Fast, Cheap, High Quality Recording Kit

This cool gear list is short. But it packs a punch! It just contains three parts or less.

1) A computer w/internet access – Drop by your local computer technology center, library, or a friends to use their computer.

2) Olympus DS-2 – A wonderful voice recorder with a stereo mic, a mic input, earbud headphones, a external speaker, USB, and software that creates uncompressed versions of your recordings! [Thanks for hipping me to the DS-2 Sooz!]

3) Cheap External Mic – (Optional) The Labtec AM-222 is a good handheld mono mic with a 1/8″ high impedance jack. Works great with the Olympus DS-2 and isolates a persons voice well.

[Check out last weeks podcast One Man Protests Racism at WalMart for an example of this gear in action.]

The Details:
First, I’m assuming that most computers now have a USB port. So does the Olympus DS-2. This is the exciting part of this kit. The Olympus DS-2 records digitally to a internal flash drive. This means when you’re done recording you have a audio file to share immediately. With the USB connection you can quickly copy the audio files to your computer. No more digitizing of your audio. It’s already done. Once it’s on a computer you can upload it to the internet and share.

I like to convert the WMA file the DS-2 makes to AIFF then to MP3. (You don’t have to…) The Olympus software can convert the WMA to a AIFF. Why AIFF? It’s a lossless audio file format. This way I can edit a bunch of audio together and have good sounding results in the end. Plus AIFF is a good archiving format. (BTW…the Olympus software for the PC converts to uncompressed WAV.) You can also just convert the WMA file straight to MP3. (I couldn’t notice any quality loss from the conversion process.) We share MP3s because it’s the most used audio file format in the world.

The Olympus DS-2 has a built in stereo mic. It works great. The stereo left and right channel can be important to create the auditory illusion of space. But for interviews a stereo mic sounds weird. Focusing on one person speaking, like in an interview, sounds more full and clear with a mono mic. (FYI – mono audio still has a left and right channel. It’s just the same signal in each side.) Using a external mono mic with the Olympus DS-2 really helps the sound quality.

This is all consumer audio gear that can produce professional sounding results. This stuff really helps the creative amateur to make and share audio as good and better than pros who spend thousands of dollars more. (Of course if you want to edit several files together and work in the field for days at a time you might need the Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit.) 😀

9 thoughts on “Fast, Cheap, High Quality Recording Kit”

  1. Hey Brian! That’s awesome that you picked up the DS-2. It is rather nifty! One thing that might be worth mentioning is that it’s stereo, too.

    I need to get around to using mine, more.

  2. Oh, I didn’t read very carefully. You did mention it’s stereo farther down. That’s what I get for being too excited and commenting too soon. 😉

    I’m on a Macintosh iBook so I use easyWMA to convert the WMA files to MP3s. It’s free and available at … compatible with Tiger, too.

  3. Thanks for mentioning the EasyWMA app. I’ve tried it and like it a lot. I just installed the DSS Player app that comes with the DS-2 and I really like it. I thought it would be vapor ware. But no! It actually converts the WMA files to AIFF! Too cool. Now if the dang device would just record straight to WAV or AIFF!

  4. Thanks for the suggestion! I went and looked at the reviews and decided to go with the Olympus WS-200S. It’s a followup to the DS-2 with twice the memory and a USB plug that folds out of the back, like a USB key. They’re going for around $100-$120 right now, depending on which merchant you use. I won’t have it in time for CTCNet, unfortunately, but I’m going to Korea next week and West Africa a few weeks after that, so it should be a killer mobile audio recorder for on-the-go recording…. -ac

  5. I’m glad the WS-200S has those great new features for the same price as the DS-2. Better recording stuff comming out ALL the time. It’d be cool if you could tell us about the software that comes with it. 🙂

  6. I am curious, does anyone know using this equipment when i do my interviews by phone and record it to a casette recorde, can i upload this info to a ds-2? If not any ideas on how to use the ds-2 and record my interviews of myself and my phone guest to the units?

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