Audio Recording Tips for E-Learning Designers (Challenge #45) Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 2:50 PM

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If you’re like many course designers, you’ve probably had to record some audio for your e-learning courses. And recording audio is one of the simplest, most straightforward tasks you’ll perform in e-learning. You press the record button and—voilà!—you’re recording.


But what if you want to record high-quality audio? That’s easy, too. Every course designer knows that the key to great audio is… microphones. Right? Wait, it’s the recording software? No… Vocal booths? Mixers? Oh come on!


The reality is this: while recording audio is simple, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to improving audio quality. That means that the most helpful audio tips are the tips that align with a user’s recording needs, experience, and environment. And that’s what this week’s challenge is all about!


Challenge of the week

This week, your challenge is to share your audio recording deets with the community. We want to know all about your audio recording: your best practices, your gear, your processes, even your quirks and tricks that give your audio that special something. Maybe you record your best audio dressed up in a chicken suit—no worries, we don’t judge how you get it done.

 

There are three parts to this week’s challenge:

1. Tell us about your recording setup.

What type of microphone do you use? Do you record directly into your authoring tool, or do you record with a third-party application like Audacity? Do you record in your cubicle, or do you have a specific audio recording room?

 

2. Show us your e-learning audio setup.

Where do you record your e-learning audio? Try to capture what a typical session looks like. It’s okay to clean your desk before taking a picture… just keep things as real-world as possible. Yes, this part requires a photo.


3. Share your three favorite audio recording tips.

We love tips, and rumor has it you guys have the best audio tips around. Share your favorites. No audio tip is too small. If something’s worked well for you, we want to know all about it.


Tools

You can share audio challenge using Articulate Studio, Articulate Storyline, PowerPoint, the forums, or your own blog. Since this is a slightly different challenge, you have more options for how you share your entries.


Resources

Last week’s virtual tour challenge

Before you sound off in this week’s challenge, take a virtual tour of the amazing demos your fellow community members shared in last week’s virtual tour challenge:

E-Learning Challenge #44: Virtual Tours in Online Training

 

More about the e-learning  challenges:

The e-learning challenges are ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and build your e-learning portfolios. You can jump into any or all of the previous challenges anytime you want. I’ll update the recap posts to include your demos.

 

Wishing you a safe-and-sound week, E-Learning Heroes!

 


Even if you’re using a trial version of Studio ’13 or Storyline, you can absolutely publish your challenge files. Just sign up for a fully functional, free 30-day trial, and have at it. And remember to post your questions and comments in the forums; we're here to help. If you have a blog, please consider writing about your challenges. We’ll link back to your posts so the great work you’re sharing gets even more exposure. If you share your demos on Twitter, try using #ELHChallenge so your tweeps can track your e-learning coolness.


Post written by David Anderson

 

 

79 comments so far

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 7:55 AM

Ooooh...this is a good one. :)

User Rank Tim Slade

417 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 8:19 AM

Funny. I just published a blog post about this very topic last week for ATD's Learning Technologies Blog: bit.ly/1sXQcXt

I don't know if this can count as my submission, but I thought I'd share it anyhow.

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Tim, loved that post last week. I have questions about Audacity and a recommended workflow. Do you have any suggestions?

User Rank Tim Slade

417 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Hi Tricia,

It depends on what exactly your trying to accomplish. What questions do you have?

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 10:58 AM

TSA HATES microphones in carry-ons. Trust me on this.

My tips: stand up when recording. Smile while speaking. Modulate your "s"es...I get a slight whistling sound. Listen to newscasters. Emphasize key words. If you make a mistake, do what they do in the movies - just continue on.

Finally, you may hate the sound of your voice, but get to know it. Know what your voice can do, and can't. Mine can't go high or do imitations.

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Hi Tim,

I use it to record, but I'm so confused about the editing. Do I reduce noise first? Or compress? What about equalizers? Normalizing? Is there a standard workflow for beginners?

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 11:15 AM

And my final post: Here is a link where you can see the audio setup I had when I lived in Chicago. And a shameless plug for my most wonderful husband's photography skills!

http://wp.me/plRP7-ca

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Tricia: I used to travel with my audio gear all the time. They always pulled me aside and did a full bag check. Mics can't look too safe in the xray machines:-/

Helpful tip re: listening to newscasters. Thanks!

