[bct] A grant to purchase recording equipment for the list

  • From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bct" <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 09:57:20 -0500

This is something I have been thinking about for a while.  However, even
if one could find the funds to use for this, one would have to justify
why this is needed.  So, what I am about to say is not directed at
people who record podcasts.  The comments are directed at the equipment
alone.  In addition, in order to secure possible funding, one has to
show why it is needed.  So one has to talk about some of the problems we
have in recording some of the  podcasts that people really do want to
hear. 
 
I think there are a lot of worthwhile podcasts on this list that could
educate people who see about the lives of people who have less vision.
, I get a lot of off line questions from people who are not blind but
who download some of the podcast they think might cause them to think
about an important issue from the point of view of a person who is blind
or who has low vision or hearing that is less then perfect.  I know that
some of these people do not continue to listen to certain recordings
because of the poor quality of the recording or the background noise
that almost makes the commentary unlistenable.  So, they miss the truth
of what is there.  I am not faulting these people either.  It is quite
hard to listen to a podcast where the listener has to strain to hear
what is being said.  So, I am constantly explaining to people that we
can only use what we can afford.
 
I believe there are perhaps a number of reasons for this less than
perfect quality that some would like, but one stands out in my mind.

First and foremost, I am not bad mouthing the person's recording I am
going to talk about.

Secondly, I know that the Olympus recorders are all that a lot of people
can afford.  So, given that, this is obviously what is used by a lot of
people on this site.
 
The problem with the Olympus is that it is totally driven by it's
automatic volume level.  Because it has a limiter, one can often get
rather strange recordings if what one is recording is a constant sound
that is loud enough to cause the limiter to try to turn down the volume.
The problem comes in that because the sound is constant, the recorder
also then tries to turn the volume back up, but as the sound is still
loud enough to cause it to want to still keep the volume low, the
recorder basically has to fight with itself about what to do.  This is
obviously not technical terminology.  The resulting sound is exemplified
by the two ocean podcast recently loaded on the BCT site.  Through no
fault of the person recording, the sound is very wavy and unnatural.
Those are not individual ocean waves you hear, it is the recorder trying
to adjust and then readjust itself to the loud, constant sounds of the
ocean.  In recordings where there are no loud sounds, this is not nearly
as much of a problem.  I don't know if an Olympus recorder was being
used, but whatever the recorder, it had the same exact problem.

I would give a lot to find an inexpensive recorder that does not do
this.  Actually the Iriver 799 and 899 both have manual record levels.
However, there are two problems here.

First, the unit is not nearly as accessible as the Olympus.  You have to
go find the recorder in the menus and then there is no beeps to let you
know if you are recording or not.

2.  If you set the volume too high, you get distorted sound.  For the
most part, however, I find that the iRiver can be used to make
recordings of a much more constant volume in these loud situations.  And
of course, there is a problem with the iRiver also.  If you load the
firmware that allows you to use the recorder as a drive, the recording
quality is limited to 96 KBPS.  
 
All this is to say that I am constantly on the trail of an inexpensive
recorder that has manual record levels and it reasonably easy to use.
Of course, the Edirol R1 and the MicroTrack fit the first case.  They
can make some very nice recordings.  However, they cost a lot more than
many can afford and are thus out of reach of people's use.

It sure would be nice to get a grant to purchase some recorders that
people could borrow to make special, hard to record podcasts.  Of
course, you would then have the problem of how to get the recorders to
and from people on the list.  But, I haven't given up thinking about
this.
 
Again, I am not meaning to rain on people's parade.  But I get lots of
off line messages asking why people can't make recordings that are
better then some of them are.  The answer is always the same.  We can
only use what we can afford and, at this time, what we can afford has
some problems we will just have to live with.

I'll let you know if I find a recorder that might work at a low price.
I hope others will do likewise.  I'll also let you know if I win the
lottery and want to start a fund to provide people with recorders.  And,
if anyone on this list has any ideas about funding, please let me know.
 
So, let's all sit back and enjoy the wonderful podcasts people put up
and realize that people are getting the best sounds out of the recorders
they have.
 
 
Neal
 

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