An audio recording can be ordered from the district court for $15.00. The court has an order form; you need to know the name of the case, case number and date of trial/hearing. Takes about two weeks to receive.
Mr. Portner is correct about the bench conference.
The correct answer to the first question is yes. The correct answer to the second question is usually. Possibly one of the attorneys or the judge asked to go off the record to discuss some matter not directly related to the case, for example a personal matter or something relating to another case in which both attorneys happened to be involved. Otherwise, any discussion bearing on the judge's rulings should be transparent, meaning recorded.
THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT ESTABLISH AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU WISH TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY, PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE OR THAT OF ANOTHER ATTORNEY FAMILIAR WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER OF YOUR INQUIRY.