Podcast: Audio Recording and Editing

MicrophoneHey Guys! This weeks lecture was about audio files and formats, recording devices and microphones and learning how to use Audacity. Our next project will be to create our own podcast so this was an introduction on how to get started.

Compression types?

To begin, there are loads of different formats for storing audio files on your computer. You’ll probably have seen some such as MP3 or MP4 when you were adding music to your portable devices. These common file types allow you to record, play and distribute audio. The audio file format is used for storing audio data on your computer and it can come in an uncompressed format or a compressed format, where the file size has been reduced to increase storage. Lossy compression is a type of compression used for compressing audio files. The most common type is the MP3 file. I have a bit of prior knowledge about Lossy compression from studying computer science so I was familiar with the process.  Lossy compresses the data by discarding some of it. This minimizes the data that is to be held by the computer. The term for this is perceptual coding, where they reduce the accuracy of certain parts of the sound that are considered to be beyond the auditory resolution ability of people.

We also learnt about the many different file types that you can use to store your audio files. The first was the MP3 file or MPEG-1/MPEG-2 Audioaudiosss Layer III, which is the most common audio format for consumer audio storage. It is a patented digital audio encoding format that uses the Lossy compression method. I know from using my iPod that most of the music files stored on my computer would be MP3 format. The next file type we learnt about was the WAV file. This audio storage type was created by Microsoft and IBM. It is the main format for audio storage on windows, and is typically uncompressed. AIFF storage is probably the least known format of all audio storage types. It was co-developed by Apple, and is an uncompressed file type mainly for consumer use on portable devices etc.

It’s hard to imagine that before everything was digital it was analogue, and needed to be converted to digital format. This was usually done by re-recording the sound you created with digital equipment. Analogue devices stored the recording on magnetic tape whereas digital devices store the audio data as a file.

Where should I record my podcast?

Getting the recording right takes a lot of practice. Ambient noise is the background noise of your recording environment. Sometimes this can be a good thing if it adds to the atmosphere of your recording. Other times it change the focus of the listener, which is what we don’t want! If there is too much noise it can be a sign of poor quality of recording.

When I am going to be recording my podcast, one thing I never would have thought of as a factor is a good recording location. Sound bounces off flat surfaces. You want a clear recording and so you should choose a room with softer surfaces as there will be less sound bounce. The room should have limited flat surfaces otherwise there will be more sound bounce. Soft furnishings can help to dampen out echo in the recording. Have you ever been in a room with no furniture in it and tried having a conversation? There is always an echo as there is nothing to stop the sound bouncing off the walls.

audacityNow onto choosing the method for recording my podcast. There are many different types of recording devices. I suppose the original recording device would be the Dictaphone. They are relatively cheap, but are an analogue device and so the sound would need to be digitized. Again, you would have the same problem with the Mini Disc recorder, although they do have better recording quality compared to the Dictaphone. I will probably use a microphone that I can plug into my computer for clearer sound. I have an omni-directional microphone which allows you to record sound from all directions. Audacity is the software I will be using to record my podcast. It is free, open-source software, that allows you to record and edit audio.  Here is the download link in case any of you want to download it http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next post where I will be publishing my podcast!

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