Audio recording is a key skill for anyone wishing to create professional music, voiceovers, podcasts, or videos. Audio recording requires using a microphone connected to specialized recording software (Audacity, Adobe Audition, etc.) in order to create a digital version of the sounds to be collected. This process can be performed using mobile-phone based mics and recording apps, cinematic microphones directly connected to cameras, or recording stations like those available in the Cline Library's Production Studios.
Recording audio that is crisp and clear can often be a tricky task. Follow these tips to record the best audio possible:
1) Use External Microphones
Although most video cameras come equipped with built-in microphones, these mics are often not powerful or sensitive enough to record at video-level clarity. As a result, video camera mics often emphasize background noises at the expense of your subject. If you want to achieve professional sound quality you will need to attach an external microphone to your camera. The Cline Library has number of microphones available for check out including shotgun mics (to isolated sounds and conversations) and lavalier mics (to isolate a single speaker).
View the video below to learn more about shotgun and lavalier mics.
2) Think About Where you Record
Recording outdoors or in busy areas is difficult because the impact of any amount of ambient noise or wind on the microphone can create loud slapping or popping sounds. Ideally you want to be in a quiet, secluded, and sound-proof room. If you have to be outside, stay away from roads, dogs, mowers, etc. Record all audio in the same room - elements in rooms like carpet, ceiling height, and windows will make each room sound unique.
3) Remove Ambient Noises (If Possible)
Background noises are distracting in a video and can complicate the editing process. Before recording be sure to turn off equipment like fans and refrigerators so you don't hear them humming. Most good audio-editing tools can remove background noise, but only if the noise is constant. Variable environmental noise cannot be easily removed.
4) Always Record 30 Seconds of Background Noise
For situations where you can't remove ambient noises (like humming lights) it is important to ALWAYS record at least 30 seconds of background noise before beginning your video take. This "dead time" makes it easier for audio editing programs, like Audacity or Adobe Audition, to remove those tones and distortions from the entire video clip.
5) Speak Clearly
Your diction decides how easily your audience can understand you. Remember to speak conversationally, as if speaking to a friend. Sit in a chair and sit up straight. Some tips to remember:
Speak clearly and without hurrying.
Enunciate longer words carefully and avoid stuttering or slurring.
If the speaker has a non-US accent, their speech should be recorded with greater stress on clear enunciation.
Practice breathing slowly and calmly before a take to develop a natural, unhurried cadence to your speech.
Remember that standing or sitting straight while speaking gives your voice greater strength and clarity.
Keep yourself well-hydrated during recording sessions by sipping liquids regularly.
6) Avoid Popping and Siblance
Popping is the extra burst of air that is released from your mouth when pronouncing Ps and Bs. Sibilance is the hissing sound the mouth makes when pronouncing Ss and Fs. Both popping and sibilance are picked up extra clearly in recordings and distract from the audio. Don't be too close or too far away from the microphone. The appropriate distance between your mouth and the microphone is 6 to 12 inches. This prevents "popping" noises and heavy breathing in your recording. If you sound thin and distant, get closer to the microphone. Make adjustments to your angle and distance from the mic to the point where the popping and sibilant sounds are the least noticeable.
7) Edit your Audio
Always, always, always edit your audio after recording - ideally separate from your video. The Cline Library offers a number of audio editing programs including iMovie, Audacity, and Adobe Audition. See "Audio Editing" on the "Post-Production" page for more information.
Recording with Audacity
Audacity is a free digital audio recording and editing software available on all Cline Library computers or by visiting https://www.audacityteam.org/. Audacity is an ideal program to use if you have no experience editing audio but need to increase audio volume or clarity, clean up your audio, add effects, or reduce background noise.
Need to learn how to use Audacity? Click the image below to view a Udemy Audacity training course (available to NAU affiliates).
To import an audio file into Audacity, go to File/Project > Import > Audio.
Find the file that you want to edit or click and drag the music file into the Audacity window.
Once imported, you will see the audio file as waves.
To begin your recording, click "Record."
The track will begin wherever the cursor is (click “Skip to Start” if you want the newly recorded audio to be at the beginning).
Clicking "Pause" will stop the recording temporarily. Just because the recording has stopped, does not mean it is saved. If you want the clip to start from where you’ve paused it, you must hit the pause button again. The play button will either start it from the beginning or start it from where you selected.
Clicking "Stop" stops the recording. This must be done before saving or applying effects.
Checking/Changing Preferences: Edit > Preferences. Make sure playback and recording devices are set.
Adjusting Audio Levels
Move slider bars to adjust how loud the playback is, or how much audio is picked up from the microphone.