3 Audio Recording Equipment For Lecture Capture
These microphones are better for precise vocal work in a professional or homestudio with echo-absorbing walls and good recording equipment. Condenser micsrequire an additional power supply (+48V, phantom power) that regular computerinputs don’t have. Most mixing panels and external audio interfaces havephantom power onboard to power up condenser mics.Generally, condenser mics cost more than dynamic ones.Condenser microphones are very sensitive and they will pick up all mouthclicks and room noise while recording, so you should learn how to speakclearly. It will significantly reduce the post-recording editing work, whichcan be even more time-consuming than the recording itself.You should treat a microphone of this type particularly carefully, because itsrecording quality may be reduced after some time just because of saliva orhumidity in the recording room, not to mention physical abuse. Put yourmicrophone in a protective case while not recording. Also, using a pop-filternot only does its primary job of blocking plosives (p-sounds), but also stopssaliva from reaching the membrane, increasing the microphone lifetime.
USB condenser microphones
For those who want to use condenser microphone without additional equipmentsuch as external sound cards, microphone stands, etc., there is a specialcombined type called a USB microphone. A microphone of this type is powered byjust a USB port and includes its own tiny sound card inside. They arerelatively affordable and very easy to set up.Cheaper versions feature cheap quality, and may not be much better than afive-dollar microphone from Best Buy.
Good USB microphones under $150
Some USB microphones have regular XLR editions, so you can use them with anyrecording device: external audio interface, studio console, video camera withXLR adapter, etc. If you are only going to use your computer to record anddon’t want to buy an external USB audio interface, you can use a USB version.Otherwise, stick to the standard XLR inputs and select any recording device towork with.
It’s worth mentioning that every single laptop today has a built-inmicrophone, and people are curious about using them for recording voice overs.These microphones are designed for basic tasks, for example, performing Skypecalls or giving voice commands to your computer, but never for recording avoiceover! We don’t recommend using built-in microphones unless you want tolose your customers or hurt their ears. 😉
What Equipment Will You Need For Recording Lectures?
SECTION 1: Lecture Capture ComputersSECTION 2: Video Recording Equipment for Lecture CaptureSECTION 3: Audio Recording Equipment for Lecture CaptureSECTION 4: Lecture Capture AccessoriesWhen it comes to lecture capture equipment, the basics are simple. You’ll needa computer configured for lecture capture, as well as audio and videorecording devices that will feed into the computer.While lecture capture software enables instructors to record basic videocontent with just a laptop or mobile device, most colleges provision theirclassrooms on campus with a fixed lecture capture system. These systemsprovide teachers with a ready-made recording environment, in which facultysimply walk in, plug in, and hit record. The lecture capture system ensuresconsistent quality in the classroom videos, and minimizes the need forpresenters to learn and tweak potentially complex in-room AV setups.Below, we compare options for the backbone of your lecture capture setup —building a lecture capture computer versus buying a rack-mount lecture captureappliance. We’ll then dive into specific features you should consider whenselecting peripherals such as video cameras, microphones, capture cards andother accessories for your setup.
1. Lecture Capture Computers
At the core of an in-room lecture capture system is a lecture capture computerthat runs video capture software and grabs AV feeds from connected classroomdevices. A lecture capture computer can either be a customized desktop, or itcan be purchased as a plug-and-play rack-mount appliance. We’ll discuss thebenefits of each approach, but first let’s look at the components thattypically go into a lecture capture computer.
What Goes Into a Lecture Capture Computer?
