I'm not sure how I ended up with iTalk to make voice recordings on my phone. Some site must have recommended it, and I recall it being a big improvement at the time. Maybe it was right at the time, but I stayed too long out of habit and knowing how to use it. But so many things about it bugged me.
But I've been back in the field reporting on Parkland / #NeverAgain the past month, and really noticing its flaws. (I've been doing a ton of recordings for my gay soldiers book, perpetually annoyed, but the intensity and time-crunch in the field really magnified them.)
I just checked Wirecutter (the NY Times' great device-rating site), and for $5, they recommended "Just Press Record." I love it already.
- It transcribes right on my phone! (Real time, with slight delay to process.) There are a lot of errors, but the ability to find a quote quickly and then go right to the spot to recheck it just improved massively. This could revolutionize my ability to get quotes in the field in time to make it into a deadline story.
- It uploads directly to icloud, so I can quit fucking around uploading. (With ITalk, I had to connect to my computer, open itunes, go to File Sharing for the device, find the files in a long list and transfer them.
- It records directly into formats my transcribing program can use, so I don't have to convert--one more damn step. (iTalk uses Aiff or whatever it's called.)
- Much better naming scheme: just date and time. Italk numbered them sequentially (with an extra "untitled" at the start for extra clutter), and when I delete files to make space it re-used the numbers! So I deleted a ton and now I've got a number like 823 recorded 3 years ago next to 822 and 824 recorded yesterday. So they don't sort in order of recording. I have over a thousand recordings, so finding things becomes a big challenge, and Italk is a colossal mess.
- So much easier to get around. Italk let me jump 30 seconds back (too far), and no jump-ahead feature at all. This has buttons for 10-seconds either direction, plus the bar to move anywhere (and a longer bar, so much easier to get where I want it.)
That's after the 2-minute assessment! I imagine there are more, but any one of those is a huge improvement.
I also ordered a stand-alone recorder--which actually started the process. (I searched for recommendations, and they also recommended devices for your phone as a side-thing at the bottom.)
I abandoned these stand-alone devices years ago, because they were clunky in so many ways, and it was so much more convenient to always have my phone already with me, and just a single device in my pocket. But:
1. I can't record audio and video (with audio) at the same time.
2. I've had a fair amount of screwups where it fails to record or stops recording when I do something like start video while doing a bunch of things and forgetting. Or maybe just failing to make sufficient contact with the button while on the fly.
Even one key interview missed can be a disaster. So now I'll use two devices and have a backup.
3. I can't record a phone conversation I'm having on the same phone. This is a huge problem in the field when someone calls and my phone and recorder are the same device. No way to capture it.
I ordered the Sony ICDUX560BLK Stereo Digital Voice Recorder with Built-in USB for $68. I'm glad I went to wirecutter, because Amazon reviews and "best seller" seemed to be directing me to 2 models for $29, or maybe the Sony for $43. I wondered whether the Sony was actually better. (It was actually half the memory of the cheaper models--though they all seemed to have plenty.)
So I went looking for reviews and discovered that for really high recording quality (great noise reduction in crowds) I needed to upgrade to a higher class--plus better features, ultra-thin, etc. For a crucial tool for work that I'll likely use for years, insane to "save" $40 instead of getting something that will save me hours and crucial minutes in the field. (And be small enough that I actually pack it, and don't hate myself for doing that.)
Hopefully Wirecutter is right and I'll be happy with it. Excited to get my new stuff. Wish I'd done this 2 years ago. (Although I'd have 2016 models. They keep improving. But I should have gone back much sooner.)