Whether you’re recording music or interviews, sound quality is paramount.  Furthermore, it’s much easier to fix sound quality issues beforehand than later.

So, since precaution is better than cure, let’s jump into ways you can ensure you won’t have to record the same audio again.

Silence!

silence

Try to soundproof your interview room as much as possible.  Close all the windows and doors if there’s noise outside.  Public places like malls, restaurants or cafeterias are terrible choices for recording your interviews, especially if it’s important to capture everything that’s said.

Oftentimes there’s so much ambient noise (cutlery clanging, music, chit chat etc.) that it’s almost impossible to discern the interviewer and participant.

Best way to remedy that?  Choose a quiet place; like a corner office, a quiet bench at a park, your house, the participant’s house, etc.

Keep the Microphone Close

This one is a no-brainer, yet so many people forget about this.  No matter how advanced microphone technology becomes, you’re always going to get the best results the closer you are to the microphone.

record interviews in a quiet place

So, if you’re interviewing one person, don’t keep the microphone next to yourself.  It should be as close to the participant/interviewee as possible.  Your questions can be inaudible, it doesn’t matter since you have the list already.  But it’s paramount that you record the participant’s answers clearly.

If you’re doing a focus group interview, keep the microphone in the center of a preferably small table and ask the participants not to talk over each other.

Use the Best Recording Equipment Possible

Since digital audio recorders were introduced, they’ve changed the landscape of journalism and academic research.

Compared to cassette tape recorders or CD recorders (blimey!), digital recorders are so hassle free.  On top of vastly better sound quality, you get compact size and reusable storage.  Just copy your recordings to another device.

Then came smartphones, and with the help of voice recording apps, you can combine your phone with a digital recorder for free, or for a fraction of the cost.

Recording your interviews digitally also ensures that you’ll get the best possible sound quality.  Mostly because digital recorders have highly sensitive, professional grade microphones and the latest software.

You can connect an external mic to your smartphone for better clarity too.

If you are going to be recording interviews on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to invest in a digital recorder.  Below are some of the market leading digital recorders that we recommend.

Best Digital Recorders 2020

1. Tascam DR-05X (2019)

how to record audio for best sound quality, tascam dr-05x

Price:  $89 on Amazon.com

One of the best (and also most affordable) digital recorders on the market.  The Tascam DR-05X is the current favorite with academic researchers and journalists.  Now, if you’re going to be recording interviews only as a one time deal, any smartphone with a good recording app will do the job.

However, a smartphone will always be limited when it comes to micrphone range, unless someone puts two of those massive mics on top of a smartphone.  Highly unlikely.

But if you’re going to be recording a lot of interviews, or going to do this often, you can’t go wrong with this.  What’s more, it can also connect to a computer and work as a podcast mic for studio quality sound.

Below are some of its key features:

  • Stereo omnidirectional condenser microphone, picks up even the faintest voices.
  • Overwrite function for Punch-In recording with one level of Undo
  • Functions as a 2in/ 2out USB Audio Interface for Mac, PC or iOS recording
  • Can record up to 17 hours on only two AA batteries
  • Can record up to 192 hours of audio on a single 128GB microSDXC card.

2. Zoom H1n Handy Recorder (2018)

zoom h1n vs tascam dr-05x, how to record audio

Price: $89.99 on Amazon.com

Zoom have carved out a name for themselves by successfully making great, compact digital recorders for the last two decades.

The H1n has one of the best microphone in the business, and is great at picking up voices from far away.  Furthermore, because of its compact size, it’s really convenient.  So whether it’s interviews, band practice or podcasts, this gadget lives up to its name.

And also just like other recorders featured here, it connects to a computer and doubles as a podcact mic if you do decide to stop recording interviews and give Joe Rogan a run for his money.

Below are some of its key features:

  • Newly designed mic cage at the top on a sleek body with matte finish.
  • Monochrome LCD display visible even in the most brightest conditions
  • Built-in stereo condenser microphones in 90-Degree x/Y format
  • Up to 10 hours of recording time with two AAA batteries.
  • Records directly to SD and SDHC cards up to 32 GB
  • Localized and intuitive menus for easy operation.
  • Playback Speed Control, Voice Emphasize Filter, and Stereo overdubbing functions

3. Olympus VN-7200

Olympus VN-7200

Price:  $29.99 on Amazon.com

Compared to other recorders featured here, this is an affordable option.  At only $29.99, it’s a great bargain.

However, as you can see it’s missing those massive microphones at the top like the Tascam and Zoom.  Some of you may even wonder why do you even need this at all?  A smartphone with a free recording app will do just as good a job surely?  And you may be right.

However, for those of you who want a cheap gadget that can record hundreds of hours of audio with good battery backup, separate from a smartphone, this may be the perfect choice.  It has a line out, so you can connect an external microphone to record better, crisper quality.

Remember that if you’re recording on a smartphone, your recording may get interrupted by a phone call or messages, or bluetooth or wireless interference.  Unless of course you put it on airplane mode.

Below are some of its key features:

  • 1,151 Hours Recording Time
  • Voice Activation
  • Fast/Slow Playback
  • 3 Recording Modes
  • PC Interface: No

4. Sony ICD-PX370

Sony ICD-PX370

Price:  $38.99 on Amazon.com

Slightly more expensive than the Olympus, but it comes with a USB port (crucial in this day and age).

Sony as a brand cannot be faulted.  They make great electronics.  While this model doesn’t have external, visible, massive microphones, just like the Olympus you can connect an external mic to it if you want more sensitivity.

Below are some of its key features:

  • Record MP3 Audio quickly and easily
  • Up to 57 hours of battery life for extended recording (MP3 128Kbps stereo)
  • Built in, direct USB Connection for quick file transfer to your PC

How to Record Audio on a Smartphone?

Take the hassle out of buying a new digital recorder by simply installing a voice recorder app on your smartphone.

This is especially handy if you only record interviews intermittently and have decent storage on your smartphone.

Whether you’re a student, a teahcer, a business, a musician, a journalist, we believe the apps listed below can be of great help:

Easy Voice Recorder (Android)

Free. Pro version at £3.79

how to record audio on a smartphone, easy voice pro android

  • Record to high-quality PCM and MP4, or use AMR to save space.
  • Quickly start a new recording with widgets and shortcuts, and record in the background.
  • Share recordings easily through email or your favourite app, or set one of them as a ringtone.
  • Android Wear support – record from your smartwatch.
  • Light and dark themes, and many other cool features.

Voice Memos (iOS)

Free

how to record audio on iphone, voice memos ios

Features

  • Capture new recordings right from your wrist on your Apple Watch.
  • Record using the built-in microphone, a Bluetooth headset, or a compatible external microphone.
  • Automatically name recordings based on your location.
  • Trim your recordings to save just the portion you want.

We’ve just chosen the top recording apps for both platforms.  For a more detailed list/comparison guide, watch this space.

If you’ve recorded interviews and need them transcribed, maybe we can help.  More information below: