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freedomfone

Recording Techniques

This chapter is about creating high quality recordings and how to avoid disturbing noises. The following points are valid for all kinds of recording devices, whether you use a recorder with an external microphone or one which is integrated into your field recorder.

When recording for Freedom Fone, remember to accommodate the 1-2 seconds it takes someone to choose their menu selection and put the phone back to their ear. This time can be filled with a jingle or a short introduction, ensuring the caller does not miss the first few words of your message.

Interviews / Speech


In a room

  • Choose an appropriate room e.g. furnished, carpet on the floor, curtains, few windows.
  • Avoid disturbances e.g. fan, computer fan, AC, open windows, ringing telephone.
  • Choose a position in the corner of the room.
  • Stand in front of the interviewee. This is better than sitting at a table.
  • The microphone should point into the corner, so place the interviewee accordingly.
  • Hold the microphone correctly. For most mics, a distance to the mouth of 10-20 cm is appropriate.
  • Never let the interviewee hold your microphone because you will lose control over the recording.
  • Hold the mic quietly. Remove bracelets and rings to avoid accidental noises caused when they jangle or knock against hard surfaces.
  • Whenever possible, use a wind shield to cut out the low frequency noises produced when air hits the membrane of a microphone.
  • When recording digitally follow these rules of thumb:
    • The recording level should never reach 0 decibel (dB). Levels over 0 dB produce distortion which destroys the recording and reduces audibility.
    • We recommend that peaks reach no higher than -6 dB.
  • Always use headphones to check the sound quality (see Content Production).
  • Don't forget to start the recording!
  • Check the recording level every now and then – but maintain eye contact with the interviewee.


 
Good recording technique inside a room


 
Bad recording technique inside a room


 
Good recording technique inside a studio

   
Bad recording technique inside a studio

Outside

  • Choose an appropriate location in order to avoid unwanted noises/disturbances e.g. loud cars, aeroplanes, music, wind.
  • For vox pops, choose a “semi-crowded” place, with vivid background sounds (footsteps, people chatting) and where people are relaxed and not in a hurry (avoid rush hour).
  • Hold the microphone away from disturbing noises (most importantly, traffic).
  • Don't forget to start the recording!
  • Check the recording level every now and then – but maintain eye contact with the interviewee.


 
Good recording technique in the field

   
Bad recording technique in the field

Sounds

  • Record clear, short and recognisable sounds (e.g. knocking at a door, footsteps, a breaking window). Avoid complex, longer and ambient sounds.
  • Approach the source and get as near as possible with the microphone  – but avoid reaching 0 dB (see above).
  • If possible, make several recordings to find the best recording level.
  • Avoid anything that could distract or confuse the listener (e.g. loud noises in the background).
  • Don't mix sounds with speech, they should stand alone to keep the speech clear and audible.

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