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Making Recordings


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#1 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 11:11 AM

I thought people might like some background on how we do the current recordings (and how we did some of the older ones).

Older Recordings

Equipment
Sony Portable MiniDisc recorder
Sony ECM F-8 microphone
Minijack cable to link MiniDisc to computer sound card
Computer
Audio software, e.g. Cool Edit Pro

Method

We would place the recorder and the mic in the middle of the table, raised up and insulated a little from inevitable table movements (e.g. in the case of the CoC recording for 'The Haunting' the equipment was placed on top of a handy copy of a Call of Cthulhu 20th Anniversary edition rulebook). The MiniDisc recorder would be set to record mono to give twice the normal recording time.

The recording would then be transferred as an analogue source digitised into the computer as a mono 128 KBPS 44MHz 32 bit sound file, with input levels adjusted through software so the audio 'highs' (i.e. loud people like me and Gary) didn't top out the recording levels.

The raw source was then saved as a mono 128 KBPS 44 MHz 16 bit sound file which I think is good enough for later re-(MP3) editing of voice-only audio.

If the input recording level is too low we can normalise the waveform to 90%, while editing of too high an input is a little more tricky.

Save as a low bit rate MP3 for audio streaming. In this case we decided to try the MP3Pro standard at the lowest setting (32 KBPS, 22 KHz). MP3Pro files should still sound normal through any MP3 player, but those that can decode the additional frequencies encoded in MP3Pro will hear much superior audio quality (essentially 32 KPBS 44 KHz).

A 32 KBPS should be streamable over most dial-up (56K) connections (as long as your not doing too much else).

Lessons learned from recordings:

1) Place your mic on a good insulator e.g. a sponge foam block. This will insulate from shocks that can be picked up loudly by the mic, and then...
2) Once you're recording, don't move the mic!
3) Recording to a laptop is more efficient by way of length of available recording time and direct digitization.
4) Make sure your laptop is plugged into a power socket and that energy saving is off.
4) Put the loud people further away from the mic, and the quieter people nearer. Also make sure the mic is near the GM (i.e. softly spoken people should sit near the GM).
5) Try to get a sample of recording levels from your players before starting the recording so you can set a suitable input level.

Most people were no more than 2-3 feet away from the mic, but the Sony ECM F-8 is good at picking up noise from a distance as well. Hence the background hub-bub.

Older portable MiniDisc recorders can be picked up pretty cheaply on eBay. Audio minijack connection cable c. £2 (UK). The microphone was about £20 (UK), computer and software - as necessary (some good shareware and trial programs available). It's always worth testing a mic to make sure it works with your equipment. We had problems with a direct mic->laptop connection which is why we fell back on the old MiniDisc solution.

You can compress the audio as far down as 24 KBPS/22 KHz and still get good results, as long as your original audio source is of sufficient quality.


Newer Recordings

Equipment
iRiver iFP 790 MP3 Player/Recorder
Computer
Audio software, e.g. Audacity or Adobe Audition (for PCs at least) or anything else you've got.

In the case of the World's Largest Dungeon recordings we record direct to the iRiver which is suspended from above the table on the Dining room light fitting. :) We record to MP3 at 64KBPS/44KHz mono (Auto Gain Control off), which means we can get several hours of audio in one sitting, the AA rechargable battery can last up to 20 hours.

The file is transferred directly from the iRiver to computer via a USB 2 link. We also have a sample of the ambient background 'room noise' which we subtract from the rest of the audio for increased clarity. The resultant waveform is normalised to 90% and then saved as before as an MP3Pro file at 32KBPS/22(44)KHz.

- and there you have it!

The iRiver makes recording much more convenient than the old MiniDisc or laptop method.

Hope it's of interest for those wanting to do their own recordings.

