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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tips on Recording Audio

After watching and listening to a Song - Video, sent to my by a YouTube Friend. This is my reply. It really ended up being a bunch of Tips on Recording Audio. So, I decided to share it on my Blog. But I left out the name and the video link, in case they wouldn't want me sharing it...


Sounds like you did a great job singing the song. I wasn't going to say anything at first... But, a true friend tells the truth... Right? So, here it is... the distortion in the audio is so bad that I can barley make my self listen to the whole thing. I turned it off the first time and then came back to it today. Don't take this as criticism. I mixed sound for 12 years for live bands and did some studio recording too on my own songs (in case you forgot that I mentioned that before). So, I can't help but notice these things. My ears are trained to listen. If I were there, I'm sure I could help you to how to fix your Audio Recording. But, not knowing exactly how you did the recording. I can only guess... So, here's my best guess. If you are using a built in camera Mic. It sounds like you were too close to the Mic. So next time, move the camera further away from you. If you are using some kind of external Mic and you have a gain control on your camera for the external Mic input. Then it was set too high. Make sure your peaks never pass 100% or the get into the Red with your loudest notes. Which ever way your meter reads numbers with % sign or green to red or whatever, a black bar with good, bad, ugly or a Clipping Light. Do some tests with someone monitoring the meter, to help you get the distance right. Or just kep doing short recordings and moving things a bit each time. Whether the meter is on the camera, computer, tape recorder, audio mixer, audio efx unit, Mic preamp, what ever.... Just don't get into the Red with your Peaks. It's better to have your audio, not quite loud enough, than to get Distortion. You could always raise the audio in a Video Editing Program later. There are several Good Free and Open Source Video Editing Programs out there. I like Kdenlive form and it has an audio adjusting plug-in built in, plus a whole lot more. Avidmux from, is another good Free and Open Audio Video App. And Audacity from, is a fantastic Free and Open Audio Editing App for Linux and Windows and Mac too. You can open some Video Formats like MP4 in Audacity and Import the Audio. Then Edit it to your needs and them Out it back into a Video with one of the Video Editors. I have cleaned up and raised the volume on some of my Web Cam Videos this way. I use them all in Linux, but I believe they all work in Windows too. If you can afford to buy a Mic or even two. Then I would suggest the Shure SM58. It is the best all around Mic I have ever used and the world standard for live Audio and they work great for Recording too. You can get them for $99 Online at and (Guitar Center Online) and for $109 with a Mic Cable and at many other Stores too. Often they are On Sale with a Mic cord and Mic stand too. Don't get the model with a switch! Switches on Mics always and mysteriously, get turned off at just the wrong time!:O Shure SM57's are great instrument Mics. But they are prone to Low End Feed Back when Mixing an Acoustic Guitar. So, I would get an SM58 for your Guitar and set it up about 6 inches to 1 foot from your Guitar for recording, with the head pointed at the hole in the guitar. SM58's are not as picky with Mic Placement as 57's either. So, that's another reason I often used SM58's for Acoustic Instruments and Guitar Amps too. If you have an internal Pickup for your Guitar or want to get one. Then that would be the best way to get an audio signal to your Camera - Recorder etc. You don't have to have a Mixer if you can't afford one. You can use left for Vocals and Right for Guitar on your Camera Mic inputs to get the two different Mic Signals into your Camera. You will need a way to convert the SM58's Low Impedance Signal to a Line Level Signal, which your Camera would need for it's Input. If you have these External Inputs on your Camera, that is...

A Mixer would be ideal and you can get them with Built in efx for $99, and here, .

Here's one with a bit more features for $175, from Parts Express.

Mackie 402-VLZ3 Compact Audio Mixer (no efx, but has great specs).
"Tracktion 3 Music Production Software doesn't make you bounce around endless menus and windows to make music. Based on a simple, single-screen interface, the award-winning Tracktion 3 is a fast, powerful, and complete solution for turning your ideas into finished songs. It comes a plethora of power and plug-ins to keep your music flowing—not locked in menus or limitations."

