Recording Phone Interviews

Matthew Bietz —  January 31, 2009 — 1 Comment

I’ve been doing a lot of phone interviews for a study of Collaboration in Cyberinfrastructure, and many of them require international calls. In the past I’ve recorded interviews by putting a sound recorder with a microphone next to a speakerphone, using a special thingamabob that you can plug your phone cord into and it has an audio out, or using one of those weird suction cup doohickeys. All of them result in pretty low-quality recordings.

Recently I’ve been getting really good results with a combination of Skype and the MX Skype Recorder. MXSR only works on Windows systems, and it’s not free (although even grad students should be able to afford $14.95 for the standard version). There are a number of Skype recording solutions out there, but MXSR has a couple of features I really like.

First of all, it just works. I tested several other packages where, even after trying all the workarounds, I still couldn’t get a recording. I’ve been using MXSR on 3 different machines with both Vista and XP, and haven’t had any problems.

Second, it allows you to record the incoming and outgoing audio to different channels. Phone calls are mono – it doesn’t matter if you use both left and right channels for the sound. But by putting my voice on the right channel and the person I’m interviewing on the left, transcribing suddenly becomes much easier. Any time there’s cross-talk or interruptions, I can listen to each voice separately, and then it is trivial to sort out what each person said.

Of course, you have to pay to call land lines from Skype, but the rates are great, especially for international calls.

Anyone else tried this, or have a similar solution for other platforms?

Image courtesy of Goopymart.

Matthew Bietz


One response to Recording Phone Interviews

  1. On OSX, I’ve had good luck in the past with a combination of Skype+Audio Hijack Pro, though I’m not sure if it can do the Right Channel/Left Channel trick you describe, at least automatically.

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