Recording Audio for Online Courses – Technical Tips

Knowing a few of the technical aspects of audio and video recording before getting started is critical. The last thing needed is to get video or audio recorded, and during playback, the sound if not of use. In this post I talk about Metering, Levels, Audio formats and the importance of the decent quality headphones.
As we all continue to experience vast advances in technology and social media advertising, blogs, websites and the like, audio recordings have become more popular. Knowing a few of the technical aspects of this form of creative media before getting started is critical. The last thing needed is to get fifteen, twenty, or sixty minutes of video or audio record, and during playback, realise it simply sounds nothing like expected. Here is a technical guide to get you started making fantastic audio quality for video and audio recordings.

Technical Setup Tips (a bit technical, but essential).

Keep an eye on levels and use headphones.

In order to record consistent good quality audio, there are a few vital elements you must understand:

  1. Metering
  2. Levels
  3. Audio formats
  4. Decent quality headphones can help


While not going into too much in terms of technicalities, metering is a guide to actual input and output levels (so what your recording device captures and will playback). Recording devices such as cameras or software that you use to monitor the recording usually give you a preview of meters. You need to check these meters to avoid recording ‘in the red.’ If you record in red, it is called ‘digital clipping’ and it cannot be fixed in post-production. You will need to re-record! To ensure that you are within the levels, you might need to adjust your input settings, so they are not in red, but around 3/4 way up. Meters only indicate levels. They do not guarantee quality.


Do not confuse the levels you are listening to in headphones [OUTPUT] with the Microphone INPUT level. Turn down the headphone OUTPUT level if necessaryβ€” this is the most common mistake people initially make when learning audio recording.

Ideally, Record INPUT Levels should be set so that the input meters are reading 3/4 way up the scale. NEVER allow the meters to go into the ‘red’ – this is so called Digital Clipping and cannot be fixed! Should you require to increase the Microphone Input level, using headphones to check for hiss or increase in electronic noise, try bringing up the INPUT level until the meters are reading as high as is safe but also ensuring that the background noise or hiss level has not become very audible.


VIDEO (with audio)

Formats: MP4/ MP4A
Sample Rate = 48kHz.
Bit Depth: 16Bits.

Audio (alone)

Formats: mp3/wav
Sample rate 48kHz or 44.1kHz,
Bit Depth 24Bit or 16Bit.

While professional Audio files are .wav, mp3 is adequate for online materials. When exporting mp3 format, if you get the option to select quality, always choose 320kbps – it is the best quality. Don’t use default audio quality, which is 128kbps [poor quality].


Audio Editors such as Audacity may default to 44.1kHz, so you just need to keep an eye on this if your intended output is mp4. Take note of the Sample Rate; the number of samples of audio recorded every second & Bit Depth that you record at, and set your Audio editor to match. Otherwise, you will experience unnecessary up/down sampling and quality deterioration.


When your levels are set, you need to listen to what is being recorded to check quality. For that you need headphones – they monitor the audio content and quality. Investing in a high-quality (or at least decent-quality) pair of headphones can enhance your ability to hear what is recorded (e.g., the washing machine, children crying, birds, or a digger outside the window)

If you are ready to begin your audio recording journey, go to this step-by-step audio recording guide. I share these steps I usually follow when recording audio tracks for podcasts, learning materials and videos.

Armed with this checklist, and having followed the technical setup and testing you will ensure your recordings are the highest level possible.

Good luck, and enjoy this journey of creating new media for yourself and others to enjoy.

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