recording techniques vocals

Recording Techniques

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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.


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

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