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Audio Editing Basics

For many people working with audio is extremely intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! In this brief guide, learn how to use your iPad and/or a basic computer to both record and edit great audio. This guide is broken down into steps, and for our purposes, we will focus on using some specific apps and devices, but the concepts are applicable on a broad scale as well.

Step 1 - Plan Out Your Recording

Not every recording has to be scripted, but it helps to have an idea of what or who you are going to record, how long it will take, and what apps or equipment you will need to do it.  Here are some things to consider and plan for:

•  Format of the recording - Is it a documentary, interview, sound effect, concert, scripted voice-over, or audible story?

•  Equipment needed - Will an iPad microphone be okay or should you contact the CIDL to check out a lavalier mic, stereo mic, or directional mic?  Will you need a tripod or mount for any of it?

•  Apps or software - Do you have the apps or software needed to capture the recording?  More importantly, are you familiar with how to use it effectively?

•  Scheduling and contact - If there are other people who need to be in the recording, have you contacted them and scheduled a time and place to record?



Step 2 - Record Some Audio

For this guide, we will use an iPad, installed with the Ferrite App (free and Pro Versions available).  Using the Ferrite app requires only the press of the on-screen mic button to create a recording.  It also includes a simple editor for the clip.  The Pro version gives you longer record times and more editing functionality, but it is quite expensive.  Here are some tips for recording with an iPad and the Ferrite app:

•  Get as close as you can to your subject to help maximize volume and clarity.  2-4 inches away from the mic is ideal for cutting out background noise, but anywhere around 2 feet of an iPad mic would be able to be picked up.

•  Do not speak directly into the mic as this will create plosives in the recording.  This is described as any "Puh" or "Buh" or "Tuh" sounds that are louder than everything else.  Speaking across a mic instead of into it will help eliminate this.

•  Using an external mic like a wired or wireless lavalier microphone or even your headphones (with mic) can help increase the quality of the audio.  At AU, you can borrow these for free! Just contact the CIDL to see some options. 

•  Ferrite will automatically recognize any mics that are plugged in to the headphone or data port.

•  Be sure to give your recording a name to keep things organized.



Step 3 - Edit the Audio

Now that you have some audio to work with, it's time to edit and put the finishing touches on it.  Here are some basic adjustments you can make to your recordings:

•  Be sure to trim your audio to only the sections you need.  No one wants to listen to blank audio or an open mic moving around while you're getting set.

•  Adjust the volume to get it as loud as possible without sounding distorted.  A good indication of volume is the "waveform" shown in the editor (this is a universal indicator of volume level, in all audio software).  The larger the waveform, the more volume.

                     Bad Waveform, Volume too Low                                                  Good Waveform, Volume is Good

•  Add a fade in or fade out to audio recordings so it doesn't start or end abruptly.

•  Add background music or sound effects to make it more interesting. You can add up to three different tracks of 10 minutes each with the free version of Ferrite.

•Above all, your ears are the best piece of equipment you have.  Take note of what sounds good to you and try to emulate it.

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