Amy Iannucci

5 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Great topic!

I've been doing more and more audio recording at work, so I am looking forward to reading what others are doing and learning some great advice!

@Tim and @Tom - thank you for the useful blog posts! I will definitely refer back to those, as I have much to learn.

@Tricia - Thanks for the tip about TSA and headphones as carry-ons! You're right about getting used to the sound of your own voice. I used to cringe, but I'm finally getting used to it, and getting better at controlling it, I hope. I'll never be professional voiceover quality, but I've started to enjoy recording anyway.  p.s. Your husband's photography is gorgeous!

At my work, we've been doing a series of informational online modules as part of change management. Here's our process that has worked well for us, although it isn't the fastest:

1. My manager writes a draft of a script in Google docs and I edit it, then we collaborate on the final. She puts everything in a table so each row is a scene. The columns have the script, a description of what visual she wants to go with each section of the script, and then any other notes.

2. I record the script first, using Camtasia Studio, saying a few versions of each line so I can pick the best one. I save each section, numbering and naming them for organization.

3. I then edit the script recordings in Camtasia Studio, picking out the best, taking out any umms, adding space, taking out space, normalizing the volume, reducing noise, etc. I save these in numerous mp3 files, by section or phrase, numbering and naming them again carefully for organization.

4. I import the mp3 files into Storyline and then build the visuals around the audio on each slide. Sometimes short screencasts, which I do with either Storyline or Camtasia, sometimes just graphics and interactions in Storyline.

Work is too noisy, mainly because of the air conditioning going on all the time, so I work from home when I'm recording.

I record from my closet because it's quiet in there and the clothes are good at dampening the sound. (I have to turn up the temperature on our air conditioner too, so it doesn't blow loudly while I'm recording). I use a Logitech USB headset.

I'm sure I could have a better setup than this,  but it's been working pretty well so far.

Amy Iannucci

5 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Oh, I just realized I didn't follow directions for this challenge. No pic of my setup (but it's my closet - I don't want to post that! :)) and I didn't do three tips.

I apologize that - I will follow directions more closely the next challenge!

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 1:41 PM

LOL Amy these are all suggestions:-) I think everyone will appreciate your detailed process for recording audio.

Please don't worry about it. I can't tell you how much we appreciate you jumping into the challenges!

Daniel Adeboye

47 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Hmm...good 'challenge' this week and putting on my learning clothes already! Somehow, I was just showing a friend a video editing I did in the past week and she was complaining about the bad audio quality of the recording...I remember mentioning to her, "I need to get good cameras and good microphones"...Maybe I need to learn about the tips, environment, setups, equipments and then know how next to go. Thanks David for this timely challenge.

@Tim, saw your post last week and got some good tips...

@Tom, thanks for the great tips...

@Amy, great tips. Do you record late at night for quiet sake? The logitech usb headset looks like a good one, does it not hum when it's close to your mouth?

Amy Iannucci

5 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 3:25 PM

@David - Whew! Thanks for being lenient with me on my first response to a challenge :)

@Daniel - My closet is pretty quiet (it's a small, walk-in, full of clothes on either side, and is carpeted). I close the door to the bedroom and also the closet. I usually don't record when the kids are home because their noise does seep through into my "recording studio" so I plan ahead the days and times I will record, if I can. I haven't had any problems with a hum or other noise with the headset - it's been really good.

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Friday, August 01, 2014 at 8:45 PM

So much great scoop so far!

I put my answers in a blog post: www.jackievannice.com

Dan Sweigert

173 posts

Posted Saturday, August 02, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Here's my submission. Thanks David for making it easy on me!

dansweigert.wordpress.com/.../sound-advice

Matthew Guyan

74 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 4:08 AM

Thanks everyone for sharing some really useful tips so far in this week's challenge.

Something I learnt along the way was to check to make sure that you had the correct pronunciation of words/terms used when recording audio. I was involved in a project where some of the audio had to be re-recorded (it make it worse because we had to get the voice actor back to re-do). Afterwards a workmate gave me the tip about always checking pronunciation and writing the words phonetically in the audio script to make sure it was said correctly.

Dan Sweigert

173 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 6:28 AM

Amy - Thanks for sharing your audio tips. Good point on having a file naming convention so it's easy to find what you're looking for.

