Room Recorder

My wife was working on a doctoral dissertation and needed to do some field work involving personal interviews in various settings. What would be the best way, technically speaking, to record the interviews? To pass a tape recorder or microphone back and forth seemed too awkward and clipping wired microphones to interviewees didn’t make for a particularly informal atmosphere. Radio microphones seemed overly expensive, too. After some thought, I can up with the "Room Recorder", an add-on microphone preamplifier circuit for use with a tape recorder. While I don’t make any great claim to originality for the circuit, it has produced first class results over one year of interviews and might prove useful to anyone doing similar work.

Circuit diagram:
Room Recorder circuit schematic
Room Recorder Circuit Diagram

The preamplifier was plugged into a Sony Cassette-Corder (any similar device will work) by means of a long, screened microphone cable and placed in a central location in a room or on a bench. The circuit will pick up every whisper, so background noise should be considered when choosing a location. A 2-terminal electret microphone picks up the sound, which is then amplified by a TL071CN low-noise op amp. Note that the microphone’s negative terminal is connected to its case. Negative feedback is applied to the inverting input through a 10kO resistor. Increasing the value of this resistor will increase sensitivity, and vice versa. For ease of use and quietness of operation, the circuit is powered from a 9V battery. The power switch is mounted on the case. The circuit draws about 2mA and would therefore give about 10 days continuous service from a 9V alkaline battery.
Author: Thomas Scarborough - Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics