Basic Technology and Logistics

11May07

I thought it might be useful to talk a little bit about the specific tools I’ve used in digitizing and segmenting files. I used to record live readings with a SONY MD Walkman MZ-R700 recorder with a plug in mic. Then I would play the minidisc record in real time back into my Macintosh (the connection was a mini from the MD player to a mini input on the back of my computer). I used Roxio Toast’s Spin Doctor software to digitize the file and track it off, usually by looking for an absence or extremely short lines in the wave form that tend to mean a pause between poems. Another way would be to look for spikes that signal applause. I would then burn them using Toast onto a blank CD, then import that burned CD back into ITunes, where I would enter in the bibliographic info. This was a huge pain and it explains why I still have a stack of minidiscs of readings from a long time ago. I’ve talked to other people who have the same problem. Playing the recordings back in real time is inconvenient because it takes up a lot of time and you can’t do much else on your computer without it crashing or making bleeps and blips from applications intrude into the recording.

What I’m mostly doing for this site is taking files I’ve already imported into my iTunes library and opening them up in Audacity. From there, I can select a portion of the reading and make a duplicate of it. I then export it as an MP3. Save it to my desktop and then upload it using wordpress.com’s blogging software. Audacity is good for segmenting tracks. It’s pretty easy to use. Now for live readings, I use this digital voice recorder Charles recommended (Olympus WS-320M 1 GB Digital Voice Recorder and Music Player) which records as Windows Media Player files which you can convert to MP3’s and then segment using Audacity. The recorder opens up to reveal a USB connecter which hooks up directly to your computer. This is much better because it skips the real time playback of mini-discs. The sound quality is pretty good and it’s simple and relatively cheap (120 dollars on Amazon).

I would be curious if anyone out there wants to comment about the processes they use or have used. For example, my friend Stan Mir (who just showed me how to segment with Audacity, Thanks Stan!) told me about an elaborate process using, I think, a Mini-Disc recorder, Garageband, and like 10 other steps. I feel a deep deep sympathetic connection to people who have been the audio/tech person when the technology was really primordial.

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