I bought a recording device yesterday. For a whopping $99.00. Now that might seem like a lot to many people, but to record music one needs something of good quality. Of course I’m looking for deals all the time … sigh ….

Then I recorded myself. And played it back. And died.

Wow. Do I sound that abominable? If so, I should just quit. Now. Or yesterday.

But then I had to take a step back. Be realistic. Know that “you get what you pay for” (most of the time; the deal I got on my Marigaux sort of goes against that truth!). I played the recording for my son. I pondered. I took a deep breath. And then I needed to hear Dan tell me you do have to get something better to record music.

I spoke with a colleague last night about the experience. She commented on how difficult it is to record oboe.

My sound was tinny. Ugly. Disgusting. Need I go on?

Okay. So I’ll relax. And try to return this (now opened) recorder that the guy at Fry’s (yes, yes, I know; never trust those people!) said was wonderful for music. (I didn’t tell him what kind of music, which was probably stupid of me.) And I will also try to remind myself that I do sound fine. I’ve heard recordings of my oboe playing before, done by others. (Now I’m wondering just what the singers in Opera San José use … those somewhat illegal recordings I’ve heard sound much better. Hmmm.)

It’s sad, though, that I can be destroyed so easily, don’t you think? It’s sort of like seeing myself in one of those wacky carnival mirrors and deciding that’s how I look I suppose.

I see that Jason Heath has blogged about a microphone. Does it record music okay, Jason, or is it just for speaking?

(The recorder I bought mentions music, but they aren’t talking about recording live music, but “listening to your favorite songs”. It only says “Record meetings or notes and even store large documents to bring from one computer to another. … And up to 500 songs can be stored and played in impressive stereo sound with track and artist name clearly displayed on the LCD.”)

Hugh Sung has also blogged about some equipment. But I’m not up for spending $4,000 or $5,000! So never mind.

Dan reminds me, too, that I can simply record myself via my MacBook. Well yes. There’s that.

There was no question when I returned the recorder. The man who took it back, in fact, said that he knew it wouldn’t be good for recording an oboe (and yes, he knew about an oboe!). I wish he had been on the floor when I was looking around. He said it would probably take a bit more money (as in a lot) to get decent equipment for what I had in mind.


  1. if you record yourself with your macbook, don’t use the computer’s built-in mike. it’s not because the mike isn’t good, but because when recording (using garage band) the computer will heat up and its fan will automatically turn on. the built-in microphone will pick up a lot of the extra noise that the fan makes; an external mike will lessen (though not eliminate) the sound of the fan. i myself have been thinking about getting new recording equipment. i don’t like my microphone so i keep borrowing my roommate’s to use with my MiniDisc, which has a complicated way of getting on to my computer and loses a little quality.

  2. Thanks, Gabrielle … I’ll remember that! I believe my husband has a good microphone.

  3. The Zoom H4 was praised very highly by one who was recording recitals at Odyssey Chamber Music (http://www.odyssey.missouri.org/) here in Columbia, MO. Supposed to give very high quality, price below $300. I don’t know this person’s name.

  4. there are some great recorders out there; I have a Sony HD mini disc recorder that does a great job but I hear it is old-school nowadays. There was a thread on the IDRS list about this a while back, it is probably still there if you want some good ideas.

    I HATE recording myself; it gives me the willies to listen to it even though I know it’s a valuable tool, blah blah blah.

  5. Hey Patty,
    Sorry for the late note, but I bought a Zoom H2 recently for about $200, and it is GREAT. Great quality, great portability, and very easy to hook up to your computer and burn. You can record in various qualities of MP3 or WAV files.