In this article, we will look at how to make sound recordings with a computer, and how to share your audio file online. This is a particularly useful skill to know if you need to record a voice conversation or if you want to send your work as an audio file. Learn how to record audio on your laptop with Ocenaudio.
Record Sound with your Computer
After a long quest looking for the best recording program on Mac, I discovered Oceanaudio which is a great replacement for the music production oriented GarageBand from Apple. Oceanaudio is simple, free and achieves everything you need to record an audio interview with your IB students for example.
- You can download the program from www.ocenaudio.com.br.
- Installing oceanaudio is fast: double click the downloaded image file (dmg file) and drag the application icon into your Applications folder.
Record Audio with Ocenaudio
- From the Finder, go to your Applications folder and launch oceanaudio (my favourite alternate way to do this is to use Spotlight, the lens in the top right corner of your screen, which I call out by its keyboard shortcut Command + Space).
- Click the record button (red circle) to start a new audio recording. You can keep the default Sample Rate (44,100 Hz), Channels (Stereo) and Resolution (16 bits). When you are ready to record your student’s speech, click OK, and the recording will start.
- What may be disconcerting at first is that the counter at the top of the window is not running, in fact, you should use the time display at the bottom to measure the length of your recording.
- Press the record button again to stop the sound recording.
Navigate the sound file in Oceanaudio
Once your voice recording is done, the next and most important skill is to learn to navigate the sound file. Notice the navigation bar at the top of the window which displays the waveform. The part which is highlighted in the navigation bar, is the part which is shown as a waveform and which you will hear when you press the play button. You can either extend the section by dragging its side on the navigation bar, or you can zoom in and out by scrolling up or down directly on the waveform.
Proper Microphone Placement
Of course when you record audio, you should be in the quietest room you can find, with a minimal amount of echo. The orientation of your laptop can also help in making the best audio recording of your students.
The microphone on a MacBook Pro (Apple laptop with CD-Rom) is on the top left corner of the case by the screen. For this model, I would place the laptop between the teacher and the student, screen parallel to the axis of the conversation. By placing it on the teacher’s right hand side, this ensures that the microphone is closest to the student.
The microphone on a MacBook Pro Retina (Apple laptop without CD-Rom) are both located on the left side of the case. There are the two little pin holes by the audio jack. For this model, I would place the laptop between the teacher and the students, to the teacher’s right hand side, with the screen at a 135 degree angle from the teacher so that the microphone is mostly facing the student.
Enhance your Audio Recording
Correctly positioning your microphone may not be enough if your students are very soft spoken. In this case, you can normalize your recording to enhance the overall volume of your track. Normalizing sets the peak amplitude (the highest point of your waveform) to a specific value (0 db by default). This is often better than simply increasing the volume by a set percentage which can produce clipping (value above 0 db).
To normalize your recording, click on Effects > Normalize. If the highest peak was small, the result will be much greater than if the highest peak was already high. When you press play, your voice recording should be much louder.
Save the Audio in MP3 Format
When you are saving a sound recording on a computer, you are encoding the data into a specific format. There are different audio file formats fit for different purposes:
MP3 – The ubiquitous mpeg layer-3 codec (codec means coder/decoder) produces a lossy compressed format (.MP3). Lossy because it removes some of the original information from the audio recording such as silences and ultra-low and ultra-high frequencies, compressed because the final file is much smaller and easily shared.
WAV – A standard format for recording and audio-conversion, the wave file (.WAV) is a lossless uncompressed file. It is large and uncompromising in terms of quality.
FLAC – The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) offers the benefit of compression without any loss in quality. It is also one of the only non-proprietary codecs, a truly free software.
For IB assessments that require an audio recording, the diploma programme is moving away from audio CD (“sigh of relief”) and, according to the IB handbook, is willing to start accepting the upload of digital recordings. There is no reference as to the format they will condone for an audio upload, and although there is no guarantee IB will come to this conclusion, this should logically be MP3: a smaller file, compatible with all devices.
To save your voice recording as an MP3, click on File > Save As. In the Format drop-down list, select MP3.
Sharing Your Audio Files
Our favorite platform to share audio files is SoundCloud. Although it is originally meant for musicians, the possibility to add comments at a specific point on an uploaded audio recording makes it a great educational tool. As a teacher you can leave a comment on a student’s speech at the exact time you want to. Multiple people can comment so other students can provide constructive feedback too.
A free account on SoundCloud allows you to upload 3 hours of recordings.
[icon name="fa-cloud-upload"] STANDARD 3: model digital age work and learning