St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam
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St Andrew’s • Cheam

Hints for good recordings

The following are some suggestions for recording readings, prayers and other items for our recorded services, based on experience gained over the last few weeks. There is a separate page with more technical details of how to set up your computer, tablet or phone to make a recording.

Try to strike a balance between how you would speak to someone face-to-face, and how you would speak from the lectern in church. For many people the best speed is a little slower than you might normally speak to someone in conversation.

For most material, put a little expression into your diction. You will probably be reading from a script, but - even with Bible readings or prayers - you will engage the listener more if you can make it sound more spontaneous, expressing the writer’s thoughts as if they were yours. If you listen to a programme on Radio 4 where somone is telling a story - that’s the sort of delivery we’re after. ‘From our own correspondent’ is a good example.

Don’t vary the volume too much. Microphones, especially the small ones in computers and phones, have a much narrower range of volume over which they record well. It’s fine to emphasise words or to lower your voice for expressive effect, but don’t overdo it. Guard against dropping your voice too much at the end of a sentence.

You may have to experiment to find how far from the microphone you need to be to get a clean result. Listen especially for words with ‘s’, ‘p’ or ‘t’ - they shouldn’t record with a ‘popping’ sound. It may help to remember that the microphone should be pointed towards your mouth, but your mouth shouldn’t point at the mic: Demo of mic placement

The picture shows a handheld mic, but it’s the same for a laptop mic, which is usually located just above the screen. Phone mics are often on the edge of the phone, pointing down, so speaking to the face of the phone is usually fine.

Try not to rustle your papers or to allow extraneous noises to get into the recording, though I can usually filter out continuous background noise, such as from a computer fan.

However, if you make a mistake or the doorbell rings, go back to the beginning of the sentence or phrase and repeat from there. If you let me know you’ve done that I will delete the unwanted section.

Once you’ve made your recording, play it back. Listen to it as if you were listening to a recorded service. Does it sound about right? But don’t be over-sensitive: nobody is expecting BBC newsreader perfection.