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Great recordings aren’t necessarily a matter of expensive equipment. The most important aspect of any recording is giving a great performance, and making the most of the technology that you do have.
If you don’t have access to a microphone or audio interface, you still have plenty of options when it comes to recording yourself or others.
You may want to look into purchasing a USB microphone. This will connect directly to your computer via USB, and is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to record high quality audio at home. Blue Microphones, Samson, and CAD are some of the most prominent companies that produce USB microphones.
If you aren’t able to access a USB microphone, your smart phone is the next best thing. You can use the Voice Memos app (on iOS) or another voice recording application, many of which are free or less than $5 on the App Store or Google Play. Most apps will allow you to download or send the audio files from your phone to your computer, where you can edit them later.
If you don’t have recording software, Audacity is a great free option that’s easy to operate, or you can use Garageband if you have an Apple device.
Once you have your recording setup, try experimenting with different environments and settings to see what sounds best.
For instance: see which room in your house has the best “sound.” Some rooms will be more isolated from the sounds of passing cars and pedestrians. Some will have audible echoes and reverberations, and some won’t. All of these factors can be picked up by a microphone, so try recording in a few different rooms to see which one sounds best.
You should also play with the positioning of your microphone. Putting it 1 foot away from your sound source will sound drastically different from putting it 4 feet away, not to mention 10 feet away.
GETTING A GOOD TAKE
If there’s one good thing about social distancing, it’s that you’ll have lots of time to practice whatever it is you’re going to record. Whether that’s a guitar part, a voiceover, or a podcast, make sure you practice it beforehand! The best technology can’t make up for a lack of preparation, so make sure that you can knock your performance out of the park before you even press record.
CLEANING MICROPHONES AND STUDIO EQUIPMENT
If you are in a situation where you need to record someone in person in a socially distanced environment, there are a few options on how to do this safely. You could recommend the talent bring their own headphones and pop filter to minimize contact with your microphone. Only one person should be moving the microphones for the session and operating the computer/DAW to minimize contact. Masks should be on when there is no live recording and hand sanitizer should be readily available. Consider using FaceTime or another app so you can communicate with talent, even if they're only in the other room and even sending the recorded tracks to the talent after. Even if you are in the same facility you don't have to physically interact with the talent. After the session be sure to wipe down microphones and mic cables using alcoholic wipes but be careful when cleaning sensitive electronic components. Conversely, you could quarantine your mics and mic cables for 24 to 72 hours before use again. Hot water and soap will adequately clean windscreens and pop filters. You may even want to consider disposable pop filters or windscreens. For further recommendations on how to operate your studio safely, see The Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing's "Considerations for Recording Studios as they Reopen" and NPR's "Protecting, Cleaning, and Sanitizing Gear the Right Way."
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Every recording is different, so if you need customized advice we’ll be happy to give it to you.
Before downloading, modifying, or using audio in a project, please read the specific copyright guidelines and permissions on each sound track. For assistance working with sound files, contact staff in the Recording Studios.