Reply To: How to Make an MP3 Recording of a Storytelling Session

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From: Tim Sheppard
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 15:08:27 +0100

You could use any recording software. The most well-respected free software is Audacity. It’s available for PC and Mac at

Download

It’s very capable of recording, and editing your audio, and exporting it to MP3 format (or various others) while giving you complete control over the MP3 quality settings.

The interface can look a bit complicated because it’s capable of advanced things, but essentially all you need to do with any software is to make sure your Blue Yeti is selected as the mic to record from, and check that the recording level isn’t too high or low by doing a test and watching the soundwave to check that it isn’t either tiny or pushing up against the limits. (The Blue Yeti has its own knob to control the Gain for this, and you’ll want the mic to be on the Directional setting, to pick up only your voice, or Omnidirectional if you’re recording a round circle group.)

Press record, then stop, then save. To save as MP3 you need to Export and choose that format. But you will want to keep the original too, since the ‘lossy’ MP3 format greatly reduces the original data by throwing it away – if you want to re-edit or repurpose the audio always go back to the original ‘lossless’ audio file, which you can save/export as WAV with higher resolution settings. WAV files take up lots more space but they are a standard format that you can play on anything.

It’s worth reading up a little about what settings make an appropriate quality audio file, because any recording or conversion software will ask you to choose settings for how high a resolution you want (called “bitrate” measured in kbps – kilobits per second, and “sample rate” measured in Hz). For instance if you buy an MP3 music track it will probably be at 128kbps (small file but barely adequate quality), 192kbps (good quality) or even 320kbps (very high quality, larger file). But voice recordings don’t require such high settings to preserve the same quality, so 128kbps might be enough. The Sample Rate for CD tracks is 44100Hz, but again for voice you don’t need to preserve such high frequencies of sound, so half that or even lower might be fine. There are other more detailed technical settings you might get asked to choose, like “variable bitrate” but these aren’t all that important here – just accept the default. Don’t worry about all this if you aren’t going to use your recordings for anything special like publishing or broadcasting. The main thing is to check that your final MP3 file sounds good enough after you save it (check it on good hifi speakers rather than cheap headphones, to hear any distortions), and is not too huge a file to send or store.

Experiment with how close the mic should be to your mouth, how loud to speak, whether the space around you makes you sound harsh, boomy, echoey etc, and whether you need a ‘pop screen’ (stops you blowing against the mic if your mouth is close).

Basic audio editing is a bit like wordprocessing – if you want to trim unwanted bits from the beginning and end, or anywhere, just highlight them with the selection tool and press delete. You can even get Audacity to find and remove silences automatically.

This isn’t a complete guide! But it should get you started.

Tim

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