How do I record 40 people on a budget?
January 15, 2008 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Equipment for recording a roundtable discussion, on a budget? My office is hosting a roundtable discussion seminar and we would like to audio record it. The venue does not have any AV equipment, so it looks like we need to purchase or rent something, but there's not a huge budget for this. Any recommendations for recorders that would be likely to pick up all audio in a room with 40 people sitting in a large circle, or equipment rental places in San Francisco that would be able to do this?
posted by occhiblu to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
40 may be too many for this, but for smaller meetings, I've "cheated" in the past by using a teleconference phone and recording it as a teleconference via AT&T. It's overpriced for what it is, but may be cheaper than your alternative.
posted by desuetude at 11:31 AM on January 15, 2008

Three or four mics in the middle of the circle, pointing outward. Get a small mixer and recorder (laptop in a pinch). You should be able to rent these things from any music or pro-sound store. In SF you can start at Guitar Center and compare your budget from there.
posted by rhizome at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2008

I have a Zoom H2 recorder which has surround sound microphones that can record 360 degrees - kind of like rhizome's suggestion but all in one little box. It's fairly inexpensive and records on SD cards. In my experience the recording quality is good, but I've never tried it in a situation quite like yours.
posted by moonmilk at 12:06 PM on January 15, 2008

It totally depends on the quality you're looking for. I also have a Zoom H2 and love it. If you want something you can play back and just transcribe from then the $200 Zoom'll be fine and then some, just make sure you put it on something well insulated before you hit record so as to avoid the sound of people clanking glasses on the table etc. Also, do a practice run to set levels and check quality! Ambient noise will be your enemy so if your room is next to a busy street or something then this may not work for you.

Any other suggestions involve multiple mics and mixing equipment which is less fun and probably over your budget if not technical expertise.
posted by merocet at 1:45 PM on January 15, 2008

Thank you all for your help. After calling around to various equipment rental places and going over our options, we realized we were in over our heads and over our budget.

For anyone looking for similar things in the future, however, BBI Engineering were the only people I found who could rent out the kind of equipment that rhizome suggested (everyone else I contacted had much more elaborate set-ups that we *way* over our budget). Guitar Center in SF doesn't seem to rent out this kind of sound equipment.

Again, thanks for your suggestions.
posted by occhiblu at 1:15 PM on January 18, 2008

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