Jackie - Great point about reading the content "out loud" first. It's amazing how many different ways we convey meaning in our inflections, etc. Sometimes I have to try a few different approaches before I commit to a recording.

Matthew - Your comment about having to go back and rerecord reminded me of something I forgot to mention. If you're doing "punch ins" ie: rerecording part of a sentence or paragraph, but not the whole, you need to do it during the same recording session, otherwise your levels, EQ, room bkgd noise, etc wont't match and it will be too obvious.

User Rank Nicole Legault

739 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Hey gang!

Love this challenge topic. This area in particular is one where I can use improvement as I don’t have tons of experience recording audio.  So I’m really loving all these awesome tips you’re sharing!!

I decided to build my submission using Storyline because… why not! The background photo is an image of my work station/recording set-up. My demo includes 4 tips for great audio, and I chose to include narration because it seemed fitting of the topic! =)

My demo: http://bit.ly/UUMdvI

Can’t wait to see what’s yet to come! Have a good one! =)

Mike Schwind

24 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I posted this a while back, but thought it might be worth posting again since it fits into this week's challenge. How we record audio..... http://youtu.be/uxn9H1PIdVc

User Rank Jeff Kortenbosch

1,116 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 11:05 AM

These tips are all very useful! Thanks everyone.

Nicole you've reminded me to start working with proper scripts more. I mostly do improv when recording but I cannot get rid of all those uhms and ahhs. I think scripting wil help there. ...and that's one nice stapler you've got there ;)

Jackie, your tip of reading your script out load to prepare is my favorite thusfar. It seemed so obvious when I read but have actually never done it before. Thank you!

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 11:52 AM

@Jeff - Thanks so much! Yes, pre-reading aloud is amazingly effective. It's easy to take for granted that you can knock out the pronunciation, syllable stress, word stress, intonation, attitude, intention, energy level, overall fluidity and a whole lot more just by reading it cold once you start recording.

It's always tempted to skip it when I'm in a hurry, but the poorer result gets me back to pre-reading again in no time. :)

User Rank Jeff Kortenbosch

1,116 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Apologies for the poor grammar and spelling. Responding from my phone tends to be a bit messy ;)

Melissa Milloway

93 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Jeff, I completely understand!  I feel like I am always responding to things from my phone and hitting a bunch of keys that I did not mean to.  I always try to respond to things quickly and then I realize I made a mistake. I sort of wish there were an edit button.

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Sunday, August 03, 2014 at 8:02 PM

@Melissa those are some really great points. As a Phil Hendrie fan, I had to appreciate your character voices tip. If not for tone and pitch, we probably wouldn't have Dr. Werner.

Good point re: editing breaths. I try to at least reduce breaths by 50% or replace with ambient noise. Either way, untouched they can be a major distraction.

I hadn't heard of Ocenaudio but I'm going to give it a try.

User Rank Jeff Kortenbosch

1,116 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 1:32 AM

One thing I love about this challenge is that I can compare microphones used. I've always used low-budget mikes and when checking out the microphones mentioned in everyone's blogs I was shocked to see the price difference between US and the Netherlands.

The Blue Snowball USB for instance ships (for free) at Amazon for $55 (€40) but in the Netherlans costs €77 excl shipping ($103). Amazing... I've been working with a very cheap (€28 logitech desktop USB) mike but could be working with a Snowball at almost the same price (where I a US resident)

Melissa Milloway

93 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 4:30 AM

@David In grad school we had to create pod-casts and make up different voices!  I did the story of Rumpelstiltskin, if only everyone could hear it! I do a mean Rumpelstiltskin voice.

@Jeff The price difference is amazing! My friend from Sweden was shocked by specific price differences in the US versus Sweden/Amsterdam (where she is now). I definitely learned a lot from her!

Paul Hilbink

3 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 9:47 AM

I always wait for 2-3 seconds before speaking after I hit the "record" button in Audacity.

That way I can select that initial section and use it with the Noise Reduction Profile setting in Effects. It samples that clip and then uses noise reduction to filter out any ambient sounds in my home office - air conditioning, traffic noise, computer fans, breath sounds, etc. from the entire audio clip. Works like a charm!

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 10:28 AM

@Paul, I do too! And I wait 2-3 seconds at the end for the same reason.

Another thing I do is right my scripts. Then I read them aloud several times just to make sure I can get the words out, and that it "sounds" like me. I always stand up, and smile through the entire recording. Try smiling for one sentence and not smiling for the other...there is a HUGE difference.

