Improve Your Content's Audio Quality (on a budget) | Adrian Maruri | Skillshare

Improve Your Content's Audio Quality (on a budget)

Adrian Maruri, Recording Engineer, Musician

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6 Lessons (25m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What You'll Need

    • 3. Choose and Prepare Recording Location

    • 4. Set Up Equipment and Start Recording

    • 5. NoiseManagement

    • 6. Class Recap and Project Overview


About This Class

Getting a good sounding product is easier and simpler than you think! While it is daunting to look at all the audio equipment and software out there, I will show you exactly where to start when recording at home (or anywhere) and see considerable improvement in your sound using free to cheap solutions. And the best part is, no previous audio experience of any kind is required! 

I will walk you through setting up your recording area, soundproof it with household items, basic recording tips, and simple audio cleanup techniques while helping you understand the most basic principles of sound. For the class project, you'll submit a sample audio/video recording before and after applying these principles and you'll be able to hear a big bump in your quality.

The purpose of this class is to help creators improve the audio quality of their content, especially when hiring a sound engineer is out of their means, to make the internet a better sounding place!

 In this class you'll learn:

  • What you'll need: Software, Hardware, and Materials. How and where to get them.
  • How to choose and prepare your recording area: Use basic sound principles to choose the best recording spot and/or prepare and soundproof any room to make it a better recording environment.
  • How to record properly with the equipment you have: Where to place the mic. Recording Levels. Best practices. Taking note of everything being recorded (even noise and unwanted sounds).
  • How to deal with noise in the background: Basic Intro to Post-Production. Not only background noise cleanup, but smart use of existing noise. After recording, how to get rid of unwanted sound and replace with wanted noise and why.
  • How to record your class project to get feedback and improve your sound even further.

Resource Links:


Fifine Mic:

Mic Foam:

Pop Filter:

DIY Pop Filter: type "diy pop filter" in your browser and you'll find many good options (sorry, I couldn't post an actual link for this)




