My new favorite tools for recording interviews

A couple of years ago, I purchased the Sound Studio Mac app to mix a couple of songs together for an ill-fated salsa/bachata performance. More on that… never. I felt pretty decent about it at the time, but in retrospect it was pretty tragic. Meanwhile, I’ve been happily recording interviews using a little pocket digital recorder and, later, the voice memo function on my iPhone. Both work just fine as long as we’re not in an overly noisy place.

When I started doing profiles on local politicians — which coincided with the time I got tired of furiously typing or scribbling notes during the interview — I figured it was time to up my recording game.

After scouring the town for decent microphones and providing some amusement for the nice fellows in a high-end music shop (turns out that is not where one goes for USB microphones), I ended up with this little mic from RadioShack. It’s inexpensive ($39.99), provides great sound quality for my purposes, and is directional enough to minimize most background noise when I aim it right at the interview subject. It’s also sensitive enough that I don’t have to tie the subject down to keep them from moving out of its scope, and I can still hear myself (quietly but clearly) asking the questions. Perfect!

…but wait, what to actually do the recording with? Since I already had Sound Studio on my computer I dug it out, crossed my fingers, and ran a few tests. Turns out it’s perfect. Actually, it might be overkill — but I love being able to see the sound levels at a glance, easily tweak the input sensitivity, and use a keyboard shortcut to insert markers into the sound file for interesting quotes. It also makes playback a lot easier than listening to recorded files through iTunes.

Of course, there might be an even better solution out there that I just haven’t bothered looking for since I already had this one in front of me. What say you — is there a desktop app that beats Sound Studio for reporting purposes (or beats its $29.99 price)? Please leave a comment!

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