Skip to main content

About this free course

OU short courses

Download this course

Share this free course

Recording music and sound
Recording music and sound

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4 Practical recording

Now you have an understanding of the history of sound recording, in the rest of this course you will be exploring the kinds of issues you might face when making your own recordings using a small portable recorder. You may wish to invest in such a recording device but do not need to do so to understand the issues facing sound recordists.

All recording situations require some degree of planning, and the right amount of planning can help you get results even when many elements are beyond your control. If you have one, it is a good idea to get into the habit of taking your recording device with you wherever you go, and being ready to capture sounds around you that you find interesting, or that you think may be useful later. I have built up quite a wide-ranging sample library in this way. You should give yourself every advantage to be able to capture sounds indoors or outdoors. At the very least you need to make sure your batteries are charged and that you have enough storage space in your recorder. If you have a windshield for your recorder, and some headphones, that is even better, but this can still be a highly portable rig.

Outdoors, the biggest enemy is the wind. Microphones work by having a very lightweight diaphragm that responds to changing sound pressure, but when the air is moving this has a much greater impact on the diaphragm of the microphone and can easily cause it to reach its limit of movement and therefore to distort the signal.