Digital Rescue

digital_audio

Technology saved me, today. Last night I was out collecting audio for a story I had to write for my Convergence Journalism class, and I made a fatal mistake:  I didn’t monitor my recordings. It’s a rookie mistake, and though I’d like to say I have no idea how it happened, I do. I was cocky. I assumed all my connections were good, my levels were high, and my mic placement perfect.

I don’t know if it was a lesson inflicted upon me by the gods who were tired of my arrogance, but over half of my recordings were either (almost) indecipherable or they didn’t record at all. It’s a tricky balance– in an interview, I find that people are more often at ease when my headphones are off, but wearing them at the time of the recording is the only way to guarantee that I’ve captured the audio on tape. In two cases, I left them off because I was overly confident, and in the other, because the woman looked nervous.

My audio equipment, though capable of producing great sound, is a little funny. I use a video camera as the tape deck, and a hand-held or shotgun mic , which is plugged into it. Since DV (the digital video format) records audio at 1511 kbps, it’s even better quality than CDs, so the recordings sound absolutely fantastic… When it works. (By comparison, most mp3 files come in around 128 kbps, so the quality is more than ten times higher.)

The converter cables I have to use to hook up the shotgun mic to the camera make for a tight fit, since the camera is rather compact and doesn’t have very secure connections. Therefore, if I don’t make sure the cable is really squeezed in there, it can come loose, and the audio won’t record. That’s what happened in two of my interviews, and the result was that the captured audio sounded like this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As you can tell, it’s garbage. Even if you crank the volume, you can hardly hear anything.Luckily, due to the magic that is digital audio processing, I was able to recover most of the audio. It sounds a little like it was on AM radio, but it’s at least reasonably understandable now:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If I spent more time on it, I’m sure I could make it even better. Isn’t technology grand? The other recording was completely un-salvagable– I’d forgotten to press record. Even Soundtrack can’t fix that stupid of an error.

Speaking of digital audio, here’s some of a more melodic variety.

This first track features a familiar vocal track, but with a fun twist to the accompaniment.

Continuing the fun theme is this second track. It’s a pretty straight A vs. B, but it stays fresh throughout.

This final track is a fun one too. The chorus may raise an eyebrow, but that usually happens with this style of mash-up.

2 responses to “Digital Rescue

  1. I did just fine with my audio recordings using a Marantz PMD670 and an AudioTechnica 835B shotgun mic. Check it out: http://introtoaudio.mypodcast.com/2008/11/Almost_in_the_Afterlife-159525.html

    I have another one I haven’t quite finished yet. We’ll see if I get around to actually finishing it…

  2. In other news, this Soundtrack program sounds amazing. It’s like if Jesus were a sound geek

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