Everyday Media

An everyday blog about media by everyday blogger Louise Alice Wilson.

Tag: Sound Recording


The main reason we do workshop activities is to improve or skill, or to be exposed to new concepts and technology that we may have never encountered before. This was definitely the case for this weeks workshop, I could feel my brain doing things it had never done before. For this weeks workshop we had to do conduct an interview with a fellow student about a particular topic area, ours was: What I like about RMIT city campus. For my interview I was partnered with Jocelyn – http://www.mediafactory.org.au/jocelyn-utting/ – we had a pretty great time together and managed to complete the entire activity.
The first problem we faced was finding a suitable location for the interview. We decided to head to building 80 to find a nice quiet place, to ensure our audio wouldn’t be tainted by other sources of audio. We managed to find a quiet room and began recording pretty quickly. I decided to be the interviewer and Joss decided to be the interviewer, which makes sense as she’s a great talker with a bubbly personality.

Quite quickly we managed to come up with some great questions and some interesting responses. We had some pretty successful recordings for the formal interview, the most successful actually being the first one. The audio for the formal interview can be found below:

For this first interview we placed the microphone close by on a table situated between myself and Joss, we did a test run for the levels, making sure that weren’t clipping then we began recording. We listened back after each take to ensure that the levels were a-okay and that there were no interfering sounds. Overall it was quite easy to achieve good sound quality, as the space was pretty well suited towards it. We then decided to leave the quiet room and interact with the campus to obtain interesting soundscapes for the non-formal interview.

To obtain interesting soundscapes we decided to conduct the interview while heading towards the elevator, to continue the interview while inside and to continue it further once we were out on another level. We thought this was a great way of making the campus, it’s accessibility and great design a physical element of our production. It also gives a great feeling of movement, energy and lax attitude that matches with the vibe of us and other university students. We wanted it to feel like a recording done by uni students for uni students and we think this was achieved. Our most successful recording for the non-formal interview was the second one, but I combined elements from the other recordings to round it out and to use certain lines that I preferred over others. The audio for the non-formal interview can be found below:

For the second interview it was slightly harder to get good clean sound as we were going around and talking. The background audio (i.e. general hum of noise in the background) varies slightly when changing from outside the elevator to inside the elevator, to outside again mainly because of the acoustic differences in the spaces as well as the number of sound sources present. It’s also harder to keep the mic at a similar distance from myself and Joss as we were both walking, thus bobbing around. Overall though I think we managed to get a pretty good recording and I really liked the sound of students and general campus sounds in the background. It helps to underline the premise of the interview as well as clearly distinguish that we are in fact at the RMIT campus.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

Hear Me Out

Being a musician, i’m pretty stoked toread about sound, I’d happily read through a hundred pages with various diagrams on sound, because I think sound is totally awesome. But since I’m sure that not everyone is as interested in sound as I am, I decided to keep it brief (like as brief as I could). I’ve decided to cover a topic that I think is the most relevant to media students being,

How to record clean sound:

      1.   Use a recording studio:

  • Recoding studios are designed to minimise unwanted noise and reverb.
  • If you can’t then use a space with good acoustics.

  2.   Scope out the acoustics of your space prior to deciding to record there and most certainly prior to      recording:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Check for background sound like cars, people talking, dogs, humming lights, air conditioners etc.
  • Does this sound remain consistent? Is the space noisier/quieter at different times of day/week/month?

  3.   Check the acoustics of your space:

  • Clap in the space, and listen out for obvious reverberations, distortions and ringing.
  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Does the room have highly audio reflective walls and floors? Or is the audio dampened by carpets and ceiling mouldings?
  • How is this effecting the overall audio?

** Clapping often helps to pinpoint sources of distortion: I once left a music stand in my recording studio whilst recording some vocals. I noticed upon listening back that there was high pitched ringing in the background, so I clapped in the space. I immediately heard the clap hit the metal of the music stand then bounce of it and ping around the room. It’s safe to say I no longer use music stands in recording spaces.

4.   Check the room tone of your space:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Does the room tone suit the visual footage? Does it add to it or is it jarring? Are you recording audio in a large echoic church, but you want an intimate, clean audio track?
  • If it doesn’t work, think about changing locations.

5.   Check for interference in your space:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Is there interference from electronic devices, mic cables and/or radio signals?
  • Make sure mic leeds aren’t running parallel to electronic cables to minimise distortion.

6.   Use the most suitable microphone:

  • Are you recording audio from a single person talking?                                                 Uni-directional, shotgun or lavaliere
  • Or are multiple people talking at once?                                                                                 Omni-directional or bi-directional
  • Are these people sitting next to each other?                                                                       Uni-directional
  • Or are they opposite each other?                                                                                                   Bi-directional
  • Do you want the room sound to be obvious?                                                                 Omni-directional
  • Or would you prefer it to be clean vocals only?                                                            Shotgun, handheld or lavaliere

7.   Dampen the audio:

  • Use acoustic panelling, vocal booths or vocal shields to dampen and trap the sound coming from the sound source.
  • You can even use blankets, mattresses or plants to dampen audio signals if you lack other options.
  • If your also filming visuals think about where you can position acoustic panelling or vocal shields so they are not in the frame.

8.   Mic Technique:

  • Make sure the sound source, or person talking is as close to the microphone as possible, with singers or people talking sometimes you legitimately need to be close enough to kiss the microphone, to get optimal quality audio.
  • If someone is about to radically increase their volume (yelling, making a point etc.), make sure they know to pull back from the microphone to avoid distortion.
  • This of course differs with microphone type, such as shotguns that usually need to be a feet away, so make sure you know what distance works best with your particular mic.
  • You can also use pop shields to minimise vocal pops and sibilance (’s’ sounds).

9.    Monitor dB levels:

  • Make sure that your decibels are sitting within the optimum range.
  • There are various handheld sound meters that can monitor dB levels or some microphones and cameras have inbuilt sound meters.
  • Always leave a small amount of headroom before distortion, to allow for increases in audio volume.

10.   Continually monitor sound while recording:

  • Use good quality headphones, closed back headphones are advisable so that the sound won’t bleed from your headphones back into the audio you are recording.
  • When shooting you often focus on the subject, automatically filtering out background noise, mic’s can’t do this, they will pick up everything.
  • Constant monitoring is important, so that if another sound source appears on your audio track, it is noticed immediately and you can re-record. Rather then realising that at the editing stage.

Hope this helps! I said I was gonna keep it brief, my version of brief seems to be 777 words? Haha.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson



Roberts-Breslin, 2003.  ‘Sound’ in Making media : foundations of sound and image production, Focal Press, Amsterdam ; London, pp. 115-144.

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