1. Introduction: Hi, My name is Adrian. I am a full time recording engineer in an avid content consumer. In this class, you will learn how to make your vlog podcast, YouTube video or online class sound better By taking super simple steps and using free to cheap solutions, I am going to teach you how to improve your audio quality in a variety of situations. That figure respect. It needs, for example, how to go from something like this to this are much cleaner in dry and recording. Or from this there's something like this. It doesn't matter how much experience you have. I will guide you to all the resources you need. Now we'll walk you through the process of creating better sounding and more engaging Count . At the end of this class, you'll be able to enhance your equality of your existing and future recordings, which shall submit as a class project to demonstrate how you applied what you learn in the course. I can't wait to get started. Let's improve the sound of your content 2. What You'll Need: thanks for joining me in this class. Let's go over what you'll need to start improving your art equality on a small budget. The first thing you'll need is a microphone. Oftentimes you'll be able to get away with using the camera or phones built in mic. But if you want better art equality, get a microphone. USB mikes are great affordable options. I recorded the RT for this whole class with this microphone. The five fine condenser years be Mike. It is great for the Price and Justus good or better than those usually suggested for beginners. Also, it comes with a little tripod, which works great, but you should also get a mic stand that fits your needs. You can find a link to some options in the description. You can choose any Mike Brander type you want, and there are so many options that I could make a whole class on them. So just keep in mind that whatever might set up you choose, preparing the recording environment will still be essential for a good quality recording. Now, you may not have the Mikey one yet, or it's still in the mail. If that's the case, you can still use your phone's headset and even your laptop or phones built in mikes to go through the principles, tests and projects in this class. Now that you have a mic, it is a good idea to get a part filter to reduce or eliminate popping sounds. Customer using P and F sounds, especially if you're going to be recording a lot of voiceovers podcasts or for any situation in which you'll be close to the mic, you can search it a spot fielder or mike foam. If it's a microphone, make sure that it will figure microphone by looking at the measurements. And this is a part filter, which is, you can see is a piece of fabric extended on the frame with an arm that lets you attach it into a mic stand so you complete it between you and the mic. If you want to save even more money and are feeling crafty, I'll add a link below for a D, a white pop culture. Next, you'll need audio software with noise reduction capabilities. A popular, free and versatile one is audacity, which I will use throughout this class as well. By the way, you'll find a link to this download page and all the other online resource is for this class, including some additional tutorials in the class information section. Then just choose which system you'll be using it on, click on it and follow the loading instructions. Our chastity would also work as your recording software. Grass Man and quick time on Mac or voice recorder on PC can also be used for recording audio. If you have the right adaptors, you could even recording to your smartphone. I'll include a couple of good recording naps in the class. Information. Finally, you'll need some proving material, and the most budget friendly way I can think of doing it is by gathering stuff from around the house. First, you'll need any heavy blankets and towels you confined. Sometimes a thick curtain works great, too. You'll be placing these in strategic areas that we'll go over later, and to help with this, you'll also need structures to hang them on. The ones that found around my plays are a step ladder, clothing rag, a coat rack and even an ironing board. Now that we have all we need, let's go choosing. Prepare our recording location 3. Choose and Prepare Recording Location: in order to choose and prepare a recording location, we need to understand the most basic principles of sound and how it interacts with our surroundings. So let's start with a common recording situation. Here you are with your mix it up and you start recording. Now I'm gonna use arrows to illustrate how sound travels in all directions. Let's say you're recording with the mic right in front of you. And somewhere behind the mic there's a wall as you speak. Sound will hit the wall, which, if it's a common wall, may have served a tiny bit. But we're mostly reflect all of the sound. This reflection. Then it's picked up by the mike, which can make the recording sound echoing. Let's take a look at a second example of this porous material, like glass or ceramic sound will hit the object, and almost all of it will bounce right back. Now, if we take something soft and heavy, like a pile of towels or a thick blanket, the sound from our mouth will hit it and will be mostly absorbed with maybe a tiny bit bouncing back. So, in order to reduce the amount of echo in this scenario, we could play some more absorbent material between the mic and the wall. Say your friends, help you hold it up on some sort of contraption. Then, before the sound reaches the wall, it will get mostly absorbed, giving you a much drier recording. And finally, this is what sound traveling in a bathroom looks like versus sound traveling in a closet. The goal, in most cases, will be to find a balance between absorption and reflection in the recording area. Thus, a bedroom is a great recording area. A bed curtains and somebody's rugs or carpets are great absorbent materials, so I would start here if I'm recording voiceovers or podcasts. The living room is another great room, especially if it is not too big and has a least a couching it. Usually a living room has a good balance, since it will also have some reflective surfaces, which makes it more favorable for