Have you had to do some recording while traveling yet? You know…you’re visiting friends or family and need to be able to record an audition or send a pick-up to a client?
Recording on the road provides plenty of challenges. But if you have a good understanding of the equipment you’re using, you can make smart decisions that will help give you the best results.
First of all, recording on the road’s biggest challenge is be able to produce audio that is consistent in quality and overall sound to your other recordings. This is especially true if you are working on a large project (like an audiobook) and need everything to sound consistent. But if what you need to record is a one-off project or a short project, you goal is to provide professional quality audio, but it may not need to exactly match other parts of a project.
The microphone you will be using while traveling will be an important consideration. If you can easily bring the mic you use every day, that will be a great first step in helping to maintain consistency. But if you’re using an analog mic with an audio interface, you may not wish to unplug everything and log all that equipment around with you.
I travel with a USB mic to make things a little bit simpler, but it doesn’t match the overall sound of my analog mic. So, I would never work on a long project that needed consistency on the road with this mic. That being said, I have a client who sends me short recording requests almost every day, and I can easily produce professional audio quality with my USB mic while on the road.
The next thing to think about and be aware of is the directionality of your microphone …omni directional…cardioid, etc.
Take a look at this graphic from Shure, explaining directional patterns. Omni directional picks up sound from all around the mic. The other end of the spectrum is cardioid which only picks up sound from the front.
Hopefully, (if you followed the advice in the Work from Home doing Voice Overs course) you are using a cardioid microphone. Now would be a good time to confirm that! Why? Because the cardioid mic will pick up sound in front of it (you…talking), but not pick up much on the other side of the mic. This can be super helpful when you’re trying to minimize sounds and reverb in a travel recording set-up.
So, how can you best treat space around you in a travel recording situation?
You may be in a hotel room, your parents’ basement, your college kid’s dorm room (Ok, don’t even attempt that one!), or many other places. You are going to want to find any and all thick blankets, pillows and the like to try to treat hard surfaces around you.
If you are using a cardioid mic, be sure you are treating the area in front of the mic (BEHIND YOU). You can use the ironing board, hangers with clips…you can really get creative here…to try to treat your space. Many people would think to really pad the area on the back side of the mic, but the area behind you is actually really critical. If there is reverberation going on, it will likely be picked up by the front of the mic, so do your best to stop the reverb going on behind you.
One time, when I was staying in a hotel for a pretty long time, I travelled with Command strip hooks (they can be removed without causing damage) and rope. I rigged up the rope with the Command strip hooks near the ceiling so that I could drape a bedspread over it and partition off part of the room! That was extreme. Other times when I drive, I travel with some acoustic panels. And other times I’ve created the more-common-than-you-would-think ironing board fort.
Oh, and one more tip…don’t forget your pop filter! Yes, it takes up a good bit of space in your bag, but fixing popping p’s in your recordings is such a hassle…so avoid it!
The other option of course…email all of your clients and tell them you’re taking a few days off. Do this in advance so they have a chance to send you stuff to record before your vaca.
Good luck – enjoy your trips!