All glories to Sri Guru
and Sri Gauranga
Tips for Recording Audio
and preparing for the Web
Last updated after receiving your feedback, and after gaining some painful
experience: 15 December 2005. Please see the update
re using an iPod to record.
Maybe you have better luck than us finding the 'How to?' tips on the web,
so if you know of good, informative places to go please let
us know. In the meantime we receive a steady stream of requests asking
'How to?' so, the following is our mini-guideline-from-experience in regard
to audio. This experience is gained from using Macintosh computers, though
most of the following principles apply to PCs and other platforms.
Mini-discs have proven very good for recording,
the quality of recording being excellent, but they have also proven to
be particularly delicate. Mini-disc recorders work very well as a pre-amp
for recording directly into the computer
(Macs need a pre-amp, PCs may not need one). A regular cassette recorder
also works as a pre-amp, though it is likely to introduce background hiss.
Recording directly into a Macintosh computer has proven in our
experience to be the safest way of high quality digital recording.
iPods are becoming quickly popular, but please read the cautions
concerning recording with them.
Flash memory recorders have recently come on the market. We have
very limited experience with these, though so far they have proven reliable.
Whatever you use to record, always experiment first to test the results.
-) use an external microphone so as not to pick up the sound of the
-) turn off the 'beep' on the recorder if it has one;
-) use new heavy duty batteries (not rechargeables, they've proved inconsistent
in performance) in the recorder and in the microphone (where
-) use a disc with sufficient space;
-) ensure the microphone is turned on and plugged into the correct socket;
-) visibly check the input volume meter to ensure it is indeed receiving
audio input, and audibly check that all is well;
-) ensure the time is passing by on the 'recorded time' clock, i.e.
that it's not on 'pause;'
-) while recording, regularly monitor the battery level and the record
-) don't move the recorder or wires during recording.
-) use a 'unidirectional' microphone;
-) change the Recording Mode on the mini-disc recorder to 'Manual,'
this prevents the recorder from 'seeking' during times of silence. And
set the recording level so it doesn't go above the maximum input level;
-) position the microphone slightly to one side
of the speaker and use a foam cover, this helps avoid it picking up
aspiration of the letter 'p,' etc.
-) if you are sending an audio dispatch, try to be consistent with microphone
position, distance, and other settings. Thus if you wish to add something
later, the sound is more likely to be similar.
-) on the mini-disc recorder, set 'Time Mark' to
'5 minutes.' This makes it easier to navigate if needed later;
-) on the mini-disc recorder, set 'Display' to 'Record time remaining.'
Take an audio cable with a male jack on each end, plug
one end into the earphone socket of the minidisc player, and one into
the line-in on the computer. (Some computers don't have a 'Line-in' but
do have the facility to record with the USB port via an adapter.) Then:
-) (on a Mac) ensure your Control Panels / Sound /
Input is set to 'Line-in' and 'Play sound through output device;'
and while in the Sound control panel, turn OFF the Alert
-) turn OFF virtual memory;
-) open appropriate sound software. (UltraRecorder is simple and
-) ensure 'auto gain' is turned OFF (otherwise it 'seeks' during
periods of silence);
-) ensure settings are: 44.1 KHz, 16 bit, No compression. Normally mono
is sufficient for speech, especially if the file is intended for the
-) ensure the mini-disc player isn't set to boost the base, etc.
-) start playing the sound source (the mini-disc player, cassette player,
etc.) and check there's an input sound wave;
-) adjust the 'volume' of the mini-disc player and the 'gain' of the
software so as to prevent the input volume from exceeding the maximum
-) listen! Check there's no electrical interference (some appliances
and neon lights can introduce a hum). Make a 1 minute test recording
and listen to that too.
-) When all is confirmed to be working well, then start recording from
the beginning. Don't use the computer for anything else during
-) we have experience on different computers that
if you're using a Mac running System 9.2, in general you may experience
moments where the mouse appears to freeze for a few seconds, if
so, you will almost certainly lose parts of audio during transfer.
To avoid this, go to Control Panels / Extensions Manager: save your current
set, then make a new set using the 'Mac OS Base' setting and restart the
A Mac needs a pre-amp to boost the input of a regular
microphone. Special microphones are available, and adapters are available,
but a minidisc player works very well:
-) Set up the minidisc recorder ready to record and
ready to transfer to the computer as given in the steps above.
-) Then simply put the minidisk recorder in the 'Record' mode and
Pause it. The microphone input is then amplified and fed directly to
the computer. In this paused state, the minidisc player uses very little
power from its battery, and runs for several hours.
-) But be careful the mini-disc player isn't set to boost the base,
If you are preparing audio (or anything, for that matter)
for the public, then it needs to be presentable. It is necessary to review
sound files before publishing, and where necessary to do some basic removal
of excessive hesitations, repetitions, mistakes, intrusive sounds, etc.
-) Make a copy of the sound track.
-) Convert it to 44.1Khz mono 'aif' format (or on a PC: 'wav')
-) Using Peak, Sound Edit, or similar sound editing programme, listen
to the track, cutting out anything that shouldn't be there. (Casual
conversation, mistakes, phone calls, excessive 'mmmmm's' etc.). Save(!).
-) If your software has the option, ensure both 'Blending' and 'Snap
to Zero' are on.
-) Be careful while editing, and always listen to any cuts so
as to prevent surprises.
-) Make the track as loud as possible without 'clipping.' Clipping is
distortion due to being too loud. In Peak it's in DSP/Gain then click
-) Save the final file, and keep a copy safely. Make a CD quality
mp3 file from this for archiving.
