Impact Learning Systems


Four Tips for Do-It-Yourself Recording Monica Postell

I reread my last few blogs and was hor­ri­fied to see that I almost always include the word “recently” in the first sen­tence. “Recently” I walked into a client’s office, read an email, and watched a ter­rific inter­view.  While there’s noth­ing wrong with the word or the ref­er­ence, I don’t want to become known as the “recently girl” so I’m chang­ing things up!

I men­tioned in an ear­lier blog post (OK, I know that’s close to “recently” but, give me a break, some pat­terns are hard to change.) that we use a lot of audio in our train­ing pro­grams. Some­times we cre­ate mod­els of “what to say,” some­times “what not to say,” often full con­ver­sa­tions for dis­cus­sion, and most often prac­tice exer­cises. Like most com­pa­nies these days we’ve espoused the phi­los­o­phy of “doing more with less.”  Thank­fully tech­nol­ogy has made many for­merly incred­i­ble things pos­si­ble; it’s also, on occa­sion, been the bane of my exis­tence but I'll write about those occa­sions another time.

If you are con­sid­er­ing pro­duc­ing your own audio – whether for a pod­cast or train­ing pro­gram – here are a few per­sonal tips.

1. Look for help online. Min­i­mize your trial and error time by tak­ing advan­tage of the wealth of knowl­edge that's avail­able. For exam­ple, I really enjoy Tom Kuhlmann’s blog; it’s fun to read and always full of prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion. Since we're talk­ing about record­ing audio, check out his “4 Sim­ple Tips for Record­ing High Qual­ity Audio.” Some of the responses to that blog lead to addi­tional help­ful posts.

Another resource I’ve used is “Voice Actor’s Guide to Record­ing at Home and on the Road” by Har­lan Hogan and Jef­frey P. Fisher. There’s also a web­site that shows a portable record­ing stu­dio that served as the model for the one I assembled.

One of the great things about hav­ing a portable record­ing stu­dio (We call it the PRS for short) is that it really works. It allows you to record audio wher­ever you are, min­i­mize noise, and get great sound results. Other ben­e­fits include it's light­weight, com­pact, and easy to assem­ble; it ships like a dream. We have a good solid box that holds all the bits and pieces and only weighs 10 pounds fully loaded which makes is rea­son­able if you have to ship it, as we do, around the coun­try. Because the box is sturdy and filled with acoustic foam that pro­tects the micro­phone, I don’t worry about ship­ping it via UPS ground.

2. Buy smart. Depend­ing on what you’re going to be doing, how often and for whom, you’ll choose dif­fer­ent equip­ment. One con­sis­tent piece of advice from the experts is to buy a good micro­phone. Good, of course, is in the ear and pock­et­book of the beholder. If you’re doing com­mer­cial voice-over work you’ll prob­a­bly choose a dif­fer­ent micro­phone and record­ing set up than we did. There are lots of blogs to read about what to buy.

We went with a really good, medium priced micro­phone, the Blue Snow­ball, and bought the micro­phone, pop fil­ter and pop-up can­vas cube through Ama­zon. I found Auralex acoustic foam in 12” x 12” squares at – no min­i­mum order size, rea­son­ably priced and very help­ful cus­tomer ser­vice reps. Buy­ing acoustic foam online is the only way to go in my area of the coun­try; none of the musi­cian sup­ply stores have it in stock.

3. Con­sider using home grown tal­ent. Actors will always give you a reli­able per­for­mance, but some­times you can get an added dash of real­ism by using some­one who actu­ally does the job. Depend­ing on the bud­get we’ll some­times use actors but more and more we enlist mem­bers of our Impact fam­ily. It’s fun and they do a great job!

4. Have fun!   Match­ing acoustics between dif­fer­ent loca­tions can be a chal­lenge but we love a chal­lenge. As wit­ness, here's what we did to deaden the atmos­phere in a par­tic­u­larly cav­ernous space. The solu­tion proved to be a slight case of overkill but it was worth it given the ter­rific photo op it provided!

With a back­ground in per­for­mance improve­ment and instruc­tional design, Mon­ica Postell works with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems in design­ing and deploy­ing train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams that fos­ter real cus­tomer loyalty.
4 Four Tips for Do It Yourself Recording
Mon­ica Postell
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  • Don A. Walters

    I'm hav­ing some trou­ble see­ing your blog cor­rectlly in the lat­est release of Opera. It's fine in IE6 and Fire­fox however.

  • Mon­ica Postell

    Thanks, Mr. Wal­ters, for the feed­back about Opera. I'll check with our IT gurus to see what we can do about that.

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