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Making, Managing and Analysing Recordings of Interviews and Focus Groups Duncan Branley Goldsmiths’ College, University of London 20 January 2005

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Presentation on theme: "Making, Managing and Analysing Recordings of Interviews and Focus Groups Duncan Branley Goldsmiths’ College, University of London 20 January 2005"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making, Managing and Analysing Recordings of Interviews and Focus Groups Duncan Branley Goldsmiths’ College, University of London 20 January 2005

2 Contents What do you want to do with your recordings? What do you want to do with your recordings? Recording and working with sound. Recording and working with sound. Equipment for interviews and focus groups. Equipment for interviews and focus groups. Transferring your recordings onto computer. Transferring your recordings onto computer. Improving your recordings. Improving your recordings. Transcribing. Transcribing. Moving transcriptions to NVivo. Moving transcriptions to NVivo. Automatically coding for turn-takers in NVivo. Automatically coding for turn-takers in NVivo.

3 What do you want to do with your recordings? In-depth, qualitative exploration - longer term. In-depth, qualitative exploration - longer term. Overview for commissioned research – short timeframe. Overview for commissioned research – short timeframe. Archiving – formats and metadata. Archiving – formats and metadata. Publishing on CD or the web Publishing on CD or the web Quality – broadcast v research interviews.Quality – broadcast v research interviews.

4 What is sound? Energy felt as vibrations. Energy felt as vibrations. Converted to electrical signal. Converted to electrical signal. Heard or recorded. Heard or recorded. Frequency – Pitch Frequency – Pitch Hertz (Hz) and kiloHertz (kHz) – waves/second.Hertz (Hz) and kiloHertz (kHz) – waves/second. Amplitude – volume Amplitude – volume Human ear hears: Human ear hears: Range 16Hz - 20kHzRange 16Hz - 20kHz Range of normal speech 250Hz – 8kHzRange of normal speech 250Hz – 8kHz Recorder’s frequency response Recorder’s frequency response (Images source:

5 Analogue & Digital Recording Analogue – exact replica - magnetic Analogue – exact replica - magnetic Digital takes snapshots or ‘samples’ Digital takes snapshots or ‘samples’ Sampling rate/second Sampling rate/second Sampling precision or resolution Sampling precision or resolution Each block is one sampleEach block is one sample Higher values match sound wave betterHigher values match sound wave better Channels: number of signals Channels: number of signals (Images source:

6 Digital Recording and File Size How many samples in 1 second? How many samples in 1 second? CD: 44,100 – upper hearing range 20,000 HzCD: 44,100 – upper hearing range 20,000 Hz Sampling precision: Sampling precision: 8 bit (256 possible values) or 16 bit (65,536)8 bit (256 possible values) or 16 bit (65,536) 8 bits = 1 byte, 16 bits = 2 bytes8 bits = 1 byte, 16 bits = 2 bytes Channels: monaural (mono) or stereo Channels: monaural (mono) or stereo 1 minute of stereo sound at CD quality: 1 minute of stereo sound at CD quality: 44,100 samples/channel/second x 2 bytes/sample x 60 seconds x 2 channels = 10,584,000 bytes = 10,336 KB = 10.1 MB44,100 samples/channel/second x 2 bytes/sample x 60 seconds x 2 channels = 10,584,000 bytes = 10,336 KB = 10.1 MB mp3 and RealAudio – compression 1/10 – 1/14 mp3 and RealAudio – compression 1/10 – 1/14

7 Recording and Working with Sound Sound converted: Sound converted: From analogue to digital to record (ADC)From analogue to digital to record (ADC) From digital to analogue to play (DAC)From digital to analogue to play (DAC) Compressing digital audio files saves space: Compressing digital audio files saves space: Uncompressed: WAV (PC), AIFF (Mac)Uncompressed: WAV (PC), AIFF (Mac) Compressed:Compressed: Space: double highest frequency of source: Space: double highest frequency of source: Speech: 250 Hz - 8,000 Hz =>16,000 or 22,050Speech: 250 Hz - 8,000 Hz =>16,000 or 22,050 Telephone: 400 Hz - 3,400 Hz => 8,000Telephone: 400 Hz - 3,400 Hz => 8,000 See “Ready Reckoner”See “Ready Reckoner”

