Guide to mobile phone audio recording

Just last week, a colleague resorted to her mobile phone when her digital recorder broke down during an interview. The resulting audio was satisficing, or in other words, good enough for her work.

I’m a huge fan of mobileactive.org’s guides for, inter alia, mobile activism. Their latest guide is Mobile Audio Recording in the Field (And How to Get a Clear Sound From the Streets). It’s well written and comprehensive. It’s also timely, since the recording quality of some higher end phones closely match what one gets from lower end digital recorders.

I penned this comment to the guide,

Kudos on http://mobileactive.org/audio-recording. Brilliant, as ever. I wonder if you could pass on to Melissa that www.utterz.com (the URL behind the Utterli platform noted in the report) is defunct. It’s also good to point to www.drop.io. It’s a platform I tell investigative journalists in Sri Lanka to use when capturing field based narratives too sensitive to carry back to HQ on any media on their person. It’s a US based service, but IDD call rates are quite affordable in Sri Lanka, and in most cases, the cost of an assignment for this kind of information gathering would be borne by a donor or media institution. Another use case is detailed here https://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/election-monitoring-using-new-media-notes-from-my-experience-in-sri-lanka.

And though it’s strictly not a mobile phone and currently in the hands of very few compared to those with mobiles capable of audio recording, the Apple’s iPad offers decent recording quality using its in-built microphone. I use the free QuickVoice Recorder on the iPad for short voice memos – the quality is crisp and clear in environments with little or no ambient noise. Certainly more than adequate for brief interviews. There’s also a paid version with more features and the app runs on the iPhone as well. Of course, there are many more apps for audio recording on both devices (search for ‘audio recording’ here).

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