Skip to content

Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips

September 22, 2011

Photo by Dennis S. Hurd

Photo by Dennis S. Hurd

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.

  1. Record in a quiet spot - a carpeted study, not a kitchen with wood flooring. This will reduce echoes and produce a “warmer” sound.
  2. 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
  3. Set the volume high – the highest level that does not peak in “the red zone.” One mistake that people make is setting the record volume level too low.
  4. Wear headphones - listen to your recording while it’s happening, so that you can catch problems. If you monitor a recording through a speaker, or can may get feedback and odd echoes.
  5. Record a second or two of quiet before and after – recordings don’t always start exactly when you think they do, and it’s easy to edit out dead time that you don’t want.
  6. Speak clearly - some people speak so fast that their words become slurred. Remember that other people need to understand what you’re saying.
  7. Get close – but not too close - locating the microphone 12 inches away helps ensure the recording is loud enough and background sounds do not overpower the voice.  Get too close and you’ll record breath sounds from words like “Pick” and “Fuss.”
  8. Use a handheld microphone or recorder if you can – hold it so that the tip is an inch away from the speaker’s chin and pointed toward his or her mouth.

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).

Additional resources

Previously on this blog

16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2011 10:52 pm

    I just wrote a guide regarding the tips on voice recording here: http://www.transcriptionwave.com/audio-recording-tips.html
    I hope it answers your inquiry, thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips « NspireD2: Learning Technology … | recordingdigitalaudio.com
  2. ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education
  3. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips | Διδασκαλία με τη βοήθεια Νέων Μέσων στ&omicr
  4. Freelance Toolkit: How to Get Started Video Blogging
  5. Freelance Toolkit: How to Get Started Video Blogging | Ricky Noel Diancin Jr. Webmaster | Web Designer | Wordpress Expert
  6. Freelance Toolkit: How to Get Started Video Blogging « Fast Ninja Blog by Freelanceful – Web Design | Coding | Freelancing
  7. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips | Debra's Podcasting Tips | Scoop.it
  8. Freelance Toolkit: How to Get Started Video Blogging | Freelancing Help
  9. NOW@TWC» Blog Archive » Voice recording tips…
  10. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips | Quality Through-ICT | Scoop.it
  11. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips | Wallet Digital | Scoop.it
  12. I am from poetry and machines « NspireD2: Learning Technology in Higher Ed.
  13. Prezi adds audio | NspireD2: Learning Technology in Higher Ed.
  14. Eight Basic Voice Recording Tips | Media in the...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 590 other followers

%d bloggers like this: