Recording Techniques

Discover right now how to quickly and easily create “streaming audio” like a pro and make your web site stand out from the crowd … for just cents on the dollar!

From: The Desk of Quentin Brown
RE: Recording Techniques

I hope you enjoyed the lesson yesterday and downloaded the great free software. Today we are going to look at recording techniques.

Preparing to record your audio

The first audio we will look at recording is a talking file. We will then look at recording or adding a music file.

Preparation

In making recordings, the goal is always to get a clear, undistorted speech signal with as little noise as possible.

Noise that will detract from or ruin signal quality for acoustic analysis can include:

Any kind of environmental noise

Speaker movement, especially if movement impacts the microphone or an object close to the microphone

Voice overlap between speakers

Noise from the computer system during transfer to computer

The best way to minimize environmental noise is to record in a sound-proofed or sound-treated room. To reduce the effects of noise in an ordinary room:

Choose a quiet location

Cover large reverberant surfaces with blankets or cloths

Unplug electrical appliances

Close doors and windows

Turn off lights and fans or air conditioning

Remove anything that ticks, buzzes, bangs, rattles, squeaks, hisses, or otherwise makes itself heard

Always make a one minute black recording to see if there are any noises you have missed.

Make sure you log off any software application like chat programs etc. There is nothing worse than almost getting to the end of your recording and your mail or chat program pipes in with a ding or what ever.

When recording speech form texts it is usually possible to satisfy all, or most of the above conditions. However, to record speech in “natural” situations, speakers often must be allowed to move around and interact with other people, with objects, or with their surroundings. This makes it substantially more difficult to get optimal recording quality.

10 Tips For Public Speaking – Toastmasters

Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. But, too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here’s how you can control your nervousness and make effective, memorable presentations:

Know the room. Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.

Know the audience. Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.

Know your material. If you’re not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech and revise it if necessary.

Relax. Ease tension by doing exercises.

Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear, and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.

Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.

Don’t apologize. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audience’s attention to something they hadn’t noticed. Keep silent.

Concentrate on the message — not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties, and outwardly toward your message and your audience. Your nervousness will dissipate.

Turn nervousness into positive energy. Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm

Gain experience. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.

Things I do.

I write down my talk and then crop it back. When you write it down and practice saying it out loud you will find you can get rid of a lot of useless stuff.

I make sure I speak a little slower than I would normally speak.

Write it down and then edit it over and over again till you get a nice distinct piece of script that is suitable for what you are wanting to convey. In most cases more is not better. Use the Keep It Simple Strategy (Kiss)

I separate my talk into sections so I can edit it more easily.

I try and do it in one sitting and then go back and edit the audio file for example: if I make a blunder (I make a lot) then I just do that bit again and leave a bit of a blank space and keep going. When I have finished I can go back and edit the audio file deleting all the blunders.

I also try and get a good piece of music to put in the background to take some of the emphasis off just my voice. Be aware of copyright laws with this.

When I am talking I try and think happy thoughts so the feeling of the talk will have the right flow and feeling. Your voice will project a little bit of your character so be expressive and enjoy it. This is probably the biggest secret of doing your own audio.

Tips on delivery:

Make it conversational rather than professional. What some people consider professional often resembles theatre type acting (which seems fake). Where as conversational speaking resembles movie type acting (which seems real).

Be you. That doesn’t mean you remain where you are without making improvement. But optimize what you presently possess. Most of what people consider detriments (poor voice, not funny, etc.) can be developed into advantages.

Pace Tip

Develop awareness. You should be able to feel your pace and sense when you’re going too fast or too slow. Feel your breathing and your heart rate internally as you speak.

Use pauses to highlight your point and also to add a little variety.

Last but not least is vary your tone so people will stay interested. Exaggerate your voice a little and it will sound so much better. This means increase and decrease the volume a little and be a little expressive in your talk.

How is sound recorded?

A microphone consists of a small membrane that is free to vibrate, along with a mechanism that translates movements of the membrane into electrical signals. (The exact electrical mechanism varies depending on the type of microphone.) So acoustical waves are translated into electrical waves by the microphone.

Typically, higher pressure corresponds to higher voltage, and vice versa.

A tape recorder translates the waveform yet again – this time from an electrical signal on a wire, to a magnetic signal on a tape. When you play a tape, the process gets performed in reverse, with the magnetic signal transforming into an electrical signal, and the electrical signal causing a speaker to vibrate, usually using an electromagnet.

How is sound recorded digitally?

