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How to Record Audio Like a Pro

How to Record Audio Like a Pro

Have you ever wanted to compose and record your own song? Maybe you need to record a phone call to someone. Perhaps you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack for a video or slideshow you created. Here’s how to record audio, depending on the source you’re recording and the type of audio you need.

Voice Recordings

Singers

    Plenty of options exist for a simple voice recording. Telephone microphones are designed to pick up the normal range of the human voice. This gives you several options for creating a voice memo on your phone. The first way is a simple answer that works no matter what type of phone you have: Leave yourself a voicemail.

    If you have a smartphone, your options are expanded quite a bit. Evernote is one of my favorite program for all types of notes, including audio notes. If you’re unfamiliar with Evernote, this video will give you the basics to get started, and this video will show you how to record an audio note. Using Evernote, you can easily access your voice audio recordings from both your smartphone and PC/Mac.

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    Recording Phone Calls

    protect-cell-phone

      Recording a phone call is a little different. Every state has different laws on whether or not you need to inform the other party prior to recording a phone call and the purpose of such recording. This is why you hear a recorded warning that “this call may be recorded for quality purposes” when calling customer service. For specific information on such laws where you live, check out the Digital Media Legal Project’s phone and conversation recording page here

      Once you understand the legal ramifications of your actions, you need to decide among your options. If you have a smartphone, download TapeACall Pro from iTunes for $9.99 or Auto Call Recorder from Google’s Play Store for $6.99.  These apps allow you to record phone calls from your smartphone with no extra equipment needed.

      If you’re still using an old cell phone or want to record a phone call from a landline phone, the Olympus VN-702PC Voice Recorder is a great option. Simply hook it up to your phone’s headphone jack and hit record. If your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack (common in old corded phones), you’ll need an additional adapter to utilize the phone’s handset jack for call recording.

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      Recording Live Musical Instruments

      While voice recording is easy, things get a little more complicated when recording music. This is because each instrument has unique attributes. It used to be that the only way to obtain a professional recording of a musical instrument was to pay professional fees for a professional studio with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment. Those days are long gone, but the art and science of audio recording isn’t.

      Piano

        The first thing you need is recording software. Macs come equipped with a home audio recording and production program called GarageBand. Find more about how to use it here. PC users aren’t as lucky with preinstalled software, but that’s okay. Regardless of what type of computer you use, Pro Tools, the software used by professional recording studios, comes free with the audio recording equipment you’ll need.

        The 3 pieces of hardware needed for a professional audio recording are a microphone, mic cable, and computer interface to connect it to your computer. Professional studios use the Shure SM-57 as an all-purpose instrument microphone. It’s capable of making professional, CD-quality audio recordings from just about any instrument. You should be able to find one for $100 or less at your local music store. Otherwise, click this link to purchase one from Amazon.

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        You’ll also need an audio interface device. The M-Audio MobilePre is a great all-in-one solution that comes with a basic copy of Pro Tools and a USB cable to hook it up to your computer. You can purchase one from Amazon here. Once you have a mic and interface, all you need is a microphone cable to connect everything and you’re ready to start producing professional, CD-quality music recordings.

        File Conversion Software

        sliders-on-mixing-board

          No matter how you record your audio, chances are you’ll eventually need to convert the audio file to another format. While most recording software has options to do this, occasionally you need to play or create a file format that isn’t supported.

          Audacity is the most expansive and intuitive program for this process. Download the free program from their website, and drag and drop the file you wish to convert. You can perform minor tweaks to the file and save to a large variety of the most popular audio formats.

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          If you’re on a public or work computer and can’t download software, learn how to convert audio files to MP3 on the web for free here.

          Audio Recording Tips

          microphone

            Audio recording is both an art and a science. Recording professionals go to school for 2-4 years to learn the basics, and it takes years of practice to find the exact settings and style that work for you. Here are a few tips to get you started:

            • Whenever possible, record each instrument with 2 microphones. This gives you 2 raw files to mix and match for the perfect sound.
            • When using multiple microphones, always ensure the distance between the microphones is 2x the distance from the closest microphone to the recording source. For example, if you’re singing into a microphone from 1 foot away, the 2nd mic needs to be 2 feet away from the 1st mic. If you don’t follow this rule, the sound recorded on each microphone will cancel each other out during playback.
            • It’s important to test the recording volume to avoid recording audio that is either too soft or too loud. As a general rule, you will not speak/play as loud during your test as you will during the actual recording, so decrease the volume by 5-10% to make up for this.
            • If you hear static during a recording, it is likely caused by the microphone being
              turned up too loud, thus cutting off the sound wave. Try turning the microphone down a little bit.
            • It’s easier to turn an audio recording down than it is to turn it up, so make sure you have the microphone turned up loud enough to obtain a quality audio recording to avoid having to redo your recording.
            • If you have any questions during the audio process, don’t be afraid to go to your local music shop and ask for assistance. Musicians are a valuable resource for information in regards to audio recording.
            • Don’t bother recording a live concert on your cell phone. Not only is it illegal, the quality won’t be anything near what you’re experiencing in person.

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            Last Updated on February 15, 2019

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

            Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

            Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

            So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

            Joe’s Goals

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              Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

              Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

              Daytum

                Daytum

                is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                Excel or Numbers

                  If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                  What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                  Evernote

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                    I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                    Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                    Access or Bento

                      If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                      Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                      You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                      Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                      All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                      Conclusion

                      I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                      What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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