At last, a phone interview recording system that works

January 24, 2010

I hate to spew a bunch of brand names, but after decades of trying to find a recording system that works for phone interviews, I have succeeded at last.

Old Bakelite phone

CC-By-2.0 Creative Commons – Louise Docker photo

My system has five parts:
Skype “call out” to reach regular phones for pennies.
• A double-eared Logitech headset with USB connection.
Pamela for Skype, which automatically asks if I want to record when I place Skype calls.
Express Scribe, a downloadable program from NCH software that controls speed, rewind and play for easier transcribing.
Foot pedals to keep hands free for typing.

Total cost: $205. Satisfaction: Extremely high.

I’m sure other profile writers and/or FBI agents record and transcribe with ease. But I have a graveyard of complicated cords and recorders from my earlier attempts to find a reliable system. I’ve even tried professional services (too expensive and awkward timing for the interviewee).

That unreliability has led to a lot of frustration: muffled recording, fuzzy country phone lines made fuzzier by all the extra gadgets. “Can you tell me that again with the same emotion?”

Pre-Skype, pre-Pamela, I could sometimes hear my voice clearly recorded but nothing on the other end. “And the ingredients to your secret recipe are what, Col. Sanders?” Rewind, playback, turn up volume, rewind.

For live interviews, I’ve also moved up a big notch since I began using an Edirol R-09 digital recorder ($300-$350).

I always get permission from the subject to record for legal/respect for privacy reasons. People seem willing to assist for greater accuracy and authentic tone.

But whether by phone or in person, I still type or scribble notes as I record. Technology is a wonderful friend. Someday I may even trust it.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy January 25, 2010 at 5:09 PM

there’s another solution for Skype call recording, especially useful for recording interviews – G-Recorder. It records Skype calls chat messages to Gmail account. So you can just reply with the transcript to save them in “cloud” secure storage together with original call recording.

admin January 25, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Thanks, Andy. I’ll look into that.

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