Recording: Best Practices

I love (love, LOVE) my digital recorder and use it ALL OF THE TIME. And not just for music; many a grocery list, blog post, grant proposal and newsletter article have begun on my little recorder.

    olympus digital recorder 500M 

  • If you are going digital (which I highly recommend), buy the most memory you can afford. (My 18-month old recorder holds 2G of .wmv which is something like 3 weeks of recordings.) Most digital recorders also act as MP3 players. That means you can keep your rehearsal and practice recordings right on your recorder (no need to convert and put somewhere else to listen) provided you have enough room.

  • If you have not used a recorder as part of your practice or rehearsing process before, record more than you think you will need to start. You can always delete the stuff you decide you don’t need or want.

  • Record numerous short tracks rather than long tracks. Remember, you have to listen back in real time: having short tracks lets you review much more quickly.

  • The mics on current digital recorders are very good so you do not have to worry a lot about placement. Noises that happen close to the recorder, however, are highly amplified. (I have had some painful headphone moments due to setting my recorder down on metal music stands, for example.) Make sure your voice is nearer to the recorder than any instruments or accompaniment.

  • Figure out how much you want to keep and where. Come up with a backup strategy as you start using your recorder, not when it is full. Otherwise, I guarantee you will end up deleting something important when you are in hurry to make more room.

  • Invest in conversion software if you need it. I use a MAC, but my recorder creates WMV (Windows Media Video)files (which I can preview but not edit on my mac). I paid about $20 to get software that converts .wmv directly to .mp3 files. I save a ton of time by not having to export files from my recorder software and then convert them (again) to mp3s.

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