Recording and Creating Audio

flickr photo by audiomixhouse shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by audiomixhouse shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

scan with app


Learn to record and sequence voice, music, and real world sounds to “paint” the world in a way that generates a sense of space and human presence; consider the ways audio might be used for student assessment or reflection.

Tune into the Sounds of Your Space

Sit still for 30 seconds. List as many different sounds you can hear in the space around you. List them in the order from the most soft or quiet to the loudest, from the least to the most obvious sounds.

Compare your list with others in the studio. Send a tweet (include the #UdGAgora hashtag) noting significant similarities or differences between what people heard

Discuss or reflect on how these sounds create a sense of the space you are in? If you were to record a conversation, a dialogue in this space, would it feel real without these environmental sounds? How could you change the emotion, tone, even suggested location of that recording by editing in different environmental sounds?

Teaching with Audio

The Power of Audio

Listen to Jad Abumrab (co-host of the RadioLab podcast) talk about how radio creates empathy, and a connection with the listener.

Do you listen to podcasts? Have you ever edited audio? What are the affordances/advantages of audio content (e.g. portability, opportunity to listen while engaged in other activities)

Saving Audio

For storing and sharing your audio, any of the following will be useful, in order of our recommendation

  • SoundCloud ( is like YouTube for audio. Create a free account and you can upload up to 2 hours of audio content. Many iPad apps can share directly to SoundCloud, and it is easy to embed content into web sites, blogs, and the Challenge Bank by using the URL of a published Sound Cloud Track.
  • DropBox ( – many apps share directly to DropBox. You should know how to share an file via a public link by saving it your public folder. The best format for others to hear sounds is an mp3 file.
  • Google Drive ( Audio files can be uploaded, and set to be shared and used in other google apps. You should know how to set the sharing options for public view.

Depending on the apps you use, if sharing to any of these sources is not possible, you may have to email them to yourself so you can transfer it with a computer. Cloud Convert is useful for converting between audio file formats so they can be saved to either DropBox or Google Drive.

Recording Audio

The quality of recorded audio depends on the loudness of the source, the distance from the source to the microphone built into the iPad (located near the top of the device). The built-in microphone is not high quality but is fine for recording voice and ambient audio.

Consider the conditions of the place you are recording. If there is distracting background noise such as other people talking, fans or devices that hum you should consider moving.

As an experiment do a test recording with the iPad not moved, recording a few seconds of local sound to see what the microphone picks up. You should test voice volumes from different distances (e.g. “testing from 1 meter away, from 3 meters away, from 5 meters away”).

For audio recording on the iPad we recommend the free version of Voice Recorder Pro — it has sound level meters, you can pause while recording, and it can save files to any of the services listed above. This is the app we will demonstrate in our studio sessions.

Recording audio with Voice Recorder Pro
Recording audio with Voice Recorder Pro

Press the RECORD button to start a new session. The “Medium” setting is good. Click Start to start recording. It is easiest to use the Pause button to create a single audio file. You can also create multiple files.

In your list of recordings on your iPad, tap each for the available editing tools. Tap the title (the time and date of the recording) to give your file a meaningful name. Use Edit / Trim tool to remove unwanted parts or Append to Another Record to combine sounds. When your sound is complete, use Convert to MP3 to save your audio in the format that can be most easily shared when saved to Google Drive.

We recommend saving to SoundCloud.

Some other iPad apps for recording/creating audio include

Audio generators can be used to create sounds or music via the touch interface of the iPad

For more advanced audio editing beyond what we will do in this Studio (e.g. to be able to create layered audio tracks)

Audio Challenges

Try as many challenges as you have time and interest for; these can be done individually or in small groups.

  • Recorded Sound Effect Story
    Create a short story by sequencing together recorded sounds (e.g. no audio/voice). Use objects you can find (rustling paper, clanking glasses), or make sounds with your own body (footsteps walking, the sound of knocking on a door). Note that with simple recording apps, you will have to have it planned in advance, and be able to record everything sequentially by pausing as you record– the goal is to get a single audio recording that does not need editing to stitch together..
  • You Interviewing You
    In a typical self assessment, we try to write about ourselves from an imagined external perspective. Try an assessment of your contributions in this studio in the form of an audio interview. You will have to find a “voice” or tone to act as an external interviewer, and a different one to represent your true self. Try outlining the questions in advance, and be creative with the ways you make it sounds like a radio interview.
  • Mood / Tone Generator
    Pick a mood or emotion you might want to convey in a project, e.g. love, tension, excitement, dread, fear, hope, anger, frustration. Use an app like SoundPrism, which uses the touch interface of the iPad, to generate a one minute sound sequence that might suggest the feeling you are aiming for.
  • One Question (or Vox Populi) Interviews Vox Populi is an interview technique, sometimes called “person on the street” interview often used on TV comedy shows. It comes from the Latin phrase “voice of the people”. The idea is to record the answers to the same question from a number of people, and play back their responses in rapid fashion. The key is to think of a question that people will answer differently.


Be sure to add your response to any challenges you complete for this Studio. In addition to sharing your work, write about the idea you had in mind when you started, and how, if anyway, it changed as you worked on your audio projects. What would you have liked to do if you had more time? What would make you feel confident as an audio editor/creator? Try also to solicit some feedback from other people to include in your response.

Now that you have some experience recording things in the world around you, what ideas do you have perhaps for using some form of audio in your course (e.g. more than recording content)? What might students do with an audio assignment?

Taking it Further

9 thoughts on “Recording and Creating Audio

  1. Use sounds for educational goals is great. Sometimes school can be boredom but whit this resources could be nice

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