Quiet environments (away from windows, adjacent room noises, furnace or refrigerators etc.)
Consistent levels; (no extremely loud or quiet noises)
Proper microphone placement (within 15-20cm or about one 'fist width' from speaker's mouth)
Attention paid to clarity by the speakers
There are three categories of equipment to consider, plus accessories:
Sound editing software (Audacity)
USB cable (to connect with computer)
Extra microphones & cables
Microphone stand (floor & tabletop)
SD or other storage media
Software drivers (depends on device)
Packing & storage case
Archive media for backup storage
SD cable or reader
Pen & notebook
We recommend using condenser microphones, the standard microphone used for professional recording. They produce a clear and accurate sound. Condenser mics require low-voltage power, either through "phantom power" (supplied from an amplifier, multi-source mixer or digital interface) or with batteries (in the case of wireless mics)
There are three types of condenser microphones: Capsule, Shotgun, and Lavalier
The Audio Technica 2020 is a good quality capsule microphone for general use at an excellent price. A relatively quiet room should be used when recording with this microphone. Special attention must be paid not to drop condenser microphones, as the capsule inside is quite fragile. Various retailers, approximately $220.
If you are looking for a microphone to mount to a mobile device via lighting attachment (such as an iPhone or iPad), consider the Shure MV-88. Various retailers, approximately $300.
The Rode NTG2 shotgun microphone is a useful microphone for recording language samples in an Indigenous language context. The NTG2 features a 'shotgun' pickup pattern, meaning that this microphone is effective at rejecting noise that may enter from the rear or sides of the microphone. Combined with a windscreen, this microphone is also designed to block out moderate amounts of wind noise, making it a good choice for recording outside. We recommend using this mic in situations where you will be recording either outdoors, or in rooms with a fair amount of background noise. Various retailers, approximately $370.
Mic stands come as floor or desktop/lectern style. We recommend a floor microphone stand with an adjustable boom. This type of stand allows you to place the microphone in a comfortable location and is easy to move around. If you need to be portable with the microphone purchase a stand with tripod feet that will fit in a travel case.
A floor stand is suitable for speakers who are in a seated position. The vertical riser can be adjusted for height and an optional boom extends horizontally to provide a close-mic experience.
Recommended Basic Microphone Stand: Yorkville MS-608. Various retailers, approximately $60.
When working in a confined recording space, a desktop microphone stand can provide a convenient alternative to a boom microphone stand. It may be necessary to weight the base of a desktop microphone stand when using a heavy microphone.
Recommended Desktop Mic Stand: Yorkville MS 108. Various retailers, approximately $50.
Recording Device / Interface
A recording interface converts an analogue microphone signal into a digital signal for the computer. The interface connects to the computer by a USB cable. A USB interface works with most PC or Mac operating systems and is well-suited for language documentation because of its small size, durability and ease of use. Recommended purchase: Steinberg UR22-MkII(approximately $230) or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2(approximately $250).
Digital recorders, such as the Zoom H4n Pro or H6 Pro, come with built-in mics and are called Field Recorders. They can accept XLR-type external connections and record direct to disk in a portable, battery-operated form factor.
For a versatile, portable, quality audio recording solution, FirstVoices now uses the H4n device by Zoom. The H4n records to an SD card and can be easily imported to a computer using either a USB cable (included) or a SD card reader. The H4n can be used with its own built in stereo speakers or with a condenser microphone and cable, a total of four inputs. Various retailers, approximately $320.
If you want more inputs (e.g., for mic'ing up to 6 instruments or vocals) the Zoom H6 (below) is a good choice. It is ideal for videography as well. Various retailers, approximately $330.
Both Zoom models support interchangeable mics, including the SGH-6 shotgun microphone ($190)
These devices attach to the microphone stand and are used to prevent plosives from spoiling recordings. Plosives are 'P' and 'T' sounds at the beginning of a word such as 'potato.' Words that start with P and T produce a burst of air from the mouth that translates into an undesirable noise on the recording. Pop filters eliminate much of this problem.
Recommended purchase: Apex MWS 56DLX. Various retailers, approximately $30.
You need one cable per microphone, plus one spare should one cable become misplaced or damaged. Cheap cables should be avoided as they break easily, create noise in the signal, and generally do not last long.
The cable we selected represents a good compromise between cost and durability and features top quality XLR connectors Recommended purchase: Yorkville MC25N, 25 feet. Various retailers, approximately $35.
To make sure that all of your equipment is protected from dust, moisture and bumps, we recommend purchasing a good quality case. This is especially important if you plan on moving recording locations or if there is a possibility of travelling with your equipment. Also, be sure to pack a notebook, pen and spare cables & batteries.
Recommended purchase: ZEBRACASE Z17. Various retailers, approximately $55, limited availability.
To place an order, the FirstVoices team recommends contacting the Long and McQuade Music store in Victoria B.C. Sales Associate Mike Arensen is familiar with this buyer's guide and will be able to handle your order quickly and efficiently.