Photo by: Karolina Grabowska via Canva
Many moons ago, one of my professors taught us something very simple—great sound can uplift mediocre visuals and bad sound can destroy great visuals. It may surprise you to read that the human ear can pick up on subtlety far better than the eye. If you plan to record any audio for your e-learning course, never fear! Here are a few suggestions to record high quality audio at home.
First thing’s first—equipment! You’ll need a solid microphone to get started. You might want to check out your local craigslist or Facebook Marketplace ads; you’re likely to find high quality used gear for a great price. You’ll have the option to purchase a microphone with an XLR or a USB connector. Don’t get stressed! Many USB connected microphones have the option of an XLR plug in, but not vice versa. If you’re only recording one voice and want to keep things simple, go with USB as XLR will require you to purchase an additional audio interface.
Next up, you’ll want to buy a pop filter. Did you know when you say your “p’s” and “s’s” air exits your mouth more forcefully than with other sounds? Hold your hand to your mouth and say, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” and take note of the feeling. When you speak into a microphone, these bursts of air often create a sound of hissing or popping that can be unpleasant to the ear. The use of a pop filter (essentially a screen for the microphone) will eliminate this issue. This handy, inexpensive little device will keep your audio sound clean and smooth.
Next up—mic stand! Don’t cut corners here. To pick out a mic stand, you will first need to figure out where you’ll be recording (more on this later). Make sure to pick a stand that will keep the microphone consistently six to twelve inches from your face. Additionally, you want to pick something sturdy. If the stand wobbles, your voice will too. If you’re lucky enough to record at a desk, pick something short with a weighted base or long arm that can clamp to your workspace.
Finally, let’s pick a place to record. Ideally, you want a room without windows to avoid picking up outdoor noise. Sometimes this means your closet is the best bet! Bathrooms can also work, if you have plenty of towels and blankets to stop the sound from bouncing off the hard surfaces. If you skip this step, your sound will be shallow and echo-y. Make sure to turn off any appliances (fridge or air conditioner) that may get picked up on the audio. Even fluorescent lights can be detected! If you have the time, record samples in each room to find the perfect space for your recording.
By following these beginner tips, you’re just about ready to record audio for your e-learning course. Stay tuned for part two where we’ll go over suggestions to bring your vocal performance to the next level!
If you’re designing an e-learning course, you’ll also need to know how to select presentation and application methods, along with suitable media, that will engage your learners and increase retention. Check out the Instructional Design for e-Learning workshop to find out more.