Adventures In Audio Recording - Part III


Okay, so getting ready to record in the privacy of your own home. Sadly, this will not always be easy. Finding a quiet spot to set up is always tricky at best. But here are a few do's and don't's:

1 - DON'T use your bathroom! It may have great acoustics for singing, but for recording an audio book, not a great choice. Too much echo, unless of course you want that effect for a particular scene where the character is in a cave/tunnel.  But not ideal for an entire book. You'll drive your listeners crazy.

2 - Do not have any laundry, dishwasher, or loud fans going anywhere nearby. If you've got a really good microphone, guess what it will be picked up in the background. Not acceptable to ACX requirements.

3 - Make sure the windows are closed so you don't pick up outside noises, like traffic or kids playing.

4 - Be prepared to start over... repeatedly! Things happen. You accidentally step on something, or your clothing is crinkly, etc. Where something comfortable and quiet.

5 - Have some water/drink on hand to take a swig between takes (or even sentences). Remember, with Audacity you'll have the capability to delete sections where something happened you didn't realize got picked up by the mic.

Some of you are probably wondering, "How do I delete a section in Audacity?" It's very simple. When you record Audacity not only records but gives you a visual on your computer screen as depicted in the shot below.


You'll notice how one section of the narration is already hi-lighted. For this discussion let's say that's the are you want to delete. Well once you have the area you want to go, simply select it and hit your delete button. It's that simple. Just be careful you're selecting just the section you want gone. If you delete too much, you do have the option of "Undoing" the delete by simply moving your cursor over to the Edit on the toolbar line and selecting Undo. Then you can go back and select just the area you had intended to delete. Audacity can be very forgiving. But this only works if you haven't done another delete already. The Undo is only good for undoing what you just got rid of, not something you removed several deletes back.

The same holds true while you're recording. If you make a major goof one trick I've learned is to snap my fingers near the microphone. This will create a big spike on your Audacity recording so you have a visual which makes it easy to go back and figure out where the error occurred and delete it later on. I will also snap my fingers again when I'm restarting so I can find the dead area between the snaps to delete.

As a rule I DO NOT stop the recording when I make a mistake. I use those snaps and keep recording. I'll even do this when I've recorded a section but wasn't happy with how it sounded to me. *Remember how I said in the last post that the headphones plug into the Blue Yeti microphone so I hear exactly what the mic is picking up*. Well if I feel I didn't do a good job on that last section, I'll snap and redo it. Believe me, those snapping fingers will become your best friend when it comes to editing your recording on Audacity. It makes it so easy to find those sections and delete them and it will save you a lot of time.

Okay, let's say you've finished your recording and have gone through the process of deleting the sections you wanted removed. What comes next?  You'll probably wind up with a raw version that sounds like this:



You can hear me taking breaths as well as a few noises that the mic still picked up in the background in spite of all my efforts to make things quiet in the room. Furthermore, the decibel levels in some areas will not meet ACX's requirements. What do we do about those? Well, for sake of length I'm going to cover all of that in our next installment. Sorry if this leaves some of you hanging, but to cover the material properly it will probably be a lengthy entry complete with examples and YouTube links to videos where I learned a lot of what I will be covering.

So stay tuned and keep writing and practice reading aloud my friends.

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