Audio Hardware Resources

This page is based on content from Tactical Tech's "Message in-a-box"



Although digital recorders are increasingly the norm, either an analogue or a digital recorder will do the job. Whichever you use, when you input your recording into your computer it will be converted to digital sound, which you can then edit with free digital sound-editing software. You can use a minidisk recorder, any type of digital recorder (DAT or harddisc), a professional-grade analogue recorder, or a simple “walkman”- style cassette recorder.

If you plan to pitch your piece to on-air radio broadcasters, you should not use a mini-cassette recorder, because the sound they produce is not of broadcast quality. Two important factors that distinguish recorders from each other is the presence of a time counter and the ability to adjust sound levels. Neither are necessities, but both are extremely helpful.

Note that you’ll need a special converter to get your analogue sound into digital format to edit on the computer.

Mobile phones

Once you have captured your pictures, video and sound on your mobile phone you need to get them onto your computer in order to incorporate them into your organisation’s campaign communications or your blog post.

Mobile phones typically record sounds using a file format called .AMR, which is primarily designed for phones and should be transferred onto a computer, and converted for editing. Once the sound files are on the computer, they can be converted, using a freeware tool like Mobile AMR converter ( UoB23), into the .WAV or FLAC format, which can then be edited on the computer using a sound editing tool, such as Audacity (see p. x), or any other audio editing application you already have access to.

There are various ways to get sounds from your phone to your computer:

Bluetooth Wifi Data cable

Bluetooth is a technology which allows two handsets or a handset and a computer within close proximity of each other to transfer information to each other. Most Bluetooth technology works over a range of approximately 10 metres. Although newer variants can reach further, up to 100 metres, it’s most likely that you will use Bluetooth to transfer data off your phone while sitting next to the computer with the phone. To connect your phone and your computer via Bluteooth you should follow the instructions on your computer about ‘pairing’ a device via Bluetooth. You have to make sure that Bluetooth is switched on, on both devices and follow the instructions. If you are transferring data this way, always remember to switch Bluetooth off when you are finished.

A microphone

It’s best to have an external microphone for recording so you can put it as close to the sound source as possible. Any standard microphone, uni or omni-directional, will do. Many recorders have a built in microphone that is often more than sufficient for non-broadcast quality recording but may not produce clear enough sound for radio play. If you have to use a recorder with a built-in microphone, be sure to hold the recorder as close to source of the sound as possible – if it is an interview, hold it relatively close to the person’s mouth, but be aware that too high an input will create distortion.


You will need a set of headphones to check sound levels as you record. The headphones enable you to hear the sound exactly as it is being recorded, and therefore exactly as the audience will hear it. It’s a good idea to record a minute or so of sound in situ before you start and listen back to it on headphones to check for problems such as noise, distortion or insufficient level.