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Resolving the Interview Recording Conundrum

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Episode 67
September 9th, 2006

Whenever I interview someone I like to record the entire interview to insure accuracy. I've tried about a million different devices for recording my interviews, but until recently I hadn't found a device that I felt was "just right" for my needs.

I've tried a variety of micro cassette recorders over the years but they had numerous drawbacks (at least for me): they were expensive; the tapes were pricey and easily misplaced; they didn't interface easily with my Mac; they were mechanical and prone to malfunction; and they were yet another thing I needed to carry around with me in addition to my cell phone, iPod, PowerBook, etc.

I tried a Sony MiniDisk recorder but it had the same drawbacks as the micro cassette recorders and cost even more.

I've tried using my PowerBook, using both the built-in microphone and with a variety of external microphones, but this too had significant drawbacks. For one thing, my fingers make a lot of noise when I type and no matter how hard I try, some of the clickety-clackety sound gets into my recordings. And I don't always feel like carrying my PowerBook to every interview... most of the time I'd prefer to travel light, with some type of pocket-sized recording solution.

Last but not least, I had tried several iPod add-ons that provide recording capabilities but none of them worked well or reliably. Or at least none of them did before XtremeMac sent me their new MicroMemo high-fidelity digital audio recorder for the iPod.

[Note: Read our MicroMem review at iPodObserver.com for another take on this product. - Editor]

Insert Figure 67-01 here

MicroMem
Figure 1: This is the MicroMemo digital audio recording system for iPod.
Picture courtesy of XtremeMac

This is the first interview recording solution that's been just right for me in every way.

First and foremost, it is relatively tiny and no trouble to carry with me wherever I go. And since I carry my iPod almost everywhere anyway, I almost always have everything I need to conduct an interview, even an unplanned one.

Second, the flexible microphone works as well as any of the other solutions I've tried, possibly better. And, if the mic didn't work to my satisfaction, the microphone uses a standard audio plug, so I could use another mic if I so desired. Which I don't.

Third, (and this is what distinguishes this system from other iPod recording devices I've tried), it has a little built-in speaker. So you can determine whether it is working and whether the audio level is appropriate without having to plug in your headphones. That's a nice touch.

Another nice touch is that there are two quality settings -- low and high. Low records at 352kb/s and 22.05kHz, requiring around 2.6MB of disk space per minute of recording. High quality is 1411kb/s and 44.1kHz, using around 10.3MB per minute. Put another way, my 30GB iPod Video could hold up to 48 hours of high quality audio or 192 hours of low quality recording. (Of course that assumes there are no music, pictures, or videos on my iPod.

Finally, transferring recordings to my Mac couldn't be easier... I merely sync my iPod with my Mac and iTunes creates a playlist called "Voice Memos" and imports all of my recordings to that playlist automatically.

About the only drawback I can think of is that it only works with the 5th generation iPod with Video. Other than that, the MicroMemo is a terrific portable recording solution that's easy to carry and even easier to use, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. In other words, I like it a lot.

MicroMemo digital audio recorder by XtremeMac.

S.R.P. US$59.95

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit www.boblevitus.com.

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