Digital recording technology allows you to record audio in a number of different ways. From your computer, you can adjust the parameters of your recording software and audio interface in order to maximize recording quality or minimize space consumption. If you are recording large amounts of audio, you may have to sacrifice quality for quantity; lesser-quality audio files take up less hard drive space.
If you are recording large amounts of audio, storage space is likely your primary concern. Make sure you have freed as much hard drive space as possible to accommodate the incoming data. Some Digital Audio Workstation software will tell you how much space is left on your hard drive while you record. When freeing space, consider the type of recording you will be doing; multiple track recordings will take up more space than single track recordings of the same length.
During the recording process, save and move files whenever possible. This is another way of freeing up space. For example, if you are recording multiple hours of audio, but have multiple different projects or sessions, save each one and move it when you are finished. External hard drives make a great temporary storage location. If you are moving files around, make sure you are completely finished with them and that they are not vital to the current project. If you are not finished with a file but move it, certain aspects of your project may malfunction.
Sample Rate and Bit Depth
When you record and save files, you can choose a number of different sample rates and bit depths. These choices will also affect the amount of space a file occupies. The two standard choices for sample rate are 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz. These refer to the number of audio samples recorded per second. Bit depth refers to the values that the sampled rate can be assigned. This typically translates to an approximation of the decibel range of the recording. 44.1 kHz, 16-bit sound is CD-quality sound, and offers a dynamic range of approximately 96 decibels. If you need a higher sample rate and bit depth, you can choose these, but your files will take up more space. For example, a 1-minute stereo track at 16-bits and 44.1 kHz will take up approximately 10 megabytes of space. A 1-minute stereo track at 24-bits and 48 kHz will take up approximately 11 megabytes.
Different file formats involve different levels of compression. MP3s, for example, are highly compressed, whereas WAV files are not. When an audio file is compressed, some of its data is omitted, or lost, in order to minimize file size. If you are not concerned about having loss-less audio recordings, save your files as MP3s. This will allow you to record large amounts of audio.
If you are recording a lot of sound and your computer does not have enough space to accommodate the recording, consider using an external recording device. You could use a dedicated recording device to capture a large amount of sound at various sample rates and bit depths, and then transfer those files to your computer for editing. An advantage of these devices is that many are portable, allowing for long field recordings, interviews and live recordings.
If you are not going to monitor the recordings while they are in progress, it is important to minimize the number of possible glitches in the recording process. First, make sure your audio interface drivers are up to date. If they are not, your audio interface may experience problems, resulting in an unusable recording. Also, make sure you close any unnecessary programs running on your computer. This will free up RAM for your DAW to use. This, too, will reduce the likelihood of glitches in the recording.
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