a more natural setting, like an on camera interview or a tucking head format. Now, sometimes you can really pick a room if you're doing something like a makeup tutorial or a cooking video. But there is a way to optimize every space for recording. Let's take a look at some examples. This is my living room. I am planning to record sitting on the couch with a microphone in front of me, slightly to the side. It is important to always keep in mind where the mike is going to be one recording to address the closest reflections first now, before I do anything to this room or any room in the following demonstrations. If I was working on the class project, I would now record the line. This is my original sound quality. Stop the recording and then proceed to prepare it going by the principles we have discussed so far, I can tell that I'll need to reduce reflection from the TV and probably from the whole way , which expands far enough to give me a long echo that I don't want, although I won't need to go overboard when covering it. Another good thing to point out is the good features of the room, like this waffle of shelves. While not having any south toward absorbent materials, it has so many different things that makes the surface very irregular, which is good for a fraction sound, which means that sound will mostly reflect back from it. But instead of doing it directly back at you, it will scatter in all directions, which, like absorption, is also great for soundproofing. First, I'm going to set up a ladder between the TV and the mike, and I'm gonna cover it with a thick blanket. I decided I don't really need to cover the whole TV, but rather just cover the back off the mike so that the reflections cannot get to it for the whole way. I just want to prevent the full echo to travel and come back to the room. So I was slightly block it by using my clothing rack with a medium thickness blanket on it at a slight angle, which will reduce the sound going into and back from the hallway. I also had some pillars in the base of the rack to cover the bottom some more, but also to prevent the metal grid from rattling and introducing more noise into the recording. Finally, please make sure to identify and account for any noisemakers and turn the mouth were possible. Now this room is ready to record. And if I was working on my class project. I'd now be done with Step two and ready for Step three. Let's take a look at recording in the bathroom because, say, I want to make a video about how to trim your beard. As we can see, there's plenty of bare walls. Are surfaces all around in the room is basically hollow and empty, so the first thing I will do is identify the microphone and camera positions. Since I know I won't be showing most of the bathroom during shooting, I will focus on turning the areas not in frame first. I don't want some perfume materials to show on camera unless necessary. In this location, let's stick to the bathroom theme and you stab was to cover up surfaces. I'm gonna hang them all around and then filled the gaps between these shelves. Remember, the more stuff you put in, the better at this point, just by talking out loud, I could hear the improvement. But there was something else that was given me a bit of hollowness. I looked and noticed that the sink was still bear and just I wasn't gonna be using it. I filled it up with small towels in my bathroom is now son in grade for recording. Now, if you are using the sink, these airways, you could work around it toe at least get an improvement. In the end, there is nothing wrong with the bathroom sounding like a bathroom. You just don't want the viewers to be distracted by too much echo or have a hard time understanding what you're saying. Now that we have prepared a recording area, let's get ready to record. 4. Set Up Equipment and Start Recording: to get ready to record. We have to properly set up our recording equipment in South where let's start by sitting up the microphone on the proper mic stand. In my case, I'll use a short stand. You could use any stand you have or even the try, but that comes with the mike. Ideally, you always want to set of the mike where it is going to be 8 to 10 inches away from your mouth. Next, let's add some pop filtering. First, I'm going to demonstrate how to set up apart filter like this one. Remember, you can craft one yourself as referenced in lesson number two. Off this class, attach the arm to the mic stand. Adjust the arms so that the pop filter is placed about five inches from the mic. I usually just measure with my hand like this. Make sure that the filter lines up perfectly between the mic in your mouth. A natural voice recording position would be 3 to 5 inches away from the filter, but you can adjust depending on the intensity of the performance. Sometimes you can even do this, but that's the idea. Now, if you have the phone kind like this. Just place it on the mike and keep the same distance from the mic as usual. The hardware is ready. Now let's set up the software for this glass will focus on audacity if you have another prefer software that works too open audacity, which you have previously downloaded and head to the preferences or settings. So, like the quality tab. And make sure that the default sample rate informant are said to 48,000 Hertz and 24 bid, respectively. This is the standard quality, especially when working with video, and you can always suggest it. If you have other specific needs, go back to the main page and from the drop down menu next to the microphone icon, choose your microphone. In my case, it shows up as years BP and PRD advice, and I'll just leave that the fault output. I suggest that if you don't have headphones plugged, then that you turn the speakers down to avoid feedback when recording. I don't have any on me right now, so I'm in my system. This next step is very important to get a good sound, and it's recording at the right level. The first thing you need to do is take a look at your microphone. Some Mike's like mine have a recording volume knob, which are said to a little past halfway to start. If you're Mike doesn't have one, then you'll do all their Justin in the recording software. Go to the volume slider next to