The advancement of technology has seen to the influx of audio recording devices which are at the disposal of students and educators who deal with sound analysis. It is much easier to record sound at any instance whether through cell phones, laptop computers or the assortment of digital recorders available in the market. Video recording devices simultaneously record moving pictures and sound.
Novice media producers can notice right away if the recorded visual images are wanting in quality. They can spot shaky images, dark shots or over exposed images and effect the necessary changes for a quality end-product. This is however not the case with sound recordings; most people settle for sub-par sound quality, because they are unsure about what constitutes to good sound recordings.
Each year, I assign my multimedia students an audio podcast assignment. I always give them pointers on the common problems that they are likely to encounter during the audio recording process and give them tips to use to ensure that they come up with quality audio recordings. Here are 8 tips which my students find particularly helpful during the audio recording process.
- Find an isolated or quiet place for the recording – it goes without saying that the quality of an audio recording is as good as the surrounding environment. It is wise to go for carpeted rooms which results in ‘warmer’ sound qualities, as opposed to rooms with wooden floors which are prone to echoes.
- Minimize on sound distortions – Apart from technology-based distortions, there are several causes of sound distortion which everyone should be aware about during the audio recording process.
- Person-based distortion such as the rustling of paper, shuffling of feet, creaking of chairs and excessive body movements which results in noise produced by the jewelry worn.
- Background noises are produced by distant radios, construction workers, phones, doors and TVs.
- Humming sounds are produced by electrical equipment such as refrigerators, fans, fluorescent lights and AC systems.
- Adjust the recording settings to the right levels – the recording settings should be at the appropriate levels. Adjust the volume to a high level, without going beyond ‘the red zone.’
- Listen to the sound recording using headphones – it is important to monitor the audio recording as it is being captured to pick on possible distortions or problems and rectify them on spot. Monitoring sound through speakers usually gives a false feedback as well as odd echoes.
- Record natural sound – before beginning and after concluding the recording session, it is important to record the natural sound for about a second or two. This helps to capture the entire recording in its entirety as opposed to having abrupt entries at the beginning and fast cuts at the end. The natural sound can always be edited out if it is not required.
- Ask the interviewer and interviewees to speak clearly – people tend to speak too fast or mumble when they are aware that they are being recorded. Ask the interviewer and interviewee to speak clearly during the recording session. Remember that the main purpose of an audio recording is for the audience to hear what is being said.
- Set the microphone close to the speaker – the microphone should be set-up close enough to the subjects, but within a comfortable distance to avoid high-pitch pick-ups. The microphone should ideally be placed 12 inches from the subjects.
- Go for a handheld microphone – it is always best to go for handheld microphones or handheld recorders. The tip of the microphone should be held an inch away from the subject’s mouth and pointed towards the subject’s mouth. More on audio transcription