The Grand Trunk Road - Recording Oral History Interviews

Choosing Recording Equipment

· Consider how you plan to use the recorded material before deciding what type of equipment to use. For instance, do you require digital audio files for internet or CD Rom use? Do you only need text for an exhibition or a book? Will the final recordings be deposited into an archive?


· Consider your working conditions. For instance, will all the interviews be conducted in people’s homes in England, or will you be conducting lengthy fieldwork in deepest Pakistan?


· It is also useful to consider the length of each interview to determine how much recording time you are likely to need to complete the project. This will help determine the amount of digital memory, audio tapes or mini discs that will be required.


· Who will be using the equipment? Organisations that use sound as a large part of their output often prefer to use minidisc recorders when working with young users for two key reasons - the one button mechanism makes them very easy to use, and the lock option ensures the record button cannot be turned off accidentally.


· Consider what equipment will be comfortable for you to use. Will you be sitting, standing, or moving around whilst recording? Will dangling microphone wires be acceptable?


Although I did not need digital recordings, I decided they were practical since I would be recording about 100 interviews. I did not want to carry hundreds of bulky audio tapes, and I wanted to use equipment that was discreet, portable and had a large memory. I opted for a digital recorder with a high capacity memory card that would enable me to go on recording for an entire day without worrying about changing batteries or cassettes between interviews. I also took along my tape recorder as a back up.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Bradford Industrial Museum | 
Photos © Tim Smith

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