Escaping the inevitability of losing my interview recordings.
June 23, 2008 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Transferring from a dictaphone (headphone output only) to a MacBook, and I can't afford to lose much quality. Help!

I'm doing a few interviews this week (for a research project) and am recording using a Sony ICD-B26 recorder. One interview down, and it went fine, but between ambient noise and my own fidgeting, the quality's only ok.

I want to make a copy of the recording because it's inevitable that I'll overwrite the second onto the first, or something, and they're hours of dense information for which I can't rely on taking notes. I will transcribe the interviews, but in the meantime, how can I make a copy?

There's no output on the recorder other than the headphone jack, and I have a 3.5-3.5mm cable to connect that to the mic input on my MacBook. I'm running OS X 10.4.11, and have the multimedia software that came with it - GarageBand, etc.

I am clueless about audio so I don't know the best way to do this (is it play-and-record?) - I would rather not buy software but I will if it's inexpensive, and I don't care how bloated or inefficient the solution has to be, because this isn't going to be a regular thing, but optimum solutions woud be interesting for future reference.

(I tried a pile of keyword searches, but I probably don't have the vocab for what I'm asking anyway, so please slap my wrist if I missed a previous question.)
posted by carbide to Technology (7 answers total)
I would think that you could get Audacity and just plug your headphone output to the mic input on your computer.

There are details I'm missing, I'm sure, but that's the basic "how".
posted by o0dano0o at 8:12 AM on June 23, 2008

Best answer: To expand:

1) Install Audacity.
2) Connect pc and recorder with mic cable.
3) Hit record in Audacity and play on the recorder.
4) After recording a little bit, check to make sure that the recording sounds as you want.
5) If its ok, record the whole thing. Otherwise, change the volume or whatever else needs to be changed.
6) Save the recording.
posted by o0dano0o at 8:19 AM on June 23, 2008

is it play-and-record?

Yep, just hit record on Audacity, or similar, then play on your dictaphone.

As an aside, I think it's bizarre that models like the ICD-B26 even exist - seems plain silly to make a device that records digitally but makes it impossible for users to get the recordings onto their computers without messing about with cables and real-time re-recording.
posted by jack_mo at 8:25 AM on June 23, 2008

you need a temporary access to/admin privileges on a pc and digital voice editor and itunes, plug the puppy into the pc after installing and launching dve, save files as wav files, email files to self, import into itunes on mac.

/icd-st25 owner
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2008

Best answer: also, get an external mic for your sony, a nice condenser mic is good for interviews, this will significantly up the quality of your recordings.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:29 AM on June 23, 2008

Not an immediate solution but, next time try something such as this.
posted by bz at 2:19 PM on June 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all so much, Audacity's ready and I'll get started with it tomorrow.

jack_mo: I totally agree, and everywhere I brought it to try to find a 3.5-3.5 cable, they went looking for a USB or FireWire port on it, and shook their heads while telling me it was going to be analogue and crappy. Needless to say, it's a hastily borrowed recorder (from someone who only uses it to make to-do notes or dictations) and I'm not really looking to buy, or I'd have avoided the silly situation. Most people I know who do interviews use minidiscs, at least.
posted by carbide at 3:59 PM on June 23, 2008

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