Suggestions for SME recording narration

Good morning!

I'm wondering if anyone has suggested tips for having the SME record narration.  The only other time I've done this, the person recorded right into Articulate.  We were always having issues with saving to our shared network, then save locally, and back again.  We lost the audio files a few times, which was less than fun.  I would like to try using a separate recording software this time.  I've seen GoldWave recommended and tried it out yesterday.  I think we would have it in the budget for both me and the SME to have a license.  Has anyone done this?  I want to make the process as easy for her as possible.  I was thinking of having her simply leave a good 10 seconds between each slide and then either email, dropbox or save the file from each day on our shared network, so that I can go in, cut and paste and save as separate slide files.  Does this make sense?  Any other recommendations?  I'm estimating about 20 minutes worth of completed, edited, narration total, recorded over the course of a week.

Thank you!

12 Replies
Nicole Legault

Hi Laura!

In the past I've used the free audio recording tool Audacity. It's free to download, has a ton of functionality, and is easy to use.  I record in a really quiet area, with a good quality microphone (I have a Samsun C01U), and then I do some minor edits to the file in Audacity (compress, remove background noise, etc. which is super easy to do in this tool) Finally, I export to .WAV and then import the audio file into my Articulate project. It always works perfectly. 

When I've had to work with someone else, I did have them record each slide as a seperate audio file and then I had them upload those files to a Dropbox folder we both had access to. If they don't have an audio recording tool, I make the minor edits to the recorded files myself when I receive them. I think it might save you a lot of time and headaches if you have the SME record each audio clip separetely, instead of having one long recording with pauses that you then have to edit and break up into seperate clips.

Hope this helps out -- just my two cents!  

Gustavo S.

Audacity is your new best friend. It's a free, no advertising tool that works wonders. I highly recommend it. When you save a project in Audacity you get two files, one having all of the data, so she's just got to make sure she saves both files on your shared network. 

If you're recording 20 minutes I would say do it in chunks- don't do it all at once, otherwise your file will be gigantic. 

Sergey Snegirev branchtrack.com

You can use free software like Audacity and a USB microphone (they produce less hiss in non-studio environments because they send digital signal over the wire). Samson C01U is almost industry standard. Other popular alternatives are Blue SnowBall (or Yeti) and Audiotechnica AT2020 USB. 

However, what we found absolutely best is using a digital recorder. It is SO MUCH more convenient than using a laptop.

Compare:

- take laptop, move it to the conference room where SME will record their voice

- run back to grab the charger

- plug it in, boot up, wait 15 minutes until all updates are installed.. reboot... SME is getting impatient but ok

- plug in the mic, run Audacity. Three minutes into the recording, Skype happily chimes because someone you don't even remember has a birthday.

.. and so on  

No such problems with digital recorders, and they always have a great built-in mic optimized for speech recording. Zoom H1 and its siblings are industry standard, although Olympus and other companies also make very good DVRs. You also never lose your files to HDD failures, because they are stored on the recorder and copying them to your PC for editing is as easy as using a flash stick.

Also, take a look at what Mr.Kuhlman says here: 

http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/4-simple-tips-for-recording-high-quality-audio/

and here http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/13-more-tips-to-help-you-record-narration-like-the-pros/, this is very valuable stuff for all types of recording.

Gregg Wanciak

I'll add my voice to those advocating Audacity.

As Kimberly says, it's not necessary for your SME to export the recordings to .wav.

  1. Your SME can record each slide's audio as a separate sound file in Audacity. It's as simple as clicking Record and clicking Stop
  2. In Audacity, your SME chooses File > Save Project or Save Project As... (as always, save early, save often)
  3. Two objects are saved - a file named <your_filename>.aup and a folder named <your_filename>_data
  4. You can download both of these objects from your shared Dropbox folder (have your SME do the recording and saving on his or her local drive and then upload to Dropbox, don't do the work in the Dropbox folder), open the Audacity project with the .aup file, edit the audio and export to .wav
  5. Import your .wav files into Articulate

There are a million Audacity tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere via a Google search.

Kimberly Read

Hi Laura, I work with someone who has a fantastic voice for recording and he loves doing narration - it's wonderful! I taught him how to use Audacity, he downloaded it his home computer and he records in the quiet space of his home. He remotes into our organization's shared network drive and save the source file where I can retrieve and edit it. This works beautifully. The biggest hurdles:

1. When he was getting started, he ordered a bum Snowball mic he had to exchange for a new one because it was producing static.

2. First audio clips he gave me with the new mic had interference on them and they were very low volume. I gave him direction on how close the mic should be to his voice and discovered that his mic cord was close to his power cord. Once we changed those things the audio sounded great.

3. In a couple of clips he gave me there were plosives. We had a talk about those and now he controls his voice so they don't happen (and I also became skilled at minimizing those).

In short, I agree with Sergey about Tom's posts being a great point of reference. Looking back I should have provided my voice talent these tips upfront, particularly since he works independently with the software and a mic. Now that we are up and going he does an awesome job.

 http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/13-more-tips-to-help-you-record-narration-like-the-pros/

Bruce Graham

The lovely thing about Audacity, (which I use for all v/o I do...), is that you can learn what you need to as you go along.

Learn about Noise Reduction. Even your "quiet places" are noisy.

Then if you want to you can learn about adding multiple-tracks, and auto-ducking etc.

It is quite useful to save BOTH the "project", (an .aup file), and the output, (the .wav or .mp3 etc.).

Reducing echo, reducing plosives (use a Pop Filter...) etc. are all things that you can constantly add to change things. and make it more and more professional.

The only problem with digital recorders is maintaining the mouth to mic distance - it can end up sounding like the voice talent is on a rollercoaster

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Laura M

Thanks again for all of the replies!  It's going so well, so far!  She is super fast at updating slides that need tweaking and she figured out how to adjust her own Audacity settings and the recordings are coming out so clear (the first round of 15 slides or so had a terrible background noise of some kind.)  She really has a great voice for this type of thing, so I feel extremely fortunate.  

We are actually using a Logitech headset/microphone, which I purchased on Amazon for $25-30 (I think it's regularly $45?) and it's been really consistent.  The last time I had an SME record, I had a tabletop Logitech that was definitely a lower quality and you can tell the difference.  

We are hoping to start piloting the course at the very beginning of the year and hope to have it fully launched by the end of February.  I keep telling her she's nuts, but we've hit every deadline she's set so far!  


I really can't thank this community enough for their help.  

Ashlee Smith

I have also used Audacity for a recent project, and had great success. As a note to other Audacity newcomers importing files into Articulate - I did find I had to go in and manually change the bitrate setting from 32 to 16 bit. When I was not doing this, I was getting screeching feedback noises.