ONE SHOT: the best equipment for interviews, focus groups, seminars & conferences

Microphone Quality and Position

The absolute key to getting a quality recording is using microphones that are close to the person talking.

If you simply sit a recorder in the middle of a room you will likely generate poor quality or even unusable recordings. For example, if there are factors such as lots of background noise, faint speakers at the back of the room, someone coughing throughout: these things will all carry equal weight to the voice of your speakers. The microphone can’t discern the difference between what is crucial, cutting edge information and what is distraction!

Recording Format & Settings

Remember to record in either .wav or .mp3 format as these are the formats most transcription software needs. Some recording equipment has its own format, however this often generates large files that are difficult to send. Remember to turn off ‘noise reduction’ settings. They often don’t work and actually make the recording more difficult to hear.

Background Noise

Controlling the background noise is crucial. Select a closed-off area, away from external sound – not a cafe, or public space. If you have limited choice, we recommend getting your microphones as close to the speaker/s as possible. This may mean investing in lapel microphones, along with a microphone splitter to allow input for two mics.

Cross-talk and Overtalking

You may need to manage the people talking – especially in groups, as it’s not unusual for people to talk over one another. The moderator/facilitator needs to set some ground rules and maintain a level of control over the meeting in order to get a clear recording.

Recording Equipment

Recording interviews and focus groups
We have had great success using ZOOM products, and we highly recommend the ZOOM H1 for interviews and small groups. In a focus group, we advise that your recording equipment has multiple microphones, positioned to capture the voices of everyone speaking. The ZOOM H2n Conference and Focus Group Recorder is a really great option.

Recording conferences, lectures and question-and-answer sessions
In these situations we recommend multiple microphones, as speakers are very likely to be in different areas of a room. We suggest having a base unit, like the ZOOM H2n. Extra external mics can be plugged into this base unit. If you are recording a Q&A session, a roving wireless mic system is best.

While it is possible to make a recording using your mobile phone, it simply isn’t designed for the job, and the resulting audio is likely to be poor quality. It’s definitely worth investing in some appropriate audio recording equipment. However, we do recommend that you use your phone as a backup recorder, just in case your primary device fails. Remember, in a lot of cases it’s a ‘one shot’ situation. If you miss something, if the recording is unclear, or if the recorder fails, then you miss the opportunity.