    * Ultra-compact 4-channel mixer featuring Mackie VLZ3's signature low noise, high-headroom design
    * 2 studio-grade XDR2™ Extended Dynamic Range Mic preamps with:
    * Ultra-wide 60dB gain range
    * 130dB dynamic range
    * +22dBu line input handling
    * Extended low frequency response
    * Distortion under 0.0007% (20Hz - 20kHz)
    * Phantom power for studio condenser mics
    * 4 high-headroom line inputs
    * 2 selectable Instrument inputs — no DI box needed
    * 2-Band Active EQ (80Hz, 12kHz) and Lo-Cut filter on mic channels
    * Phantom power for studio condenser mics
    * Dedicated Stereo Line Input and Tape Input channels
    * High-resolution 8-segment stereo meters
    * Sealed rotary controls to resist dust and grime
    * Sleek, rugged steel chassis
    * Includes Tracktion 3 Music Production Software for Mac or PC"

Mackie 1202-VLZ3 Compact Mixer (Pro quality 12 Channel Mixer).
"Premium XDR2 Mic preamps and a rich feature set. The Mackie 1202-VLZ3 Premium 12-Channel Compact Mixer builds on the legacy of the best-selling 1202-VLZ Pro, offering the same great feature set, plus greatly enhanced sound quality, and Tracktion 3 music production software. 4 studio-grade XDR2 (Extended Dynamic Range) second-generation Mic preamps, along with Mackie's proprietary active 3-band EQ circuitry, give the 1202-VLZ3 its high-headroom, low-noise functionality. The 1202-VLZ3 is the model of efficiency, packing more features into its small footprint than any other mixer in this class. With its outstanding sound quality, just the right amount of control, and multi-voltage power supply, the 1202-VLZ3 is the perfect choice for smaller mixing applications, anywhere in the world. Tracktion 3 Music Production Software."


    * 12-channel ultralow-noise compact mixer with highest possible headroom
    * Ultrawide 60dB gain range
    * 130dB dynamic range
    * +22dBu line input handling
    * Extended low-frequency response
    * Distortion under 0.0007% (20Hz-20kHz)
    * Phantom power
    * 12 high-headroom line inputs
    * Advanced DC pulse transformer RF rejection
    * 2 Aux sends, level, pan, and PFL solo on each channel
    * 2 stereo Aux returns plus EFX to Monitor
    * 3-band Active EQ (80Hz, 2.5kHz, 12kHz)
    * 18dB/oct. 75Hz Low-Cut filter on Mic input channels
    * ALT 3/4 stereo bus for added versatility
    * Control Room/Phones source matrix
    * Rackmountable design using optional rack ears
    * Sealed rotary controls to resist dust and grime
    * New multi-voltage power supply for worldwide use
    * Rugged steel chassis
    * Includes Tracktion 3 Music Production Software for Mac or PC

I know, most newer Consumer Cameras don't have these external inputs. But, if yours does. Then you could really improve your sound by going straight to the Camera with a good Mic. Or, if you have or could get an efx unit or Mic Preamp. Then you could use it as a Signal Converter from Low Input from your Mic, to Line Level Output to your Camera. And use it to control the Levels and improve your sound even more. You could really use a Compressor for those times when you raise your voice with such robust volume. There are quite a few good Signal Processors available for about $100, these days and some have have Effects, Compressor and a Preamp Built into one unit. I'm all excited about Audio Gear now!:O I haven't looked at this stuff for a while;) Here's some, that by the Specs, look like they would be good for your needs. I haven't mixed live shows in about 10 years now. So, I haven't used these units. But, I have used many of their Predecessors. 

