Broadcaster, writer and photographer Philip Williams has completed the first quarter of a 5,000 mile walk round the British coastline to raise funds for Alzheimers Society. Using a Yellowtec iXm solid-state audio recorder purchased from Preco, he is capturing interviews with local people as the basis of a planned radio series called Characters on the Coastline and an accompanying book.
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers a few years ago, Philip Williams explains. The disease afflicts a surprisingly high proportion of people, particularly in advancing age, and can appear in any family. Finding a cure is a cause well worth promoting. My aim is raise £100,000 through sponsorship. I have already recorded discussions with a lot of interesting people and am happy to interview anyone who has a story to tell.
Portability is vital when you are backpacking so I was keen to record direct to flash memory. At first sight, there is quite a wide choice of suitable recorders and I tried various devices before recently narrowing the search to the Yellowtec iXm which is a real reporters tool.
The iXm looks and feels like a normal professional microphone, which helps to get interviewees into the right frame of mind. Everything is housed inside the stick. The iXm is available with a choice of Beyerdynamic heads - omnidirectional, cardioid or supercardioid- which simply screw on and off. I carry and use all three, depending on the application and the local sound conditions, plus a Ryecote windshield when necessary. Being able to capture 48 hours of uncompressed WAV on an interchangeable 16 gigabyte SD memory card gives you a lot of confidence when you are recording on location.
Many miniature recorders have absurdly small control switches hidden away at the sides and even on the back. The iXm can be started and stopped with clearly-visible decently-sized pushbuttons located exactly where you need them. And they work silently. As recording is file-based, there is no danger of writing one track over the top of another. Audio quality can be monitored live via headphones or files played afterwards.
"A particularly useful feature of the iXm is the look-ahead peak limiter which acts as a safeguard against overload, allowing you to concentrate on the interview rather than worry about unexpected transients. The sound quality and freedom from handling noise are excellent.
A lithium-ion battery plus three AA cells, all inside the handle, together allow up to 18 hours of operation so there is always plenty of power in reserve."
Commenced at Brightons West Pier on Saturday 20 February, Philip Williams clockwise walk has so far encompassed the south-west of England, Wales, north-west England and the coast of south-west Scotland. The journey can be followed in detail via www.philipwilliams.uk.com.
Founded in 1983, Preco (Broadcast Systems) Ltd (www.preco.co.uk) is one of Britain's largest and most experienced suppliers of equipment to the television and radio broadcast industry. Preco is sole UK distributor for 25-Seven, 360 Systems, AVT, Chromatec, Cobalt, Cooltouch, D & R, Henry Engineering, Lawo, Logitek, O.C. White, Orban, Ross Video, Telos, Teranex, Tieline, Ward Beck and Yellowtec. Preco's customers include the BBC, BSkyB, Bauer Radio, Global Radio, ITN, Radio Investments, Wireless Group and a large number of independent radio stations. Preco also supplies the security, event management and teleconferencing markets.