The comments about the Automatic Gain Controls on cheap (and even
expensive) modern audio recording equipment reminded me about the same
issues I had a few years back, when I first tried recording the
performances of my newly restored Duo-Art grand piano.
I got around the problem by buying an older stereo cassette deck (the
one I bought was a Techniques mid-grade from the early '80's). What I
looked for were the direct microphone inputs on the deck and a
headphone monitoring channel on the deck. I was able to pick this
machine up at a local auction for under $10.00. They are out there
When I recorded, I didn't use any of the noise reduction built into the
deck and I adjusted the gain to just miss any distortion on the loudest
passages in the music. Once I got the raw recording on cassette, I
hooked the deck up to my computer and transferred the recordings onto
the computer, initially as WAV files, later converted to a format I
could burn onto CD.
My dilemma has been to add this quality recording to a video image,
properly synced to the image. I didn't spend a lot of time on this,
because I was primarily interested in making the audio recordings so
that I could listen to them on CD.