Getting Ready for Audio for Video recordings or Screencasts

There's nothing worse that spending time and money buying and setting up equipment - doing some recording - and at the end of the session discovering that the audio is not great, is too low, or that fan in the background was waaay louder than you thought! Here's an overview of my preparation 


Jot down a checklist of all the equipment you need - then add the stuff you *might* need.Imagine connecting everything up, and then during recording, picture the flow of audio from microphone to pre-amp to audio out to Laptop/PC and headphones to monitor the quality. If buying for the first time, the microphone is the quality bottleneck. Read reviews! There are a few good USB microphones out there (advantage: you can plug straight into your laptop and avoid going through your laptop soundcard which is probably low-quality) - or you can get an "XLR" microphone (advantage: quality, use with other equipment; disadvantage: you need a pre-amp or mixer to both power and adjust the XLR mic.). People will put up with OK video, but poor audio is an early turn-off.

Summary of mic. choices:

  • Headset with mic (poor to OK)
  • USB mic (good quality)
  • XLR (great quality) 

Yes, there are other things like a pop-filter and types of mic. for really professional results, but that's beyond the scope here.


Listen carefully to see if there any background noise you don't like. Some, like air-conditioning, hotel fridge!, etc. can be switched off for a time. If you are recording your own voice in your own environment, you could even use a duvet and tent this over yourself while recording to block out external noise. Also be aware of other noises like squaky chairs, bracelets the the like, and phones on silent etc. 


Never skip testing. Do a short 30 second recording and include some pauses. Monitor the general volume (you can do this nicely in Audacity to see the waveform) and avoid low volume, and also high (clipping) volume. Listen to the pauses to see if this really is silence and if not, can you remedy. Also listen to the quality/tone of the voice. if you are passing through a pre-amp / mixer, you can use the EQ to adjust low mid and high tones.

Also during testing ensure the talent has water, is comfortable and does a trial run to get a taste of recording. Brisk and clear enunciation are two things I aim for. Also I tell people that an informal, friendly, 'telling a colleague about the topic'-type approach is often best. Some people like a full script (especially for shorter, factual topics - and others like bullet-points to talk around, especially if more sit-back and informal. This will depend on your topic and talent.  Best of luck!


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