8 Analogue and Digital Audio Compared Sound quality Sound quality Not necessarily better – depends on sampling rateNot necessarily better – depends on sampling rate Main problem with analogue recordings: hissMain problem with analogue recordings: hiss Copies Copies Each analogue copy degrades, digital doesn’t.Each analogue copy degrades, digital doesn’t. Unless compress already compressed file. Confidentiality – blanking identifiersConfidentiality – blanking identifiers Storage Storage Media degradation v file format obsolescence Media degradation v file format obsolescence

9 Recording Equipment (1) Practice beforehand – only one go at interview Practice beforehand – only one go at interview If disaster, write details of research encounter asapIf disaster, write details of research encounter asap Consumer products v professional Consumer products v professional Easily replaceable suppliesEasily replaceable supplies Ubiquity may reduce alienationUbiquity may reduce alienation ALL equipment should have: ALL equipment should have: Recording indicatorRecording indicator Ability to pause and resume easilyAbility to pause and resume easily Mike-in connectionMike-in connection Line-in may not produce loud enough signal Line-in may not produce loud enough signal

10 Recording Equipment (2) Cassette recorders Cassette recorders use at least Chrome CrO 2 tape.use at least Chrome CrO 2 tape. turning tape may be a distraction, but longer = lower qualityturning tape may be a distraction, but longer = lower quality Dictaphones Dictaphones Convenient but not too good quality – often monoConvenient but not too good quality – often mono Minidisc Minidisc Longer recording time mins + LPLonger recording time mins + LP Better quality recording – less mechanical noiseBetter quality recording – less mechanical noise Microphone Microphone External usually produces better resultsExternal usually produces better results Best if a microphone-in connection – if just line-in may not produce loud enough signal.Best if a microphone-in connection – if just line-in may not produce loud enough signal. Lead rather than direct plug-in – lessens machine noise.Lead rather than direct plug-in – lessens machine noise.

11 Preparing Before you Arrive Check batteries or other power supply – and carry spares Check batteries or other power supply – and carry spares Have spare media – unwrapped and labelled Have spare media – unwrapped and labelled Have a checklist of how to use the recorder Have a checklist of how to use the recorder Carry the instruction bookCarry the instruction book Cassette recorders and dictaphones Cassette recorders and dictaphones Wind to beginning of recordable sectionWind to beginning of recordable section

12 Preparing the Recording Environment Sound from speaker – moves in all directions Sound from speaker – moves in all directions Hard surfaces reflect – delay > echoHard surfaces reflect – delay > echo Soft furnishings, smaller room and in cornerSoft furnishings, smaller room and in corner Background noise Background noise Ambient noise in roomAmbient noise in room Outside intrusionsOutside intrusions You and your participants – moving, eatingYou and your participants – moving, eating Microphone Microphone Position as close to interviewees as possible – best 30 cm – 1 mPosition as close to interviewees as possible – best 30 cm – 1 m If focus group, place in middle to pick up all sounds – stereo usefulIf focus group, place in middle to pick up all sounds – stereo useful Place on stand – naturalises, but beware vibrationsPlace on stand – naturalises, but beware vibrations Check the recording level – although you may not be able to Check the recording level – although you may not be able to This will amplify the signal from the microphoneThis will amplify the signal from the microphone