I would love to have this one for my Self!;) "The Behringer MDX2600 Composer Pro-XL Compressor is surprisingly easy to use. It has all the basic tools for optimal sound onstage and in the studio plus integrated dynamic enhancer, de-esser, tube simulation, and low-contour filter. Revolutionary IKA circuitry combines the advantages of hard- and soft-knee compression in a single dynamic function to deliver natural, transparent results. Also equipped with fully automatic and manually adjustable attack and release times, IGC peak-limiting circuit, selectable dual-mono or stereo, 12-segment display, switchable sidechain input with sidechain monitor function, and servo-balanced XLR and 1/4" I/O. Single rackspace." .

This one looks very interesting for a Live Performance Singer with an Acoustic Guitar and I think might be the best one for you...
"TC Helicon VoiceTone Single T1 Adaptive Tone & Dynamics. Simple-to-use pedal reacts to your voice and applies appropriate studio dynamics and EQ. Like a personal audio engineer in a box, the VoiceTone T1 Single Adaptive Tone & Dynamics pedal helps bring out your best tone. Adaptive EQ and Dynamics For Your Voice. VoiceTone T1 adapts studio-quality compression, de-ess and EQ to your individual voice to bring out your most exciting vocal tone. The multiband EQ compares your vocal frequencies to an ideal target and brightens and removes mud accordingly while the compressor works to keep your voice sounding smooth whether you're right on the Mic or farther away. As simple as plugging in your Mic." $129 at,

It's available here too for same price $129...

If you need something that can hook up your Mics to a Computer, to a USB Port. I wasn't thinking at first, that maybe you are using a Web Cam and not a regular Video Camera at all. Heck, maybe you are using a Camera Phone! Actually... allot of camera phones have 3.5mm inputs or Mini USB's that you can use to hook allot of this stuff up to. With the right cable adapters, that is... And I know there are some Recording Apps for iPhone and Android too. There's a band on YouTube that did a whole multi-track recording of their song on an iPhone. I can't remember their name or find the video. But, here's what I'm talking about...

4 Track Recording with AmpliTube 2 for iPhone - Your Guitar Recording Studio Always In Your Pocket,

So, here's a Mic Preamp with USB Connections...
"ART TubeMP USB Microphone Preamp. Connect microphone, instrument and line level signals to digital and analog recording devices with this flexible USB preamp from ART. TubeMP USB Microphone Preamp. The Tube MP Project Series is a professional quality audio interface that lets you connect microphone, instrument, and line level signals to audio inputs to digital audio workstations as well as standard analog devices. The new ultra low noise discrete microphone preamp front end has an extremely flat and wide frequency response and handles a wide range of input signal levels with a minimum of coloration. This gives you a very clean and neutral sound with a wide variety of signal sources. The high impedance 1/4 in. instrument inputs optimized for guitar pickups allowing every nuance to be heard. We use a high quality 12AX7A tube inside to add warmth to musical dynamics and the power supply is external to keep AC line noise and hum back at the wall." $84.95 at,

Some small Audio Mixers, like the ones I mentioned above have Compression along with the Digital Efx too. And that could be all that you would need. Compression, is what you would need the most of all of these Audio Tools. Behringer makes a good low cost unit. I have used their Mixers and Audio Processors and they work well. Especially for the Price!:) I really like DBX Compressors and Ashley EQ's and Mackie Mixers. And of course Shure Mics. I did 95% of my mixing on Mackie Mixers like these (but the older models) and they are truly what I would buy, if I could...

Mackie 1604-VLZ3,

Mackie 2404-VLZ3,

But they are a bit more expensive and geared more for Pro Audio. Any of this stuff, is what I would get for my self if I could afford it right now. I do have some SM58's, and SM57's. And I actually use a Cassette Deck as a Preamp to Gain the Mic Signal enough to work when plugged into my Computer. I used this setup to add some Background Vocals on my Song, "Martha". After I brought it home form Marty's Studio. If you haven't heard my songs. They are all available for free Downloads at, or you can just listen to them in the Players on the Pages. I have two Albums, DonSongs and Living Beings. Just click on the Album Covers to get to each Page.

