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Audio Recording Tips, in No Particular Order

If you have an iPhone or Android device, you can get decent sound quality with the built-in voice recorder. Some other phones also have voice recorders, but audio quality can vary significantly. We recommend recording something short and having a listen before committing to recording something long.

Recording on a computer works fine also, although sometimes the fan noise is an issue. Pretty much any audio recording software will do. Audacity is quite good. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it's free (both as in speech and as in beer if that distinction matters to you).

You will get the best results in a room with a minimum of background noise and echo. Pro tip: A closet full of clothes makes a pretty decent improvised recording studio.

To minimize the booming of overcooked plosives - bursty consonants like B, K, P, and T - aim the microphone at your mouth, but aim your mouth a bit to the side of the microphone. Anywhere you can feel a vocalized P on your palm, that's not a great place to put a mic.

Set your microphone input level. Record something and you will see a waveform. If it keeps hitting the boundaries, it will sound distorted, and you should turn the input level down. If the waveform looks anemic, you should turn the level up for richer sound. About halfway to two-thirds is the ideal level. Don't worry about getting it perfect; just avoid the extremes.

One easy way to keep the file size down is to set the recording mode to Mono before starting.

We trim handling noise at the beginning and ending of every recording we get, when we can. Pause a few seconds after pressing REC, and again before pressing STOP, and we'll trim off the ends.

We edit out flubs where feasible. If you flub a sentence or a stanza, keep recording. Just stop reading for a few seconds and restart the stanza or sentence from the beginning. That will make it particularly easy for us to edit out.

If you use Audacity, note that the .AUP files are "project" files that do not contain audio data. Make sure to Export the file to MP3, Ogg (aka Vorbis), or WAV and send us those. If your audio program does not support these, we can probably read whatever it does generate. We've had luck so far with WMA, M4V, FLAC, and 3GA files.

If the audio files end up being too large to send via email, we suggest you check out Dropbox, which will let you send us a link to the file, rather than the entire file itself. Also, it's just a plain wonderful service and you should be using it anyway.

If you think you'd like to get into this whole audio recording thing, a field recorder is an inexpensive and worthwhile investment. We do our own recordings with a $75 Tascam DR-05 and have been quite happy with it. Most similar recorders should perform just fine.