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Request for Audio Recording Help

While I'm still not ready to return to blogging yet, I do want to put this request out there to my local friends. I hope no one will consider this too morbid.

I have six messages from my Mom still on our digital answering machine. Last night I recorded them onto my computer as mp3 files using a program for the Macintosh called Audio Recorder. The problem is that the recordings are not of the greatest quality, for a few reasons. I had to record them through the air, using the standard microphone that comes with the computer.

I'd really like to make the best possible copies of these messages before deleting them from the answering machine. If anyone local to me has a higher quality microphone, or a better recording program, and would be willing to come over to our place to help me out, please let me know.
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Steve and I have a few odd bits of recording equipment. I'll ask him if he has some free time coming up this week, since he's more the audiophile. *hugs*

I’ve got a couple of decent microphones (not phenomenal, but better than the built-in condenser mic), but even better would be if the answering machine had a line-out jack. does it? would you mind posting the brand and model number of the answering machine?

if the answering machine has no line-out, then your best bet is to purchase a telephone recording adapter, such as this one from Radio Shack (catalog #14-5051). this will plug into the back of your answering machine and into the mic jack of your laptop.

if you can’t obtain one of those, i have a phone headset adapter (catalog #43-2017) that you are welcome to borrow. since it plugs into a phone headset jack instead of a standard RJ-11 jack, it’ll only work if your answering machine has the ability to play its messages remotely over a phone and you know how to access that functionality; this would be my “if all else fails” course of action.

as for software, Audio Recorder seems quite functional; however, i’d recommend you try out Cacophony, which gives you audio editing capabilities as well, so that you can clean up gaps and pauses if you so desire.

good luck, and i offer my sincere condolences,
-steve

I'll post the make and model of the machine tonight.

If it does have a line out, using the telephone recording adapter would seem to be a good idea.

I appreciate the help.
The adapter I have is a phone headset adapter like the one above, number 43-1237.

If it does have a line out, using the telephone recording adapter would seem to be a good idea.

no no, you misunderstand. if a line-out is available, no further equipment is necessary; just run a 1/8” mono cable from line-out to Mac and you’re done.

if a line-out is not available, then go to Radio Shack and purchase the telephone recording adapter (since your answering machine is pretty much guaranteed to have an RJ-11 out). you may want to do this anyway, since the adapter gives you the ability to monitor the output from the answering machine.

’s adapter looks like it would work for you.

-steve

The answering machine, which is a combination with the phone, is a VTech 2468, 2.4 GHz cordless phone. I couldn't find a line-out or an RJ-11 out. The manual can be found at http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/support/manual.cfm?manualID=316 , which may explain what it does and doesn't have. I don't think they sell this model anymore, but I'm guessing it is similar to http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/store/dsp_product.cfm?itemID=1250&parent=122 .

Ok, it only appears to have the standard RJ11 wall jack, and no headset jacks (silly wireless phone....), so the devices Steve and I are talking about won't work. You have two options at this point: Point a nice quality cardiod/supercardiod at the speaker, or open the unit up, take the wires going to the speaker, and cut them, then wire them into a 1/8" jack, plugged into a microphone-in port. The first option is a bit easier to do, and less destructive. If that doesn't work out, method two is still an option; trying them in the other order may not guarantee that.
What is a cardiod/supercardiod?

My original thought was to borrow a high quality microphone from someone and use that. Is that what you're referring to here?

I don't think I want to disassemble the machine; I'm mostly just concerned with recording it over the intervening air space but with as high a quality as possible within reason.
Cardioid refers to the shape of the pickup range. A cardioid mic is tuned to pick up sound from one direction only, and to ignore or minimize sounds coming from other directions. A hyper or super cardioid is even more aggressive in its directionality. This is as opposed to a bidirectional or omnidirectional mode. The majority of microphones are cardioid, i.e, directional. This way you could point a good one right at the speaker of the machine and record. You might also throw a comforter or quilt over the mic and machine as well to help minimize outside sounds or echoes.
So, can I rent one of these? Or can I hire you to come over to our place and do the recording? What would it cost? We can take this to private email; ping me at mabfan at livejournal dot com.
Ok, it only appears to have the standard RJ11 wall jack, and no headset jacks (silly wireless phone....)

Not that it necessarily helps, but the handset has a headset jack.
So, um, from what I described, do you have any idea what my options are? Should I get that adapter from Radio Shack? Any idea if it will do me any good?
I suggest you stop by audioboy's journal. Tell him I say Hi, and ask if he can help.
It looks like I already have a few good responses here, but if none of those pan out, I'll ping audioboy. Thanks.
audioboy is good folk.
I would be happy to help, getting high-quality recordings of these messages sounds like something that is really important and meaningful. What are the available modes of audio output from the answering machine? You mention the speaker. Can messages be played over a phone line by dialing into the machine? An external speaker output seems unlikely, but is there one?

My father is an expert at audio recordings (he was the engineer for a radio station), and we can certainly call on his expertise to help get a good recording, if you'd like. He could guide me through a recording process at your location, and help us know what equipment to use, or if it's remotely accessible he could record the audio and digitize it there.

Yesterday (because we were discussing the relative audio quality of my three home telephones) he suggested I call a phone number he has that automatically produces WAV files of incoming messages, so I could get a clear recording of the sound of each phone. I wonder if it would be possible to use that service somehow, such as your making an outgoing call to that number and triggering audio playback while connected, or doing a three-way conference call if there's no way to locally trigger playback onto the phone line.
Someone else has made a suggestion above; if that doesn't work out, I'll ask you for more information.

Thanks.
As I noted above:

"The answering machine, which is a combination with the phone, is a VTech 2468, 2.4 GHz cordless phone. I couldn't find a line-out or an RJ-11 out. The manual can be found at http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/support/manual.cfm?manualID=316 , which may explain what it does and doesn't have. I don't think they sell this model anymore, but I'm guessing it is similar to http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/store/dsp_product.cfm?itemID=1250&parent=122 ."
If the answering machine does not have a line out option, I have a little thingy that plugs into your telephone between the handset and cradle that lets you record phone conversations. It may be easy to plug that into an answering machine and get a line out. I also have some other recording gear we might be able to hook up for you.
As I noted above:

"The answering machine, which is a combination with the phone, is a VTech 2468, 2.4 GHz cordless phone. I couldn't find a line-out or an RJ-11 out. The manual can be found at http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/support/manual.cfm?manualID=316 , which may explain what it does and doesn't have. I don't think they sell this model anymore, but I'm guessing it is similar to http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechui/store/dsp_product.cfm?itemID=1250&parent=122 ."
This might be more extreme than is necessary, but if it's a digital answering machine than the messages are likely already stored as some standard format on a hard drive on the machine. "All" you need to do is copy those files off.

If your other approaches don't pan out, I'd be willing to take the machine and try to read the hard drive directly. This will probably involve disassembling the machine.
I'm sure the files are sored digitally on a memory chip, and not a hard drive. For the capacities involved, a hard drive makes no sense, and involves too many moving parts. It might be possible to do a data dump of the chip, but unless the files are definitely stored in a standard format, it could be weeks of hack and blat to figure out what the audio frame size is and what the header bits are, and make a usable decoder.
And if you read my comment above, if the machine is going o be disassembled anyhow, why not let it do all the decoding work and just run the speaker leads into an audio-in jack?
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