A well recorded audio file could be edited to sound as if it was recorded in an expensive studio setting. Similarly a poorly recorded file could only be developed up to a certain acceptable level even after done by the best in the industry. As such damsara.org will provide basic instructions and tips on how to do a good quality recording. Retreat organizers and others could use this dedicated section of damsara.org as a reference point prior to recording of Dhamma talks.
Guidelines on Recording Dhamma Talks and Discussions at Meditation Retreats
These guidelines are provided especially for the benefit of the Organizers of Meditation Retreats. Adherence to these guidelines will ensure professional quality recording of Dhamma talks and discussions. Such recordings will be beneficial to the present and the future generations of Buddhist practitioners.
- Always assign a competent person for recording Dhamma sessions. He/she should ideally have previous experience in such work. The designated recording person shouldn’t be given any other responsibilities pertaining to the retreat.
- The designated person should visit the retreat center about two weeks prior to the retreat and check the available facilities. Appropriate action need to be taken depending on the location of the Dhamma talks. Faulty switches or plug sockets may have to be replaced or an extension cord may have to be obtained. The location and the setting including the microphones, stage, speakers and such important aspects have to be checked and tested well in advance.
- Acceptable quality microphones and high quality microphone cables should be used. Some centers use FM Microphones during Q&A sessions. That is a good practice. However FM microphones should be of a high quality.
- Always have at least two parallel systems to record the session. Never depend only on one method of recording. These should comprise different recording systems. The primary recording system should ideally be done using a laptop. That should be connected to the amplifier/mixer and the main sound system. However, such recording through a laptop could be complicated and should be done only by an experienced person.
- Use professional grade digital recorders for the secondary systems. Do not use consumer grade digital recorders. Some of the suggested recorders are given here; 1. Edirol – R026 (Click the link for more information on the product) If you purchase Edirol – R026 you need to also purchase the cover for the product Cover for Edirol R026
2. Tascam DR-40 4-Track Digital recorder DR-40-4-Track-Portable-Digital-Recorder
3. The Zoom range of Digital Recorders are excellent! These are Zoom H4n Pro, Zoom H5 and Zoom H6. Also obtain A Wind Shield for the Zoom recorder. Here is a link to a Universal Windshield for Zoom recorder. The Zoom multi-track recorders mentioned above will be especially useful during Q&A sessions as it facilitate multi channel recordings.
- Always use Wind Shields on your recorders and if possible on your microphones. Sometimes strong wind drafts generated by fans can completely distort the recordings. That could be prevented by using Wind Shields.
- Always keep the digital recorders close to the mouth of the Monk delivering the sermon. That could be accomplished by using microphone stand adapters coupled with microphone stands. A good microphone stand adapter is OP- MSA1
- Always use a high capacity Flash memory cards such as 32 GB for the professional digital recorders.
- The ideal recording format should be WAV or PCM format. That is the standard used by professionals. Recording in WAV preserves high audio quality and also immensely help in audio editing. Original recordings should be sent to the audio editor without any conversions. WAV or PCM recordings use a lot of disk space and sometimes it may not be very practical to transfer to an offsite audio editor. In situations where it is not practical due to that it is still acceptable to record in near CD quality MP3 format. 192 kbps is acceptable for the purpose of getting near CD quality MP3 recordings. However it is important to keep in mind some distortions such as ‘clipping’ is difficult to be repaired when done in the MP3 format.
- Whenever possible avoid using Fans at the location of the monk giving the sermon. The wind would badly distort the quality of the sound and that cannot be rectified through audio editing. In situations when it is unavoidable, always use wind –muffs to cover and protect the main microphone and the digital recorders.