Many people will find out (the hard way) that audio recording is a tricky thing to get right. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider to have crystal-clear audio recordings. Fortunately, learning how to improve audio quality is simple and easy.
All you need to do is to follow this 7-step checklist:
7 Steps To Take Before Hitting “Record”
1. List Down Your Equipment
There are many types of audio recording devices that may already be in your arsenal. It may be tempting to pick just any recorder and go. However, certain devices are better than others.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each common type of recording equipment:
- Laptop – The built-in microphone may be serviceable for meetings. However, most laptop microphones provide low-quality recordings. Outside of one-on-one interviews, laptops are inadvisable unless you have no other option
- Phone – Many smartphones produce audio recordings with decent quality. Some phones record better than others, but otherwise, this is an efficient option
- Voice recorder – Designed solely for recording speech, voice recorders are compact and easy to use. These may be effective if you don’t have a phone that can record with clear quality
- Omnidirectional microphone – This offers clear audio quality for all your speakers, though it needs to be connected to a laptop to be used. Omnidirectional microphones are also prone to picking up background noise. This option is fantastic if you want clear audio quality and can manage unnecessary sounds
- Lavalier microphone – You can hook up a lavalier microphone to each speaker to record their voices clearly. However, this option may be pricey. If your budget can handle it, lavalier microphones are your best bet for crystal-clear audio
2. Do Quick Tests
After choosing your recording device, you’ll need to do some quick tests with it.
These tests allow you to determine how well your device can catch up in recording your discussions. This is especially when you face challenges like background noise, crosstalk, or heavy accents.
Here are some ideas for conducting effective stress tests on your recording device:
- Place the device 1 meter away from you, then 2 meters, and finally 3 meters. Say some sample statements at each interval. This tests how well it can pick up voices from various distances
- Using another device, play a random sound (e.g., car passing by, telephone ringing) from afar while trying to talk. Your device should be able to pick up your voice well despite the additional noise
- Play a sound clip of someone talking, then try talking over that clip. This lets you determine how clearly the device picks up voices despite crosstalk
The results will help you decide how to set up the recording environment or even rethink whether you’ll proceed with your current recording device.
3. Choose A Quiet Environment
No matter what device you choose, having a quiet environment is vital to improving audio quality.
Of course, you don’t have to aim for soundproof rooms. Any room would do with the right adjustments.
Here are some tips for creating the ideal recording environment:
- Try to position the audio recording on a table in the middle of the room
- Close the windows and doors
- Unplug any telephones or items that may produce sounds
- Place mobile devices like phones and laptops on silent
- Use an airconditioning unit if it’s available and the environment is too hot
- If there is no air conditioning unit, you can use fans pointed away from the recording device
4. Brief The Speakers/Respondents
When the day has come to record the discussion, you’ll need to brief your respondents on how they should speak.
Besides allowing you to have the best possible recording quality, this also ensures that they will have a more fruitful and smooth discussion, which is just as important.
Here are a few examples of what you can remind them to do:
- Put their phones on silent
- Avoid talking over each other
- Try to speak clearly at a moderate pace
5. Place The Recording Device Near The Speakers
The nearer the recording device is to the speakers, the clearer the audio quality will be.
Of course, this should be a given regardless of what device you’re using. However, distance to the speaker is not the only important factor — it’s the distance to all the speakers.
If placed incorrectly, your recording device may be unable to pick up voices from other speakers. This can make it difficult to listen to or transcribe in the future.
Always place your recording device in a position right between all your speakers. In most cases, this would mean seating your speakers around a table in a circle at an equal distance from each other and the recording device in the middle.
6. Improve On Each Recording
When you get it down to a science, setting up your audio recordings will become a routine for you. The risk, however, is that you may become complacent over time. This makes you end up with recordings that have less clear quality.
Thus, it’s important to stay sharp every time you record a discussion. You can do this by listening not only to the discussion but also any errors or faults in the recording. List them down and determine how you can improve on them for future recordings.
7. Invest In Better Equipment
If you want to achieve clearer audio quality and have tried all the previous steps without much success, you may want to invest in better recording equipment.
This can leave a hole in your budget. However, this investment will be worth it as you’ll be able to have more reliable audio recordings that you can create transcripts out of.
Making The Most Out Of Your Audio Recordings
If you hit all 7 steps, you’ll be able to have crystal clear audio recordings that you can use for your project needs.
However, all this time setting up, recording the discussion, and listening to it already takes up a lot of time. Add transcribing the audio to the mix, and you have a very tedious workflow ahead of you.
Instead of taking on the burden of transcription, you can use a free automated transcription tool like FreeTranscriptions! Simply upload your audio recordings and quickly get reliable transcripts for your project needs.