Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Audio, Video > Adobe Premiere Pro

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Tips for Recording Good Audio

Recording high-quality audio for the Web is generally no different than recording high-quality audio for film, TV, radio, music CDs, or any other format. But there are a few tips to keep in mind when recording audio exclusively for the Web.

Select the Highest Sample Rate Possible

Even consumer-level digital video cameras can record audio at CD-quality levels. Some cameras allow you to select the number of times per second the voltage in the microphone signal is sampled, known as the sample rate. The higher the sample rate of a sound file, the smoother that sound's playback quality. These cameras also allow you to select the sample depth, which dictates how many bits the computer will use to describe each sample it takes. Be sure to record at the highest sample rate and sample depth possible. The bigger and the more frequent the samples you feed to the compression software, the better your Web movies will sound.

Tip

If you're recording to an analog video camera or to an analog tape deck, you'll have to rely on the hardware capture card that you'll be using to digitize your audio track (more on this in Chapter 4, "Capturing Capably"). While you'll end up with a digital audio file to edit this way, you'll get better Web audio files if you record digitally from the start (either with a camcorder or with a digital audio recorder), because digital audio files have better dynamic range and less noise.

Keep the Sound Simple

While computers are capable of CD-quality audio, people still sometimes attach cheap loudspeakers to their computers, and their computers are often located in noisy rooms. If your Web movie has an elaborate, multilayered sound track (with several layers of dialogue, music, and narration), people may well miss most of it.

Tip

Unless it's isolated on a very specific frequency, it's difficult to remove noise from a sound track that has dialogue. That's why it's a good idea to record the cleanest audio possible while you're shooting.

Getting Audio Without a Microphone

As with video footage, there is a way is to get audio from somebody else instead of creating it yourself. Stock music and sound effects libraries offer sound tracks that you can use.

So that you have some files to work with, I have included stock music and stock sound effects on the CD-ROM that comes with this book.

Get That Microphone Closer!

Get the microphone as close as possible to the person or thing you're recording. Ideally, you would have an experienced boom operator who would hold a shotgun microphone at the sound source, just above or just below the edge of the camera frame. The second choice would be a good-quality, body-mounted lavaliere microphone with a short pickup radius (which would reject unwanted sounds off in the distance). Unfortunately, lavaliere microphones usually pick up more noise than directional microphones.

Keep It Quiet

Your goal when recording audio is to reduce noise, both ambient noise and electronic noise. Ambient noise is all the unwanted sound that occurs on the location or set where you're shooting. Electronic noise is generated either in your recording device or in any equipment connected to it through a cable.

Audio compression software doesn't know the difference between unwanted noise and the sounds you actually want to include in your Web movie. If you give the compression software a noisy signal, it will waste precious bits of the data rate on the noise. Here's a better idea: Record the cleanest (noise-free) audio possible.

When working in an uncontrolled location with a lot of ambient noise, you can do things to minimize the noise:

  • Put sound blankets (furniture pads or any sound-absorbing material) on walls and floors to deaden echoes.

  • Put sound blankets on windows to minimize traffic noise from the street.

  • Turn off the air conditioner or any other noisy appliance.

  • Avoid rooms with reflective, noisy surfaces (like stone tile floors). Find a room with wall-to-wall carpeting instead.

  • Wait for that plane or bus to pass by before rolling.

  • If you're shooting outside, make sure to use a wind screen—a foam sock that you pull over the microphone so that it doesn't record wind noise.

  • If at all possible, record voice-over narration (narration that's not on camera) in a studio, after the shoot is over. This gives you much more control over the sound environment.

Go Manual!

Turn off the automatic volume control on your camera. Most cameras have a fully automatic mode (designated with the capital letter A) and a manual mode (designated with the capital letter M). Manually adjust the levels while listening to your sound source with headphones. Good headphones will seal your ears so you hear only what is actually being recorded. Good video cameras will have volume unit (VU) meters that indicate the volume level of the signal (either with a needle or an LED readout) while it is being recorded to tape. This gives you some visual feedback while you're adjusting the volume level as the sound source loudness is changing. Put simply, you want to adjust the volume level so that there is activity in the middle of the meter, with only infrequent movement into "the red"—or the upper—portion of the meter. Too little movement in the meter will result in a low, noisy recording; too much movement into the red will result in distorted sound and, in the case of digital cameras and recorders, digital noise. If you are not sure about the meter levels, then just use your headphones as your guide.

Reduce Electronic Hum and Noise

The low-voltage signal in an unbalanced microphone cable can easily pick up noise and hum from nearby electronic devices. Keep audio cables away from power cables, or at least cross them at right angles. This minimizes the amount of contact between the cables. You also might get a hum if your camera is plugged into the same power circuit as other audio and video equipment. If this is the case, try a different outlet or use batteries. If the camera is connected electronically to anything plugged into an electrical outlet, disconnect it.

Using Separate Microphones for Separate Tracks

High-end cameras (the ones costing over $4000) have more than one audio input and will record audio separately, on different tracks on the tape. This means that you can plant multiple microphones in different parts of the shot (for example, one microphone per person, in a panel discussion). Then you can mix (adjust the relative levels) of various tracks later when you're editing. On professional shoots, use at least two microphones if possible: one lavaliere and one handheld directional microphone. This allows for more options later in editing to mix in just the right amount of room tone.

Before you leave a particular location or camera setup, it's always a good idea to record the sound of the room. This will often be useful later in editing, to smooth over transitions and scene changes in your program. Ask the crew or anyone else present to just be quiet for a moment while you record the sound of the seemingly "silent" space.

Sidebar: What Sound Looks Like

You will often hear the words "frequency" and "pitch" used interchangeably. For the purposes of this book, we will make the following distinction: "frequency" is the physical measurement; "pitch" is how high or low the vibration sounds to our ears. Besides the speed (frequency) of the vibration, the other defining feature of a sound is how strong the vibration is. The stronger the vibration, the louder it sounds to us. Physicists and sound geeks use the term "amplitude" to describe this. So, just for the record, amplitude is the physical measurement of the strength of the vibration. (And "loudness" or "volume" is how the strength of the vibration is perceived by us humans.) Over time, waveforms create complex patterns. You will see these complex shapes when you edit sound tracks in Premiere. Figure 3.13, for example, from Premiere, shows a recording of a human voice. If you look closely, you can also see individual waves.

Figure 3.13 Figure 3.13 This snapshot from Premiere shows a recording of human voice as it looks in waveform.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020