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Recording with Audacity

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Recording with Audacity

I've written this guide to supplement Audacity's Recording guide, so I recommend reading Audacity's guide first to get started.

Recording Levels

The most common issue I've run into while processing actors' recordings is that the level is too low. If your recording level is too low, then I can't get a good enough sample of your voice and the recording will have poor quality when I amplify it. You must set the recording level, or gain, so that the maximum peak is between -3 and -6 dB on the recording meter. The peaks will be around 0.5 in the waveform. Here is a screenshot showing a recording that is too low and two waveforms with the correct levels:


The recording levels are too low in the first waveform. The second and third waveforms are examples of the correct recording levels. In the third waveform, the positive and negative levels are different. It's the maximum amplitude that dictates the correct recording level.

Opposite End of the Spectrum - Clipping

When your recording levels are too high, the tops of the waveforms will be lopped off at 0 dB. This is called clipping. You can attempt to repair clipping in Audacity, but it's better to redo the recording since clip fixing involves interpolating the lost signal - basically a best guess. Here's a track with clipping:


When you're recording, you need to monitor the waveform and adjust the recording levels appropriately.

Setting the Recording Level

In Windows, set the recording volume to 50% in the Sound control panel or in the control panel for your sound card. Open Audacity and configure it as instructed in the Recording manual page, linked above. In the recording levels meter at the top of your screen, click the link to turn on monitoring. Now create a test track. While you are talking into your microphone, the meter should peak between -3 and -6 dB and the waveform should be around 0.5 if you have it set to display the linear waveform, which is the default. If the levels are too low, then move the recording level slider towards the plus sign to increase the gain. If the levels are too high, then move the slider down towards the minus sign.

You'll have to monitor the recording levels continuously as you record. If you have to yell, laugh or scream, then you'll probably have to lower the gain. You should turn on Show Clipping (View - Show Clipping) so that you can see when your recording is getting clipped. A clipped recording will have red vertical lines showing the clipped sections with Show Clipping turned on. Clipping means the gain is too high and you'll have to lower it and re-record the line.

Recording Channels

One last little detail, for the games that we're currently working with, you need to do your recordings in Mono. Select Mono from the Recording Channels drop-down.

Edited by AndalayBay

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Thanks Andalay - very informative and useful.  :beerchug:


Just one thing, I usually have the '2 (Stero) Rec' setting on Mono.  Which is best for mods from your POV?

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