Saturday, July 21, 2007

Deciphering Poor-Quality Interview Recordings

As I noted in an earlier post, playing back a tape or digital audio recording can help you make out poor-quality recordings, and get past ambient noise that may creep into the recording.

Another help is to use an earplug, like those musicians wear on stage to protect their hearing. I use a brand called "Hearos." These soft silicone rubber plugs allow you hear but reduce volume and seem to filter out a lot of the high-end noise (which is what sounds like a fan or air conditioner or music or airplanes or passing cars make).

I put the plug in my ear and use a headset. Between this and slowing down the recording (and getting words from context or memory) I can work out almost anything that's said.

In a worst-case scenario, you might be able to use a program that allows you to see visualizations of sound (like EasyAudio Editor) to do comparisons and pick out the odd garbled word.

If you are still using a tape recorder, consider switching to a digital recorder like Sony's ICD-P320 (less than fifty bucks, and it can record over 30 hours). Feed the output from that directly into your computer and you can hop from place to place in the recording, while speeding up or slowing down the playback as necessary.

What about voice-recognition software, you ask? That's a question for a later post...
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I love your blog. I've been reading it for close to a week, I guess. I'm a real writer, too (I've been writing professionally for 15 years and freelancing full-time for about 11 years), but you've been at this I guess 10 years longer than I have--and so I've just found the blog rich with ideas and information. So I just wanted to say thanks for being so generous with sharing your time in writing the blog, and your nuggets of wisdom.

Michael A. Banks said...

So glad to be a source of ideas--and to hear that this has been helpful to someone. I'm sure you can relate to much of what I say here.
Write on,