compact flash audio recorders
Adjusting the Audio Recording Levels
Microphone Recording Level
You need to adjust the recording sound level for the microphone, to make sure it's high enough to get a good recording, but not so high that the audio becomes distorted when it peaks.
The recorder will usually have a sound level meter and a dial or some buttons you can use to adjust the input sound level.
Be sure to use the meter, rather than just the volume level you hear in your headphones, to adjust the sound.
That's because the volume level of the headphones can be adjusted separately on the recorder without affecting the actual audio input level to the recorder. Thus you might be hearing very low audio levels in your headphones because the headphone volume level is way down, but the audio input level for the recorder is actually very high and thus could be distorted.
On the Marantz PMD660 recorder, first make sure the recorder is on and you have headphones plugged in.
Now press the red REC button on the top of the recorder to begin recording, and then press the REC/PAUSE button to pause the recording. This will allow you to adjust the audio to its proper level, without actually recording as you adjust the levels.
To adjust the microphone sound level, look on the front of the recorder for the recording level control meter and the dials just to the right that you use to adjust the levels.
Speak into the microphone or have the subject of your interview speak into the microphone. The microphone should be about 6 inches from the subject's mouth, and if possible pointing in at a slight angle rather than right in front of the person (this will reduce recording popping noises from a person's lips when the microphone is positioned directly in front of the person).
Check the audio level control meter. When the audio peaks, it should only be lighting up the green lights or at most the first of the orange lights on the level meter (which is between 12db and 6db). If peak audio is lighting up several orange lights, the volume is too high and could be distorted. It definitely should not peak to 0db, which will cause the red OVER light to light up.
You can adjust the audio level with the dials to the right of the level meter.
The inside dial controls the right channel of audio input, and the outside dial controls the left channel of audio input (the left channel and outer dial are what you'll be using for a single microphone recording in mono).
If you turn the dials, they'll move together. So you can just use the handle on the inside dial to adjust the audio level for a mono recording on the left channel.
If you want to adjust the audio levels of the channels separately (for stereo recording or if you have two microphones plugged into the recorder) you need to hold the dial for one channel steady with your finger, while you turn the other dial with another finger to adjust the audio level of that channel. It's a bit tricky, so if you're going to be adjusting audio levels separately you'll need to practice this.
After setting the microphone audio volume with the level control meter, you can adjust the volume of the headphones so it is comfortable for your ears (adjusting the headphones volume will not affect the recording audio level).