Paul Hilbink

3 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 10:34 AM

@Tricia - those are all awesome suggestions - thanks so much!

Nick Russell

493 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 10:42 AM

I find it useful to use Audacity to record directly from my PC. I explain how in this screener which I uploaded a couple of months ago.

benchmarkenglish.net/.../sg.html

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Such a great tip, Nick! I'm glad you reposted this as a reminder.

Tricia Ransom

71 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 10:58 AM

UGH! Pardon the typo - I "write" my scripts, not right them. And I don't even have the excuse of being on my phone.

Talking of scripts, put them in word and do a grammar check. Reword anything  in the passive tense.

I have a job aid hanging in my cube called "Find and DELETE":

 in order to

 start to

 that

 thing

 very

 really

 currently

 there is

 there are

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Hello all! I dusted off my old blog in order to participate in this week's challenge. I've been meaning to put something like this together for a while now, so I'm using the challenge to get that done! Thanks for the push!

www.designshorts.com/.../tips-great-elearning-audio

My blog is for those with less experience than this group, and there's a lot of overlap with what's already been shared.  I don't think I noticed the following tips though:

- use a pop filter when you record to reduce sound distortions - you can make your own!

- get some editorial control if possible, to deal with script issues without having to go back to SMEs

- think about your voice, not just software and hardware - links to resources for diction, voice exercises, etc are at the very bottom of the post.

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Oh cool! Just noticed @Tricia posted a related article around script writing for audio narration.

More goodies: patriciaransom.wordpress.com/.../show-your-work-novice-script-writer

Mister Learning

1 posts

Posted Monday, August 04, 2014 at 7:34 PM

Hey Folks!

First time taking a stab at an eLearning challenge! Here...we...go!

1. I use a Blue Yeti Microphone with a Blue pop filter attached. I mainly record in Adobe Audition, yet I use Audacity at times.

2. Dangit, Requires a photo. Well here's the deal. I alter my workspace for VO sessions. I remove a bunch of things etc. But mainly I have this extremely ugly VO booth I made for my Mic, it's eggshell and foamcore and beastly. I barely fit my head in it, but it does an OK job! (I'll make up for the lack of a picture in the future...promise)

3. Three tips? Done.

      1. Get familiar with your content. Read it. Speak it. Say it to someone else if you can, even your dog. These things will help it sound like you are actually talking to someone, not like it's your job and you are reading something.

      2. Turn off all other electronics in the room. Lights, radios, printers, etc. You'd be surprised what makes noise that you tune out, but others will hear in your recordings. This is a big one. I had a monitor that made a high pitched whine in my recordings. I never noticed, because I was used to it, until someone said something.

      3. Have some fun. If you make a mistake keep going until you've finished. Then keep on going again and do something like use a funny accent. This helps you relax after a mistake, and gets you ready for your re-record.

User Rank Tom Kuhlmann

703 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 6:48 AM

Here's today's post where I share my home office setup and few tips. Also compare three different mics.

www.articulate.com/.../tips-tricks-recording-audio-narration

Andy Parker

6 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 8:34 AM

I use an ATR2100 USB microphone and pop-filter, Camtasia with occasional use of Audacity.  The best recordings are done in my home studio (also known as home office, spare bedroom, walk in wardrobe depending on the context). I also try to avoid recording on days the gardeners are mowing or strimming.

.

Most of my recordings are audios for software demos, so I write scripts for both the typing and speaking part of the demo and record them separately, combining them in Camtasia

I use a few simple speaking techniques

- Speak as though demonstrating to a friend at your desk.

- Use your normal speaking voice

- Smile while speaking

- Ensure your script is in spoken English (for example, use don’t rather than do not)

- Avoid words which you struggle to say. A thesaurus is your friend.

- Don’t over enunciate

- Position microphone between one and two inches from mouth with pop filter in between.

- Feel free to wave your hands about when speaking, but don’t knock the table or microphone!

If you need to edit the audio (maybe to remove a sharp intake of breath), use the recording software to cross-fade rather than just cut. If you temporarily move slightly away from the microphone your intake of breath will be less obvious. I also like to apply automatic niose reduction at the end of the production.

