What Equipment for Audio Recording!?

We're new to e-learning development and some of the feedback is that our audio recording quality leaves much to be desired.

I had been recording on a headset with a microphone (meant more for video/audio chat participation) and into the Audacity program.

We just got approval to spend some money on equipment and, while still being price conscious (we are a non-profit after all), are looking for recommendations on microphones and sound proofing pads (that are either easy to install and not disrupting to a shared conference room or are removable).

 

What types of microphones have you had success with? Brands? Where to by them?

Do you use sound proofing for your recording space? Where did you get it from? Was it easy to install?

 

Any feedback is helpful and appreciated!!

 

Thanks,

Amy

14 Replies
David Jordan

I currently use the Blue snowball, which is the smaller (and cheaper) version of the Blue Yeti. Both of which are great mics. I edit all my audio in Adobe Audition. I have the creative suite which includes it and i haven't looked back since. Audition being an adobe product opens up a huge library of tutorial videos to help you learn as well as great customer support and frequent updates. 

 

You can find the snowball as cheap as $50 and the creative suite is fairly priced as well with /mo or /yr payments. I always recommend this combo to anyone who asks me about recording options. 

 

For sound proofing i have a stand with a wrap around sound proofing area. there are various brands and a large price range on these, i just recommend the best you can afford. The better your initial recording, the less editing you have to do. an example of a great one ive used before is: http://goo.gl/oPKzj8  attach a pop-filter and your good to go.

 

Hope that helps. 

 

Bob S

Hi Amy,

Congrats and good on you for asking questions before diving in.  There are a lot of "microphone recommendations" threads here that have some great info.  A search will get you more details but here are some high-level thoughts to get you started....

USB vs XLR-type microphone - USB mics are easy to set up and get right and can do an amazing job. Lots of outstanding recommendations including the favorites like Blue Yeti and Samson CO1U.    That being said, XLR-type microphones with an outboard D/A convertor or recorder allow even more flexibility and use with other devices besides your laptop, expansion to two-mic set ups, and a wider (more expensive) range of higher end options.... prices start at about 20% more than USB mics.

Treating your room vs treating your mic space -  One of the "new" trends centers around not trying to sound treat the entire room, but rather just treating the area around the  microphone itself. Products like porta-booth and others create a treated environment directly around the mic and deliver much of the same benefit as treating the whole room.... and for far far less money.

Analog fixes vs digital fixes - Some feel that whatever happens during the recording can be cleaned up later in the digital world. Most experienced audio folks will beg to differ.  You should focus on fixing things like noisy vents, overly live spaces, bad mouth positioning, etc etc in the analog domain where they happen.... rather than trying to put band aids on them after the fact.  That's not to say that all retouching/post-production clean up is bad, it's that it just that trying to correct the problems is not as effective as avoiding the problems in the first place.

Hope this gets you started!

Joe Waddington

Hi Amy - 

We use a Blue Snowball here. I like that it is relatively compact, and I can get some great quality out of it. We picked up a pop filter for it for relatively cheap, and added a Porta-booth to help with the noise reduction.

If you can record in a relatively quiet place, that will help! (I once made the mistake of recording in a conference room next to the bathrooms. Between the flushing and the hand dryers, the added noise was just too much!)

To me, one of the big things that screams amateur is static or noise. If you are recording in audacity already, take a few minutes and use the noise removal filter. It will help immensely!

There is a process I run through with my audio in audacity -

  1. Remove noise
  2. Lay down silence between sentences
  3. Run the Compressor filter (increases the volume in the quiet sections)
  4. Run the Normalize Filter (Levels out the volume so that you don't have really loud or real quiet areas)

I think taking these steps will help you step up the quality of your audio.

Bill Cohea

We used to use a headset microphone too. We found with it, we got better sound without popping noises when we set the headset on a desk and pointed the microphone up to record. It worked OK, but still picked up other noises. A few months ago we switched to the Blue Snowball and are getting way better quality. I would highly recommend the Snowball thus far. Especially for the price.

I haven't done it yet, but I have been considering building my own portable sound studio out of a plastic bin and foam. I either read an article on here or watched a video about it last year. I'm sure if you did a search you can find it. It looked relatively easy and cheap to build.

Here are a couple of links to what I found:

http://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/4-simple-tips-for-recording-high-quality-audio/?_ga=1.168202913.123421113.1396968910

http://www.digitalproducer.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=89503

 

 

 

Amy Gibbs

HI Bill,

 

Thanks! I think I'm going to try for the Blue Yeti but if that expense gets shot down I know the snowball is a good backup.

Do you ever find the need for a mic stand or does the table top work well? I'm concerned that if I get the sound box (or make one) that the mic will be too low while on a table.

 

I found this soundbox- http://voiceoveressentials.com/product/porta-booth-plus that I'll push for that seems like the market version of the DIY method you mentioned.

 

Bill Cohea

Amy,

We just use the table top stand that comes with the snowball. It's adjustable height seems to be sufficient. You can always get one latter if you find the need. That should work fine if no one taps on the table or bangs into the table or desk it is sitting on. We once used one of those small Samsung microphones that is shown in one of the articles. We used it to record a round table of children and one of them kept tapping on the table. It picked up every tap with the vibration.

Yeah, if you have the budget, I would go for the commercial sound box too.

Erica Strickland

I have used the blue Nessie which was awesome, then my husband upgraded me to the Yeti.  I manage a team of course translators and I send them the snowball to record our content into their native language.  Blue has been very reliable for us.  I personally also use an additional pop filter and a noise isolation stand. We record in to garageband or audacity (mac or pc dependent)

For both the Nessie and the Yeti, I've only ever used it in a table-top setting, both with and without the isolator and the pop filter (which is also built into Nessie)

On amazon, the tabletop isolation booth was about $80 : Monoprice Pro Audio Desktop Adjustable Acoustic Microphone Isolation Shield

Julia Pinholster

If you get the Blue Yeti, I would recommend this shock mount over the Radius by Blue. Their accessories aren't as good as their mics. I've also included a link to a well-reviewed microphone boom. If you don't want a free-standing stand, this one will mount to a desk or table.

https://www.amazon.com/Microphones-Custom-Spider-Shock-Mount/dp/B00HL5WWHQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1467214995&sr=8-3&keywords=blue+yeti+shockmount 

https://www.amazon.com/RODE-Swivel-Mount-Studio-Microphone/dp/B001D7UYBO/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1467215127&sr=8-6&keywords=rode+boom+pole 

Keith Lillico

We currently use an old AudoTec microphone but just budgeted for a Yeti Pro so we are excited to see how it turns out. However, I have found sound proofing to be the the most important things when it comes to recording. I started with my company mid-year and we did not have a budget to build any sort of sound booth so we improvised. I brought a plastic storage container and a memory foam mattress pad from the store. Glued the foam to the inside of container and boom instant sound booth. We also use a styrofoam cup as our mic stand and instead of a pop screen we put a sock over the microphone. Why? I am not sure but I have always used a sock instead of a pop screen. We still have to use a quiet room and adjust the sensitivity of the mic a bit but our results have been amazing to the point we pushed off building a sound booth and allocated the funds to upgrade our video equipment this year.

I also cant stress enough that having a quality audio editing program is key. We use Audacity which is free and amazing! It looks overwhelming at first and has a lot of bell and whistles that I don't use but I was able to watch a few YouTube and Lynda videos and pick up the knowledge I needed in not time.

 

Good Luck