Hey dingus, feel like recording the words spewing from your gob for the education of those not in shrieking distance? Want to gibber incoherently at your fellow man over Skype, and take down both your blasphemy and their shocked incomprehension?
Then this is the guide for you. It’s a few simple steps that I use when recording the Citizen Game podcast (which is incidentally Made Of Win), and I hope they’re of some use to you.
Some software you will need:
Skype and Audacity are free, but AHP and Pamela are pay-for programs.
Install all the aforementioned apps, and prepare for victory. Remember to make sure that your mic and headphones are set up correctly in Skype, and turn off system sounds while recording (otherwise weird clicks and beeps will be the order of the day).
All over your boink
Start up your call, and make sure that each of the participants is completely audible, and that there is no interference on the call. Remember — what you hear is what you get.
With Audio Hijack Pro
First thing to do is to make sure that the ‘hijacking’ is working correctly. Start the program, choose the Skype option from the menu on the right, and click the record button in the title bar, wait 10 seconds, and stop. The VU meter should start to react every time someone says something, and a nice little audio clip should appear in your recording bin. Check it for clarity.
If it sounds fine, you are ready to begin. If the quality is bad, try improving your Skype connection (plug in Ethernet) or boost the recording quality (choose a different preset on the Recording tab).
If you don’t hear anything at all, first check that your mic is working correctly and that nothing is on mute. If so, try recording all System Audio sounds (right menu), instead of only the Skype conversation.
Pamela sucks. This is known.
Still, since no one has bothered to make a decent AHP clone for Windows, it’ll have to do.
Start it up, hit Tools, Options, then Sound. Check that the selected Input and Output Devices match your sound setup — your mic should be the input and Sound Mapper should usually be the output. Play around with the Skype test call until you get the setup right.
You can boost the recording quality in the Sound menu by hitting the configure codec button beside the Recording Format drop-down. Keep the format MP3, and but bring up the quality to at least 128kbps, 441. kHz and Stereo. That will give us some flexibility in what we do with the sound in edit.
Pamela automatically pops up a record request every time you start a call, but you can decline that, and hit the red circle button to begin recording whenever you like.
- Test it, baby — Every time you make a new recording, take a 30 second test just to ensure you’ve got everything set up right, and there are no unforeseen calamities.
- Notes are your friends — Had a call drop out, or noticed a weird noise? Make a note of the time so we don’t have to scan through the whole file in edit.
- Volume level — Try to make sure everyone is at approximately the same volume, it’s a bastard trying to normalise voices properly, and impossible if people talk over each other.
- Don’t be afraid of pauses — We can take anything out in edit, so don’t worry about silence or bits you want to do again.
- Back it up — Never rely on one copy of a file. Create a few backups, preferably in different locations (i.e. Dropbox or the like). When editing, create a fresh copy to make your changes to while keeping the original clean.
Next post will give you some tips on how to prettify your gabble with some editing tricks in Audacity.