We meet in one of the participant’s living room and there is a lot of background noise from the air conditioner, fans etc.  Being an ex audio guy I’m very picky about the sound quality of the audio equipment I use.  The recorder I use is superb.  

 

It is the Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder.  

The Zoom is small, light … very portable yet easy to use.  Although I am picky about sound quality, ease of use is of primary concern these days.  Heck .. a guy has to have a life too!  The Zoom uses 4 microphones in combination with each other to provide 3 types of “pickup pattern”.  Think of a pickup pattern like a lawn sprinkler; some water your lawn using a wedge, 90 degree pattern, some use a hemisphere (half circle) 180 degree pattern and others use a full circle 360 degree pattern.  The Zoom H2 provide a 90, 120 and 360 degree pickup pattern.

 

Front 90 Degree Cardiod

Front 90 Degree Cardiod

 

 

Rear 120 Degree Cardiod

Rear 120 Degree Cardiod

 

360 Surround Example

360 Surround Example

 

The images above illustrate examples of why you would want this flexibility in creating a recording.  The 90 degree example shows one person speaking.  In this configuration, sound from anywhere (practically speaking) other than that narrow 90 degree area will not be recorded.  The second example widens that pickup pattern to 120 degrees and the third shows how the surround option picks up sound in a complete circle around the microphone.  

The importance of this is to eliminate any extraneous noise from the recording that can be distracting to those people listening to the recording.  To record, place the Zoom H2 in the appropriate place based upon the pickup pattern you have decided to use, select that pattern from the front menu and then press the record button.  The recording will be saved to an internal SD card as a .wav file which later can be transfered to your computer for editing, cleaning up of any noise (to be explained in a future post) and distributed to whomever you choose.

Recording hints:

  • Always have a fresh set of batteries in the recorder
  • Always have a spare set of batteries with you
  • Always have the largest SD card you can in the recorder.  Audio files can become surprisingly large.
  • Have extra SD cards with you … 
  • Place the recorder as close to the people speaking as possible
  • Once you’ve press “Record” and verified that you are recording, don’t touch the recorder as it will record any and all bumps, touches and movement as it is very sensitive.