So, in years past, I have posted several video tutorials. The one that has been least-viewed on YouTube is probably the most important with regard to oral history technology. So I have completely reworked my video tutorial on achieving good audio recording levels for oral history. In my experience working with those who are new to oral history or recording, this is the #1 problem with the recordings that come into the archive.
When recording an oral history interview, your primary goals should be the following:
- Record as strong a signal as possible without clipping
- Locate a comfortable range for your peaks (usually between -12 and -6 decibels) at the beginning of the interview. A recording that has average peaks under -16 will normally have a greater amount of noise when the levels are boosted to optimal levels. I prefer to stay away from averaging in the -3db range because of the unpredictability of an interview. If clipping occurs, don’t panic, but do gently back the levels down.
- Try to identify that ideal range early in the recording. Perform tests, ask them to say a few things not pertaining to the interview to try to get good levels prior to recording.
- Practice before going into the interview.