Recording the Phone

Recording over the phone is tricky. The ideal situation is always in person, but that is not always possible (on both ends). So here are a few thoughts on the subject.

The first thing is connection:
Use a land line (on both ends) if at all possible. This is pretty important – cell signals can really suck and at best are highly chunky in their frequency response.

Next you have the recording strategy:
Ideally you want a phone interface – you can get one at Radio Shack for $14, or a really nice one for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The main difference is the level of side noise that the recording has. Admittedly the really expensive ones have other advantages as well, but avoiding buzz is basically the name of the game when it comes down to it. You can get a pretty bad buzz from a bad phone connection. That is electronic interference on the phone line (from an electric line in house usually) and the recorder picks it up. If you have a buzz, try a different phone jack in the house to see if it is any better. Hopefully we will have a phone interface at UWB in the future, but for now you are welcome to borrow my $14 radio shack version if you want to try it. I can give it to you in class tomorrow. It has two corded receiver jack ends and it goes on a phone with a corded headset between the headset and the phone body.
Other options:
1. Record skype directly from ProTools or another sound-card based recording software program.
2. Mic the ear-peace of the phone – it will pick up your voice as well as the caller’s voice. Ber careful to talk away from the ear-peace when speaking to minimize ‘side sound’ recording of your voice in the room (causing different voice tone and volume levels).
3. If the person on the other end has a recording set-up you can make two recordings of the conversation simultaneously: you each record your own contributions to the conversation, minimizing ‘side sound’ recording of the other’s voice over the phone, and then edit the two together into a single recording later.

Here is a great article on the subject from the trusted folks over at Transom:

Happy recording!


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