Recording audio

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At this stage you should have done some preparation for your interview or podcast. Now it's time go out and record. On this page I'll give you tips on things to watch out for when you're recording. Listen to the recorded examples for ideas on good and bag recording practices. Youu can also get tips from a recording expert - WRUF News Director Tom Krynski.

So what should you look out for when you're recording audio?


The location you choose to record in is incredibly important. If you record an interview on a noisy street or in a crowded restaurant or coffee shop you run the risk of ending up with audio that is not usable. Listen to the two examples below and see the difference when I recorded audio on a busy street, and when I went somewhere quiet and sheltered.

Recording outdoors in a noisy area can disrupt your audio Recording in a quiet place outdoors is better Recording in a loud place indoors can disrupt your audio A quiet indoor location is better

Recording 1: Outdoors on a street corner

Recording 2: Outdoors in a quiet area

TIP: Wherever you record your interview/package, make sure to also record one minute of ambient sound. If you would like to create a certain atmosphere (busy restaurant, outdoor rural area), record some ambient sound that will create this atmosphere. Listen to how flat the quiet indoor recording (below) sounds before I add ambient sound.

You also need to think about location when you're recording indoors. Sitting near an elevator or a door can cause distracting background noise. Imagine the elevator ringing every time it reaches your floor, or a wave of noise as the door swings open. Positioning yourself by a window can also be problematic if there is a noisy street outside. I remember recording an interview near a window in a hotel bar and losing a great response from my interviewee when a truck passed by.

Listen to the difference between the next two recordings. The first was recorded in a loud food court, the second in a quiet room. Which sounds better?

Recording 3: Indoors in a busy food court

Recording 4: Indoors in a quiet room

TIP: Before you start recording listen for any possible disruptions. If you think the location is inappropriate politely ask your interviewee to move. (I've done this plenty of times.) And if background noise disrupts the audio ask the interviewee to repeat their answer.


I can't stress enough the importance of wearing headphones. Firstly, it lets you know you are definitely recording. Secondly, it allows you to hear any strange background noise the microphone is picking up. I once interviewed a man who kept playing with his car keys. Without headphones I might not have noticed how loud the jangling noise of the keys sounded through the microphone.

If you don't feel comfortable wearing headphones (ear buds are ok too) just wear them in/on one ear.


I recommend using an external microphone whenever possible. The Zoom H2 and H4 (which I used for the recordings on this website) have microphones attached that act as external microphones. How and where you hold your microphone will affect how your recording sounds. Take a look at the pictures below and listen to the quick tutorial on how to position and hold your microphone.

Take a look at the photos below to see what overmodulated sound looks like on a recorder and in Audacity. The picture on the right shows you where to position a microphone when interviewing someone.

Recording 4: Microphone positioning

Audio levelsHow overmodulated audio looks in Audacity how to position the microphone when recording

TIP: If you are using a cell phone or a recorder with an internal mic only you will have to hold the device closer to your mouth, or to your interviewee's mouth. Tom Krynski talks about this in more detail in the Resources section on the right hand side of this page.


How to hold microphone when interviewing

This is really really important. Stay silent while your interviewee is talking. You may find you have the urge to say "Uh huh" or "Oh yeah I totally agree" while they are talking. DO NOT DO THIS. You'll quickly find out when you try to edit the recording that you cannot separate your verbal cues from the interviewee's answer. You know those nodding dogs you see on car dashboards? Be one of those. Just nod along. It may seem silly
at first but you will thank yourself later when you start editing.

Listen to Tom Krynski's tips for recording in the Resources
section of this page for more information