In October 2009 I purchased a Sony PCM D50 flash memory recorder, replacing the Sony D8 DAT I've been using for 12 years. The DAT machine is incredibly complex, and I was always worried about something going mechanically wrong. In addition, DAT tapes are getting hard to find, and all material has to be transferred at real time. The D50 can transfer at USB 2.0 rates and can record up to 24 bit 96 kHz (DVD-audio quality).

For microphones I have a pair of Core Sound Binaural microphones.  They are very small, about the length of a jellybean but a bit smaller in diameter.  I usually clip them to a piece of stiff fencing wire stapled to a large diameter dowel and use that as a handle. The mics can handle high sound levels without distorting.  They are small enough to be placed inside engine compartments without interfering with things like throttle cables and fan belts.  I'll run the cable around to the door and try to find a place where the rubber seal has a split.  Failing this, I'll run it through the open passenger window.

Once the sound is transferred to my computer, I load it into Audacity.  There the samples can be cropped to individual sound clips, which are then tweaked to equalise volume levels.  When I'm happy with the clip, I'll do a .5 second fade-in and a 1.5 second fade-out and save the file.  The .wav file is then encoded into the MP3 format using the LAME encoding engine and posted here.

I'd be happy to answer any questions or just chat about gear and techniques.  I would especially love to hear from anyone else who is doing this sort of thing.  Please E-mail me.

Gear Links

  • The Audacity website.  The best freeware audio editor.  This site would not be possible without the work of the Audacity community.
  • Core Sounds makes great microphones for live recording as well as cables and accessories.
  • kid3 is a handy tool for editing ID3 tags, both singly and in bulk.

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