-) Putting a high-pass filter with a frequency of 120-160 Hz on the
audio helps with the occasional rumble from breath/wind.
-) Slice up the lecture into approx. 15 to 20 minute
sections, selecting appropriate places. Copy each section and paste
into a new mono track.
-) Keep less than 1 second of background sound at the beginning, and
fade it in; and 3 seconds of background sound at the end of each track,
and fade it out. Then add an additional 4 seconds of silence at the
end of each track. (Otherwise in conversion to mp3 some words may be
-) Then convert them to mp3 files. To make files as a reasonable compromise
of size vs quality for the web, set the Preferences to 16 or 24 kbps
mono. That's done in iTunes by: Edit / Preferences / Advanced / Importing. Set Bit
Rate to Mono 16 (or 24) kbps, and Channels to Mono. Click OK. In SoundJam
it's done directly in the 'Converter' window. Converting in iTunes is
done by: Advanced/Convert then select the tracks.
-) Check the final quality.
-) At this stage, drag the final tracks into an mp3 converter such as
SoundJam, iTunes, etc. Then 'Edit / Get Info' and adjust the names in
the 'Tags' appropriately.
-) Ensure the file name uses only numbers, regular non-accented
letters, hyphens and underscores and no spaces.
-) and that the name of the file has the extension (i.e. ends
-) Upload them, or attach to an email to us, and let the world be nourished.....
-) Playlists for mp3 files (and some other formats too) can be made
by listing the absolute URL separated by carriage returns in a plain
text document, then putting the extension '.m3u' at the end of the file
This is only for the adventurous. Many radio stations
use this format. RealMedia files start to play almost immediately as long
as the receiving computer has the free RealPlayer or RealOne installed.
There is a bit of a trick to make it all work:
-) The files are made by converting the prepared AIF
files using the free programme 'RealProducer Basic' available on the
-) in general for talks, use the settings:
Single Rate; Music; 28 K Modem
and click 'Start.' This produces the actual sound file (with .rm extension)
-) The trick comes in producing the required
Ram file that points to the audio '.rm' file. The official version (but
see the next paragraph below) says it has to be both made and uploaded
using the RealProducer programme. After creating the .rm file (in
the last step):
Then Tools / Create Web page (this additionally
creates a local Ram file)
Then Tools / Publish Web page (this does a particular adaptation of
the local Ram file for it's appropriate place on the web.)
However, a regular text file seems to work just as
well. It's a simple text file containing only the full URL of the .rm
file. Remember to give it the extension (last characters): Ram
It is this Ram file you'll need to link to
from your webpage for simulated streaming. If you want that the
.rm file can be downloaded, then you'll need to make a separate link
to the .rm file.
Multiple RealMedia files can be linked together for simulated streaming
simply by adding more URLs to the Ram file, each one separated by a
-) If you don't have your own web-space to upload files
to, you may send to us as email attachments.
-) Pasting the URL of a .mp3 file into QuickTime Player or Windows Media
player will play almost immediately that file.
-) Pasting the URL of the .rm file into RealPlayer or
RealOne Player will play almost immediately that file.
iPod warning. First, is worth repeating that
unless you've installed Linux
please don't use an 'iPod' to record classes or kirttan
(or unless you have one of the latest models that record with
the supplied software, see below). If you have no
other option, then at least ensure the recording level is very low (it
can be amplified later on a computer). It distorts all sound, but it distorts
loud sounds in a particularly ugly way.
Although these hi-tech, expensive iPod machines are good at playing audio,
they make no claim to be good at recording. Indeed their native software
(until the recently, at least) is very poor at recording (for the
technical minded: it records at a sample rate of only 8 kHz). A cheap
cassette recorder works better.
However reasonable quality recording is now possible on some iPods
by installing Linux on the iPod. The procedure to install Linux is given
in the MacWorld article: The
Linux iPod - Geek factor. If you don't do this, then please *don't*
use your iPod to record anything important.
4th generation iPods, the Linux installer is available at: http://kainjow.com.
It is unsupported but is reported to work fairly well, to include a battery
level meter and it doesn't dump the whole file if the battery runs out.
The latest models (as of October 2005) do indeed
record at reasonable quality using the native Apple software without resorting
to the Linux workaround (check the specs before purchasing).
BUT, if recording using an iPod please note the following:
The newly discovered drawbacks
with the two machines we've used here are (and it's been pointed out that
apparently not all models suffer these drawbacks, so all the more reason
to check the characteristics of the machine you use or propose to buy):
-) heavy battery usage while recording (45 to 60 minutes
recording with fully charged battery);
-) no functioning battery monitor in Linux mode, so there is no way
to check the battery status at any time, and no warning before the battery
-) and if the battery runs out, the whole file is lost;
-) in Linux mode the iPod doesn't go to sleep, so it always uses some
battery power even when not in use.
On the positive side, the iPod does record while connected
to the power-source, and if the power goes off (a definite consideration
here in India), it continues recording using its internal battery without
interruption (and, thankfully, without dumping what it has recorded so
Another solution may be this: an external battery that overrides the internal
battery. Such a battery is made by Battery Technology, and is available
for third generation iPods: http://www.batterytech.com/ipod_info/iPod_info.htm.
second iPod caution.
Our experience here in India is that, in the short time we've been
using iPods to record, we have already had them generate three corrupted
files (also reported by others). Quite why this is, is not yet sure. But
it would seem worth using a second recording method as backup in the meantime.
With some trial and error, the uncorrupted part of the file may be transferred
to the computer by playing the audio out of the iPod, and recording through
the line-in of the computer. In our experience a significant part of the
audio of each corrupted file was lost.