No need to try and do it all in one take but try to do in the same session. If the room is quiet and you concentrate on using your natural voice you will be ok when joining the clips.

Tim Danner

40 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 8:45 AM

1. Tell us about your recording setup.

At work, we have a very small room dedicated to recording audio and video. Our mic is a USB Rode Podcaster secured in a shockmount on a boom arm. I used this type of mic in a prior job and liked the high-quality sound it produced. So when I was upgrading the equipment at my current job, I bought the same setup. (I also have this at home.)

I always record directly into Adobe Audition CS6. I found it works best for mixing and cleaning up audio.

2. Show us your audio setup.

udel.edu/.../audio.png

3. Share your three favorite audio recording tips.

I script everything. If I’m recording a how-to screencast, I create two scripts – one that storyboards all of the actions for what is happening in the video and one that has the actual dialog for the voiceover. I break down everything into short scenes because I have problems speaking at length without screwing up. Within the scenes, I’ll break up the text into short paragraphs of maybe one or two sentences. I found it’s easier to get it right the first time if the text I’m reading is relatively short.

I attach my script to a clipboard and hold that while recording. That eliminates any paper-shuffling sound, and I find it just easier to hold. I write my scripts for that I have a page for each specific recording or scene. So if I have 10 scenes, I'll have 10 separate pieces of paper (or pages). And I attach only the page I'm currently recording to the clipboard.

I have a problem with “plosives,” so I position the mic to the left side of my face instead of speaking directly into it. I found that cuts down dramatically on the plosives.

I also stand when recording. For me, it’s easier to talk that way, and I feel like I’m communicating naturally, as I incorporate hand gestures.

I try to do my recordings in one sitting so that my voice sounds consistent throughout. If I do it during different parts of the day or over the course of a few days, my voice doesn’t always sound the same. This is especially true in the winter when one day I may be congested, while another day I may not be.

Along the same line, I never record right after eating because I’ve noticed it changes how my voice sounds. I sometimes have that same problem when drinking something right before recording.

Before I start recording specific lines, I’ll practice first by saying the lines multiple times. Usually, the first time I’ll whisper the lines, trying to focus on saying them naturally and having my body in a comfortable recording posture. Then I’ll say the lines more like how I will during the recording, but this time I focus on pauses, cadence, how my voice sounds, not taking breaths, etc. When I feel that I have everything down, I’ll record that specific block of text. I go through this procedure for every block of I record.

I clean up all my recordings by applying various filters for clips/clicks and removing noises or sounds that may make it into the audio.

Ellen Katz

9 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Hi everyone, wonderful tips so far. I especially like the ones about script creation and editing, those are very helpful! Here is my submission for the week, thanks.

http://googledrive.com/host/0BwZ-zWnsDCcoQTNOVmRWcGl4bUU
Tim Danner

40 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Similar to what Andy posted about struggling with certain words, if I encounter a sentence (or specific words) that I keep tripping over, I'll just rewrite the dialog so that I can speak it easier.

In one instance, I could not correctly say the name of a city that was at the end of a sentence because the word before it created a tongue-twister for me. Since I couldn't rewrite the dialog and couldn't get it right even after 15 tries, I simply recorded the sentence but left at the last word. Then in a separate recording, I recorded just the troublesome word. I then "attached" the word with the rest of the sentence in Audition so that it sounded like I had recorded the full sentence.

Nick Leffler

37 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Was looking over a few of the examples and thought they were really excellent. Loved actually hearing how some of the audio turned out from these setups. I must say they sound even better than recording in a professional booth which I did at a previous workplace (I never recorded but I directed). It goes to show that all you need is a bit of passion and a carefully orchestrated microphone placement and echo dampening solution.

Also, this also reminded me that I wrote a post a while back related to working with audio recordings and also cleaning up the audio:

www.technkl.com/make-sure-you-have-clean-audio

Rick Handville

1 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I highly recommend this FREE recording and editing software:  www.presonus.com/.../compare-versions

It's called Studio One and there is a free version that is a completely professional stable software that is also Win and Mac compatible (no, I don't work for the company, just love the software)

Michael Fimian

892 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Hi All,  I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this yet, and it isn't hardware at all, but one of the best tolls I've run into for recording is a teleprompter software called Mirrorscript Pro.  It's free, and easily found via Google.