Recording onto a tape is an example of analogue recording. We will be dealing mainly with digital recordings – recordings that have been sampled so that they can be used by a digital computer, like the one you’re using now.

Digital recording has a lot of benefits over analogue recording. Digital files can be copied as many times as you want, with no loss in quality, and they can be burned to an audio CD or shared via the Internet. Digital audio files can also be edited much more easily than analogue tapes.

If you have a tape recording use the Audacity software to turn it into digital sound.

Microphone Techniques.

If you do a search on the web for this topic you will find thousands of pages and it can become very confusing and complicated so I am going to make this very simple for you without any confusion.

Plug it in and do some tests.

I suggest a head phone mic for a couple of reasons. Firstly if you want to read off the screen it gives you hands free to be able to scroll through your text. This means no scuffling of paper in the background. Secondly you will always be the same distance from the mic so you wont have to worry about volume variations so much.

Now the fanatic audio guys will say you can’t get a good sound from them but from my experience you will get a good enough sound and if later you want to get more technical then go out and get the more expensive mic etc.

Obvious points to remember when using amplification of any kind:

Pointing the microphone towards a speaker when you are too close causes a high pitched noise called FEEDBACK.

Having the volume too high will cause FEEDBACK and DISTORTION.

Incorrect wiring & connections can cause electric shocks, equipment breakdowns, horrible humming or even pick up the radio!

The most common mistake is holding the microphone too close or too far from your mouth. This results in your vocal sounding muffled and distorted, too distant or no vocal sound at all. With a little practice this is easy to rectify and should become a part of your rehearsal routine.

To avoid distortion, ensure the mic is held no closer than 2 to 3 inches from your mouth during normal vocalization. You will have to experiment a little as the distance is dependant on the individuals natural power and ability to project.

Gradually move the microphone away as you continue to talk or sing and listen to the effect – at what point does the vocal sound start to fade? – That is your furthest point to remember. The optimum distance for clarity is between the shortest and furthest points.

There are times when you will be using more volume, hitting higher or lower notes or almost whispering. Practice using different distances and positions to see how using the mic creates different effects.

Avoid moving the microphone closer to your mouth when aiming for high or more powerful notes and practise using the microphone to enhance or lessen certain effects until it becomes second nature

Best Of Success

Quentin Brown
Streaming Audio Made Easy
http://www.mp3soundstream.com

Microphone, sound card and speakers.

In order to create a sound file you need a recording device, most likely a microphone and a sound card in your computer. If you already have a sound file saved to a disk, you are ready to proceed with turning this file into something you can use on the web.

I personally use a headset I bought from Tandy, which cost $25. This equipment does not have to be top of the line. Most computers these days come with a sound card, which is more than sufficient.

Obviously if you can get a quiet area and your mic is directional then this would be perfect. Lots of schools and colleges also have sound studios, which will produce the best audio file.

Sound is like any data. The better you can make the original file the better your output will be. If you can find a studio in your local school, church or community centre use that if possible. All my audios are done in my garage as it has quite good acoustics.

You will also need some speakers or headphones to be able to listen to the audio you produce.

Streaming media consumers represent an increasingly important segment of the Internet audience. They are also a highly desirable advertising target.

Streamies, those users who watch or listen to webcasts online, represent 44% of all Internet users and 27% of Americans overall. By far, streamies are the most valuable consumer group on the Internet. Streaming media consumers are far more interactive, are more oriented to e-commerce and spend more time online compared with Internet users who don’t stream.” (EdisonMedia Study, Jan. 2001)

Recording Software

Audacity Recording software

Audacity is a free audio editor. You can record sounds, play sounds, import and export WAV, AIFF, and MP3 files, and more.

Use it to edit your sounds using Cut, Copy and Paste (with unlimited Undo), mix tracks together, or apply effects to your recordings.

It also has a built-in amplitude envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram mode and a frequency analysis window for audio analysis applications. Built-in effects include Bass Boost, Wahwah, and Noise Removal, and it also supports VST plug-in effects.

Audacity is free and the source code is available under the GNU General Public License.

No limits on the number of tracks or the length of any track, except the size of your hard disk.

Import almost anything: WAV, AIFF, Next/AU, IRCAM, MP3, and MIDI files are supported natively, but Audacity will also open just about any uncompressed sound file and automatically deduce the format.

Audacity not only includes many high-quality effects built-in, but also lets you use plug-in effects in the industry-standard VST format. There are dozens of free, shareware, and commercial VST plug-ins online that do everything from Reverb to Noise Reduction.

