Sound Recording and Editing

Equipment RackCRL has a digital recording studio located in rooms 213E and 212A.

Recording BoothOur recording booth is an Industrial Acoustics Company Sound Isolation Room located in room 212A. Inside the booth, we have a Beyer Dynamic Soundstar Mk II unidirectional dynamic microphone along with a music stand on which to place your script. We have a window and an intercom system installed for communicating between the recording booth and the control room.

Control RoomOur control room is in room 213E which houses a Behringer Eurorack MX602A mixer. Inputs include the mic from our sound booth, videotape audio, cassette audio, and DAT audio. The output of the mixer is connected to our Dell Optiplex 755 which runs Adobe Audition CS6 for recording digital audio at standard 16-bit/44kHz (CD quality) or up to 24-bit/96kHz.

There are five primary steps for digital recording and editing using our system. Click each link to learn more.

NOTE: Some screen shots are from older versions of the program.

1. Setup

Software

The computer should already be running, but if it isn't, turn it on.

Log in using your UCSD AD username and password. You may need to click Other User to allow you to type in your own username.

line inputWhen you log on, you may see an Intel Active Management Techology window.

Check Do not show this message again.

Click OK.

AuditionStart Adobe Audition.

Press the Windows key. Then type "audi". You should see the program appear in the start menu. Either click the application icon or press Enter.

AuditionQuickTime is no longer supported on Windows, so you will see this message.

Click Don't show this alert again.

Click OK.

Adobe ProductsYou may see one more annoying window.

Click Do Not Participate.

AuditionYou won't see much in front of you, but there are a few preferences that you want to set before getting started.

 

PreferencesPeak FilesFrom the Edit menu, select Preferences: Media & Disk Cache.

If the Preferences panel is already open, just click Media & Disk Cache.

Uncheck Save Peak Files.

MeteringFrom the View menu, navigate to Metering.

Select 24 dB Range.

You can also right-click the Level Meter to set the range.

That's all for the initial settings.These will be remembered, so you only need to do this once.

Mixer

line inputCheck the connections and the controls on the mixer.

The knobs should all be in the orientation shown in the image (click to zoom).

Here is the checklist:

  • Mic 1 cable (from recording booth)
  • Main Out L and R (to computer)
  • Input 1 Level: 0
  • Input 2, Input 3/4, Input 5/6 Level: -∞
  • Main Mix Level: 0

Microphone

MicrophoneMeanwhile, position the microphone in the sound booth similar to that shown in the recording booth photo above.

Please do not rotate the microphone itself. It will loosen and fall off and you will make the CRL technician very angry.

Position the mic at least five to ten inches (about 25cm) away from the speaker and below the music stand so you can read your script.

To avoid loosening the mic or causing damage to the mic stand, only make height adjustments by using the big black knob where the upper arm meets the vertical stand. This is a standard lefty-loosey, righty-tighty knob. Please do not overtighten the knob or adjust the mic arm up or down while the knob is tightened.

To move the mic towards you or away from you, swing the arm in or out.

Place the script on the music stand and position the speaker comfortably in the room. Make sure the speaker has some bottled water on hand. Close the door to the sound booth securely and head into the control room for a recording session.

You will be able to hear the speaker through the headphones in the control room. You will need to use the intercom to communicated to the speaker in the sound booth from the control room.

Headphones

The headphones should be plugged into the left side of the sound bar sound bar below the monitor. Use either port. They are both headphone jacks.

WARNING: Before placing the headphones on your head, be sure to turn the volume knob on the right side of the sound bar counterclockwise to reduce the amplitude. Then, slowly turn clockwise to a comfortable level while your speaker is reading the test words below.

Now, let's get onto recording!

2. Recording

New FileSelect File > NEW > Audio File....

Sample RateSet the following:

Sample Rate: 44,100
Channels: Mono
Bit Depth: 16-Bit

Click OK.

ControlsAlternatively, you can simply click the Record button which will prompt you to open a new wave editor window.

The transport controls are, from left to right:

Stop
Play from Cursor to End of File
Pause
Move cursor to the previous marker or the beginning of the sound clip
Scan backward
Scan forward
Move cursor to the next marker or the end of the sound clip
Record
Loop playback
Skip (don't play) selection

Turn the sound bar volume down (counterclockwise). The volume knob is on the right of the sound bar below the monitor. This only affects the levels going through the headphones. It does not adjust the recording levels from the sound booth. You can adjust the sound bar volume to a comfortable level as the speaker reads the word list without affecting the recording.