When running, it fills your screen with large oversize text.  You can control the size and color of the text as well as the background, and the speed at which the text scrolls.  You C&P text into the main field and start it running in teleprompter mode. If you need to stop and take a sip of water, pre-read the next few lines of text, or just need to catch your breath, just hit the space bar.  Pressing it again starts to scroll.

It's so much easier than reading text in PPT or Storyline Notes Fields, esp. if you have vision problems...

Apparently there's an Android version as well, as this 9-year old demonstrates:

www.youtube.com/watch

M

User Rank Kevin Thorn

1,546 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 11:03 AM

@David A. This is by far one of the best and most useful challenges since inception! There's a wealth of information here everyone has shared.

While I have the gear/software to record audio, I typically hire out those services. Mostly because project timelines don't allow me the time to write, record, and post-edit myself.

This is one area I do want and need more practice so THANKS to everyone who's posted and shared their experiences.

Plus, hearing these examples is a resource for who to contact if I need audio work :)

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 12:51 PM

@Michael - that's awesome! I have a secret plan to get my 6-yr old recording Storyline tutorials by the time she's 9.  I haven't heard of MirrorScript but it looks like something worth trying.

@Kevin - thanks, man. I appreciate hearing that.

@Rick - I didn't know Presonus offered free software. I've used their products for years but never bothered to look at their software offerings. Looking forward to checking it out.

Jim Dickeson

7 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Microphone:  Samson C01U.  Superb condenser mic with a USB plug.  The analog up front is no place to cut costs.

Software:  Audacity.  Can't beat the price!

Favorite tips:

Know that the written word seldom works well spoken, just like the spoken word doesn't work well written.  We write in complete sentences, we speak in phrases, and we can use a multitude of inflections when speaking.  So write your script like you're speaking; don't right like you're writing.

Position the mic about six inches from your mouth for the most resonant sound.  But about 60 degrees off to the side to soften the plosives consonants.  (I never liked pop filters.)

Imagine your learner is across the desk from you.  Speak like you are talking to that person, not reading a script.  Smile and include hand gestures as it helps put some life in your voice.

Throw a towel over your laptop keyboard to help silence the fan noise.

Record a few seconds of silence before you start speaking.  Gives you a good sample for later noise reduction (see below)

If you make a mistake, don't stop recording, but start speaking again just before that mistake.  Easier to edit in post production than re-recording an entire slide.

In Audacity, first sample that silent section and do a noise reduction.  Next, cut the mistakes mentioned above, and silence the little breath noises and mouth clicks that occur in pauses.  Then run the normalizer and the compressor.  

Sorry David, no pic, ain't goin' there.

Jim Dickeson

7 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Oh, one more tip.  Don't use a desktop mic stand.  Picks up every little bump of the desk.  Us a floor stand with a boom to reach across the desk.  The added benefit is that you can easily swing it out of the say and back in place when needed.

David Thompson

2 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 5:53 PM

I know you will all think this is a bit crazy I have tried all the usual headset mics etc and they were not suitable so I bought a more expensive microphone it is an AKG perception but even still it sounded like I was recording in a toilet and I tried the cardboard box with the foam in it and still it sounded wrong. So in desperation to get the job done I tried my iphone and It gave me the clearest sound, it is a bit of messing around uploading the file from the phone to computer but it worked for me. The really great thing is if I need a different voice female etc I just get them to record it on their phone and send it to me.  Simple and no cost.

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 6:32 PM

@Jim LOL no worries. I got an email from iStockPhoto saying they're seeing a surge in "clean desktop" image searches. Coincidence?

Jim Dickeson

7 posts

Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 9:30 PM

David, Thompson that is,  A funny thing when I got my Samson C01U is that I had a problem with the driver installing.  The driver software is loaded onto firmware in the mic itself.  The first time you plug it in, the driver is supposed to install.  My Samson driver too an inordinate amount of time, and I unknowingly unplugged it before it had fully installed.  And it sounded like crap.  I scoured the internet to find out how to uninstall a partially installed driver, because my computer didn't recognize it as being installed to uninstall it.  Once I uninstalled the partial install, and then reinstalled it (getting a cup of coffee in the interim because it took so long), it worked beautifully.

You might talk to the manufacturer about that kind of issue, and maybe they can walk you through an uninstall.  

Nick Russell

493 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 12:40 AM

@Jim

Superlative advice.

