Tips and tricks on recording stuff

One of the things that I wish I got more tutelage on in graduate school was audio recording — it’s actually a pretty major part of what we do in the field and yet hanging mics, recording outdoors, and manging your audio files (or, as we used to call them back in the day, ‘casette tapes’) is an underexplored art in many graduate schools. A lot of this stuff gets discussed in the blogosphere but there’s no central place to keep track of it all, and product reviews of consumer electronics are often written by people who do something very different from what we do.

So when I was Googling around trying to find out what ‘coming across the transom’ literally meant, I was gratified to stumble across “”:, a web auxillary for the NPR juggernaut. The middlebrow enthusiasm of public radio drives me nuts sometimes — I particularly hate Prarie Home Companion’s WASPy self-satisfaction — but is actually a wonderful resource for anthropologists. It’s “tools”: section has great, useful reviews of digital recorders and mixers as well as just plain good advice on how to interview someone. While I still think everyone should read Learning How To Ask instead of just assume that interviewing is the same in cultures all over the world, I think that this site reflects a concern with craft that journalists have and which makes them such close cousins of anthropologists in certain respects.


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at

2 thoughts on “Tips and tricks on recording stuff

  1. If you need any audio transcription (if you have it in digital format), try Casting Words.

    I had a digital audio recorder I tried using for my classes, but this was several years ago, and the recorders just weren’t where they needed to be. It seems like just after I bought mine, nice, easy-to-use ones came on the market. I wish I could have recorded a number of lectures and seminars I attended.

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