the microphone in adjusted to about 50%. To check the levels in this meter, you can either click the microphone button and choose start monitoring or just start the recording. After adjusting my regular speech voice, I realized I need to bump it up to 55%. I'll just stop in the lead this recording now and start a new one. The things you always remember first, then makes up the recording or input level with the speaker or output level. Audacity makes it very clear, but there are all the recording programs that may not do so. One way to make sure is to go to the some preferences to make sure you're adjusting the input. Second, it is never a good idea to record with any of your input levels maxed out. So if you hear any distortion, check the input levels on your mic in your recording software to make sure that is not the case. Now that we are recording in our levels, look good. Make sure that the camera is rolling and give a nice clear club like this, which will serve as a slate and sink point when bringing the audio and video together in your editing software. And you should do this every time you start a new video recording. And finally, it is time to double check that all the noise makers around us are turned off like the A C fan dishwasher, etcetera. If you sit quiet for a second, you notice that you can still hear some noise that could be coming from anything in this particular to your location. In film, this is called the Room Tone Room. Tone is essential in postproduction any noise management. So as part of your recording, whether at the beginning at the end or even in the middle, make sure to capture 10 to 20 seconds of just silence, and I'll go over how and when to use it in the next video 5. NoiseManagement: after you're done, recording it sent to apply some noise reduction and to replace the camera audio with a microphone audio. So first, let's learn how noise reduction works. The simplest way I can explain it is to think of the noise reduction tool as a bloodhound. When you record 10 to 20 seconds of just background noise, you can use it as a sample that you give to the tool in the tool like a bloodhound learns the sample, then goes and retrieves that noise from the pile of sound. Let's take a look on how to do that in audacity. First, let's bring the recording into audacity. If you recorded using audacity like me, you might not need to do this since it might already be there or you would just open your project. There are two ways to bring the file in. One is to go to file import rto or simply dragged the file in which I'm going to do. I'll use this simple file I created for this lesson. Here is what it sounds like. This is a line recorded with the A C on to test the noise reduction tool room tone. It is always a great idea to slate out loud the room tone section that makes it easier to find. You can also record room tone on a separate file. Either way works now selling from the file a sample of the room tone you want to get rid of . Make sure you have the selection tool toggled in. Highlight the section you want to use. Then go up to the effect drop down menu and choose noise reduction. Follow the instructions in Step one. At this point, you should have already selected a few seconds of just noise, so click and get noise profile. Now you're back to the main window in the sample has been learned by the program. So now it's like the portion you want to apply noise reduction to which, for this file is all of it. Drug the selection tool throughout the length of the file, or simply double click it good to effect an introduction in this time, follow the instructions in step two. I like to start by leaving the default levels for reduction in sensitivity and play with those after. If I need you to give you a quick overview, sensitivity refers to the level at which the tool gets triggered. So higher sensitivity will affect more elements of your sound, and you run the risk off Affecting your voice and not just the noise and the lower sensitivity could make it to the tool isn't triggered at all. Nice reduction is just how much the noises brought down in volume. Once the tool is triggered, make sure that reduces selected residue. That's the inverse. Would you'd end up with just the noise If you hit arrested you and then preview. You can hear what would be taken out if choosing reduced. So choose reduced and then hit. Okay and it's done. You have reduced the background noise of your recording. You can even see in the way forms how the background sections got smaller, but your dialogue stayed the same. Let's take a listen. This is a line recorded with the A C on to test the noise reduction tool. That sounds much better if you were applying noise reduction only to part of the file, like is the case when you work in the class project, you would do it the same way, except you don't select the whole file before Step two. I will illustrate this. Using the sample class project. Bring the file in and locate the room tone section room tone. Then select the room tone on Lee. Head to noise reduction and click and get noise. Profile now finding highlight. The last line of this file where you mentioned noise reduction. This is my sound after room treatment in noise reduction. Making sure that it is properly highlighted. Go to noise reduction again. Check for the right parameters and hit OK and listen to make sure you like the outcome. This is my sound after room treatment. This is my sound after room treatment in noise reduction. If you're happy with the result, let's export the file. You can either export the whole thing or select what you want to export for the sample project. I just want to select everything about the room tone section, but if you leave it in your project, that's okay too. Once the section is highlighted, go up to file export exports. Selected audio. If you just export audio, it will export everything in the project. So let's do selected audience. Make sure to select 24 bid way file as a type and head safe. It will prompted to admit a data, which is nifty. But I don't need any for now. So hit okay, and it's done. I call this section noise management because it is not only about reducing existing noise but also adding or