Sound Production

Recording Audio

Basic Jargon

Via giphy.com as per giphy.com license agreement
Via giphy.com as per giphy.com license agreement
  • Sine Waves and Frequency:

screenshot by course author Jordan Epp

https://youtu.be/jveKIYyafaQ?t=22s

  • HERTZ (Hz): Cycles per second, the unit of measurement of frequency.
  • INPUT: The connection going into an audio device. In a mixer or mixing console, a connector for a microphone, line-level device, or other signal source.
  • LEVEL: The degree of intensity of an audio signal–the voltage, power, or sound pressure level. The original definition of level is the power in watts.
  • LINE LEVEL: In balanced professional recording equipment, a signal whose level is approximately 1.23 volts (+4 dBm). In unbalanced equipment (most home hi-fi or semipro recording equipment), a signal whose level is approximately 0.316 volt (-10 dBV).
  • MIC LEVEL: The level or voltage of a signal produced by a microphone, typically 2 millivolts.
  • MONO, MONOPHONIC:Referring to a single channel of audio. A monophonic program can be played over one or more loudspeakers, or one or more headphones.
  • MULTITRACK: Referring to a recorder or tape-recorder head that has more than two tracks.
  • NOISE: Unwanted sound, such as hiss from electronics or tape. An audio signal with an irregular, non-periodic waveform.
  • NONLINEAR: Referring to a storage medium in which any data point can be accessed or read almost instantly.
  • OUTPUT: A connector in an audio device from which the signal comes, and feeds successive devices.
  • OVERDUB: To record a new musical part on an unused track in synchronization with previously recorded tracks.
  • PHANTOM POWER: A DC voltage (usually 12 to 48 volts) applied to microphone signal conductors to power condenser microphones.
  • STEREO, STEREOPHONIC: An audio recording and reproduction system with correlated information between two channels (usually discrete channels), and meant to be heard over two or more loudspeakers to give the illusion of sound-source localization and depth.
  • TAKE: A recorded performance of a song. Usually, several takes are done of the same song, and the best one–or the best parts of several–become the final product.
  • VU METER: A voltmeter with a specified transient response, calibrated in VU or volume units, used to show the relative volume of various audio signals, and to set recording level.

Equipment Jargon

  • DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONE (shotgun mic): A microphone that has different sensitivity in different directions. A unidirectional or bidirectional microphone.
  • OMNIDIRECTIONAL MICROPHONE: A microphone that is equally sensitive to sounds arriving from all directions.
  • STEREO MICROPHONE: A microphone containing two mic capsules in a single housing for convenient stereo recording. The capsules usually are coincident.
  • DEAD CAT/WINDSCREEN/POP FILTER: A screen placed on or in front of a microphone grille that attenuates or filters out wind and pop disturbances before they strike the microphone diaphragm. Usually made of artificial hair, open-cell plastic foam or silk, a pop filter reduces pop and wind noise.
  • BOOM STICK: A pole to which the microphone is attached to better position the microphone for cleaner audio recording.

More terminology available here – Glossary of Recording Terms

On Location Recording Techniques

Man on street with microphone.
Screenshot by course author Jordan Epp

Uses of On Location Recording

  • Sound effects
  • Ambient sounds
  • Interviews with location context
  • Journalistic recording

Basic Equipment Setup

Microphone

  • Handheld – Interviews or journalism style (streeters)
  • Directional (shotgun) – Ambient sounds or dialogue
  • Lapel/Lavelier – Interviews or dialogue

Headphones

  • plugged into recording device to monitor input levels and background noises

Audio Recorder

  • iPhone using recording app with VU meters
    • Voice Memos (built into iOS)
    • Voice Record Pro (lots of file and quality options)
  • DAT recorder (very expensive)
  • MiniDisk recorder (nearly obsolete)
  • Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder ($200)
  • Android Recording apps also available…LMGTFY

Peripheral

  • 3.5mm Audio Jack to Headphone Microphone Splitter Converter Adaptor

Techniques and Tips

  • When using your mobile device as a recorder be sure to turn on airplane mode to avoid any interruptions during recording.
  • Use headphones to monitor the input levels and background noises (you’ll need a compatible splitter if you’re using an external mic).
  • Choose a quiet location.
  • Point the mic away from external noises.
  • Get the mic as close to your subject as possible
  • Avoid handling the mic during recording as movement on the boom pole or recording device can cause unwanted noise.
  • try and constantly monitor the VU meter or levels of your input.
  • Stop the recording if noise becomes excessive (i.e. airplanes, buses, crowds of people).

 

 

Studio Recording

CCBY Patrick Breitenbach via Flickr
CCBY Patrick Breitenbach via Flickr

Uses of Studio Recording

  • Podcasting
  • Interviews
  • Voiceovers
  • Narration

Basic Equipment Setup

Microphone

  • USB Desktop Mic (less chance of bumping or handling noise)
  • Handheld mic
  • Lapel/Lavelier

Headphones

  • plugged into recording device to monitor input levels avoid feedback through computer speakers.

Audio Recorder

  • Computer running recording software such as Audacity or Garageband
  • iPhone using recording app with VU meters
    • Voice Memos (built into iOS)
    • Voice Record Pro (lots of file and quality options)
  • DAT recorder (very expensive)
  • MiniDisk recorder (nearly obsolete)
  • Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder ($200)
  • Android Recording apps also available…LMGTFY

Peripheral for Mobile Devices

  • 3.5mm Audio Jack to Headphone Microphone Splitter Converter Adaptor

Techniques and Tips

  • When using your mobile device as a recorder be sure to turn on airplane mode to avoid any interruptions during recording.
  • Use headphones to monitor the input levels and background noises (you’ll need a compatible splitter if you’re using an external mic on a mobile device).
  • Choose a quiet location.
  • Point the mic away from external noises.
  • Get the mic as close to your subject as possible
  • Avoid handling the mic during recording as movement on the boom pole or recording device can cause unwanted noise.
  • try and constantly monitor the VU meter or levels of your input.
  • Turn off phone ringers in your home.
  • Turn down your furnace so that it does not kick in while recording.
  • Stop the recording if noise becomes excessive (i.e. kids, husbands, roommates, alien invasions).

 

Capturing Audio in Audacity

Screenshot by Course Author Jordan Epp
Screenshot by Course Author Jordan Epp

The Setup

  • Inputs
    • System Preferences (Mac)
    • Audacity Preferences > Devices
    • Audacity Workspace
  • Levels (start monitoring)
  • Project Rate (Hz)
    • 44.1 kHz CD quality digital audio
  • Mono or Stereo recording

Record Your Genius

  • Hit Red Round Record button and tart yackin’
  • Hit Yellow Square Stop button to stop recording

Name Thy Genius or Delete That Which Was Not Genius

  • Click on the Audio Track name at the start of track and then choose Name from drop down menu.
  • Or to delete the recording, Click the X beside the Audio Track name.

Save

  • File > Save Project will create a folder of strange and wonderful “Audacity” files including a .aup file.
  • For a usable audio file to embed on a website or play in iTunes select File > Export Audio and then select a format from the Format dropdown menu.

File Formats

  • AIFF – Large uncompressed file
  • WAV – Large uncompressed file
  • MP3 – Compressed and more compatible with mobile audio devices

Metadata

Audacity gives you the option of entering metadata that audio readers can read. A good place for your Creative Commons licensing info and Attribution info.

Here is a video of Dr. Jay Wilson of Curriculum Studies going through this same demo for his ETAD 803 students – https://youtu.be/SEtIukYZmEw