Field Recording

Digital audio recording has many advantages over old analog cassette equipment. However the downside to digital recording is that there are no simple solutions for preserving your audio files. Every choice you make will force other decisions down the road, especially if you are interested in preserving your recordings over the long term.

We recommend using digital audio recorders that can create standard, uncompressed audio files in the WAV file format. WAV files are large, uncompressed, high-quality, standard digital audio files. Since WAV files are uncompressed they have better audio fidelity than recordings made using many compressed formats. In addition, since the WAV format is a digital audio standard, any audio editing or playback program should be able to open them. This is an important consideration to be aware of when you want to preserve your recordings over the long term.

The quality of digital audio recordings is affected by a number of factors. Two factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of a digital audio recording are the bit depth and sampling rate of the digital audio file. We recommend creating files that are 16 bit, with a sampling rate of 44.1kHz in mono. For example, using a 1 gigabyte Secure Digital (SD) card in the Marantz PMD661 will allow you to record approximately 3 hours of digital audio at these quality settings before you will need to upload your audio and erase the card.

You can submit your fieldwork to the Archives on a CD-R or DVD-R disks, or a USB.

Adapted from the field guide of the Vermont Folklife Centre "Field Recording in the Digital Age"