Assignment 1: Recording
What we’re trying to do
- Learn how to set up a microphone for recording into Adobe Audition.
- Understand the studio’s 16-channel 4-bus analog mixer and how
sound signals may be routed through the mixer to the computer.
What to turn in
- Submit three different recordings in this format:
44.1 kHz sampling rate
Make more than three recordings, but just submit your best three.
The more recordings you make, the better you will get at this process.
Most of your recordings should be mono, but try to record at least one
stereo file, using a stereo mic configuration.
Keep this project in your account on the MC304 computer.
- Each recording should be 20-30 seconds long — certainly no longer
than a minute.
- Follow the assignment submission instructions
to submit your three selected recordings using Canvas.
You will be graded based partly on whether you achieve good
recording levels, neither too low, nor too high (clipped).
The basic process
There are several steps involved in making a good recording in Room 304.
- Set up one AKG C414 microphone, and connect it to the mixer.
- Set the mixer controls so that you get an optimum sound level from the
mic — not too soft, not too loud — coming in to the mixer.
- Set the mixer controls to route the microphone signal into the computer
- Prepare for recording in Adobe Audition, and adjust sound level
coming in to the program.
- Record and save your sound.
- Listen to your sound.
How to go about it
Here are detailed steps you should take to do the assignment.
- Turn the room power on — just press the switch once. The
equipment will come on in a preset sequence, with delays. Note that the
computer is the exception: power it on manually by pressing the power key,
which is on the left side, in back.
- Zero out the mixer, if it hasn’t already been done:
working up from the bottom of the mixer, pull all the faders down;
leave the pan knobs set as they are (odd channels panned hard left, even
channels panned hard right); set all EQ to center detents; set all Aux
knobs to their leftmost position; set all Gain (i.e., trim) knobs to
their leftmost position. Make sure all buttons are up,
that is, disengaged.
- Set up one AKG C414 microphone on the mono mic stand:
- Set the microphone switches appropriately.
- Pattern — choose between cardioid, hyper-cardioid,
omni and figure-eight. Usually, you’ll want cardioid.
- Pad — set to 0 dB for speech and softer instruments,
-10 or -20 dB for trumpet, percussion, etc. Without doing this,
you might make a recording that sounds distorted, even though the
meters on the mixer and computer do not show clipping.
- Bass roll-off switch — Set to 70 Hz or 100 Hz to
reduce mic stand vibrations, popping from voice, etc. The only time
you will turn this off is if you’re recording low sounds:
anything that has a pitch below the G string on the cello.
- Set the mixer controls so that you get an optimum sound
level coming into the mixer.
- Engage (push in) the input channel’s SOLO switch; the
“rude solo light” will blink.
- Push in the MODE switch in the output section (LEVEL
SET(PFL) mode) — the LEVEL SET LED will light.
- Speak or play an instrument (whatever it is you want to record)
into the mic.
- Adjust the GAIN control so that the display on the meter stays
around 0, with occasional excursions to +2 or +4 dB. (Only the
left meter is active in this level-setting procedure.) For speech,
the GAIN will probably be at about 2 o’clock; for trumpet,
maybe 12 o’clock.
- Disengage that channel’s SOLO switch.
- Disengage the MODE switch.
- Set the mixer controls so that the mic signal is routed into
the computer for recording.
- On input channel 1, where you connected the mic, raise the fader
to unity gain, and engage the 1-2 button. This routes that
input channel to the 1-2 “sub outs” in the mixer’s
output section. You will notice that those are labled MOTU
IN 5-6. This means that the sound goes to those channels on
the MOTU Traveler audio interface in the rack.
- Note that the pan knob on input channel 1 should be all the way
to the left.
- In the output section, raise the sub out 1 fader to unity gain.
- In the SOURCE section, engage the 1-2 button. This meters the
signal arriving at the 1-2 sub outs. (To listen to the sound with
headphones, raise the CTLROOM/PHONES knob.)
- Make sure the L/R fader at the far right, controlling the
level of sound for the front speakers, is all the way down!
Otherwise, you could generate painful feedback!
This happens because the sound coming out of the speakers enters
the microphone, which comes out of the speakers, which enters the
microphone, etc., at each stage reinforcing the amplitude of the
Always make sure the speakers are off while
- Make some noise into the mic, to make sure you see level in the
- Record your first sound in Adobe Audition.
- In the Mac’s Dock, click the Audition icon to launch the
- Click the red circular record button in the Transport panel.
A dialog box appears, requesting that you name the sound file and
choose the sample rate, the number of channels, and the bit depth.
If you’re using one mic, record in Mono. Change the bit depth
from 32 (float) to 24.
After you press OK, recording begins immediately.
- Make some noise into the mic. While Audition records, watch the
levels on the meter in Audition, and set your recording level.
To control the level of signal reaching the computer, use the sub
out 1 fader (labeled MOTU IN 5) on the mixer.
Aim for peaks no higher than about -2 dB in Audition. It’s
okay if your peaks are mainly above -12 dB. If they are much less
than this, your level is too low. Or you’re recording a sound
that is inherently soft, such as whispering or pins dropping. These
guidelines are just rough rules of thumb.
- Once you have a good level, stop recording. (Press the space bar.)
Choose File > Undo to remove the recorded material.
- Press the record button again to record for real this time.
- Save your file now (using File > Save, but
don’t play your sound yet!
- Listen to your recording.
- Record more mono sounds.
To record into a new file, choose File > New > Audio File.
Try different positions of the microphone switches. It can be helpful
to record your voice, and mention the settings you’re using.
- Try stereo recording.
- If you’re feeling sure about recording in mono, then try it
- Use the other mic stand, with the stereo bar and two shockmounts.
- Mount the two AKG 414 mics in the X/Y coincident arrangement
(mics close together and pointing 90 degrees apart).
- Route mic cables to channels 1 & 2 on the mixer.
- Pan the channels to opposite sides: channel 1 all the way to the
left, channel 2 all the way to the right.
- Don’t forget to set the trim for the second mic.
- In Audition, use a stereo, instead of mono, file.
- Tidy up! At the end of your session...
Like most of you, I don’t really enjoy reading manuals, though they are
sometimes essential. If you find you need the Mackie 1604 mixer manual, or the
manual for the microphones, PDF copies are in the Manuals and Demos
folder on your Desktop. For more detailed help with Audition than the
assignment guidelines provide,
consult the manual