extending the siren noise to create a more consistent recording. Listen to this example. Well, I'm just here recording for another test. Oh, no. Somebody turned the a c on halfway through that, I'm gonna have to fix that so I only have the recording has a loud noise in the background . This could easily happen there in an interview or narration. Luckily, I have some room tone that I recorded while the A C was on. So using what we just learned, it should be no problem. Let's just run the tool and let's listen. Well, im just here recording for another test. Oh, no. Somebody turned the a c on halfway through that, I'm gonna have to fix that. It's better, but I can still hear when the air comes on. Instead of trying to apply a harsher noise reduction, I'm just gonna add some a C room tone to the clean portion. I will apply noise reduction to it beforehand so that it matches the rest of the file. Let's hear what that sounds like. Well, im just here recording for another test. Oh, no. Somebody turned the a C on half way to do that, I'm gonna have to fix that. Even though none of it is perfectly clean, it is consistent and will be less distracting to a listener. I am happy with that Finally, was. Your audio is exactly where you wanted to be in terms of quality. And you're working with video. It is time to sink them. I will use my movie because it is a free software on Mac. But any videos after you use will be able to do the same thing. Open the project where you have your footage and import the corresponding audio file. If your video has camera arguing it use its way form as a visual aid for singing. You can tell how helpful the collapse late is because you can just match the spikes in the sound and most importantly, check the sink with the picture. If the clap sounds lined up, everything else should lighten up. Also congratulations. You have now learned everything I had to teach for this class. Now let's go over the principles we learned and talk about some tips for your class project . 6. Class Recap and Project Overview: We've covered many principles of sound recording gear and software and techniques to improve the quality of your rto. But the most important take away from this class should be this. No matter your circumstances. You can always improve on what you have and make the most out of your available tool set. Here's a quick reference off the main points starting this glass. Number one. Get a microphone. It all starts there. You'll notice an improvement right away when stepping away from the built in mikes in your devices. However, if you can't afford a mike, focus on improving how and where you record. You'll still be able to make a big difference in your sound. Number two. Use household items as soundproofing. Material number three Sound travels in all directions, focusing all surfaces that can be reasonably treated for soundproofing, including floor and ceiling if needed. Number four. As a general rule, the more stuff in your room, the better the sound of your room. But the more stuff in the right places in your room that closer, you'll get to the optimal sound of your room number five. Make sure you keep the appropriate distance from the Mike have the right recording levels in the use. Pop filtering number six Background noise Come your enemy and your ally Make your recording some natural by addressing each background noise source. Appropriately remove distracting noise but at policing noise were needed. After all we've discussed, I'm excited to hear all your different recording setups, how much you were able to improve them and give you advice on how to take that improvement even further. And the best way to get feedback is to submit the class project. I will quickly walk you through the process of creating your project and show you what it should look like when finished first figure recording location, whether it is your current one or a new one you want to try. In my case, I chose the hallway, which, with too long bear parallel walls. It's a pretty tough spot to record, but sometimes it is just the backdrop to like for your video, set up your mic and camera and before you do any treatment, record the line. This is my original sound quality. Stop recording and do all the some proofing you need when ready. Record the line. This is my sound after room treatment. Count 2 to 5 seconds and then say this is my final sound after treatment in noise reduction . After saying the lines with a couple seconds and say room tone and record about 10 seconds of just silence and then stop the recording. Bring the audio file with both lines and the room tone into audacity, using the room tone US. Annoy sample. Apply noise reduction to the second line on Lee so you can hear both what some proofing alone did to the art equality of your set up and how noise reduction helped clean it up. Even further. String together both files you recorded in sync to video where applicable. In this a result, you'll have three lines of dialogue that each improved in quality. The final product should look something like this. This is my original sound quality. This is my sound after room treatment. This is my sound after room treatment in noise reduction. These principles and techniques are only the beginning of what can be done to enhance the sound quality off any project. But at the same time, if applied correctly, these will benefit all their recordings, no matter the scope and production level off your project. Some of the steps that would follow what we've done so far are sound editing and mixing techniques to achieve a fully Polish product. These would improve the dialogue itself or when they displayed, along with music and sound effects. We could also do a study off all the mic options to fit your specific needs or take a more specialized look at the different noise reduction in Arctic cleanup tools. And this is just in the room of creating videos and podcasts. There's also film production and post production and music. If the raising of interest those are some of the topics I could covering future courses, then give a participating in this class best of luck with improving your recording setups and putting together the class projects I can wait to hear them.