Tape recordings can range from simple conversations to complex presentations that combine narration, music and indigenous sound with the signals necessary to operate a slide or film projector in complete synchronization. Tape recordings are inexpensive, durable, easy to transport or mail; and the tapes can be erased and used over and over again. Recorders are available in a -variety of types, sizes and prices. Until recently, most recorders used 1/4-inch tape on a reel, but recorders that use 1/8-inch tape in cassettes are becoming increasingly popular. Reel-to-reel recorders are advantageous when high quality is needed or when a considerable amount of editing is required. Cassette recorders are particularly useful when portability and ease of operation are important. Both types are available for operation on batteries or external power sources. Choice should be based primarily on the intended use. The instruction booklets that come with each machine provide step-by-step details of operation. No matter what recorder is being used, there are several items that should be considered when making recordings.
- Microphone choice and use. Tape recorders come with a microphone that is electronically matched to the particular type of recorder. If the microphone must be replaced, it is important that the new one also matches in electronic characteristics. In general, when recording one person, place the microphone 9 to 18 inches from the person at about the level of his or her mouth. When recording the voices of several persons, try to place the microphone, face up, near the center of the group in the middle of a table. When a microphone is set on a table, put a folded cloth under it to avoid vibrations. Do not run a microphone cord parallel to an A.C. power cord. Cross the cords at right angles to avoid hum. Avoid handling the microphone during a recording to reduce noise. Microphones are easily damaged; treat them gently.
- Acoustic treatment. Recording quality can be improved by making a temporary blanket booth or by placing the microphone in a corner with a blanket or other soft material behind it. This reduces reverberations and helps cut down background noises. Outdoor recordings can often be improved by blocking off extraneous noises with a blanket or mat.
- Recording level. Setting the recording level too high will result in distorted sound. Setting it too low will emphasize background noise. Follow the instructions that come with the recorder to determine the proper settings.
- Tape splicing. Sooner or later a tape breaks, but it can easily be spliced together. Use tape-splicing tape, not ordinary cellophane tape, and follow these three steps:
1. Hold the ends of the tape together with a slight overlap and cut both pieces at the same time at an angle of about 60 degrees.
2. Butt the cut ends together, uncoated side up (shiny side), and cover the joint with a piece of splicing tape.
3. Trim off the excess tape, cutting slightly into the edges of the recording tape to prevent binding of the splice as it passes through the recorder
Inexpensive splicing machines that produce diagonal splices semi-automatically are available. Tape in cassettes can also be spliced but because of the narrow width, splicing must be very carefully done.
- Tape editing This is a selective cutting and splicing operation used to remove unwanted portions or to rearrange parts of a recording. The exact point for editing can be located by moving the tape back and forth by hand across the recording head and marking the point with a waxed pencil. Remember that one track from a multi-track recording cannot be edited without cutting into the other track or tracks.
- Recording from record players or radios. To record from record players or radios, place the microphone in front of the speaker. Better quality recordings can be obtained, however, by connecting the recorder directly to the speaker terminals. Some record players have output jacks that can be connected to the microphone input. See the instruction booklet that comes with the recorder for the proper method of making such connections.
To record interviews for later playback over a local radio station. For example, a recording of two farmers discussing the success of a new variety of seed or the increased yield that resulted from using fertilizer can be of great interest to other farmers.
To record songs, skits or dramatic presentations so that students can evaluate their own work.
Were different voices easily identified?
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