Best Recording Practices

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What is a digital audio recording?

A digital audio recording often uses a microphone and a recorder. A microphone picks up the sound or input and the recorder saves the audio in a digital output. Recording hardware ranges in quality and type depending on your needs, from the more basic to the more sophisticated. You might record on your phone, which has an internal microphone and internal recording application, or with dedicated audio equipment like that of a music recording studio.

Who would use microphones and recorders?

The requirements for microphones and recorders may differ over a variety of sound projects. Identifying the kinds of sound important to your project can help with narrowing your choices. Some folx use microphones and recorders to help in creating soundscape archival projects where the ability to pick up surrounding ambient noises is central, while others might need a microphone that can help with filtering out background noises, such as interviews. The following examples might offer you some ideas for the microphones and recorders that can be utilized in your projects.

A simple audio project for internal use, that will not be distributed or shared externally, may not require a dedicated microphone and recorder set-up. The built-in microphone and recording application on most smartphones will serve for saving personal recordings.

In the case that you decide to share these files, a separate microphone and/or recorder will ensure a cleaner, clearer recording for distribution. For example, an accessory like a |lavalier microphone that pairs with a smartphone increases the quality of the audio file without taking too much out of your project budget.

If you need a versatile microphone and recorder set-up, the Zoom H5 can be used for a variety of projects. The different microphone capsules can help with recording soundscapes (i.e. omni-directional sounds) to dedicated narratives (i.e. from a single source).

If recording with your computer, a software like Audacity allows you to directly input your “live” audio alongside a microphone like Blue’s Snowball or Yeti, which will create a clearer recording. For those interested in pod-casting or doing interviews in a quiet(er) environment, this is a fairly popular set-up.

Where can I get more help with this?

If you need help with trying to figure out how to balance your budget and the “best” microphones and recorders, you could try using Ask Doug’s to help you narrow your choices down.

For some tips and best practices for live interview recording, you could also refer to this post by Di Yoong, a GC Digital Fellow, for more information.