Whether you’re recording a podcast, trying to capture a new song, or filming a short with your friends, sound quality can make or break your production. No one is going to sit through multiple minutes of scratchy or fuzzy sound, meaning all the work you put into your creation won’t matter if you don’t capture decent sound. The following will explore some tips that you can apply when recording audio at home.
Turn Off Appliances
This is a big one that people don’t often realize until they’ve ruined a whole day of shooting. You are used to the sound of your air conditioning; listeners are not. You might want to make plans for your lights and refrigerator as well, as these can create a nasty ringing sound in your captured audio. If it’s a short recording, unplugging the fridge should be fine, but if you need the lights on, and they make odd popping noises every so often, you might want to move a lamp from the other room over and leave them off or replace the bulbs.
Understand What Your Circuits Can Handle
Not all sound recording is going to involve an insane amount of things plugged in; sometimes, it does require a heavier than normal load on your circuitry, especially if you’ve got a camera plugged in, multiple mics, and back-ups, batteries charging, and other devices plugged in. Try to space out your items onto different circuits. If you have a lot, putting everything on the same circuit can overwhelm your system. If you blow a fuse, you’ll want to rearrange how you have things plugged in and reset the breaker. This is an especially important thing to keep in mind if you are recording sound in an older home.
Avoid Rush Hour
Microphones are powerful, and they will pick up the sound of cars driving by outside. To minimize the damage from this, be sure to film outside of the nearby road’s busiest hours. The occasional car can be dealt with in post, constant cars? Not so much.
Yes, you’re recording at home, but that doesn’t mean you can get away without having gear that functions. You can find lists online breaking down the different options for sound gear within different price ranges, so you can find something that works with your budget. You can learn more at Home Studio Expert about specific gear options. Just make sure that what you’ve got works. There’s nothing more disheartening than realizing in post that a large chunk of the conversation wasn’t recorded.
Record Room Tone
Room tone is 30 seconds of silence in the room that you’re recording. Unless you’ve played around with sound editing and made a few mistakes in the past, you might not know that the silence in one room is different than the silence in another. Always get room tone so that you have the option of creating longer pauses between words or sentences. You might not think you’ll want to do this, but it comes up quite a bit when sound editing.
Clap Loudly At The Start
If you’re filming, more than likely, you’re going to need to synchronize the audio and video at some point. If you’ve clapped loudly at the beginning (when both the camera and the microphones are recording), the sound files will have a nice big jump in the visible sound wave, and this can end up saving you hours of time wasted lining the files up on your own.
Clap Loudly When You Make Mistakes
Likewise, you might want to clap loudly whenever something happens that you know you’re going to cut out of the final product. This will make it easier to find and remove errors in the editing room, again because of the visible difference in the wav file.
Do A Sound Test Every Shoot
Just because your microphone setup worked for the previous episode doesn’t mean you’re in the clear today. In particular, certain clothing materials (especially synthetic textiles) create scratchy, crinkly sounds that microphones love to pick up. Whoever is being recorded should be asked to move and shift and gesture while the sound test is underway to be sure that clothing isn’t a problem. (It’s a great idea to ask anyone who will be appearing to bring a second shirt option in case your microphone doesn’t like their first choice.)
The above tips should help you record high-quality audio in your home. Of course, practice makes perfect, meaning you might want a trial run before the big day. Don’t forget to have extra batteries ready to go.