need other apps, some of which are available for free, for Remote interviews.
With all cell phones there are preset apps that offer a dictation function function. On iOS, the app is called "Voice Memos", on Android "Dictaphone". These apps are good for recording conversations such as interviews.
Phone calls or video calls can be recorded with these apps . For this, you need other apps, some of which are available for free, for Remote interviews.
In principle, most of the Recording apps with the free voice recognition built into the mobile phone, e.g. Siri at Apple.
The immediate conversion works well as text, especially when a speaker speaks slowly, clearly and distinctly without dialect or background noise. Speech recognition does not yet work well for interviews or group conversations, and there are still some shortcomings in spelling and punctuation. It is to be expected that the Speech recognition improve greatly over the next year.