TUTORIAL 1 - RECORDING
and welcome to the first tutorial of this series. This first tutorial assumes you are using Microsoft Windows; if you are a Mac user, please comment and I will be happy to help.
This tutorial as it stands is not finished, but I thought it wise to share what I had written so far so suggestions as to improvements could be offered. If there is anything you do not understand, please let me know and I will endavour to correct it . Also if I have missed anything out or if you have any other questions, please reply.
Any modern-day photographer is able to perform amazing feats with their captured images, when sat in front of a computer. Ask them, however, about the art of their craft, and they will always claim it is 'in camera'. Every serious photographer realises that no amount of post-processing can make up for a poorly-lit or poorly-staged shot. Likewise, in sound recording, a clean original recording, and a high-quality digital capture of that recording, are both key to a good end result.
It would probably be best if I defined these two terms in context at this stage -
recording - The physical process of transferring sound onto some medium (cassette, mobile phone, etc.)
capture - The process of turning that recording into digital data that can be understood by a computer. For digital devices such as mobile phones, digital dictaphones and so on, this process happens simultaneously with recording.
We can divide sound recording/capture into roughly three categories:
- Live recording of sound onto some medium eg. recording a lecture onto tape or mobile phone, dictaphone etc., while you are physically present at an event.
- Analog to digital capture eg. transferring audio from a cassette or other analog source into your PC.
- Digital capture or transcoding eg. recording a live web-stream of a lecture
I will address these three scenarios one-by-one .
Scenario 1 - Live capture
There are some fairly simple key principles to keep in mind. Sticking to as many of these as possible will help maximize your sound quality.
- If possible, try to get your recording device as close to thelecturer as possible. If there is a stand where the speaker places his notes, etc., ask if he minds you placing your device there.
- Failing that, place your device on a surface that you know will not move. If you are in a lecture theatre, then a desk may be suitable - make sure no-one is sitting at it and likely to rest their arms there, tap on it etc. If you are in a masjid, the carpet next to you is a perfect spot and will do a good job of muffling any noise present.
- DO NOT place your device next to the PA system speaker - recorders are usually designed to record human speech-level audio. If you can hear the lecturer clearly, then so can your device. Your recorder will 'clip' audio which is too loud, which basically means that upon playback you will not be able to hear the distinct sounds of human speech, if you are recording from a source which is too loud.
- This is probably the most important point - DO NOT FIDDLE with the microphone after recording has started. It may be tempting to do so, but the noise created from movement will ruin your recording. It is better to have a universally quiet recording than one which changes volume in the middle, or one with lots of movement noise. The former is easy to correct on computer, the latter two are not.
Of course, the above points deal with approaching an event as an outsider. If you are involved from the beginning, you may have a chance to record directly from the facility's sound system. This falls under the second category I described above, so will be explained later on in the tutorial
Scenario 2 - Analog to digital conversion
This category can be further divided in two -
- Capturing from a microphone.
- Capturing from a tape or other analog device.
The difference between the two is minor, but extremely important. Most computers have at least three audio 'jack' sockets, and they are colour-coded. For capture purposes, there are two which interest us -
PINK - Microphone. Always use this when plugging in a microphone. If you plug 'line-level audio' (see below) into this, it will be 'clipped' and unusable.
BLUE - Line-in. Use this to plug in your dictaphone, radio, or cassette player, etc. You can use a standard 'line cable' with a 3.5mm jack on either end to connect the 'line out' or 'headphone' output of your device to the 'line-in' on your PC. Do not plug a microphone into the line-in socket. Instead, use the pink microphone socket.
It is important to note that some modern laptops do not come with both a line-in and microphone socket, just one of the two. In this case the socket is 'auto-sensing', which means you can plug any device in and the socket will configure itself to match.
The next step is to set the correct sound level for the device you are using. to do this, double-click on the speaker icon at the bottom-left of your screen. Click ???->????. Enable 'mic boost' if you are using a microphone, and mute the inputs which you are not using.
Leave the volume controls open and load up the recording software of your choice (Windows' built-in recorder will do the job well enough - just go to the start-->???-->????-->???). Start playing your line-in device or speak into your microphone for a few seconds. Stop the recording and then play it back. Adjust the volume and repeat the process until you seem to be recording at a reasonable/comfortable volume.
Scenario 3 - Digital capture
This is the easiest of all the capture methods. However, there re a few extra steps involved if you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7.
The idea is that, instead of capturing from a physical socket on your PC, you will record from the 'stereo mix' - in effect, the sound which gets output through your speakers. To this effect, you will need to close down any applications (eg. MSN messenger) which are likely to make any noise.
Next go into
I will, keep adding to this tutorial until it is finished. I am not sat at a Windows-based PC at the moment, so am unable to take the screenshots which will explain settings for recording.
If there is some information which someone wishes to know, please reply and I will give it priority.