Audio Recording At Home
Created by Dr. Alice Lynn McMichael & Updated by J. Andrella and Daniel Fandino
Maintained by LEADR under the direction of Alice Lynn McMichael
Last Updated: 6/7/2021
LEADR and many other labs stopped circulating equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many students to have to use equipment from home to record audio for their digital research projects. In response, we put together some suggestions for recording audio at home. Specifically, we address tips are for recording audio at home for class assignments or podcasts.
Not everyone has a soundproof space at home, but some small adjustments can help with quality audio recording. Aim for quality, not perfection.
- Any quiet space can be a recording space. A small room with soft surfaces such as upholstered furniture or carpet keeps sound from echoing off walls. (Even a closet can work.)
- Try to remove constant “white noise” producers such as fans.
- Wear headphones or earbuds so that your voice doesn’t create feedback in the recording.
- Position yourself at the correct distance and angle from your microphone. This is usually the width of your hand from thumb to little finger, but check your mic for specifications.
- Record a few seconds of silence in the audio track so that you can use that clip for transitions. (All recordings have some ambient noise, and this will let your transitional silences match the rest of the recording without producing a jarring silence).
- Open the presentation with a greeting, chime, or some other sound to signal the start of a project or episode. Introduce yourself, the project, and any other speakers.
You will need some kind of headphones or earbuds and a microphone (which can be found in a laptop or phone, or as a separate piece of equipment that you plug into your computer). Do a test run with your equipment and space and listen to it before doing any interviews. Make sure the equipment is functioning properly, the sound is being recorded, and you are familiar with how to save and export files.
Choose your recording device depending on how many people are being recorded and the type of equipment you have available. Some microphones (such as the one built into a laptop) record all the surrounding sound in an area, which can be good if you are recording a small group or want to record the atmosphere in a space. However, this can also result in a lot of background noise. Other microphones pick up sound from one specific direction (similar to speaking into a phone). Some microphones will let you choose the direction or directions of the incoming sound.
Microphones that are plugged into your computer (such as in a USB port) can often be used to record directly into Audacity software for editing. Battery powered microphones usually have an SD card that you would use to transfer the data to a laptop for editing. Some phone apps have editing capabilities, but you may need to export the sound file for editing.
These are a few examples of microphones that LEADR staff members have tested at various price points to show the wide variety and options available. Hand held recording devices or phone apps may require you to export the audio file or use an SD card to transfer the data for editing.
- Earbuds that have a built in mic range from inexpensive to high priced. There are many brands, and they’re an efficient choice for recording at home. (These can be ordered online and are often sold in chain pharmacies or big box stores).
- The MPOW wired computer headset has a built-in mic. It is USB connected. Link
- These portable USB mics can be plugged directly into a computer. Some may need an adapter, depending on your computer:
- Samson Go is lightweight and can be clipped onto a computer. Link
- Blue Yeti Mics are similar to the ones used in LEADR. Link
- The Blue Snowball mic is lightweight and freestanding. Link
- The Zoom Handy Mic is battery operated and hand held. You will usually need to transfer data from an SD card to your computer for editing. (It is similar to the field microphones used in LEADR). There are several models available. Link
- Smartphones often have quality microphones. You may wish to put the phone on a surface or use a selfie stick or tripod mount to avoid hand noise. Choose an app for recording that will export in a reusable file format for editing in Audacity (such as .mp3 or .wav). A free version of Voice Record Pro is available for iPhone and Android; it will record, convert to .mp3 files, and export files to a number of outlets including Google Drive, Dropbox, or email. It also has some built-in editing capabilities.
Always make a copy of your original file before editing your audio recording. LEADR supports Audacity software for editing audio on a computer. Check out our LEADR guide for some tips on how to use this software.