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Recording


Recording of audio has come a long way since Edison developed the first phonographs in the late 1800s using wax cylinders.  The quality in those days was decidedly 'low fidelity', as the microphones and 'speakers' used were of very poor quality anyway and the recording medium left a lot to be desired.

Very soon the cylinders The medium soon gave way to shellac, a much more durable material which unlike wax cylinders did not deteriorate noticably with each playing of the recording. The cylinders were replaced by flat discs  but the process was still an acoustic recordingand of more novelty value than a form of entertainment.

The business improved tremendously with the mass production of discs, and by WW1 it was quite an industry.  The advent of broadcasting around 1920 led to electrical reporducers. By the 1930s, the Germans were producing recording machines with long steel wires used to record audio signals. These were replaced by paper and plastic tape coated with magnetic particles which held sway as the main recording media until the 1970s.

Improvements in audio fidelity, miniaturisation and manipulation led to better quality tape, then narrower tape (down to 1/8th inch, developed by Philips which were encapsulated in durable 'Compact Cassttes' made tape the standard medium for recording.

Emergence of Digital

Experiments with magnetic discs towards the end of the 1970s was ideal for the new methods of digital transmission. When encoded as a series of 1s and zeros, the audio could be compressed, making the amount of space needed for storage much smaller. 

Solid State recording
The first magnetic discs held just a few hundred kilobytes of data, but these soon developed into the very dense packages we have today.  Other advancements were the use of optical discs (CDs and later DVDs) and then the mass production of chips with solid state CMOS circuitry which could accomodate many megabytes and then gigabytes of information into tiny chips.  Of equal importance was the mass production of these 'chips', the more the voilume went up the cheaper the chips became.

History of Recording

Free Sound effects
Audacity® is a FREE, open source, cross-platform programme for multi-track recording and editing. Audacity is available for Windows®, Mac®,  Linux® and other operating systems. 

It first appeared just before the turn of the millenium and now has about 36 million users. It is especially useful for post-production  and is much used in the production of Podcasts as well as recording music albums. 


10 easy-to-follow videos,
A FREE 21 page PDF manual
100 FREE SOUND EFFECTS 
AudacityFlex was put together by DJ Max who has twelve years experience in broadcast and studio work. He simplified the many processes and practices used in the software to help you use Audacity more effciiently, potentially saving you masses of time. 
Click the banners above for details.
iRig recorder logo

Recording Software Training

Audacity flex is a video course of 9+ videos, teaching and demonstrating how to use audacity and how to learn it in few days. In fact, you can even do this in less than a day! The video course is a quick summarization of every important thing in audacity you need to learn and know. It is invaluable in helping to discover new features and improve your overall skills.

Click banners for details of
the Audacity Flex training
Now you've got top-notch recording software - make sure you learn how to use all its features!

Basic recording on computers.


Most laptops and desktops PCs today have an internal microphone, which, with some music recording software is all you need to record audio. The problem with this basic set up is that the audio quality will be awful.  The kind of internal microphones installed in computers will not have a great dynamic range, and being mounted in the hardware is likely to pick up all kinds of movement and vibration, from keyboard clicks to the whirr and hum of any internal fan. 

Microphones should ideally be optimised for the kind of audio that is being recorded - there are hundreds of microphones, its not a case of 'one size fits all'. Selecting an appropriate microphone is voital, but having an external microphone is a must if any serious recording is to be done.

The expert recording engineer will always try to record audio the best way possible (see below).  You don't need to have the best recording software to get good results, and the basic programme such as Audacity will be more than sufficient - its talent that's needed in radio production! The talent can be developed and nurtured through a suitable training programme - always get some good tuition, such as Audacity Flex which is training that works. it's thorugh and has been the start to mnany top recording engineers' careers.

Audacity Flex currently have a special offer with 650 FREE sounds for use in making your own jingles; well worth the £30 for the course. Why not enrol now?  You will learn far more than you could ever read in books or on the web.


