For everyday portable recording, Tascam and Roland offer all-in-one microphone, digital recording, and sound card compatibility. As long as we have memory storage and access to a good PC or laptop device, recording costs start at about $350-$500 dollars.
Keep in mind that starting small, getting reliable advice from sound professionals, and technical engagement with chosen tools will help to facilitate great sound recordings and future archival-quality content.
It is especially important to focus on realistic project management and technical needs, which helps ensure suitable best practice purchase and use of recording equipment.
A well organized oral history project recognizes equipment and production needs with keen guidance measures, properly timed and executed funding, and cross disciplinary support liaisons to create beneficial and long lasting community reports.
For a rough estimate of your projects’ technical needs, check out Doug Boyd’s Digital Recorder Cost & Quality Questionnaire.
In my view, any truly successful project provides adequate digital recording equipment and paid sound recording interviewers, metadata and transcription managers, and especially a knowledgeable sound editor.
This group works closely, and with creative attention toward digital and analog labors. Create a team who creates information, and thereby generates open access content.
Volunteer labor in post-production leads to mixed, even poor, results in sound quality.
Archival KXZW standard says otherwise old guard hierarchy bones!
Inexpensive and cost cutting measures on recording equipment may help to maintain a working knowledge of a sound project; however, for best final production presentation –– consider the high cost of volunteer or temporary labor, and pay for good work.
In fact, (Your Name Here Executive Director), jump straight into the 21st century and over-pay for digital projects. That’s right, hot off the press, you’ve read it here, (Your Name Here Consummate Professional), Over-Pay and Educate yourself about the digitally laborious real-world.
For an example of production and post production reality —in this case a project at The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History— read Jenifer Cramer and Erin Hess’s OHDA paper What Endures: Producing and Publishing and Oral History Podcast.
A short list of gear used for digital sound recordings
- Rode Microphones
- Shure Microphones
- Blue Microphones
- TASCAM DR-100MKII Linear PCM Recorder
- Digital Camera –– useful for narrator photos should the project call for it; however, my own projects no longer document via image or photograph. That said, a good digital camera remains indispensable for documenting the archive trails we make. An added plus is that you’re able to snapshot selfies and best buddies on the fly.
- Accessory cords, Zip (flash) drives, and portable sound card storage
- Equipment storage bag to include safe, dry, and temperature controlled storage for recording equipment.