If you don't have any of that stuff available. Or don't know or have the inclination to learn how to use it. Then just experiment with your camera, Mic, web cam or phone until you get the right distance, the "Sweet Spot" for your Sound. After all, that's what music is all about, right? Sound... I think you are a great singer and would love to see you succeed with your musical dreams:)


Audio Recording Gear, Shure, Behringer, Mackie etc
Recording from Behringer Processors at
Behringer MDX2600 Composer Pro-XL Processor at zZounds
Behringer Sonic Exciter SX3040 Stereo Sound Enhancement Processor
Behringer MIC2200 Ultragain Pro at zZounds
Behringer SU9920 Sonic Ultramizer Sound Enhancer at zZounds
Behringer MINIFEX FEX800 Multi-FX Processor at zZounds
Shure SM58 Microphone at zZounds
Studio Signal Processors at
Studio Signal Processors at
Musician's Friend | Your Online Music Instrument & Pro Audio Store | Best Prices, Great Service
Shure SM58 Microphone with Cable & Stand: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Shure SM58 Mic: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Behringer MDX2600 Composer Pro-XL Compressor: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
ART Tube MP Project Series Mic Preamp at zZounds
TC Helicon VoiceTone T1 Adaptive Tone Pedal at zZounds - Home Audio, Home Theater, Electronic Components, In-Wall Speaker, Ceiling Speaker, LCD Mount, HDMI, Audio and Video Cable
TC Helicon VoiceTone Single T1 Adaptive Tone & Dynamics: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
ART Tube MP Studio V3 Mic Preamp at zZounds
ART USB Dual Pre Microphone Preamp at zZounds
ART Tube MP USB Mic Preamp at zZounds
Behringer XENYX 1002FX Mixer 10-Input 2-Bus w/EFX 248-580
Behringer XENYX 1202FX Mixer 12-Input 2-Bus w/EFX 248-584
Behringer XENYX X1204USB 12-Input 2/2-Bus Mixer w/ FX & USB 248-6600
Parts Express - Search for mixer efx
mixer efx Results | Musician's Friend – Behringer – Mixers, Effects Pedals, Amplifier, Eq, Eurorack, Mixer, Xenyx, Instrument Amplifiers, Studio Monitors, Powered PA Speakers, Signal Processing, Powered Mixers, Equalizers, Amplifiers, Microphones, Headphones, Instrument Cabinets, Guitar Amplifiers
Behringer XENYX 1202FX Mixer: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
mixer efx Results | Musician's Friend
Shure SM58-CN Vocal Microphone with Cable 242-203
Parts Express - Search for mackie vlz
ART Tube MP Project Series USB Tube Mic Preamp with Limiter 245-8604 – ART – Signal Processing, Mixers, Power Distribution, Amplifiers, Direct Boxes, Equalizers, Headphone Mixers, Microphone Signal Processing, Active Crossovers
"mixer efx" Search at
"mackie 1604" Search at
mackie 1604 Results | Musician's Friend
Mackie 1604-VLZ3 16-Channel Mixer at zZounds
Mackie 1604-VLZ3 Premium 16-Channel/4-Bus Compact Mixer: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie 1604-VLZ3 / TH-12A PA Package: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie 1604-VLZ3 / HD1221 / HD1501 PA Package: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
mackie vlz Results | Musician's Friend
Peavey PV14 / Harbinger APS12 PA Package: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie Thump TH-12A Results | Musician's Friend
Mackie Thump TH-12A Pair: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie 402-VLZ3 Compact Audio Mixer: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie 1202-VLZ3 Compact Mixer: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
Mackie 2404-VLZ3 Premium 24-Channel FX Mixer with USB Black: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
iphone recording - YouTube
4 Track Recording with AmpliTube 2 for iPhone - Your Guitar Recording Studio Always In Your Pocket - YouTube
Avidemux - Main Page
Audacity - audio editor
Kdenlive | Free and open source video editor for GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD

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