Audio Interface

This is the circuitry which marries the analogue souind, obtained from the microphone, and converts it into digital signals that a compouter can understand and process.  

While you can pay thousands for all-singing, all-dancing audio interfaces, this is sheer extravegance. A simple converter, or interface, can be had for around £20.  Extra channels will add only a fiver or so.


MIDI Controller


MIDID - Music Instrument Digital interface

Most of the programs used in studios have virtual instruments included in the software. These virtual instruments enable you to add many odd sounds and special effects to your sound, they can all be regarded as ingredients in the mixture of a great audio production.

You do however need to trigger and alter the electronic, or virtual, intsruments and the tool for that is called a MIDI Controller.  The most common type of MIDI controller is a simple keyboarde. A full size one is the standard 88 key piano keytbopard, often with extra controls  (such as volume and pitch) included which alter and shape the virtual sounds you will make.


Monitors

There are two kinds of monitors founs in a studio - both enable you to 'see' the sound and hear it too. The computer screen shows a visual impression of what's going on - these were previously called VDU (visual display unit). The computer business has however now kijacked the term 'monitor' to mean screen, which is very confusing for pure audio engineers who traditionally thought of a monitor as being a an aural transducer - or a louspeaker.

It's vital that the monitor (usually a pair of matched speakers, to give stereo output) )  speakers should have a fairly flat frequency response, they are designed that way to get your recording quality as balanced as possible.

Microphones

There are at least five hundred different microphone types on the market of many different types.  Please see our separate page all about microphones HERE.

Olympus LS-14 Linear PCM Recorder
Olympus Recorder LS14
The Olympus 'Quick Mode', the user can immediately begin recording without the need to adjust any levels.

The Olympus LS series has always had superior sound quality, and the LS-14 takes that reputation to a new level. It features two internal 90° directional condenser microphones which each have a frequency response from 60 Hz to 20 kHz. This allows the user to capture the richer, lower-bass frequencies.

As well as the directional stereo microphones, a third omni-directional centre "TRESMIC", increases the frequency response range to 20 Hz - 20 kHz. This makes the LS-14 an ideal recording machine for very loud environments as it supports sound pressure levels up to 130 decibels. That is more than enough to capture extreme sound from live rock bands.

The sensitivity of the microphone is adjustable – with a choice of High, Middle or Low, suitable for everything from the biggest concert to the most intimate one-on-one rehearsal.

You can find out much more about the Olympus LS-14 by clicking this link, where it is now on sale at a discounted price of £139.
Olympus LS14 recorder
Here is just the right piece of kit to capture audio in high-quality more easily than ever .  This is  the LS-14 Linear PCM audio recorder from brand leader, Olympus.

The Olympus audio recorder is an impressive piece of kit that you will find often used in the field by pro journalists.  It has a wide range of  functions such as; tuner, metronome and overdubbing capabilities.

There is also a  simple Mode dial that lets allows the user  switch quickly between the various recording modes.  The Olymups'  special high pressure microphones let you catch audio quickly, without any clipping.


Audio can be captured in many different formats including MP3, Wav and Broadcast Standard WAV files (also known as BWF)  (BWF). This makes using it easy and  flexibile. It has a powerful repotation for its ability to capture 24 bit/96 kHz Linear PCM studio quality audio 'on the fly', making it very well suited to musicians, podcasters and journalists.

The 1¾ inch LCD menu screen is  easy to follow making recording pro sound even easier by its 'Mode Select Dial' and 'Smart Mode' features.

The Mode Select Dial, located on the bottom right-hand corner of the recorder, can be set to the following modes: Tuner, Manual, Quick and Smart. Tuner Mode sets the recorder as a Chromatic Tuner for musical instruments.

In the recorder's 'Manual Mode', experienced users can adjust the recording level manually, varying level while playing music or capturing sound.

Smart Mode is ideal for anyone from the novice to the seasoned veteran as it automatically adjusts to the optimum recording level with a single touch of the record button.  By entering the loudest sound, 'Smart Mode' will automatically adjust to capture the best professional audio quality possible.


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