Can't repeat often enough - written word is not same as spoken word.

User Rank Bruce Graham

7,329 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 1:20 AM

@Jim - not always possible to use a floor stand, all depends on space. I could not do so in my office space. If bangs are really a problem you can get decent shock-mounts for table top setups. Agree with the 60-degrees advice, (that's my setup), but also use a pop filter (bely and braces approach!).

Richard Watson

97 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Here's mine. I just returned from a short camping trip so I'm just getting back to the "digital world". Will catch up on everyone's posts as quickly as possible. I suspect there are many wonderful tips to learn this week!

http://tinyurl.com/l5n58pj

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Hey gang! I just wanted to remind you to please include a photo of your recording setup. I plan on using your images for the recap post tomorrow.

Daniel Adeboye

47 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Maybe I don't have a submission for this week...not done much of audio narration myself (only the audio podcasts a few challenges ago) since I'm very new to elearning but I have learnt quite a lot this week, following all the terminologies, tips, recommendations and setups of everyone.

I've personal picked these...

1. Good microphone and I should get one as soon as I can

2. Quiet recording room and time to eliminate background noise

3. Scripting...very important, even for my blog posts!

4. Pop filters to eliminate the plosives

5. Use simple free recording and editing software like Audacity (downloaded it today)

6. Take care to do it well but relax, learners are not going to listen in the studio!

...and many more

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 1:25 PM

You know what I love about yours Daniel? (And I say it's a terrific challenge entry.) You're basically saying "this is what I learned this week".

It never occurred to me to summarize what I learn from everyone else each challenge week. The hard part would be narrowing down the list (maybe a Top Three?) but it would be a great exercise to get me to stop and reflect on it all.

I need to do that. Thank you, Daniel!

Matthew Guyan

74 posts

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Thanks everyone for sharing your audio tips this week. I've haven't done a lot of recording of audio so I've taken a lot away from this week.

@Daniel - I agree with @Jackie, really good list of your takeaways and things to do when recording.

Marcus Erasmus

16 posts

Posted Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Hi everyone, great tips! Here's my entry.

My equipment: M-Audio Fast Track USB audio interface, M-Audio Nova condensator microphone, shock mount on a modified lamp stand, pop filter and Sennheiser monitoring headphones.

I recently tried a Shure SM35 headset. Good quality, low noise pickup level, but the distance of the mic to your mouth is difficult to control and I don't like wearing the headset with my glasses.

Recording tool: Until now I have recorded directly into Presenter or Storyline, without using a tool like Audicity. I have used the built-in audio editor for cutting out unwanted noises (e.g. breath intake, mouse click at the end of my recording) and to increase volume of the complete track when it is too low. I always dreaded the extra work involved in recording in an additional audio tool (and didn't understand how to apply filters). After reading your tips I will experiment with recording into Audicity, though. Has Articulate considered incorporating some simple editing tools (noise cancelling, normalizing, compressor, EQ) in their Storyline audio editor?

Recording locations:

- I have recorded in my attic with a curtain mounted behind me against the echo. Pretty good result.

- In a storage room at the office (great dampening due to all the books and binders, but later I noticed - with monitoring headphones - that the airco rumbling is really bad, although the average user will not hear it on his PC speakers).

- At my desk in my office area in the weekend. Our office floor is large and open, so there are no echos. I turned the airco off during my recording. Best result so far.

Settings:

- M-Audio interface mic gain at 30% to avoid excessive input and too high noise level (although I have started to wonder recently if my condensator microphone is too sensitive or damaged, because even at relatively low input levels the sinus wave signal in the editor is quite pronounced. Anybody experience with this?)

- Windows Sound card input level at 50-80% and 16bit / 44kHz. I never got completely comfortable what are the ideal settings. I try to avoid a signal in the audio editor which is over 50%. Would love some feedback on this one.

Tips:

1. I had loud " ticks" in my recordings, until an audio engineer told me to cut my audio sinus waves at the zero point.

2. When you publish your course make sure to set the audio bit rate at 64 kbps or more, otherwise the audio quality of your output will suffer noticeably and most of your audio tweeking has been in vain. If you reinstall your Articulate software on another PC (e.g. if your PC got stolen....), realize that you have to change the settings for publishing from their default setting.

3. Occasionally just leave a slip of the tongue in your recording, it will prove you are human and will save you the hassle of redoing a recording that is perfect except one stupid slip!

