Recording Great Audio: How to do it

Do you have all the equipment you'll need to record your audio? If not, consult the previous article, "Recording Great Audio: What you'll need." If so, great! Here's a list of tips and best practices for recording great audio in the field.

Note: this text is adapted from CNN's iReport toolkit series of "How To" articles.

  1. Pay attention to how you hold the microphone
    Hold the microphone firmly and steadily at its base. Position it four to six inches away from the interviewee’s mouth – but the louder the surroundings, the closer you should hold it. If you're in a setting where you can use a mic stand (such as a tabletop interview), we strongly recommend doing so.
  2. Always wear headphones when you’re recording
    You may unconsciously filter out background noise when you’re recording audio, but a microphone is very unforgiving. It will pick up rustles, faraway traffic, wind – so always wear headphones to make sure you’re noticing exactly what your microphone is picking up.
  3. Block sound if possible
    You’d be surprised how much external sound can be picked up by recording devices. So be creative when recording audio and use whatever you can think of to block sound, such as your body, a wall or a windscreen. If there’s noise or wind, stand in front of the interviewee to block it. And if you’re outside and the noise is simply too loud to block, a car can make a handy interviewing space.
  4. Keep the chatter low
    Audio equipment can be super-sensitive, so keep quiet and keep down the noise of others working with you. You may want to laugh, cough or “mmm-hmm” your assent to your subject, but resist the urge.