10 Essential Tips to Help You Record Better Audio
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You can use the best equipment to record video. You can employ expensive software for creating your podcast. But poor audio can still ruin everything. The best videos and podcasts can be rendered unlistenable if the “audio” isn’t up to par.

While audio files can be endlessly tweaked using various programs and software, the simplest way to deliver the best quality sound is to record the clearest audio in the first place. With that in mind, here are some essential tips to help you record better audio.

1. Control Your Mic Distance

close up of a microphone
Image Credit: Ben Rogers/Flickr

Any kind of recorded speech is made up of a series of louder and quieter parts. For the loud parts of the speech, you should move further away from the microphone. Then, when you record the quiet parts, move closer to the mic.

This will help even out the fluctuations in volume for the recording. Which will, in turn, reduce the amount of compression required for the audio file later.

2. Use Cue Cards

Nothing ruins the flow of audio like the speaker stumbling over their own words. Some people believe it is better to speak from memory than to rely on a script since the speech sounds more natural.

But this opens you up to making mistakes in the middle of your speech and having to start over again. Using cue cards can be a great way to meet in the middle over the issue of using or not using a script.

You can glance occasionally at the cards to refresh your memory about the important points you wish to discuss in your recording.

3. Avoid Using the Zoom Function

The zoom feature on your camera is of great use when bringing objects at different distances into focus for a video. However, the catch is that the sound the lens makes while zooming can often be heard clearly in the audio.

Try to avoid using the zoom feature on your camera as much as possible. If you have to use zoom, pause for the few moments it takes to zoom the lens so that the sound can be edited out afterward without cutting out important parts of the audio.

4. Avoid Popping and Sibilance

Popping is the extra burst of air that is released from your mouth upon pronouncing Ps and Bs. Sibilance is the hissing sound the mouth makes when pronouncing Ss and Fs.

Both popping and sibilance are picked up extra clearly in recordings and distract from the audio. Make adjustments to your angle and distance from the recorder to the point where the popping and sibilant sounds are the least noticeable.

It takes a bit of trial and error, but stick to the angle and distance once you find it.

5. Control Your Breathing

Breathing is another factor that can disrupt the cleanest recording. That is why it is important for you to learn to time your breathing while creating a recording.

Make it a habit to turn your head away from the microphone every time you take a breath so the breathing isn’t picked up in the recording.

6. Follow a Consistent Routine

home recording equipment setup
Image Credit: Andrew Pilling/Flickr

Today, the majority of videos and podcasts are recorded outside of recording studios. Many professionals prefer to record audio in their own homes. While this certainly reduces cost, it can also be a disadvantage.

The home is not a professional space, and it contains countless small disturbances that can get in the way of a quality recording session.

To combat this uncertainty, try to develop a consistent recording routine at your chosen venue. Use a particular room, with your equipment set up in a particular manner, and your method of recording following a particular routine.

This way, when you inevitably have to record a part of the audio multiple times to cover mistakes, the sound backdrop will stay consistent, and so will the audio quality.

7. Use an External Microphone

Cameras and smartphones come equipped with pre-installed microphones that are good enough for video chats with a single person. But they’re generally not good enough when recording audio for a wider audience.

If you want to achieve professional sound quality, you will need to invest in an external microphone. There are many such microphones on the market geared towards different kinds of recording sessions.

Take the time to investigate and find out which type of mic would best suit your needs.  And keep in mind the terms you need to know when buying a microphone 15 Terms You Need to Know When Buying a Microphone 15 Terms You Need to Know When Buying a Microphone Shopping for a microphone can be intimidating if you don't have professional experience. Polar patterns? Condenser or dynamic? Frequencies and sound pressures? Learn all you need to know in this jargon overview. Read More .

8. Remove Ambient Noise

Noticeable background noise is a constant source of distraction in an audio file. But it is quite impossible to find a place that is completely soundproof. Still, you should do as much as you can to reduce ambient noise from your recording location. Some ways to do so are:

  • Turn off fans, washing machines, and other devices that contribute to background noise.
  • Keep the recorder away from your computer when it is on and its fan is running.
  • Request the people around you to keep their voices down while you are recording.
  • Cover the floor with rugs to dampen the sound coming from neighbors.
  • Objects like drapes, towels, books, linens, etc. act as natural insulators if you place them up against walls through which sound is coming.

9. Employ Better Diction

speaking with clear diction
Image Credit: Alan Levine/Flickr

Your diction decides how easily your audience can understand you. Since modern videos and podcasts cater to a global audience, you need to ensure you are understood by the widest possible swathe of humanity. Some tips to remember:

  • Speak clearly and without hurrying.
  • Enunciate longer words carefully and avoid stuttering or slurring.
  • If the speaker has a non-US accent, their speech should be recorded with greater stress on clear enunciation.
  • Use your spare time to work on your diction. Read aloud from tricky text passages and keep a mental note of the problems you encounter with certain words or sentences.
  • Make a habit of practicing tongue twisters or even rap lyrics that make your mouth more comfortable with complex wordplay.
  • Employ breathing and meditation techniques to develop a natural, unhurried cadence in your speech.
  • Remember that standing or sitting straight while speaking gives your voice greater strength and clarity.
  • Keep yourself well-hydrated during recording sessions by sipping liquids regularly.

10. Invest in a Portable Sound Booth

Seeing the rise of home-recorded videos and podcasts, the portable sound booth was created for recording audio on-the-go. This device is a cheaper investment than renting a recording studo. It has several helpful features:

  • High-density noise absorbing acoustic foam surrounds the booth, blocking unnecessary sounds from reaching the mic.
  • The device is easy to move from one spot to another while searching for the perfect recording spot.
  • A rear panel zipper allows you to run cables from the back for a clean installation.
  • There is plenty of space to fit most types of microphones inside the booth without blocking parts of the device.

More Tips for Recording Better Audio

To create quality sound recordings requires a combination of several factors. Initially, you need to invest in decent recording equipment and find a decent recording location. But beyond that, there are simple things you can do, and we hope the essential tips outlined above help.

For more help, podcasters should read up on the best podcast equipment for starters and enthusiasts The Best Podcast Equipment for Starters and Enthusiasts The Best Podcast Equipment for Starters and Enthusiasts Looking to create your own podcast? We've rounded up some essential podcasting equipment for all budgets and levels of experience. Read More . And budding YouTubers should read up on the things to consider when starting a YouTube channel Before Starting a YouTube Channel, Consider These Success Factors Before Starting a YouTube Channel, Consider These Success Factors Starting a successful YouTube channel isn't easy, but if you keep these tips in mind, you'll be ahead of the curve! Read More .

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