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Recording Audio to laptop/tape recorder

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Ian, Feb 28, 2009.

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  1. Ian

    Ian Guest

    Win XP Home

    I am a member of a Parkinsons Support Group.
    We occasionally have a guest spdeaker who we
    would like to record for future use.

    My idea is to use a laptop, at the right price and
    the software to suit.

    Another alternative put forward was use a tape recorder.

    Any ideas appreciated...Ian
     
  2. terryc

    terryc Guest

    In both cases, it would be well worth investing in a decent external
    microphone. Also, buy a headphones and set the recording level manually.
    Automatica recording levels can pick up a pile of extraneous noise,
    especially if they are a quite speaker.

    The problem with a laptop are;
    1) disk space. About 1G for an hour,
    2) conversion to a format that people can play back (mp3?)
    3) Or were you planning on converting to CD and distrubting talk that way
    (probably easiest)
    4) You will probably need a laptop or conversion computer with 1Gb of
    ram, aka it will run significantly faster if the whole audio file can be
    held in ram.
    5) you might have to buy software

    The problem with a tape recorder are;
    1) the quality of the tape deck and tapes affect the quality of recording,

    2) duplification if using cassette tapes to share the talks. I guess it
    is an assumption that these people might be competent in that technology.
    2) see problems of laptop if you are going to convert.
     
  3. Mr.T

    Mr.T Guest

    A cheap laptop, cheap microphone, cheap mixer if necessary, and free
    software would do the job just fine.
    If you are already using sound reinforcement, you will already have
    everything necessary bar the laptop or tape recorder anyway.

    Depends what format you ultimately want IMO. No way would I record to tape
    these days if I want a CD output. And no way would I copy or store cassettes
    any more. I doubt anyone will be able to play them soon.
    Not a problem at all given hard disk sizes compared to maximum tape lengths!
    Definitely a problem for cassette though with 60 minute per side tapes quite
    fragile, and 90 minute tapes needing changing every 45 minutes if the
    machine is not auto reversing (and those are mostly crap in any case)
    And if you only need to record one microphone 44/16 mono works out to
    350MB/Hr, double that for stereo, not 1GB. And even less if you record
    direct to MP3.
    How is that a problem for laptop recording? Most recorders can do it on the
    fly if you want, which cuts your disk requirements even further.
    And duplicating CD's is far easier than tape, with no further quality loss.
    Plenty of free software that will do the job.

    MrT.
     
  4. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    snip>
    I find Audacity is magic. Easy to learn and use its basic features without
    having to understand its advanced features.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audacity
     
  5. K Ludger

    K Ludger Guest

    What about a digital voice recorder (IIRC about $100 at harvey norman??)
    perhaps with an external microphone. I think you can pull an mp3 file
    directly out of them and burn it to disk later.
     
  6. Mr.T

    Mr.T Guest

    While I don't personally use it, Audacity would be my pick of the free
    stuff.
    More than adequate for the intended purpose.

    MrT.
     
  7. The easiest and best quality solution is a *quality* USB microphone like
    this Samson C01U:

    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/NEW-SAMSON-C...3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66:2|65:1|39:1|240:1318

    It's pretty much the microphone of choice for podcasters.
    Just plug into your USB port and away you go with any free recording
    software. I use and like Audacity:
    http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
    But there are probably simpler ones to use for just basic recording.
    Don't pay for software like this, plenty of free stuff.
    Record direct to MP3 if you need to save disk space.

    A microphone that costs any less than this will be pretty crap, and anything
    that plugs into the "microphone" input on your computer is worse than crap.

    Dave.
     
  8. David Segall

    David Segall Guest

    Is that because there is something wrong with the microphone input on
    all sound cards, there is some technical problem with making the
    microphone or just because nobody actually sells one?
     
  9. terryc

    terryc Guest

    Now tell him what cpu and ram he will need. That is the gotcha.
     
