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I have to do audio recordings for a college thesis. The recordings are of meetings in a room about 10 ft square. There will be between 7-10 people participating. I have permission to do the recording. Each meeting will last 30-40 minutes. I will be recording 10-12 meetings.

The recording method needs to be unobtrusive so as not to interrupt the flow of the meeting.

I will then have to transcribe the recordings for analysis as part of my thesis.

I have no experience in this area. I have recorded one-on-one interviews before.

I have a mike 'Sony ECM-Z60' which I have found very good. I have recorded onto very old technology (Sony Minidisc), which isn't suitable for this level of recording and transcribing.

I have a laptop (Windows 7, HP Pavilion dm4) - is there some software (free? inexpensive?) that I could use?

What equipment and approach do you recommend?

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This question may be of interest to you. It discusses alternatives to the Sony Minidisc recorder. –  JoshP Mar 15 '13 at 12:17
    
For free software, you can't go wrong with Audacity. It is pretty easy to use for simple recording and playback. –  Friend Of George Mar 15 '13 at 12:55
    
Minidisc is still a high quality recording medium, so I wouldn't worry about that aspect. –  Rory Alsop Mar 28 '13 at 9:35

3 Answers 3

The best quality still normally comes from direct micing of all participants, when that isn't an option, surface mics on each table work well. If you want to use a single mic, the best bet is a omni-directional mic in the middle of the room, followed by the worst option being a directional mic on one side of the room.

I'm not sure if it will work on that mic (which is a highly directional condenser, but wrapping take around the sides may convert it to an omni-directional mic (I've used this trick with uni-directional mics with up to 3 side-slits, I'm not sure how many of the slits are functional and how many are for show on that mic. As it was explained to me, basically what normally happens is that a condensor will pick up sound from any angle, but letting sound in from the side slits cancels out the sound from the sides.), though quality would suffer relative to the directional audio it would normally pick up.

Getting a higher quality audio interface is probably the best way to increase the quality of a PC recording as just about any software recording is going to simply record the digital information captured by the interface.

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Best option is actually a boundary microphone such as those made by Shure or Crown. These are designed to be placed on a table to record meetings. See this article for details.

There is nothing wrong with using a MD recorder. They have good pre-amps and sufficient sound quality. However, if you are interested in a solid state recorder, I cover this matter extensively on my blog, referenced above.

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One approach that may be overkill in your situation is to hang a minimum of three omnis around the room (more is better) equidistant from the center of the action. Record each on a separate track using a PC.

During playback you can 'steer' the focus by changing the relative phase of each sound source, allowing you to pull out sounds of interest.

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Could you maybe elaborate on how changing the phase can pull out sounds of interest? –  Bart Arondson Mar 18 '13 at 11:21

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