13 Recording Telephone Interviews Same advice – but some extra issues Same advice – but some extra issues Permission to record – ethical and legal Permission to record – ethical and legal ‘Thinner’ recorded sound – frequencies ,400 Hz only ‘Thinner’ recorded sound – frequencies ,400 Hz only Could record from handset/speaker, but not good quality. Could record from handset/speaker, but not good quality. Rather – RJ-11 connector – Rather – RJ-11 connector – As easy as connecting a computer to a modemAs easy as connecting a computer to a modem Position between telephone and handset – balanced signal Position between telephone and handset – balanced signal Telephone and line > your voice louderTelephone and line > your voice louder Also may not work with advanced systemsAlso may not work with advanced systems Then connect recorder Then connect recorder Might want a Y splitter too – to use two recordersMight want a Y splitter too – to use two recorders

14 During Interviews and Focus Groups Concentrate on the interview! Concentrate on the interview! Monitor the recorder from time to time to ensure that it’s still working. Monitor the recorder from time to time to ensure that it’s still working.

15 After Interviews and Focus Groups Don’t stop recording until interview is really finished Don’t stop recording until interview is really finished You may get some really interesting material towards the endYou may get some really interesting material towards the end When finished prevent over-writing by disabling media When finished prevent over-writing by disabling media Minidiscs – slide the tabMinidiscs – slide the tab Cassettes – click the tabs outCassettes – click the tabs out Label the recordings so that you know what’s on them later Label the recordings so that you know what’s on them later May want to label using a system to preserve anonymityMay want to label using a system to preserve anonymity Work it out in advanceWork it out in advance

16 Transferring your Recordings onto Computer Connections: what’s making and what’s recording the sound? Connections: what’s making and what’s recording the sound? Source: Line-out or Headphones/SpeakersSource: Line-out or Headphones/Speakers PC soundcard: Line-in or MicrophonePC soundcard: Line-in or Microphone Set up sources using Windows Play Control Set up sources using Windows Play Control Set volume level on sound source. Set volume level on sound source. Start recording on sound recording software Start recording on sound recording software Audacity free to download and use.Audacity free to download and use. May have own with eg soundcard or CD driveMay have own with eg soundcard or CD drive Then start playing the source. Then start playing the source. When play finished stop recording. When play finished stop recording.

17 Connections (Images source: Miniplug cable – 1/8 inch or 3.5 mm stereo (two rings) jack at each end Miniplug cable – 1/8 inch or 3.5 mm stereo (two rings) jack at each end Carries Analogue only. Source: Line-out or Headphones/Speakers Source: Line-out or Headphones/Speakers PC soundcard: Line-in (arrow into curves) or Microphone PC soundcard: Line-in (arrow into curves) or Microphone Connect speakers to PC soundcard line-out to monitor sound. Connect speakers to PC soundcard line-out to monitor sound.

18 Windows Volume and Recording Controls If you’re not getting any sound this is the first thing to check If you’re not getting any sound this is the first thing to check click on the volume button on the Windows toolbar Recording: you can only have one source selected at a time. Recording: you can only have one source selected at a time. The volume on both sides affects the loudness of the soundfile The volume on both sides affects the loudness of the soundfile If it is too loud, it will distort; too quiet, you won’t hear it. Test it.

19 Recording with Audacity 1. Start Audacity – creates a new ‘project’ 2. File | Preferences 1.Audio I/O – make sure it’s the same as the Volume controls – probably your soundcard’s name. 2.Quality: Sample rate: 22,050 Hz format: 16 bit – don’t need CD quality 3.File format: WAV (Microsoft 16 bit) 3. File | Save As – give it a name 4. Click the circular red record button 5. Start playing the source 6. When finished click the yellow square stop button 7. File | Save To use in other programs you need to export the file To use in other programs you need to export the file File | Export as either WAV (full quality) or mp3 (slightly lower, but smaller file size).File | Export as either WAV (full quality) or mp3 (slightly lower, but smaller file size).

