Guidelines for Home-Recording
prepared by Douglas Clark, Glass Bottom Studios
doug@glassbottomstudios.com
732-687-1955
AUDIO RECORDING
Choose a “dry” room, carpeted, fluffy furniture, pillows, blankets, etc. is good.  Think recording studio booth.  Avoid recording in a “live” or echoey room, even if it makes you sound better in the moment!
Eliminate any background noise in your recording space, such as:
Heating/AC – turn it off during your session
Computer fans – record on silent devices you can or move them away from the mic as far as possible
Open windows – close them (road noise/birds)
Loud clocks
Motors like refrigerators – turn them off or unplug them (and turn them back on afterward ;-))
Process to record your Audio Track
1) Use HEADPHONES to listen to the base video/audio track you’re performing to, at a comfortable level, as low as you can without losing the groove, to minimize headphone bleed into your recorded track.  This is CRITICAL when we’re multiplying by many participants.  If you hear bleed in your recording, try to find a different headphone solution (e.g., airPods).
2) Use the best, quietest mic/preamp setup you can find.  See Options below.  But if all you have is a smartphone, or computer with built-in mic, it will still work.
3) Vocalists should stand about 18-24” from the mic for consistency of everyone. 
4) Use one of the devices/software packages below to record your audio track.  Use a separate device to record your video.
5) Hit Record on your audio recording device (AND optionally video recording device), then hit PLAY on your base track, and SING!  - see options below for recording video.   Recording both at the same time will save you time and is critical for audio/video sync later on.
6) Arrange to not have page turns.

Equipment to record your Audio Track
Use your own home-recording studio setup if you have one. 
Read on for suggestions/options if you don't.
Devices you can record Audio on:
Stand-alone Recording devices:
Smartphone (iPhone or Galaxy)
Easiest, and decent quality, especially newer models.  Use the Apple app Voice Memo on iPhones (comes on all iPhones standard).  We recommend the Voice Memo "Lossless" setting (in Settings->Voice Memos->Audio Quality), for slightly better quality than Compressed.  
Galaxy/Android users can use the Voice Recorder app, or equivalent.
or
Zoom H4n/H6 Audio Recorder or similar (easy and & very good quality, excellent low-noise, and flexible mic placement with a tripod).  Creates WAV or MP3 files directly, and transfer by USB to your computer for sharing.  Easy 48KHz sample rate selection (see below).
Computer with Audio Recording Software such as:
Garageband (free for MAC users, and easy to use – Glass Bottom Studios consulting/tutorials available), available in the App Store.
NCH Software WavePad or RecordPad (MAC or PC Users) 
Voice Recorder, Ableton, or Audiotool (free for PC users) (Glass Bottom Studios limited support – at your own risk/expertise)
We recommend using an external microphone with a computer for best results, rather than the (last resort) built-in mic, which is too noisy for professional use, but OK for average use. 
Computer External Mic Options
Option 1 (simple) – A good USB microphone -- search online, e.g., Blue Yeti, ATR 2500x, or similar. 
Noise characteristics of USB mics are under study at GBS – stay tuned.  Not expected to be as good/quiet as the following options.
Option 2 (more expensive & complex, but better) – a professional or good dynamic or condenser mic with XLR connection into a clean audio interface device (e.g., MOTU M2), digital into your computer (USB, or Thunderbolt).  Your condenser mic will need the +48v phantom power from the audio interface.
Option 3 (best, most complex & expensive) – professional condenser mic (or pair) into a tube preamp (e.g., ART Pro MPA ii, ART Pro Channel ii, or Avalon 737sp), into an audio interface (e.g., MOTU M2), digital into your computer (USB, or Thunderbolt).  Your condenser mic will need the +48v phantom power from the audio interface.
For Option 3, if your mic pre-amp setup has a COMPRESSOR, don’t overuse it.  Recommend no more than 2.5x with -15 dB threshold for a vocalist, or brass.  No compression for string instruments, or piano.  If you don’t have experience with compression, it’s best not to use any.  Compression is best done later in the mastering stage.
If your mic/pre-amp/mixer has EQ, use the very least possible, only to correct for room emphasis.  For example if you find your room makes your recordings sound too bassy, or too thin, try a few tests to compensate and get the most natural/pleasing sound.  Less is better at this stage.  EQ will usually be done in the mastering stage. 

​​​​​​​TURN OFF any Auto-leveling or Automatic Gain Control (IMPORTANT) on Input in your recording system/software.  It is usually cheap compression, and will make your track sound very unnatural or unusable.
SOUNDCHECK:  With auto-leveling/Automatic Gain Control OFF, Test your input levels on your recording system (all of them will have some adjustment you can make).  Sing/play louder than you will ever hit in the song you are singing, and make ABSOLUTELY SURE that when you listen to your final recording, the peak loud parts do not DISTORT (overdrive, sound buzzy, etc.).  That will produce an unusable track.  But experiment with mic input volume, to find the sweet spot, not too low, and peaks no more than about 75% of the "max" where distortion occurs (if you can see it in your display).  A few minutes in sound check will save you a ton of time redoing ruined tracks, or losing great performances!!
PRO TIP: write down any EQ/compression/level settings you use, in case you want to recreate later and save time.
PRODUCE THE AUDIO FILES (WAV/AIFF or MP3/M4A)
You will need to know how to export or find your final recorded stereo audio file, from your device or recording software, to share with your Coordinator/Video Editor (GBS).
We recommend 48kHz/24-bit or 48kHz/16-bit file full resolution formats (WAV, or AIFF), rather than MP3 or M4a, (and rather than 44.1 kHz/16-bit) if at all possible, for best quality, and compatibility with video later on.
You will usually find this 48KHz sampling option on your recording device (e.g., Zoom H4n/H6), or recording software, in the Settings.  Check user manuals or online, to find how.  If not, don't worry, GBS can work with it.
SHARING YOUR AUDIO FILE
We recommend sharing/transferring files, which can be large and clog up email accounts, using a Cloud sharing solution, such as Google Drive.  For that, you will need a Google Account and Gmail address (an address ending in @gmail.com), which is free.  You don't need to use that address for email, just for sharing your files.
VIDEO AS A FINAL PRODUCT
Process recommended for Video (if your final project output will be a compilation video).
Record the video at the same time as you are making your contribution audio recording.  It can be synced (near perfectly) later, by the editor.
Use any video recorder you are familiar with, or smartphone.
SUGGESTIONS:
1) Use good lighting in front of you.
2) Use a tripod, with compatible (threadwise) Smartphone holder, e.g. Kobratech.
3) Have a nice background
4) Audio quality is unimportant on the video – experiment to find your best viewing angle, and one where you can look at the camera as you would the conductor.  
5) If you are reading music, have the conductor base video track displaying as near as possible to the camera lens like a teleprompter.
6) Look sharp!  Makeup? - if it’s your thing!

Most of all, remember to LOVE MAKING THIS MUSIC, AND COLLABORATING, and MAKING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL, even though it’s not the real thing we REALLY love, when we can be, and make music, together.  Until then…
HAVE FUN!
Peace, stay safe & healthy, and God bless,
Back to Top