Recording an Entire Interview with Background Audio Recording

Last updated: 15 Feb 2022

Background audio recording is a powerful feature that allows users to record an interview in the background (when the form is open) and store the recording as audio data. This feature enhances qualitative data collection by allowing for nuanced information to be collected in its entirety.

Background audio recording also allows for supervisors and project managers to know how their enumerators conducted the interview in terms of data quality assurance or if they wish to have a backup recording of the transcribed interview.

Currently, users can record the full interview with the Collect Android app v1.30 and above. Enketo does not yet support this feature.

If you require an audio recording instead of the full background-audio recording, see our support article, Adding Various Types of Media (image, audio, video) to a Form.

Activating background audio recording in the formbuilder

If you are designing your survey form through the formbuilder and wish to enable the background audio recording, follow the steps shown in the video below:

  • Under the FORM, select the Edit button. (This step may not be required if you are already in the formbuilder)

  • At the top right corner, select Layout & Settings and then Background audio should be visible.

  • Toggle the Enable audio recording in the background button. A notification should pop up at the top of the formbuilder.

  • Voice only is the default audio quality for the background audio. You can change the audio quality to Low or Normal as required (see chart below for differences in file size).

  • After making all the necessary configurations, select SAVE and Exit in the formbuilder.

  • DEPLOY the form to make it live.

Including background audio question type in XLSForm

If you are designing your survey form through the XLSForm and want to include a background-audio question type, follow the steps shown in the video below:

In your XLSForm, add background-audio under the type column of the survey sheet. This is the question type that will record the audio in the background.

Setting an appropriate audio quality

The parameters column is optional but it is important to choose the appropriate parameter. Audio quality is directly related to the file size that will be stored on the server. Keep in mind how much of your total storage space you want to use towards your audio files. Refer to the table below when choosing the appropriate parameter:





Bit rate

Sample rate

File size





64 kbps

32 kHz

~ 30 MB/hour





24 kbps

32 kHz

~ 11 MB/hour





12.2 kbps

8 kHz

~ 5 MB/hour

You can leave the column blank to have the parameter set to voice-only, which will capture audio well in a quiet interview setting. If you are recording audio where there could be multiple people talking simultaneously, low would be more suitable. normal is the highest quality option and it will use the most storage space.

Collecting background audio with Collect Android app

Review our support article, Data Collection on KoboCollect App, to learn in detail about collecting data on the Collect Android app.

While actively recording background audio with the Collect Android app, you should be able to see a microphone at the top of your form.

Background audio screen

Viewing audio files that were recorded as background audio

When you have background-audio configured for your project, you can view the recorded audio file under the DATA>Table as shown in the image below.

Data table view

Downloading audio files

You can download all background audio files as a ZIP file from DATA>Downloads>Media Attachments (ZIP) as shown in the video below.

Ethical considerations

When collecting data, it is ethical to have informed consent from survey respondents prior to data collection, in this case by recording background audio.

We encourage all users to consider ethical implications of their data collection and to comply with applicable data protection legislation within the jurisdiction of their work.


  • This feature is supported with the Collect Android app v1.30 and above.

  • This feature is currently not supported in the Enketo web forms.

  • Your device should have a built-in audio recorder to have this feature work smoothly. You can download Audio Recorder from Google play store if needed.

  • Before starting data collection, ensure that your device has sufficient space to store the background audio recordings.

  • If you edit your audio file under Edit Saved Form, you will have both versions (the original audio file and the edited file) in one single file. For example, if you have a background audio of ‘Sample testing’ and you edited the recording, changing it to ‘Sample for re-testing’, when you download your background audio file, it will consist of the combined background audio of ‘Sample testing’ and ‘Sample for re-testing’.

  • If your background audio files take up enough storage space to push your total storage over your allotted amount (5GB for all free accounts), you can request additional space (for a cost) by reaching out to The payment is used to cover the additional costs associated with large data collection projects and ensures that the server remains running well for our users.

  • When you have large and/or long background audio files in your account, you may have issues downloading them as Media Attachments (ZIP). In such a case, follow our support article Downloading Photos and Other Media, which should help you download large media files from the system.