20 Improving your Recordings in Audacity Have created a WAV (PC) or AIFF (Mac) file. Have created a WAV (PC) or AIFF (Mac) file. Keep as original – work with a copy. Keep as original – work with a copy. Could compress: mp3 – fine for speech. Could compress: mp3 – fine for speech. Can work with parts of file (drag to select): Can work with parts of file (drag to select): Make quiet parts louder.Make quiet parts louder. Effect | Amplify – accept default suggestion Blank identifying information (possibly after transcription)Blank identifying information (possibly after transcription) Click on silence button (wave with flat line in middle). Remove hiss – find hiss with no words – be carefulRemove hiss – find hiss with no words – be careful Effect | Noise Removal – 2 steps Save brief extracts as separate filesSave brief extracts as separate files File | Export extract as… File | Export extract as… Remember to save your copy file. Remember to save your copy file.

21 Transcribing Do you need complete transcriptions? Do you need complete transcriptions? Summaries in Word or NVivo (with labelled proxy document) – partial transcription. Summaries in Word or NVivo (with labelled proxy document) – partial transcription. Useful first step – in field and for familiarisationUseful first step – in field and for familiarisation Transcribe cassettes in full: foot-pedal control or auto-rewind Transcribe cassettes in full: foot-pedal control or auto-rewind Use Transcriber to tie your transcription to the sound files clause by clause – cp sub-titles. Use Transcriber to tie your transcription to the sound files clause by clause – cp sub-titles. Can export to NVivo or a webpage. Can export to NVivo or a webpage. Transcription not neutral – part of your analysis. Transcription not neutral – part of your analysis.

22 Transcriber This enables you to create your transcriptions while following your sound files on screen. This enables you to create your transcriptions while following your sound files on screen. Start Transcriber and open an audio file – WAV or mp3 Start Transcriber and open an audio file – WAV or mp3 Click on the play button and you’ll hear it. Click on the play button and you’ll hear it. When there’s a pause, press Enter and you’ll create a ‘segment break’ When there’s a pause, press Enter and you’ll create a ‘segment break’ When finished select Signal | Playback Mode | Loop on Segment – this enables you to replay each segment while you’re transcribing it. Press Tab to stop and start it and the up and down arrows to move between segments. When finished select Signal | Playback Mode | Loop on Segment – this enables you to replay each segment while you’re transcribing it. Press Tab to stop and start it and the up and down arrows to move between segments. When finished set back to continuous playback. When finished set back to continuous playback. To create a new speaker: Segmentation | Create turn or Crtl-T To create a new speaker: Segmentation | Create turn or Crtl-T You can double click to enter the full identifier. You can double click to enter the full identifier. When finished save – and can export to html or NVivo format. When finished save – and can export to html or NVivo format.

23 Moving Transcriptions to NVivo From Transcriber From Transcriber Must ensure have NVivoTxt.tcl installed in C:\Program Files\DGA & LDC\Transcriber\converterMust ensure have NVivoTxt.tcl installed in C:\Program Files\DGA & LDC\Transcriber\converter File | Export | Export to NVivo Plain Text format. File | Export | Export to NVivo Plain Text format. This will create a plain text file with the same name as the soundfile you are working on – except with a.txt ending.This will create a plain text file with the same name as the soundfile you are working on – except with a.txt ending. In NVivo Create a new document by importing this file – using the 'Read marked-up title and description paragraphs' option. In NVivo Create a new document by importing this file – using the 'Read marked-up title and description paragraphs' option.

24 Automatically Coding in NVivo Document formatted with Heading styles. Document formatted with Heading styles. NVivo can see structure. NVivo can see structure. NVivo can use this to code for each turn-taker. NVivo can use this to code for each turn-taker. Can use for structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Can use for structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews.

25 More Information Duncan Branley (2004) ‘Making and Managing Audio Recordings’ in Clive Seale (ed) Researching Society and Culture (2 nd edition): Sage, London pp Duncan Branley (2004) ‘Making and Managing Audio Recordings’ in Clive Seale (ed) Researching Society and Culture (2 nd edition): Sage, London pp If you have further questions, If you have further questions,


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