Help on how to record
Find out how to record and publish audio using podcasting tools. Discover short tips so your audio quality is top-notch. Listen to our own podcast.
First, decide if you are going to record using a phone, an IPAD or a laptop. You need to consider if you will have a good WIFI or 4G internet connection where the interviews will take place.
1. Using Anchor - if you have a reliable internet connection
If you are using a phone or IPAD or a laptop, and you have a good internet connection, then you could use the Anchor.fm app to record your audio. This is a podcasting app, and it has good quality audio and is easy to use.
Anchor is available at your phone/tablet App Store (Search Anchor.fm) or if you are registering on the laptop at www.anchor.fm. To get started, watch this video showing how Anchor works. After registering, you can immediately start recording audio by doing as they say – press the red microphone button.
Note - if you do not have a good connection, and are using a phone, and want it as simple as possible - then just use your voice memos! An external mic may be good here.
Recording alone? Just hold it to your ear
If you (or your loved one) wants to record a story by yourself, you can. And it's even easier. Just grab your phone, go into the Anchor app, press the Red microphone and hold it up to your ear like your talking on the phone.
Important tips for Anchor
There are some quirks with using Anchor, and you need to be careful the internet connection stays active, as there is a risk the audio may not save if this occurs. Read the blog below to find out tips on using Anchor effectively, and to try and minimise the risk of lost audio.
2. Audio recording software - on laptop, no internet connection required
You can also use a range of free and paid-for recording software on your laptop (note, only laptop).
I use the free Audacity software for my recordings in a person’s home where I do not access their internet. I then record using Audacity and use a USB microphone straight into the laptop. You do not need to be connected to the internet to use Audacity, as you are using downloaded software. If you are looking to do this, then please read the blog post below.
Grab headphones (if you want)
If the subject doesn’t want to wear headphones, then test the audio without them - it’s better if you can both wear the headphones. But if they can’t wear headphones, then the first priority is for you to wear them (at least when you are playing back the audio to), so you can hear if they are “on microphone” when you play back. I do not place headphones on my subjects when interviewing using the laptop and an external USB microphone as I can place the microphone close to them, and can hear through my headphones (when I play back) if they are sounding clear.
If you do want to both wear headphones, then you may need a “headphone splitter”. These plug into your headphone jack and allow you to plug in more than one headphone to any device. They cost about $10.
Read more on our blog post about the use of a “headphone splitter”, and on how to hook up multiple headphones on IPhones 7 & 8, which have a lightening jack (not an audio jack). Confused? If you’ve got a lightening jack you’ll know exactly what I mean so this one applies to you…
Our blog post explains why. It also provides tips on headphones and hearing aids.
Quiet, well-furnished and preferably carpeted room
Set up your interview in a quiet, carpeted room. Why carpet? Having carpet and a well-furnished rooms cuts out a lot of sound recording issues. It's amazing what some carpet can do to reduce long sibilant sounds and echoes. A safe space, a comfy lounge chair, a carpeted room, and the device placed closely between you (and kept still) will result in a successful interview. Remember to make sure surrounding noise is kept to a minimum. The key is to record with as little echo as possible.
Don’t have carpet? It’s about cutting out the echo.
If you don’t have carpet, grab a doona or two cushions and place them in a triangular space/shape behind your device so you are blocking out the external sounds around the microphone.
Do I need an external microphone?
And what about external microphones? Well, an external microphone will result in better audio quality and it is pretty easy to attach a mic to your phone these days - but if you follow my other steps on headphones and the location of the recording, I believe your audio quality will still be very good indeed. The main test will be where you place the device - it will be more comfortable to place it - making sure it is still - on a table or arm of a chair between you, rather than holding it up to their face. Test out the placement of your device for sound.
The range of microphones is huge and technical support on mics is outside of our remit. If you want more information on external microphones, head over to Rachel Corbett’s PodSchool. Rachel is a well-known Australian journalist and podcasting expert. She runs a podcasting school at www.podschool.com.au and you can receive her free podcasting guide from there.
Create, publish & export
If you are using Anchor, each piece of audio is called a segment. A range of segments can be added together with external files (music, other audio, voice memos) to create an episode. What you do with your episode is up to you. You can publish it on the Anchor listening platform, and share this with your family and friends. You can take it global and publish it to the world. You can keep it private, and save it as a unpublished episode.
But remember to export each audio segment after you record, or at least after you get home or finish the interview. It’s important you keep these incredibly important audio memories backed up in more than one place.
Export, export, export
Number 1 tip? Save each audio segment (export) off the Anchor platform. It’s very easy, and our helpful screen shot points out how. At each segment there are three dots (…) next to the plus icon, and when you click on the dots, it will come up with Download audio file. Please do this. It will create a back up of your recordings, and make sure you own a copy of the audio outside of Anchor.
If you are using another software such as Audacity on your laptop, then you should export your files as an MP3 at the completion of the interview and save them elsewhere. This is an important second backup.