Plug the headphones into either audio jack on the left of the sound bar and wear the headphones.

Start recording by clicking the record button.

Have the speaker read the practice word list below to get recording levels somewhere around the -6 dB range.

Script Tip: Design your script so each item is listed at least twice. Avoid listing the same item back-to-back, and use random orders. This is to minimize pitch, amplitude, and trailing-off effects. The following practice word list contains ten items in original order, then followed by a randomized order.

1. boat

6. cap

 

7. gallop

8. fate

2. day

7. gallop

 

5. wheel

10. hospital

3. grave

8. fate

 

6. cap

4. pigeon

4. pigeon

9. prove

 

2. day

1. boat

5. wheel

10. hospital

 

9. prove

3. grave

Listen for plosives or breathing and look for clipping indicated in the sound level meter by a red indicator.

If you see red clipping indicators or you think the levels are too loud, swing the mic slightly farther away from the speaker or adjust the mic position down a bit. Mic posititioning details are listed in the Setup section above..

Click the stop button to stop recording.

If you do not hear anything through the headphones, contact techsupport@crl.ucsd.edu for assistance..

Zoom ControlsNow would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the zoom controls. From left to right, they are:

zoom in amplitude
zoom out amplitude
zoom in time
zoom out time
zoom in full
zoom in centered on left edge of selection
zoom in centered on right edge of selection
zoom to selection

If you have recorded material from test readings that you want to erase, you can either select all and hit Del or you can position the selection cursor at the beginning of the file (zoom in full and press the Home key).. The pre-recorded material will be overwritten.

Start recording by clicking the record button.

Look for loud spikes in the wave form while recording. This could indicated bumps of the microphone, lip smacking, chair creaking, plosives, etc.). If the sound levels start tapering off, communicate to the speaker using our intercom system to speak up.

If you need to take a break, you can hit the stop or pause buttons. If you hit stop, be very careful that the selection cursor is at the end of the file before recording. If it is within the wave file, it will record over pre-recorded material. If in doubt, zoom in full and press the End key.

When you are finished recording, click the stop button.

If your entire recording does not appear on the screen, click the "zoom in full" button. You can also hover your mouse over the wave and rotate the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out. This can get confusing because it will zoom centered on wherever the cursor is positioned at the time, not necessarily where the selection slider is positioned.

Choose Save (Ctrl+S) from the File menu to save this file to the hard disk. After it is saved, you can copy it to a USB stick or another file server for safekeeping. Before additional editing, it is highly recommended to save a backup copy of the original master file.

If you do not have access to Audition for editing your master file, please make sure you reserve time on the calendar for editing so you do not interfere with others who need the room for recording. Please understand that recording sessions take priority over editing time because it is not always easy to schedule speakers to come into the recording booth.

Clip EditThis is the main wave editor pane. The yellow indicator is the selection cursor.

One final warning: if the selection cursor is in a position similar to that shown, clicking the record button will begin recording at that position and erase everything to the right as it is recording. Be very careful when recording.

3. Extracting

Materials you should have for this step are

  1. Your master sound file.
  2. The script used by your speaker to record the master sound file.

Choose Open... from the File menu.

Locate and open your master sound file.

You should become familiar with the zoom controls for this procedure. The zoom controls were defined in the Recording section above.

Besides using the on-screenzoom controls, familiarize yourself with the using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out for both amplitude and time axes.

Zooming the timeline

Position your mouse cursor within the wave form or within the time axis label region. You do not need to click. Scroll the wheel on the mouse in either direction. As you scroll the wheel, the wave will zoom in or out centered at the location of your mouse cursor.

Zooming the amplitude

Scrolling the mouse wheel while you are in the amplitude axis label region will zoom in and out amplitude. You may not need this feature in this part of the editing procedure, but you may need it later to identify exactly where the beginning and ending of the auditble portions of the recording begin and end.

Zoom reset is your friend when you zoom in too close and lose track of where you are in the file..

Clip Edit

Sliding through time

To slide left and right within the wave when it is zoomed in, point your mouse over the timeline at the bottom of the main editing pane. Your cursor will turn into a hand which indicates you can click and slide the timeline to the left or to the right. You can also slide the color bar that runs along the top of the main editing pane. The entire bar that runs along the top of the pane represents the length of the entire sound file. The green area represents the visible portion of the wave in the editor. Also, as shown below, it indicates a selection with a darker highlight color.

