Recording Methods

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This lesson is part of the Fundamentals of Sound & Music module.


  • Students will be familiar with the fundamental aspects of various types of recording media, including wax/vinyl, magnetic tape, optical, and digital media.
  • Students will understand strengths and limitations of various recording methods/media.
  • Student will be familiar with the general features of microphones & speakers and how they transduce sound.
  • Student will understand the difference between analog and digital methods of recording (including "sampling rate")
  • Student will be familiar with various methods and techniques of digital audio compression and file types.
  • Student will be able to critically assess recordings as a type of musical trace or sound representation.
  • Student learn various ways that recordings, and thus all elements of sound, can be edited or manipulated.



Listening and Videos[edit]

Class Activities[edit]

  • Discussion and definition recording methods throughout history. Bring in physical objects when possible.
  • Experimentation with recording sounds using different media and with different types of compression, and comparison of results.
  • Sampling demonstration: Demonstrate sampling of a continuous variable and errors in reconstruction due to sampling rate. A child's growth curve or day-to-day temperature measurements are good examples.
  • Microphone recording demonstrations based on polar patterns and placement.
  • Gear ID: Identify type of media, microphone, or speaker.


  • Compression of an audio file using various methods.
  • Create an online shopping list: Create a recording scenario for students to shop for appropriate recording gear. Employ Sweetwater sound buying guides for microphones and PA speakers.