I’ll admit it, I am not a very good notetaker when I’m on the phone. Maybe it’s a multitasking issue, but I find that I get into the conversation and forget to write down all the details of the interview. I’ve always relied on recording devices to capture my interviews, so I have something to refer to when it’s time to write a job story or press release.
Over the years, I’ve been able to track down some cool gadgets for recording interviews from desktop phones and have relied heavily on the speaker phone for recording from my iPhone. However, I’ve never been very impressed with the quality of the recording and am always paranoid that a conversation will not go as well as I want it to because it’s obvious that I’m talking on a speaker phone.
I recently discovered a workaround that delivers better audio quality for recording interviews from a smartphone — only a few gadgets to buy, and lucky for me, I already owned a few of them.
Here’s what you need
- Phone or Android smartphone
- Pair of headphones with a mic
- 4-channel field recorder — I use the Tascam DR-40
- Microphone Splitter — I bought this one
- 3.5 mm auxiliary cable — Here’s the one I use
- 6.35mm Male to 3.5mm Female Jack Socket adapter (depending on the setup of your field recorder)
I know it sounds like a big shopping list, but it’s worth it if you do a lot of phone interviews.
Here’s the setup
- Plug your headphones into the mic input of the microphone splitter and the 3.5 auxiliary cable into the other input.
- Plug the microphone splitter into your smartphone audio jack. A quick note: A microphone splitter is different from an audio splitter. It will have three rings on it instead of two. The rings represent two lines of audio output and one line of microphone input. Make sure you buy the right one.
- Plug the other end of the auxiliary cable into the socket adapter and then plug that into one of the inputs of the field recorder.
It should look like this:
Setting up your field recorder — this is the tricky part
Essentially, this setup allows you to use your headphones with a built-in mic to talk on the phone like you normally do, and the field recorder will capture the audio of the conversation. However, the microphone splitter is unable to mix the audio, which is why you need a field recorder that can capture multiple sources of audio.
Set your field recorder to 4-channel recording. Your auxiliary cable will capture the voice of your interview subject, and the field recorder’s built-in mic will pick up your voice.
That covers the setup. From here all you need to do is make your calls from your smartphone and press record after you’ve asked interviewee for his/her permission.
By-the-way, you should probably test your setup a few times beforehand to make sure you have everything correct.
Questions or better solutions?
Like I said, this is a pretty involved setup for interviews — but I do a lot of interviews, and it makes it worth it to me. If you decide to venture down this path yourself, let me know if you run into any issues. Also, if you’ve got a better or easier solution, let me know.