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I'm looking for the simplest way to record voice -- a two people conversation -- with a Macbook Air. The goal is then later to listen to it on the Mac and transcribe it.

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This used to be built in to the MAC OS in the nineties(MAC OS 7). :) –  Dean Sep 12 '11 at 19:49
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5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Scenario 1: You're both in the same room

Open up QuickTime Player. Select File -> New Audio Recording.... Make sure the source is set to Built-in Microphone (see screen shot below). Hit the big red Record button. Talk away.

Setting the input source in QuickTime Player when recording audio

Scenario 2: You're using Skype or something like it to converse

This is a little trickier but not impossible. You'll need the SoundFlower app from Cycling '74. If you're using Skype you'll set it's audio output to be the SoundFlower input. Then in QuickTime you'll set the audio input to be SoundFlower's 2-channel output. This routes the audio from Skype in to QuickTime. Record as above.

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The SoundFlower app is now hosted at Google Code –  Bill Nace Sep 12 '11 at 18:57
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Quicktime can make simple audio recordings, and I use Mac Audio Recorder for getting advanced functions. The process is simple:

  1. Install the program on you Mac. You can get it here: http://www.apowersoft.com/mac-audio-recorder
  2. Hit “Settings”, set the audio source as system sound and mic.
  3. Hit red record icon, it begins to record voice now.
  4. You can find recorded file in “Library”.

Good luck.

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The simplest manner is to open Photo Booth and record a movie.

I count 4 clicks:

  1. Keyboard command for Launchpad
  2. Click Photo Booth
  3. Click the movie control (lower left)
  4. Clock record

As long as you have space for the video, you can review the recording quite easily and delete it.

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Open QuickTime Player and select File -> New Audio Recording from the menu. This is a new feature (not sure whether it was in Lion, Snow Leopard, or an independent QuickTime update). Previously your options were:

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Downloaded Voice Candy; very cool, thanks! –  MikeSchinkel Nov 7 '11 at 4:28
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The simplest way is to use either Quicktime (simply choose File>New Audio Recording) or a free and open-source app like Audacity. Your MBA has a built in microphone, so all you need to do is click record and then start your conversation.

If you do this regularly, it way be worth investing in a USB mic that has better sound quality than the built-in mic on your Macbook. Something like the Samson Go Mic is fairly well regarded for field recordings, dictation, and interview recordings.

Lastly, transcription can be a huge pain without software that supports easy pause/resume/rewind capabilities. There are a couple free ones out there, like Transcriptions or more expensive commercial solutions. (Hint: Get a foot pedal!)

Sound-to-text technology is getting increasingly more accurate (though not foolproof as anyone who uses Google voicemail transcription knows), so depending on the quality of your source material and the time you spend training, you can also eliminate a large chunk of the manual transcription with something like MacSpeech Scribe

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