Quality audio is more important than you realize. It can make or break the user experience in eLearning courses. There are several things you can do on your own to secure better quality audio without having to spend loads of money.
Just because you can record audio with a device doesn’t mean that audio is sufficient. The two biggest less-than-desirable audio recording device culprits are laptop mics and cell phones. Even if you happen to have a microphone, it should be noted that there are tremendous differences in audio quality between the plethora of mics available.
See if you can tell the difference between these three clips:
Clip 1 – Laptop Mic
Clip 2 – Shure SM-58
Clip 3 – Shure PG-42
This link has a great resource for deciding which mic is right for you.
The key is to get the best audio you can to begin with. One way to help minimize background noise is to make yourself a noise-isolation mic box. Click here for DIY instructions on how to do this.
Once you have your audio recorded, there are still many things you can do to help it sound more professional. Removing background noise is crucial. Here is a simple tutorial on how to do that.
Eliminating breaths is another key component of having professional sounding voice overs. We all know that humans breathe but when we talk to one another, we don’t usually hear that breathing. However, when you record a voice, the microphone picks up those breaths much louder than we’re used to hearing. So it is a good idea to cut out any breathing from your recordings.
Lastly, how you export your edited audio can make a difference in its quality. Most rapid authoring tools work best with the MP3 file format, and if you’re dealing with narrations, there’s no need to export higher than 128 kbps (CD quality). You could export to 320 kbps but that kind of quality is unnecessary and will just be a larger file size. If file size is a concern with your eLearning course, then I would recommend exporting to 96 kbps, but whatever you do, don’t export lower than 64 kbps. This is my opinion, of course, but see if you can hear the difference in quality with these three clips:
Clip 1 – 128 kbps
Clip 2 – 64 kbps
Clip 3 – 32 kbps
In conclusion, remember that the quality of your course’s audio will affect your audience for the better or for worse. Taking the time and effort to record audio properly and then editing and exporting it with these tips in mind will benefit the user experience and bring an aspect of professionalism that is lacking in eLearning courses with poor quality audio.