  10. It's because most microphone input circuits on notebook and desktop PC's are
    a lousy design, designed for basic phone voice quality only. Very noisy.
    Some are better than others, but in almost every case you will get a MUCH
    better result using an external low noise pre-amp and the audio Line-In
    port. But that's messy, the USB mic I posted is a much simpler solution, one
    cable, needs no external supply, and it has a quality studio mic and pre-amp
    built in.

    Dave.
     
  11. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Ian"

    ** Newsgroups and on-line audio forums get this dumb question regularly.

    And it is always from some fuckwit with no idea what the hell they are
    asking.

    Recording a person addressing a meeting is NO simple matter - if you want
    a good sounding result that others will be happy to listen to later or to be
    used for radio broadcast.


    ** That will not record anything.
    ** Useless on it own too.

    What you need to actually do depends on all manner of details that YOU have
    not provided.

    And if you are like all the other wankers with this same, dumb question -
    you never will provide them.



    ....... Phil
     
  12. Ross Herbert

    Ross Herbert Guest

    :Win XP Home
    :
    :I am a member of a Parkinsons Support Group.
    :We occasionally have a guest spdeaker who we
    :would like to record for future use.
    :
    :My idea is to use a laptop, at the right price and
    :the software to suit.
    :
    :Another alternative put forward was use a tape recorder.
    :
    :Any ideas appreciated...Ian


    As Phil has said, recording speeches in a public forum is not a simple thing to
    do. And particularly so if you want the recording to be fairly professional and
    used as a future training reference.

    You can read what others have to say on the subject.
    http://www.questiontools.org/newsrecordingspeech.html (first sentence in summary
    says it all)

    http://www.alexsbrown.com/record-equip-speakers.html
    http://www.spectrum.uni-bielefeld.de/~gibbon/gibbon_handbook_1997/node124.html
     
  13. Mr.T

    Mr.T Guest

    No "gotcha" at all. Almost any computer made in the last 5-10 years can
    record CD quality audio with a suitable sound card or adapter.
    I had no problem years ago with a Celeron 300MHz and 128MB of RAM. Such
    computers can be had for *nothing* at the tip these days :)
    Just what do you *think* is necessary, and why?

    MrT.
     
  14. terryc

    terryc Guest

    So how long a recording have you made and edited with this 300Mhz/128Mb
    of ram computer?
     
  15. Any decent sound recorder/editor software (like Audacity) will record direct
    to disk and is only limited by your hard drive size.
    16bit 44K raw mono recording of a single mic would only be about 5MB/minute.

    See:
    http://audacityteam.org/wiki/index.php?title=Recording_length

    Older versions of Audacity have a 13.5hour recording limit.

    If for some reason you have problems editing the single recording, it's
    trivial to split it up and work on smaller pieces seperately.

    So Mt.T is right, there is no "gotcha". Any old machine you can get for free
    can easily record and edit almost any length of high quality audio.
    Heck, I've even edited hours of full PAL *video* on an old ($50 years ago)
    800MHz celeron.

    Dave.
     
  16. terryc

    terryc Guest

    so, what do you use to split it?
     
  17. I've rarely had to do it, but Audacity does it without any problem, and so
    should any other decent recoding/edit program:
    http://audacityteam.org/wiki/index.php?title=Splitting_recordings_into_separate_tracks
    or type "audio file splitter" or whatever into Google for countless free
    tools that will also do it.

    This is really basic stuff, what archaic tool have you been using?

    Dave.
     
  18. terryc

    terryc Guest

    audacity.
     
  19. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Ross Herbert"
    ** Here it is:

    Summary
    Recording speech to a professional standard is difficult. Now you have read
    this article you will probably begin to appreciate why. You might think that
    recording musical instruments is even more difficult. As it happens, the
    reverse is true. Most experienced studio engineers will tell you that
    recording a brass section, a string ensemble or a guitar played through an
    amplifier at full volume can be much easier than recording speech.



    ....... Phil
     
  20. Ah, PEBKAC then.

    Dave.
     
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