A lecture capture computer is typically a midrange to a high-end computer withvideo capture software installed and the proper ports for capturing andsyncing AV feeds.Typically, a lecture capture computer will have the following components: * A midrange to high-end microprocessor * Large internal storage capacity to support the storage of video files * Ethernet connectivity * USB 2.0, 3.0, or 3.1 (Type-C) ports * Video-in ports (some combination of HDMI, DVI, SDI, VGA, and analog) * Video-out ports (typically HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, or VGA) * Audio-in and out ports for mics and line audioYour choice to either use customized desktop computers, or to purchaserackmount appliances, will depend greatly on the following: * Your existing infrastructure * Your budget * Your desire to upgrade as technology changesOption 1: Customizing Desktop Computers Customizing an off-the-shelf desktop computer is typically the most flexiblesolution and generally comes at a lower cost. The tradeoff is usually yourteam’s time, as you’ll need to set up each computer individually.A few key considerations:Existing equipment: Many classrooms are already equipped with a computer that can be provisionedfor lecture capture with a few relatively simple upgrades. In most cases,adding video capture software and potentially upgrading the video capture cardwill generally be more budget-friendly than making a switch to rack-mountedappliances.Budgeting: You can usually build or upgrade existing desktop computers for under $1000each.Upgrade Flexibility: Given the rate at which video technology can change, a customized desktopoften gives you more flexibility to upgrade the operating system, drivers,desktop applications, memory, hard drive, video cards, and other internalcomponents.Option 2: Buy Rack-Mount Appliances for Lecture Capture Purpose-built, rack-mount lecture capture appliances come ready out of thebox, so setup is usually quick and easy. While it is typically a moreexpensive option than a customized desktop, some rack-mount appliances can bejust as flexible and may fit better with your existing AV setup.A few considerations for provisioning classrooms with purpose-builtappliances:Existing Infrastructure: If your classrooms are already provisioned with rack-mounted equipment,purpose-built lecture capture appliances will often be preferred. In caseswhere the rack is in an adjoining room, be sure to plan for cable logisticsand signal boosters, since video, audio, and data cables can suffer fromsignal degradation at longer lengths.Budgeting: Purpose-built video capture appliances typically cost anywhere from $3,000 to$20,000 each. The specific features included in an appliance will vary byvendor, so be sure to have your solution provider detail the specifications ofthe processor, hard drive, video and audio capture capabilities, video and audio output options, and automation and remote control capabilities.Upgrade Flexibility: Most modern lecture capture appliances are based on the Wintel architecture,making it straightforward to upgrade the operating system, memory, hard drive,and other internal components. Other appliances are built using embeddedsystems that cannot be easily modified. This typically limits the lifespan ofthe device, or at a minimum, requires you to ship outdated appliances to thelecture capture provider in order to receive an upgrade. In addition to thetime required to ship the appliance and the resulting downtime of your lecturecapture system, these trade-in upgrades also often come with an increasedannual maintenance cost.The Panopto-Certified Video Capture Appliance by SenecaOption 3: Utilizing Faculty Laptops for Lecture Capture In the absence of a dedicated video capture computer in the classroom, alecturer can install lecture capture software onto a personal laptop and thenconnect AV equipment, such as a camera, microphone, and an external capturecard.This is a quick and flexible setup option that can be scaled to manyclassrooms, but the presenter will need to be able to connect peripherals andhave a functioning knowledge of how to use your lecture capture software.