@Ellen K - Nice setup. I general I wonder how people talk into the mic in their portabooth and at the same time are able to read a script from paper? Do you hold your paper script next to the booth or behind it?

Jackie Van Nice

684 posts

Posted Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Hi Marcus -

Is this your first challenge entry? If so - welcome! I appreciate all of the technical details you provided, along with telling about some of your audio recording experiences.

I'm intrigued by your advice to leave a slip of the tongue in now and then. I can't quite imagine what that would sound like, but I'd love to hear an example. (Which is to say - I have no trouble flubbing lines - !! - but wouldn't know which ones to leave in.)

Thanks so much for sharing, Marcus!

Marcus Erasmus

16 posts

Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 12:19 AM

Hi Jackie,

I was thinking of times when recording a relatively long part of script. During the 5th take everything sounds perfect until I flub one word in the last line... In those cases I have sometimes just left the glitch in the recording. An antidote for perfectionism!

User Rank Jeff Kortenbosch

1,116 posts

Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 12:29 AM

Hi Marcus great to see you participate in a challenge, I hope we'll see more of you!

What do you mean with "... cut my audio sinus waves at the zero point."

Marcus Erasmus

16 posts

Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 12:52 AM

Hi Jeff,

If you zoom in to the maximum on the wave form of a recording in your Storyline editor, you will see it is a sinus wave. If you want to cut out a part or replace it with silence, do so at the point where the wave form crosses the x-axis. Hope this is more clear now.

User Rank Jeff Kortenbosch

1,116 posts

Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 1:15 AM

Totally! My resistance to Math is so strong you lost me at 'Sinus'  ;)

Paul Seidel

1 posts

Posted Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM

A shame I only saw this now - our company specialises in eLearning narration, and I've got some great tips and photos - if you'd still like to see/hear anything, let me know !

Marcus Erasmus

16 posts

Posted Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 11:44 PM

Hi Paul,

I would be very interested in your tips and photos, yes. In the meantime I have become quite convinced that my condensator microphone must be damaged, as it shows abnormally high signal in the audio editor during the "non-speaking" part of recording. This would explain the trouble I have had with creating noise-free recordings. Thinking of the cause it might have happened when I took the microphone in my suitcase on a business trip. Rough handling of the suitcase may have damaged the mic internally. And I kept thinking I owned a quality mic which couldn't be the problem....

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:24 AM

@Paul - The challenges are always open so please share what you have:-) We'll update the recap to include your contribution.

Tamara Bloom

49 posts

Posted Monday, August 18, 2014 at 8:47 AM

@Mary Beth; thanks for a brilliant post, loads of very useful suggestions I hadn't heard elsewhere. Especially loved;

- your example of creating a cost-effective pop filter with old stockings and an embroidery hoop

- recording everything at once and exporting as sections

- remembering to work on the most vital piece of equipment; your voice!

Especially loved the tip on green apples to reduce dry mouths and the breakdown of what's so good about the Samsung C01U (I borrowed one from a colleague once and still didn't manage to get great sound, so I think I need to revisit my setup and see where I might have gone wrong.)

Just moved offices and my first day in have been overwhelmed by the traffic, siren and car-horn noises coming from the main road - time to look for a new recording location!

Great challenge!

User Rank Bruce Graham

7,329 posts

Posted Monday, August 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM

The only thing you need to remember about cost effective" pop filters, (the fabric ones - homemade or bought...) is that after a while, <trying to say this delicately...>, they can become a little bit "unhygienic".

Better IMHO to buy a metal one and wipe it over every so often with antibacterial cleaner :)

User Rank David Anderson

3,251 posts

Posted Monday, August 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM

That's a good point re: the pop filters. I broke down a few years ago and bought a metal one. They're a bit more but it's outlasted all the others... and it's easier to clean:-)

Akanksha Garg

13 posts

Posted Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 4:58 AM

There are many benefits of introducing the audio element in an e-course. For one, it inserts an element of interest and engagement for the learner. It also sets the tone of learning and humanizes various characters which take the course forward. That is why audio is a part of most e-learning courses and can be utilized in many ways. We have compiled some popular ways and listed the reasons why they should be included to make an e-course more impactful - http://www.gc-solutions.net/blog/a-narrative-approach-to-e-learning-have-we-had-enough-of-it/