Recording On-the-Go? Here’s How to Get Quality Audio
Have you ever recorded an interview or a memo, only to be disappointed later on by the terrible quality of the recording? Background noise, sound distortion, feedback, and other audio problems can make voice recordings difficult to listen to, and even harder to transcribe accurately.
When it comes to important meetings and information, following good recording techniques is vital. Thankfully, you can try several techniques to improve your audio quality and capture better recordings for playback and transcription, even while on-the-go! Here are some tips for best audio capture.
1. Choose the right spot for recording
Depending on the circumstances, it may not be possible to capture your recording in the ideal environment. Even if you can’t stake out the perfect location, you should aim for as much as possible of the following:
- A location with low ambient noise. While complete silence rarely possible, try to record in a place with as little background noise as you can find. The location you choose should also carry little risk of being interrupted, as this can throw off the recording.
- Check the acoustics in the room. Your recording will be of a better quality if there is no (or at least minimal) echo or reverberation.
- Consider purchasing a portable recording booth. If you take a lot of recordings on-the-go, a tabletop recording booth can be a lifesaver in a less-than-ideal environment. If you’re the handy type, you could also look up instructions for building your own.
2. Speak slowly and clearly
When recording an interview or narration, make it easier on yourself (and your automatic transcription software) later on by going slowly and enunciating clearly. If you’re recording an interview, speak slowly and give the other person plenty of time to respond. Allow for pauses, and avoid talking over the other person. When it comes to automatic transcription, quality audio in makes for quality transcription out.
3. Use an external microphone
Consider using an external microphone that fits your budget. This allows you to get closer to a sound source and minimize any noises from fiddling with your recording device. It is also highly recommended if you capture audio on a laptop, which tends to have lower-quality, built-in microphones. Some USB microphones are even compatible with smartphones or tablets.
Whatever microphone you choose, make sure the cables are not worn down or flimsy. Otherwise, this can create static, distortion, and otherwise poor audio. A mic stand can help keep the microphone steady during the recording.
4. Don’t record directly into the microphone
When recording yourself or another person, never speak directly into the microphone. Always record slightly away from or to the side of any microphone, and at least a few inches away. Speaking too closely or too directly into the mic can distort the sound.
5. Use a backup recording
It is always a good idea to have a background recorder running whenever you can. True, this may not always be possible or practical: sometimes a schedule or location changes, or the need to record something comes up unexpectedly. Many different circumstances can prevent you from having a second recording device available.
5. Make sure to mute everything you don’t need
Of course, you would like your environment to be relatively quiet if you have to make a recording. However, if you’re recording on your phone, it’s also important to make sure that any other apps are silent, and that vibration is turned off. If your phone still needs to have vibrate on, then make sure to rest it on a soft surface, such as a towel or jacket, while it is recording.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, enable the device’s “Do Not Disturb” mode. A surprise notification in the middle of your recording can be disruptive and distracting.
6. Clear up space on your device
Even the best recording is useless if you can’t store it anywhere. Before a planned recording, or if you frequently take impromptu recordings, always make sure you have enough space on your phone or other audio-capture device. Upgrade your cloud storage or transfer large files (such as photos or video) to another drive to leave plenty of space on your phone.
It’s easier than ever to capture quality audio. Using the above tips can help you get the most out of your recording. The appropriate environment, an external microphone, and speaking at a slow, steady pace will go a long way. Once you’ve recorded the audio you need, an app like Temi can help you transcribe it automatically.