Recording Narration-HELP!!

Mar 19, 2013

We have been having a hard time recording narration and I think it is our eqipment. Can anyone recommend the best equipment to use and tips and tricks. for recording narration?

Many thanks, Stephanie

19 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Hi, Stephanie: This is a big question. What specific problems have you been having?

Assuming you have a relatively new computer and are using an audio editor such as Audacity (or Studio or Storyline's built in audio editor), the next most important thing is a decent condenser microphone. Usually cost between $100-200.

But really to answer your question, let us know about your specific issues.

Bob S

Hi Stephanie,

Welcome to the communnity!

A bit more clarity around the issues you're trying to overcome would help. But here are some general tips that might get you started with a good basic set up...

Basic Gear:

1) Microphone

USB Mic - $100 - 200

Works well if recording directly into PC. Cheap and good quality. However, limited to single mic usage forever and everything has to go through PC.


Traditional Mic - $200 - 500 if including D/A or basic board

Even higher quality possible, but requires either mixing board or D/A convertor to get into your PC. Additional benefit is that it's expandable if you wish to go to dual mic (or more) set up in the future.

2) Recording/Editing Software - $0 - 300

From the free "Audicity" up through big name offerings, this software allows you to record and edit your narrations.

3) Headphones - $50 - 200

Better phones will be more accurate allowing you to hear the real deal and also isolate external noice. Note - Many serious users buy for comfort first, then choose the sound quality they need.

4) Isolation - $0 - 300

These are materials/products that limit the bad/echoey sound of your room. Good mics will pick up everything, including wall bounce, flourescent lights buzz, etc. Simply solutions include putting your mic in a cardboard box with some packing foam, up through room treatments. Remember, one theory is treat the mic's space, not the room space... often cheaper and easier.

Hope this helps,


Stephanie Blasko

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for all of your replys. The problem we are having is with the equipment. We are currently using a hand-held recording device, which apparently is of high quality, but when we transfer the recording onto the computer  we get a lot of background 'noise'. We have tried turning off the HVAC system in case it was interferring and going to a quiet room but we still get the 'noise'.  I was wondering if we needed to purchase a special mic or recording device or go to the extreme of renting a sound

Bruce Graham


Here is an image of a soundtrack recorded in a fully insulated, double-glazed recording "pod", with acoustic foam, (good condenser mic and pre-amp setup...)

There's still noise, (the yellow bits...).

The good news is that you can remove most of this ambient "hum" very easily - if you use audacity for example, it's all documented here.

As shown in one of the bits of the link I sent, "quiet rooms" are seldom that when it comes to the tolerances you need to work with for sound recording.

Hope this helps.


Bob S

Hi Stephanie,

Bruce is of course right, that often times the background noice can be removed after the fact via the editing software.

However, it's also a good practice to try and limit the noise you pick up during the recording process itself. There are a couple of ways to do that...

  1. Try moving your actors closer to the mic so you don't have to use as much "gain" when recording. Remember, when you boost the recording level, you boost ALL sounds... good and bad.
  2. Try putting your mic/device inside a mini-booth just for it. Think "dog house" with an open side. Homemade or store bought, these work pretty well. Like this one... link
  3. Change your location
  4. See if your device supports an external mic... some do.

Hope this helps.

Daniel Brigham

Hi, Stephanie:

Bob makes a good point above. Change your recording location. Have any closets in your home or office that might work well? Go around the different spaces in your home or office and just listen for a few minutes or so.

Also, if you are in a relatively loud location, it may be very helpful to wear headphones as you record, so you can better hear what the mic is picking up. --Daniel

Mary Ann Kowalczyk (Hagemann)

Recording Software

In my most recent Storyline we recorded the audio using Adobe Audition 3.0 and saved the files as .MP3s. We then imported them into Storyline.  Our recordings come out very clearly. 

Recording Equipment

I used a headset called Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 Model 1084 - You can find some on Amazon for $29.99 -

If the recordings come out crackly, it could be that the headphones/headset/recorder could have a wire that has becom disconnected.

Recording Location

We usually record in a conference room away from noise.  Hope this helps!

Bob S

Hi Daniel,

The rule-of-thumb I learned for both audio and video and even still images was...

Record uncompressed, Edit uncompressed, then Render compressed.

In other words, for as long in the chain as possible you want to keep the signal as high fidelity as you can. Then go to a lower fidelity (ie compressed) format only at the last moment as needed.

I even keep full-fidelity edited "masters" stored because I never know when I might need the better version, or an alternate reduced fidelity version in a new file type.

Bob S

Crash course and know  I'm taking some liberties with the facts a bit to simplify...

There is really one uncompressed digital audio techncology, called Pulse Code Modulation. PCM is what CDs (remember those?) introduced. For the computer/web world PCM streams are stored as .wav for the PCs and .aiff for the Macs. These two file formats are very similar and indistinguishable in quality as they are based on the same structure.

.WAV is great in that it can handle a variety of sampling rates, bit rates, etc and store the music/voice totally uncompressed.

That was also the bad part.... uncompressed media files were size hogs in terms of file size and bandwidth/bitrate. So the proliferation of COMPRESSED formats like .mp3 amongst others.

While compresses formats are fine, most of them "thow away" data (aka Lossy Compression), to get the file size down. Once that data is gone, it's gone forever and it can have audible effects. This is espcially true if you do further conversions/editing.

Now it today's computer world, storage is CHEAP. Processing power is CHEAP. Everyone has Broadband.  Remember, we are now in a world where its commonplace to download and watch high-def VIDEO (magnitudes of bandwidth higher than PCM audio) on your laptop or tablet. So why not go with .wavs and the increased fidelity and flexibility they offer?  The "need" for a lossy compressed audio format just isn't what it used to be.

I think that may be what you are seeing.

Maureen  Brown

Hi there Stephanie,

What I do to every of my recordings. Honestly, I don't have expensive tools for recordings. I just do this technique all the time.


IF and WHEN my recording has noise in the background, this is my solution:

Click START - then type in the SEARCH BOX Find And Fix Audio Recording Problems. Then kindly follow the steps given.

I hope it would help solve your recording problem.

Maya Speights

Advice from my 4 time Grammy Award Winning Audio Engineer Super Husband when he set me up for voiceover. 

  1. Place mic with pop filter with bottom at nose level OR top at chin level with talen about 2" from mic which reduces Ssssss and Psssss and allows for minimal gain. 
  2. He has set me up with a rig if I need to be mobile and we have succesfully reduced "hum" by "packing the rear of the microphone and recording in a corner using the same microphone configuration. 

The end result required zero post recording EQ.  Best of luck. 

Note: If have used the same technique using an el cheapo Blue Snowball USB microphone and it worked flawlessly.

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