Interview Recording Equipment for Phone and Distance Research

WS-510MWorking on some research toward my PhD, I needed some equipment to record the interviews as well as to be able to record via the phone (or Skype). Yes, there are a lot of online products for this, but with my seemingly constant problem with Skype recently, I did not want to rely on an online solution in case I had to call my participants directly (which I had to do on both occasions; thanks Skype-that-I-pay-for).

I purchased the Olympus WS-510M 4GB Digital Voice Recorder and WMA/MP3 Music Player and used its accessory the Olympus TP-7 Telephone Recording Device. Absolutely thrilled with how well these two work (together), how I can use them with my cell phone, office phone, and even Skype headset. Wonderful results! Put the TP-7 (which is really an ear piece microphone) into the recorder and into my ear, and it recorded everything on the phone as well as my responses—all while being able to watch the audio-in settings move as we spoke.

TP-7Yes, I alerted my participants that I was recording them (AND had Lancaster University ethical approval to do so), though as the external equipment was digital and not connected to the line itself, they would not have known I was doing this otherwise.

One word of caution—the instructions for using the WS-510M and adjusting the settings are not quite helpful (OK, they are among the worst instructions I have ever used; no usability testing whatsoever!), so I had to do a LOT of trial and error and testing to finally get them right for my needs. Perhaps to save others the same wasted afternoon (and following morning), these are the specific settings I found gave me the best results:

  • Dictation
  • ST X2
  • Low Cut ON
  • Voice Filter ON

With all the limitations and struggles I have seen discussed online about the best equipment for recording interviews, these two worked fine for me. If I were to do larger focus groups or the like, I would suggest either an external microphone or a physically larger built-in mic model (though the costs increases significantly). Nevertheless, these two meet my current and foreseeable needs.