5 Solutions for Recording Telephone Interviews.

telephoneWe all know there are times when the only way to get an interview is by using the telephone. And let’s face it, telephones weren’t designed for hi-fi sound. If you’re interviewing for a book, audio quality is not as critical as for an audio or video production.  Having said that, there are some ways you can capture a telephone interview that provides adequate sound.  Remember to use  a land line telephone because cell phone reception is  poor. You should also make sure that you are familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction pertaining to the recording of telephone conversations. For US laws click here.

Here are five options that you might consider for your next telephone interview:

  • Olympus TP-7 Telephone recording device. About $19.00. A simple and inexpensive device. The TP-7  picks up both sides of a conversation. Just plug the TP-7 jack into the “MIC” jack of your recorder, and put the earphone side into your ear.
  • JK Audio QuickTap. About $56.00. A  passive telephone tap features a mono mini output which can be used to send a mix of both sides of the conversation to recording devices, amplifiers, etc.  Cell phones and telephones with keypads in the handset are not compatible. The JK Audio QuickTap is lightweight and portable, requiring no external power.
  • JK Audio Broadcast  Host. About $470.00. This is for the serious professional. The JK Audio Broadcast Host “...connects audio signals to a standard analog telephone line without the transmit/receive crosstalk common to analog hybrids. The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) continuously monitors both the phone line and audio signals to deliver excellent separation. This proprietary, dual-convergence echo canceller algorithm can achieve excellent separation, typically exceeding 50 dB, without any setup and without sending a noise burst down the line.”
  • Skype. For a long series of  interviews you can save money by using Skype. It’s a free computer to computer service and comes with its own down loadable recorder. Skype’s computer to telephone rates are competitive and average between $.02 and $.03 a minute for many long distance calls. One of the advantages of Skype is that it doesn’t tend to record the same kind of line noise that you get on a standard phone.
  • FreeConferenceCall.com and FreeConferencing.com. Free conference calls are simple and easy to use,  requiring only a name and an e-mail address to receive an instant account. If you want to include other family members in your interview or just interview one person, these services might be just what you need. And the calls are recorded for later retrieval. Those you interview will have to pay  long distance rates.

I hope these suggestions are of some help. If you’re using other methods that have worked for you, please let me know by sending a comment.

Photo by Daniela Vasconcelo

4 Responses to 5 Solutions for Recording Telephone Interviews.

  1. We use Skype occasionally in our video work – cheap rates and a simple recording interface (makes MP3 files right to your computer).

    As you say, telephone interviews are not the best – especially for video – but if the person is not the main subject and if you can get some visuals to supplement the voice then it can be an extremely cheap way to include distant family members.

    Terrific blog by the way (and great Vimeo clips – really good audio – we are posting more to Vimeo and less to YouTube these days).

  2. @Jane. Thanks for your comments and kind remarks about my blog.

  3. I read your blog and then purchased the Olympus telephone recording device & a digital voice recorder and I am thrilled with them! I was able to interview both of my parents, who live across the country, to gather some stories to share during their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary party. After the interview I could share the MP3 file with my siblings (did this through google docs). Now I’m off to edit it & link it to some 50 year old photos for a slide show–the fun continues! Thanks so much for your article and recommendation for this very cool device! ~Ronda

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