Audacity acts like a non-destructive editor , providing multiple levels of undo, but it also writes changes made to the audio to disk, eliminating the need for complicated real-time processing.

Label tracks allow you to annotate waveforms (for example, transcribing speech) and later export the waveforms to a text file.

Powerful spectral features allow you to view waveforms as spectrograms or plot the power spectrum of any region of audio, and even export this data to a spreadsheet.

Download your free copy of Audacity

Streaming Audio Software

This is the only software that you will need to buy and is a powerful software program to convert your audio files.

MP3 Sound Stream 1.27 (mp3ss) is a software package that creates high quality 56K streaming audio from MP3 or WAV files. Select a file and it will create a web page and Flash animations that stream the audio even over a 56K modem just like the ones you see on this page.

It uses industry standard LAME compression to produce very high quality output. The program uses flash 4 technology which is estimated to be on 98% of computers. It will reduce a standard MP3 file by over 50% with almost no loss of quality.

Streaming Audio Stats

Some added features For Mp3 Sound Stream

Provides a vast array of buttons which vary in style, colour and complexity. Some offer positioning in the audio stream, volume control, fast forward, rewind, pause etc. Some show elapsed and total playing times. There is one called “Control Freak” that controls all of these things. See the “Buttons” page for more details.

You can also give the streaming “instructions”. These are “start-off playing” or “initially stopped”, and to “play the audio though once” or “loop the audio”.

Audio length can be up to 4 hours 26 minutes. This is great for training or seminar reproduction.

Your visitors only need Flash 5 or above and Internet Explorer 4 or Netscape 4 or above. The vast majority of people have this. They do not require any special pluggins or Java etc!

You do not require any special type of webspace or webserver. Even the free webspace providers we have tried can stream Flash!

Cable connections

The last thing to consider is the various cables etc you will need to get sound onto your computer from a different device.Audio Connections

You can pick these up from most music or computer outlets.

From bottom to top is a joystick port, line-in jack, mic jack, and two line-out jacks (speakers/headphones). Your sound card may have only one line-in/mic jack and one line-out jack.

To record from videotapes, television broadcast, or anything with RCA jacks, you need a cable with a plug that plugs into the microphone/line-in jack of your computer on one end, and RCA plugs on the other end to plug into a VCR or television.

Match up the red (right channel) and white (left channel) plugs with the appropriate jacks on the back of your VCR or TV–make sure to plug them into the ones labelled “out”. If you have a mono audio VCR or television like I do, then just plug in the white plug and leave the red plug unplugged. Alternatively, you can also get a cable that only has one RCA plug on one end, for recording from mono VCRS and TV’s

The red plug is for right audio, the white plug for left audio, and the 1/4″ plug goes into the line-in or mic jack of a sound card.

Audio Cords

A naive method would be to record through the air by holding up the speaker of the source to the microphone of the recording device, but outside background noises invariably creep in. Sometimes this may be the only choice, especially for low-end or older electronics.

Phone Recording – Telephone Recording Adapter

Connect your telephone or headset to a recording device such as tape recorder or your PC to record telephone conversations.

Note: There is National and State legislation relating to the recording of, and listening to, communications in your country. Compliance with these standards should not be taken to mean that any subsequent use of this equipment complies with the relevant legislation. For further information on Privacy Guidelines refer to government website.

Telephone Recording Hardware

Tip: To record a phone interview use the same method as for a normal recording however make sure you have any call waiting or distraction completely removed so the call will not be interrupted. Unlike producing your personal audio file you usually only get one chance at a phone interview.

As well as the preparation suggested for interviews in general, you can prepare for and deal with telephone interviews by:

Making notes of those things you want to get across, your strengths, relevant experience and qualifications, skills you have and your evidence for them, reasons why you are interested in this job, etc, and put them by the telephone so that you can refer to them.

Having a copy of your CV and application form to hand so that you can refer to it if necessary.

Jotting down the questions as they are asked so that you can look at them as you answer.

Making sure you are using a telephone which is situated where you have some privacy.

To avoid relaxing too much, stand up and smile whilst you are talking to the interviewer!

The good thing about telephone interviews is:

You don’t have to dress up for them.

You can refer to notes whilst you talk.

They can’t see you grimacing, blushing, twitching, etc, so no need to worry about body language.

There is also another easy way to record telephone conversations if you have an old voice modem called Modem Spy.

In the next lesson we will look at Recording Techniques. Watch out for it in your email.

See you later.

Best Of Success,

Quentin Brown

CEO MP3 Sound Stream

 

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