Select and copy individual sound clips

For each individual word or sentence, zoom in and create a selection, including sufficient silence before and after the recording, as in the example shown.

Press the space bar or click the Play icon to play back the sound to make sure it has been completely selected. Make any adjustments if you didn't grab the entire item. You can hold the shift key down and click and drag at either edge of the selection to expand or decrease it.

Do not be too conservative in selecting your sound in this step. You will trim these much closer in the subsequent steps.

Clip Edit

Save individual sound clips

For each selection, use your shortcut key Shift-Alt-S. A Save Selection dialog will pop up. It will always open to the folder in which your original file is located. To save time, keep all your files in this default location.

Always save the files as type "Windows PCM (*.wav, *.bwf)". Watch out for this, because there are several different types of *.wav files.

Name your files with a sequential tag. For example, if you are saving the first recording of item 104, name it 104-1. Name the next recording of this same item 104-2, and so forth. This will group same items together which will make the reviewing step much easier. You do not need to type the ".wav" at the end of each file name. That will be done automatically for you.

After saving several of these, it should not take you more than a few seconds to copy and save each item. Remember, accuracy in the selections is not critical in this step.

If you are new at using this program, please consult with your supervisor within 10 minutes to make sure your files are being edited and saved correctly.

After all of this is done, locate your folder with all of your cut items and move them to the designated location for the next step.

4. Reviewing

In this step, you will listen to your multiple takes of each of your recordings and select the best recording.

One of the most efficient ways of doing this is to use the Auto play feature of Audition.

Plug a set of headphones into the speaker headphone jack, turn down the volume, and wear the headphones.

Choose Open... from the File menu.

Navigate to your folder of extracted sound files from step 3.

Check the Auto Play checkbox if it is unchecked.

Select (single-click) one item in the open file dialog. Do not double-click. If you accidentally double-click, close the sound file and get back to the Open File dialog.

Each time you select a file in the list, it will play. Turn up the volume on the speakers until you can hear the sounds comfortably. Click each of your sound files to listen and compare them to each other. Listen carefully for clicks, pops, bumps, etc. Do not use those recordings.

Make a note of the best sound file name in each group of recordings so you can locate them later to move them to your "final" folder of sound files.

When you are finished listening to all your recordings, move each of the items that you noted as being the best of each of the recordings into their own folder of "final sound files". The extra tags ("-1,", "-3", etc.) can now safely be removed from the file names.

When you are ready to start selecting your final stimuli, continue with STEP 5. Trimming.

5. Trimming

Please wear headphones for this step so you can hear the sounds clearly.

Shortcut keys you should know about for this step include:

  • Home - takes you to the beginning of the sound file
  • End - takes you to the end of the sound file
  • Shift-Home - selects everything from the cursor to the beginning of the file
  • Shift-End - selects everything from the cursor to the end of the file

Use these in combination with the scroll wheel to make editing much faster.

The following figures are zoomed in versions of the example shown here.

 

 

Start by trimming the silence from the beginning of the sound file.

Hover the mouse cursor near the beginning of the visual onset of the sound. Use the scroll wheel to zoom in. Alternatively, you can click near the beginning of the sound and click the zoom in button repeatedly.

Press the space bar or click the Play button to make sure you have located the correct position.

If the sound is chopped off or you determine that this is not the correct starting point, zoom out and make the necessary corrections.

 

 

After you have clicked the precise beginning of the sound within the editing window, press Shift-Home to select the region to delete.

Press the Delete key to delete the selection.

 

 

You will need to zoom the amplitude to locate the end of the sound. Click this button two or three times.

Locate the point where the sound tapers off into the background noise which will appear like a fuzzy line. Click at that point.

 

 

Press Shift-End to select the region to delete.

Press the Delete key to delete the selection.

 

 

Click the Zoom Reset button.

Observation: The entire sound is now shown in the window. It appears that there is silence at the end of the sound, but as you viewed above when zoomed in, there is clearly some sound tapering off that is not visible at this zoom level.

Press the Home key. Press the space bar to play the sound to confirm the sound has not been chopped off at the beginning or the end.

If it is all good, save the file, close it, and move on to the next sound until you have edited all of your sounds.