2. Video Recording Equipment For Lecture Capture
In an ideal world, a single camera model would meet the requirements of everylearning space.This perfect, all-in-one camera would support pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) toaccommodate the size and setup of any classroom. It would deliver smooth,broadcast-quality video in different lighting conditions. It would have asmall form factor to fit on a podium or discreetly mount to the wall. Its costwouldn’t prohibit you from buying one (or more) for every classroom acrosscampus. And of course, it would plug directly into a standard USB port toeliminate the need for video capture cards. You could buy this all-in-onecamera in bulk to receive significant discounts, and you could save time byprovisioning the same camera model in every learning space.Of course, this camera doesn’t yet exist, although we can see glimpses of thisfuture through recent advances in 4K, 60 frames-per-second (fps) USB webcamsand smartphone cameras.Until the all-in-one camera arrives, you’ve got choices. Fortunately, wherebudgets are concerned, the cost of the highest-quality cameras has droppedsignificantly in recent years, and the capabilities of even the mostinexpensive devices have risen considerably.You’ll find that the “best” camera(s) will vary by classroom, based on theroom size, available lighting, existing infrastructure, course-specificdemands, and presenter logistics. For example, a high-end PTZ camera may beyour best choice for a large lecture hall frequently used for guestpresentations and live events, while a consumer-grade camcorder or even webcammay suffice in some smaller classrooms.As you consider your options for each learning space, keep in mind that thegoal of any lecture capture camera is to reproduce the classroom environmentwith high enough fidelity to improve the student viewing experience. Whenthoughtfully provisioned, video cameras help students feel as though they’rein the room even if they’re watching from miles away.Let’s look at the major categories of video cameras on the market, comparetheir relative strengths, and discuss why you might select one over anotherfor any given space.Webcams | Camcorders | DSLR Cameras | PTZ Cameras | Motion Tracking Cameras |IP Cameras | Mobile Devices | Specialty Cameras
>> Connecting Video Recording Devices to Lecture Capture Systems
Different cameras provide different ways to stream video from the device tothe lecture capture computer. Webcams, some PTZ cameras, and an increasingrange of specialty recording devices make it simple by using USB 2.0 or 3.0connections. Whether you’re using a laptop, a desktop, or a rack-mountappliance, these devices typically just plug-in and work.By contrast, camcorders, DSLRs, most PTZ cameras, and many specialty camerassend video to the lecture capture computer over HDMI, SDI, DVI, VGA,component, or composite connections. These require either an internal orexternal video capture card to convert the feed into a format that can berecognized by the computer as a video source.For rack-mount appliances and most desktop computer setups, an internal videocapture card makes the most sense. These cards typically provide single, dual,or quad inputs for video, with options for all of the typical videointerfaces.For laptops, internal video capture cards aren’t an option. Instead, externalcapture cards (sometimes called capture dongles) can accept incoming videofrom the camera and convert it to USB. These converters are available forHDMI, SDI, DVI, VGA, and analog video sources.In just the last few years, USB 3 video capture cards have begun to change theface of high-quality video recording and live streaming. An AV setup that oncecost thousands of dollars and required complex, specialized appliances can nowbe achieved with an existing midrange laptop and a $300 dongle.Want to know more? Read our overview of USB 3 video grabbers.
3. Audio Recording Equipment For Lecture Capture
There’s a simple secret to getting the most out of your lecture capture tools,and it’s this: your audio matters twice as much as your video. When studentscan hear crisp, clear audio of their instructors in a recording, poor videoquality may still be a distraction, but one that can often be overlooked. Bycontrast, broadcast quality video is for naught if the audio is garbled orotherwise unintelligible. Without a quality talk track, students will rarelyfind a recording useable.Fortunately, the same trends that have made video recording devices moreaccessible and affordable in recent years have also been at work with audiodevices. Today, institutions will find a plethora of easy and inexpensivedevices. Let’s take a look at what’s available, what each does well, and whyinstitutions might select one over another for any given space.Desktop Microphones | Boundary Microphones | Lavalier Microphones | HandheldMicrophones | Podium Microphones | Built-in Microphones
Connecting Audio Recording Devices to Lecture Capture Systems
As with your video recording devices, your audio recorders will most oftenconnect directly to your lecture capture computer. If your microphone cabledoes not align with any existing ports in your lecture capture computer,adapters should allow you to plug almost any type of microphone cable intoyour system. For example, higher-end microphones frequently output via XLRconnections, requiring XLR-to-USB converters, such as those offered byBehringer, Shure, Blue, and Focusrite. Similarly, multiple audio sources willneed to run through an audio mixer into your lecture capture computer.
USB microphones are probably the best all-around mics for use with a PC.They’re easy to use, with most being a plug and play operation, and you’llusually find a headphone jack on the back for both listening to audio fromyour computer and monitoring your own voice.USB microphones can be had in a range of sizes, from very small ones that areperfect for travel, like the Samson Go Mic, right up to larger, high qualitymicrophones like the Blue Yeti or Razer Seiren. The quality of the soundrecorded will nearly always be better than that of a headset microphone.A good quality USB microphone will suit all use cases, from simple conferencecalls and streaming, right up to recording your own vocals for music or apodcast. Like most things, though, to get that kind of quality you have to paya premium.