You’ve got a talk, presentation, lecture or event taking place and have been charged with recording the audio. If you have hired a room or are in a room with a sound desk, then you are liberated from stress, assuming there is someone who knows how to use it. A radio mic or the lectern stand mic should transmit to the sound desk where you can record the audio straight into a device like a phone or a memory stick. If you don’t have a sound desk, the questions to ask are who is the audience and how will it be listened to and in which form? Will it be directly downloadable only and for a limited audience? Streamed?We’ll get onto that later.
Firstly, you need a device to record the audio on. If it’s a singular person in a room with no audience, a phone is fine. Most phones audio capture is at singular points so do mind where your fingers are on the phone and how you hold it and mind where the phone is pointing. If you can get a small lapel mic from phone to person, even better. If not, test and play back how close the phone needs to be and which way it should be pointing. The recording area may be at the front, side or back.
If it’s a setting where there are more people, the phone will need to be on a small tripod pointing towards the speaker. Even better is a recording device on a small tripod – something like a Zoom H1 or a Tascam DR-05. Set on a tripod on the lectern or desk, do a sound test to get the best levels (do not use auto levels) and adjust the peaks accordingly. Batteries and memory card space will last at least 2-3 hours. Use a 2GB card as a minimum, recording at a minimum of 24 bit 48KHz and ideally in WAV format. WAV carries more detail but will be a bigger file size. You can convert to MP3 later on. What if the speaker moves? Always ask if they are likely to walk around. If so, you are going to need a rather expensive radio mic. The receiver can plug into your recorder which can now be anywhere in the room. The other part, the transmitter if you like, is called a lav mic and is attached to the speaker and where he goes, the mic goes to. Again, a brief sound check to make sure the signal is coming through and isn’t too loud or quiet is mandatory.
Once you have recorded, decide whether to add to it (music/intros/sections) and play around with MP3 and bitrates. Lower quality means faster streaming. Higher quality can mean slower streaming. However, at today’s speeds, even 3G data, is fast enough for decent quality. File sizes more than 5 MB for audio should be avoided though. 2-3MB is ample and in most cases is a good compromise of quality and stream speed.