A Scientific Approach

Electronic Voice Phenomena UK

Cheshire & Staffordshire

Recording level - Gain control.
With a standard cheap digital recorder you have no options for input sound levels. The only control is how close you place the recording device to a possible sound source, which is damn difficult when your trying to record something you can't see.

More advance recorders allow you to set the input level before you press record therefore allowing you to set a back-ground recording level. This input level control is often called 'Gain' or 'Trim'. For recorders that have this level control (Gain) you may have two options - Manual or Automatic. There are pluses and minuses with both options but I personally prefer to set this important recording level function myself.
An important aspect of the technical side of getting a good recording is to properly set the volume level of the recording input. This is the level at which your recording device is receiving your voice while you read. You want to avoid having it being too low or too high. A level set too high results in distorted sound. Set too low, and you often end up with too much noise (i.e., hiss or hum) when your recording is later amplified to a standardised level.
So what is the best method? The way to adjust your recording level is to simply practice in different locations which have a varied sound background. Make notes which settings you used until you find a balance that fits your own recordings. For those of you that wish to record outside then consider the use of a wind-shield. Just remember that the recording level control will need to be turned up to compensate for this added feature over the microphones.