Paul
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#2 Cob37

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 06:34 AM

Good information, I hope I can use it on my never ending quest to transfer my old audio tapes to mp3's. Tapes don't last forever and my son likes to pull the tape out! He's such a grabby baby!
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#3 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 25 January 2005 - 05:22 PM

Would love to hear them!
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#4 Cob37

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 05:19 AM

Would love to hear them!


What I did last game was use my tiny mp3 player. It records as well as plays and it records a wave file at 22khz, 89kbs. I took that 3 hour file, which was around 128 mb, and I used the microsoft sound recorder program to convert the file to an mp3, which shrunk the file to 45 mb. The file was recorded in mono. So the quality of the recording is not as good as the WLD recordings. I will now have to learn how to break up the file into three or four parts so I can email it to you.
My gaming website has a 500 mb limit so it's not like I will be able to warehouse all of the old games like you can here.

I assume you have a little mp3 player so you can pass the time listening, that's what I do when I'm at work. I work overnights so I can work and listen to the radio or a tape and it helps pass the time.
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#5 Cob37

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 05:42 AM

Yeah, this sounds like an easy one but it never hurts to ask. :oops:

Can the m3u files be heard on an mp3 player? :?

If not I suppose I have to buy something else to d/l an m3u file so I can listen at work instead of on my home computer? :cry:
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#6 Dragonkin

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 08:32 AM

You can't listen to an m3u file at all - an m3u file is simply a playlist (if you open it with a text editor such as notepad, you'll see that all it contains is the url of the mp3 file). So you need to download the actual mp3 file and put that onto your computer/mp3 player if you want to listen offline.
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#7 Cob37

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Posted 27 January 2005 - 05:53 AM

Okay, I don't know how to open the link using notepad. Or whatever, so I need more help. Please explain to this old DM how to d/l the files. I have d/l the wld ones because I can save the mp3 right to my player.
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#8 Dragonkin

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Posted 27 January 2005 - 08:41 AM

There are two ways, depending on your browser...

If your browser doesn't automatically open mp3 files, just cut and paste the mp3 file address from the m3u file into the address bar of your web browser and hit enter, then choosing "save as..."

If your browser just tries playing the file, instead do this:
For example, if the m3u file contains:


Change it to

blah
Then save the m3u file as a .htm or .html file, open it in your web browser, right click in the link and choose "save as".
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#9 Cob37

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 06:14 AM

OK, I finally figured out how to get a good sounding mp3 out of my old audio tapes. The question is, how do I email them? Yahoo has an attachment limit of 10 mb and usually the files are around 17 mb for a 95 minutes.. This is mono, 24 kbits recording.

The files will only get bigger once I can figure out how to record in stereo. It's funny, I have a stereo cable going into the back of the computer but the sounds come out of the speakers in mono. I know the recordings are in stereo because I've heard them before (of course).

I have the wave recorder set to record in stereo.

Any ideas why the computer isn't recording in stereo?
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#10 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 05:10 PM

You could cut them into two part and that should come under the email limit in Yahoo, or if you have some web space, upload them there and post the links for download!

Paul
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#11 Cob37

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Posted 04 February 2005 - 12:33 AM

You could cut them into two part and that should come under the email limit in Yahoo, or if you have some web space, upload them there and post the links for download!

Paul



Okay, I figured out what was wrong and I can now make mp3 files, in stereo. What I am doing is recording one side of an audio tape to wave file. Then I chop that file in half. Each session will usually be four sides, or two audio tapes front and back.

So the mp3's will be just under 10 mb each which should be able to be mailed to anyone who might want one. I'm doing the February 3 game right now.

It will amount to 8 mp3's this time because we played longer tonight, I was off work.

Anyway, if anyone wants something to pass the time let me know and pm me your email address.

You guys be cool!

The files are now hosted and links are posted in the appropriate threads, so enjoy at your leisure!
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#12 Cob37

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 09:16 AM

I've found a host and the mp3's will be available for d/l, just like the good people at rpgmp3. Look for the latest games in the "Factions of Auronia" thread in the general rpg section of the forums!
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