This guide is a general help sheet and check list for recording and pre-production. It’s designed to be applied to any equipment and assumes you have access to the manual for your specific pieces of kit.
- Is the place you want to record in noisy? If so go somewhere quiet.
- Is there a way to reduce noise? Turn off fans, shut doors and windows, make other people aware you need quiet. Keep your mic away from noisy laptops, fridges and air conditioning.
- Are you in an echoey or bad (square) shaped room? Listen to the room you are in, does it ring when you clap? Is there anything you can do to change the room? Adding soft furnishings, wall hangings, close curtains etc to absorb the echo.
- Recording Device eg. Computer, Handheld recorder, phone
- Relevant cables and connectors
- Set up equipment hardware – connect and turn on.
- Load recording Device/Software – choose a recording medium of high quality standard eq. WAV/AIFF (Usually found in a menu in audio settings of most recording software)
- Sound Check – Check your input is correctly set for your microphone in your software eg. Skype.
- Check input level meters and listen for distortion whilst talking through the mic.
Tip: To allow for any sudden loud sounds, set your meter to be averaging around -18dB (check the recording device user manual for clarification as models vary).
- Test – Do a test recording for a few seconds, listen back. Rinse and repeat the following until you have found the happy place.
- Is it too loud? Distortion? Fuzz? – if so turn it down a bit and repeat test.
- Is it too Quiet? Do you have to turn up your monitor speakers /headphones to hear it and when you do, do you hear noise? – if so turn up your mic input level and repeat test.
Mic Placement and Technique
- Is the microphone facing the right way? ie towards you? Usually the side with the Logo is the business end so speak into that side.
- For a good sound and to avoid capsule overload speak into the mic from around 6-12” (Use your hand as a guide, put your thumb to your mouth and stick your pinky up towards the capsule, this is a good rule of thumb, literally.
- If you want the Barry White sound go closer and it will add more bass but will risk distortion if you are too loud, swings and roundabouts.
- If you are prone to laughing loudly or making unusually loud sounds then draw away from the mic so as not to distort the capsule.
- Buy or make a pop filter, this helps reduce plosives (pees and bees) if you still haven’t got one you can try speaking into the mic from an angle off axis from the capsule.
- Whilst recording remember to stay hydrated, I mean I would recommend it also when not recording but it helps to have a moist palate so stop those annoying mouth sounds, clicks and lip smacks, they seem to also be accentuated by condenser microphones too so watch out! Avoid coffee and sugary drinks too, just whilst recording though.
- Avoid wearing jingly-jangly things like bracelets or necklaces that might crash against stuff and make noise.
- Try not to tap feet or fidget, just be aware that is might come through on the recording, you can hear in your headphone how sensitive your mic is, Listen!
Exporting/Converting/Rendering notes (Read this before you record too)
- Only export if you have to! Like if you’ve got some special software for recording and it requires you to. (eg. Call Recorder records in .MOV then gives you option to export to WAV etc).
- Leave about 5-10 seconds of “silence”, no talking, just backgroud noise, on either the start or end of the recording (It’s for a noise reduction profile).
- Export files so they are peaking around 50 percent of the available medium (assuming you can see a waveform here). Or if you have a good recording level as mentioned in the process check list leave it as is.
- Export only in Lossless formats and don’t change the bit depth or sampling frequency, try to preserve the original recording as much as possible (Lossless formats are WAV, AIFF etc)
- Is everything turned on? – Yes we’ve all wondered how to turn on an Apple mac at some point
- Plugged in? – follow the path that the sound/signal takes
Make sure no sound is coming through any speakers – you will hear a doubling effect/echo on the recording
- External noise? – Get rid of it
- Check recording before going for a whole take – the best idiot check of them all
If you really are stuck then I’m here to help, and if you think I’ve missed something I’d love to hear from you!
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