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At 11:07 AM 2009-01-26, Schooley, John wrote:
>We are looking to apply for a grant in order to purchase some digital
>recorders for oral history interviews.  Up until now we have been using
>cassettes.  I was curious if any of you have any experience with any
>particular models, or any recommendations?  Keep in mind that these
>devices will probably be used by a variety of interviewers (historians,
>volunteers, etc.), none of them audio engineers, so ease and simplicity
>of use is probably the most important factor.

This is a difficult question. Ease of use, cost, and quality all 
factor into the choice.

Andy Kolovos has a wonderful page about this. I list that link and a 
few other resources for oral history work here:
http://richardhess.com/notes/resources/oral-history-links/
(If you can suggest any additional links, I'd be happy to add them)

Personally, I have a Sound Devices 722, but I use that for music more 
than oral history. On the other hand, I'm coming close to getting a 
Zoom H2. I now know some people who have one and I think it makes 
sense for certain uses. My son wants to start recording things he 
does and I'm considering getting one for my church as we want to 
start podcasting sermons. I hear from my local music shop that the H2 
is selling like hotcakes and newspapers are giving them to reporters, too.

One thing for oral history interviews that I find attractive about 
the H2 is that it can record in a quadraphonic mode that I would 
think would be interesting for a round-table discussion. It has two 
pairs of cardioid mics, front and back. Personally, I think stereo 
enhances the oral history experience and the H2's quad is set up so 
that it should sound reasonable out of a standard ITU 5.1 
configuration (with only a phantom front centre).

I know, this is not like me, but this interest was partially driven 
by the church application and the tradeoff there is any dollar we 
spend on technology is a dollar we don't spend on feeding the 
homeless. In view of that, is the H2 adequate? I'm willing to buy one 
soon to see. It's $259 CAD at the local music store--when they get 
them back in stock.

One of the people with really good ears who has one doesn't use it 
for final music production, but he does use it to work through ideas. 
Another professional sound restorer from New Zealand has one and he 
says it's much better than a cassette.

The H2 will take  higher capacity SD cards than the H4, as I read the 
specs, and is cheaper. The connectors are not as good. Like most 
things in life, it's a tradeoff.

Cheers,

Richard


Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.