Matthew Hale of the National Association of Student Anthropologists has a piece in the July 2015 Anthropology News titled “Fieldwork Equipment That (Hopefully) Won’t Break the Bank”. Hale describes what to look for in a digital recorder, and offers recommendations for equipment priced $100-$150, $150-$250, and $250-$400. Among the things he reminds field workers to look for are the following.
- Most digital audio recorders will feature a pair of onboard stereo microphones. Those that are arranged in an X/Y configuration (the microphone capsules will look somewhat like a stun gun) are particularly effective for conducting interviews with one to three subjects.
- The most effective audio recorders will have one or more input options in addition to their onboard microphones. This will enable you to connect professional grade external microphones (via XLR connectors) to the device for a greater range of control and flexibility.
- Additionally, if you intend to use an external microphone with your field recorder, be sure that the device has phantom power as this will allow you to use any microphone that requires power to operate.
- As an anthropologist, you’ll likely find yourself using your recorder for extended periods of time without access to a wall wort to power your device. As such, you will want to ensure that your field recorder has an adequate battery life. Many recorders even have power-saving modes that enable them to record for longer periods of time by disabling certain features that are unnecessary while recording audio.
- Finally, your field recorder should be easy to operate. Avoid those that have complicated and confusing digital menus for simple operations like recording, pausing, and stopping. If possible, use devices that have physical buttons that allow you to adjust the volume or input gain as these will enable you to consistently produce high quality audio files with ease.
The full piece is at Anthropology News: “Fieldwork Equipment That (Hopefully) Won’t Break the Bank”.