Recording an interview
July 21, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

I am interviewing someone over the phone for an article tomorrow and need to record the interview. What do I need to hook up my cell phone to either my laptop or an audiotape recorder? Something I could pick up at Radio Shack or a similar store would be great.

(The audiotape recorder, my cell phone, and/or my laptop are all I have at my disposal. I just got laid off and can't afford an MP3 recorder right now.)
posted by pxe2000 to Technology (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Some of my colleagues make their interview calls with Skype and record using Wiretap Pro or similar software (much of which is free).
posted by mecran01 at 6:13 PM on July 21, 2009

Does your cell-phone have an inbuilt voice-recorder? Have you checked the quality of the recordings on that. I just record sound to the memory card on my phone and then transfer it afterwards. Check the quality on yours and see if it's good enough.
posted by Lolie at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2009

What kind of cellphone do you have? Depending on the type, you may already have an onboard audio recorder that may be able to record calls.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2009

Just do the call through and use their call recording feature.
posted by dcjd at 6:23 PM on July 21, 2009 [7 favorites]

If you want to record it the old-fashioned way, off a land line phone, Radio Shack sells two mic cords to do this.

One attaches to the receiver with a suction cup -- avoid it like the plague, as it will fall off and/or produce disappointing results.

Instead, look for the one that actually plugs into the line (between the base and the handset, IIRC); it works very well. I speak from experience.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:41 PM on July 21, 2009

To clarify, my experience was some time ago with ye olde fashioned cassette recorder, not a PC. But it should still work -- it's the same kind of mic input.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:43 PM on July 21, 2009

There are a number of apps that will record Skype calls, and the guys at the conversation network made a really nice tutorial on setting everything up nicely to maximize the sound quality. Well worth a look if you're at all interested. It's at
posted by dirm at 6:53 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you ever need to record off a cell and you're not in front of a computer, Olympus sells an accessory, the TP7 telephone pickup. $20 or so. It has a two way mike in an earbud ---- you plug one end into your recorder and hit record, put the earbud into your ear and make the call as normal (with the phone over the earbud, natch.) The earbud doesn't seem to muffle the caller for me, and the sound quality is perfectly adequate if you're interviewing for later quotation. I dunno that I'd want to use it as actual audio in an audio piece.
posted by Diablevert at 7:07 PM on July 21, 2009

I've tried finding wires that fit my phone and it's too much of a hassle. I just use speakerphone and record it that way.
posted by hermitosis at 7:16 PM on July 21, 2009 has worked well for us.
posted by lakeroon at 7:55 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Borrow someone's Google Voice account.
posted by bleeb at 9:10 PM on July 21, 2009

If you ever need to record off a cell and you're not in front of a computer, Olympus sells an accessory, the TP7 telephone pickup. $20 or so.

I use this and it works great.
posted by NekulturnY at 2:05 AM on July 22, 2009

Seconding Skype. In a similar situation I couldn't find a cost-effective cell-phone recording solution, so I asked the subjects to allow me to call into them via SkypeOut. I've used WireTapPro (on a Mac, I'm sure similar solutions exist for other OSes) plus Skype to do some decent interviews.
posted by Alterscape at 2:41 AM on July 22, 2009

This is the product that Radio Shack sells. One wire plugs into your telephone handset*, the other wire goes into your cassette recorder input jack.

*For this reason, I don't think it would work with a cellphone or cordless landline.
posted by hhc5 at 7:16 AM on July 22, 2009

Borrow someone's Google Voice account.

That probably will not work.

Note: at this time you can only record calls you receive on your Google Voice number. You can't record calls you initiate using our Click2Call from our website or the Return Call feature from your voicemail. (emphasis mine)

So unless you get them to call you this isn't going to help. I suppose you could but I find it to be an awkward request to make of an interview subject.

I have a small olympus digital recorder I use in person and have been able to use it in conjunction with a splitter and my iPhone. I ended up with the Monster one but any iPhone compatible one should work and any recorder that will take a 1/8th inch microphone plug should work. It impacts the audio quality and volume marginally but it's still acceptable.
posted by phearlez at 8:47 AM on July 22, 2009

Response by poster: Just a quick heads-up on FreeConferenceCall: This is absolutely the sleaziest company I've ever had the privelege of contacting. There's no way on God's green earth that I woud use them, and I recommend that others avoid using them as well.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:57 AM on July 22, 2009

Wait, wait, wait, what's wrong with FreeConferenceCall? We use it all the time (but never to record calls) it's gotta be one of the coolest free thing out there.
posted by exhilaration at 1:13 PM on July 22, 2009

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