Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips
Educators and students who use technology can find themselves recording sound in a variety of ways, whether it’s producing podcasts from cell phones, creating foreign language dialogues on laptop computers, or capturing oral histories with handheld digital audio recorders. And don’t forget that when you use a Flip camcorder to film a YouTube video, you are also recording sound.
Many amateur media producers have no trouble seeing problems in visual images. They notice right away when a photo is dark, small, or out of focus – and try to fix the flaws. This is often not the case with sound recordings. We settle for poor sound quality because we’re not sure what to look for or what we can do about it.
The students in my multimedia class have an audio podcast project each year. Before they make sound recordings I provide some examples of common problems and strategies they can use to improve the quality of their work. Below is a summary of the main ideas.
- Record in a quiet spot - a carpeted study, not a kitchen with wood flooring. This will reduce echoes and produce a “warmer” sound.
- Reduce unwanted noise
- Yourself – microphone handling, paper rustling chair creaking, jewelry
- Background –phone, radio, TV, clock, door, construction, traffic, yard work
- Hum – electrical equipment, fan, fridge, fluorescent light, pipes, heat or AC
Traig Foltz, an audio engineer colleague, has one more suggestion: reduce the bass. A lot of recording equipment comes standard with a low-cut filter that makes a recorded voice easier to understand. If you don’t have this, you can use software to reduce the bass after recording (in Audacity, try setting the High Pass Filter to 100).
- Record your own documentary
- Seven Steps to Noise-Free Digital Audio
- Traig Foltz recommends the magazine Tape Op
Previously on this blog