Capturing live audio at a conference is a tricky business. There are no retakes or second chances. You want everyone in the room to hear the presentation while also capturing quality recordings for later use. It’s important to get things right the first time, and that means starting with the right equipment.
When you arrive at the conference site, be sure to do a quick inventory of your AV equipment and setup. Here are a few items to put on your conference audio checklist.
Check the Microphone Count
You want enough microphones for all presenters, so check and double-check how many will be necessary for each session. If you do a question and answer session or invite audience interaction, you’ll want to get an additional microphone or two for audience members.
Test the Speaker Setup
Depending on the size of the conference room, getting high-quality audio may require a fairly sophisticated speaker system. Before you go live, do a quick test to minimize any echoes. You may need to move the mics around, especially if you are using desk stands to hold them.
Install Individual Recorders
If you’re recording audio from a mixer session, it may be tempting to just record the whole room on a single audio track, to get a complete record of the event. But when you plan to create additional educational content based on the presentation, having every speaker on a separate track is invaluable for post-production and editing. Hook a digital recording device directly to each microphone, and you’ll bring more conference audio back to the studio to work with.
Choose Pop Filters or Lapel Mics
If presenters are in a fixed spot—like a stage or seated at a table—stand microphones may work well. If you use these, pair them with pop filters to improve the natural sound coming from your speakers. If presenters stand and move around, a lapel mic is often a better option. Lapel mics affix to a speaker’s clothes, always maintaining the same distance between the microphone and the speaker.
Record Several Minutes of Background Noise
Before starting your presentation, capture several minutes of audio while your speakers are silent. Having a few minutes of silence allows editors to correct some noise disturbance after the conference. Fluorescent lights, HVAC systems, and general crowd noise can all be picked up by microphones. Those few minutes without vocals lets your editor adjust the track to remove these distractions.
High-quality audio turns a one-time event into a reusable piece of educational content. The same presentation can reach a much wider audience once it’s polished and available online. A little bit of extra setup time and help from audio professionals can help create good tracks that can be mixed and remixed for different audiences.
For more resources on capturing quality content at conferences and events, check out these resources.