On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, headphones to check sound easily.

Yesterday I wrote about the year 9 class I tested on (and learned with!) my video creation skills, and the fact they really focussed on audio quality more than anything else. After finding the right microphone for me, the next job was to learn how to check the recordings – and the Tablet PC inbuilt speaker is not the way – most students use headphones, which really get you up close and personal with the sound; good, bad or ugly!  And my logic is if they hear it that way, I better be hearing it that way as well.

I now use three sets of headphones on a regular basis:

cables

A – The first (and cheapest set!) are a pair of Apple earbuds that come with any new iPod, iPhone or iPad. I use these just to check the sound of things I create, as I know a lot of students will use these – so I want to know what they are hearing! These are also good if you are caught short, as they have a microphone – at a pinch you can record using them, but you will need to really play with the audio processing and noise/click/peak cancelling in post-production – this is certainly easy and possible in Camtasia Studio, but its far better to record high quality from the start if you can!

B – The second set I have with me wherever I go is a set of Sennheiser CX300II’s. These are a good quality, in ear earbuds which offer a brilliant neutral sound and awesome sound isolation due to the range of moulded rubber ear plugs that come with them, so the right size is bound to be there for you. These don’t have a microphone (there is a model that comes with one), but for what I use them for, I don’t need a microphone. My main use for these are during video conferencing (I like the low profile unobtrusive look) and for on the go editing, on either plane flights or public transport. They also come with a nice little case, which means the cord is relatively organised and untangled.

C – My day to day headphones are a true pair of “cans” – over the ear studio quality Audio Technica M50’s. These again have a very neutral sound (not trebly or basey) and for my ears have a superb frequency range allowing for really discerning and critical evaluation of sound. The two metre cable (which is coiled in the middle) is great as it allows me to move around, and it has a 3.5mm jack whereas a lot of studio headphones use the ¼” jack requiring an adapter to plug into 3.5mm devices, which most computers and their related hardware are. When recording video, I don’t usually use the headphones, as I want to limit the visual distractions for my audience – but I use them for the sound check at the start, and for editing after recording. If I am not recording video (so just audio) I always wear them, as the Blue Nessie has a monitoring headphone jack, so I can hear exactly what I sound like as I talk – this audio feedback allows me to control my voice, volume and intonation to allow for a better recording.

Here is a video look these three headphones – obviously with me talking – you can’t hear what they sound like 😉  This was recorded using Techsmith Camtasia, the Blue Nessie microphone and the Logitech C920 webcam on a tripod.

And as an endnote, here is a shot of the video set up for the above video from the other angle – it just goes to show that you don’t need much space or to tidy everything up in order to record a video!

recordingsetup

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