Audio Levels: Production

The following video introduces the basics of sound recording for production.

Back in the old days when we had analog recorders you used to be able to record a level of up to 0db without clipping. With digital audio recording we have to be more careful, because of the digital clipping that can occur. Even some of the more advanced sound editing capabilities available to us, the audio file will still degraded even if you are able to "fix" the distortion. 

Important things to think about when recording audio

  • Record as strong a signal as possible without clipping
  •  "head room" is needed meaning you don't want to your signal to get too close to being clipped during production. Setting dialog to peak at around -6 to -12 usually works just fine. You do so while monitoring the sound on your recorder and increasing or decreasing the record level. It's important to monitor levels with both headphones and an audio levels monitor.
  • Did I mention that clipped audio is pretty much unusable?

Getting a good signal to noise ratio during production:

  • ™Getting the mic closer to your subject
  • ™Turning off  and eliminating sound in the location (that means turning off air conditioners, refrigerators, phones (texting even) waiting for planes to pass over or for landscapers to finish blowing leaves. 
  • Using the appropriate mic for the audio you are recording (more on microphones next week)