Best way to record a guided meditation
In this article, we’re going to cover the best way to record a guided meditation. Whether you’ve taken a meditation teacher training or not, knowing how to record your own meditation, how to record a meditation with background music & how to make meditation videos are subjects that are rarely covered.
Assuming you already know how to lead a guided meditation, how to write a meditation script, and/or have some sort of meditation facilitator training under your belt, being able to record your own meditations is a great skill to enhance the delivery of your services, create lead magnets & grow your audience on social media.
So, let’s simplify this often complex subject to give you the tools & techniques you need to create professional hypnosis and/or meditation recordings.
Microphones, Software & Equipment for Recording Meditations
Purchasing the necessary equipment for making recordings doesn’t have to break the bank, however, it is necessary to have a few core pieces of hardware & software to get the best results.
Below is a list of what I suggest depending upon your budget & operating system:
The Yeti is one of the most popular microphones on the market & for good reason. For one, it doesn’t break the bank at $130. Secondly, the sound quality is great for the price. Lastly, it’s a USB Mic. This means that it doesn’t require any additional equipment or mic cables, and is easy to use because it plugs directly into your computer.
The Shure SM7B is the best microphone on the market for recording the voice. Without going into the technicalities of how it works, it’s optimized for producing clean recordings with minimal background noise & superb audio quality. But the increase in quality comes at a $400 price tag, and because it’s not a USB mic, you’ll also need to purchase an audio interface, two mic cables & a mic activator to be able to utilize this amazing microphone.
Once you have your mic, you’ll need some software on your computer to be able to record, edit & add music to your meditations.
The main software you will need is what’s called a “digital audio workstation” or DAW, which is just a fancy term for the program you record & edit your meditations on.
Here are some different options as far as this goes depending upon your budget & whether or not you are a Mac or PC user.
Software for Mac Users:
If you’re a Mac user you’re in luck, because every Mac comes equipped with GarageBand – a simple DAW that has pretty much all the features you will need to produce an excellent meditation audio.
(Optional) Audio Hijack:
Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba is another fantastic Mac Only software for creating audio recordings. I recommend it to our Guided Meditation Framework students, because it makes the actual process of recording yourself a lot easier. Additionally, it can enable you to live process your recording & remove background noise which greatly enhances & speeds up the recording/editing process (more on this later).
Software for PC People:
Audacity is a free, open source DAW that offers more functionality than GarageBand, including a spectral denoising feature (very cool). However, the interface is a little confusing when you’re first getting used to it. That being said, it’s an excellent option for those PC people on a budget.
Ableton Live is an incredibly robust DAW that is best for those who want to go all in on creating studio quality audios. Ableton is what I use to produce meditation audios, but it’s quite complex to get the hang of, so I don’t recommend it if you’re tech-challenged. And unless you’re willing to fork out $500 for the Standard Edition, you’re better off sticking with Audacity.
So, now that you have your microphone & recording software, it’s time to create your recording environment.
Creating a DIY Home Recording Studio
There is no point investing in a microphone & recording software if your recording environment isn’t up to par. Microphones enhance the quality of your meditation recordings because they are more sensitive, which means they will also be more sensitive to echo, background noise & all the other joyous sounds of life bouncing around your home.
Luckily, it’s not too difficult to set up your own DIY recording studio in your home. Whether you’re on a budget or want to build a full-fledged foam bunker in your house, here are some tips & suggestions for building your own recording studio:
Select a Room with “Soft Stuff”
The first step in creating a DIY recording studio is selecting a room to record in. You can make your life & your recordings a lot easier by picking a room that already has materials that absorb sound (i.e. carpets, rugs, couches, beds, clothes, etc.). I recommend a bedroom, or if you’re big ballin’, a walk-in closet.
Creating a Pillow Fort “Recording Booth”
If you’re on a budget, you can create a highly effective DIY recording booth using the age old skill set of building a pillow fort.
Taking the thickest pillows you have, possibly from the couch, build either a rectangular or triangular prism, placing your mic at the back of your arrangement.
The idea here is to block sound from your voice from escaping this pillow fort & also to block echos bouncing around the room from hitting your mic, so make sure it’s covered on all sides.
Also, don’t use leather pillows as they will reflect sound, rather than absorb it, and make your recording sound like your inside of a shoebox.
Purchasing Sound Treatment
For those looking to spend some money to avoid having to build a pillow fort every time they want to record a meditation, you could consider buying some acoustic foam.
Acoustic foam is a great solution, but it can be costly. Also, many people make the mistake of purchasing cheap acoustic foam off of Amazon that does essentially nothing, except look terrible.
If you choose to purchase acoustic foam, make sure it’s at least 3 to 4 inches thick, so it’s able to actually absorb the frequency spectrum of the human voice & also make sure that you buy enough for your space.
Whenever I build a recording studio, I buy my foam from Sound Assured. They have quality, high density foam at a reasonable price & a calculator on their website to help you decide how much foam you should purchase per square foot of your studio space.
How to Record Your Own Meditation
Once you’ve set up your recording environment, the next step is to sit down & actually record a guided meditation. It’s important before you start that you’ve taken the steps outlined in the previous section to make sure your recording space is as good as you can get it.
The quality of your recording is largely dependent upon the quality of your recording environment, so make sure you’ve taken the time to set yourself up for success before starting to record.
But once you’re ready, here are some tips on how to record meditations like a pro:
#1 Position Yourself & Your Mic Properly:
Mic & body positioning are critical when it comes to recording your voice. Make sure you are seated comfortably in an upright position so your breathing & vocal cords are not cramped in any way. Also, have your microphone about 4 to 6 inches away from your mouth. Being closer to the mic (but not too close) will increase the signal-to-noise ratio, reducing the prominence of background noise & echo in your meditation recording.
#2 Set the Gain on Your Microphone
Start running through your meditation while adjusting the gain knob on your mic or audio interface. The goal here is to find the optimal sensitivity to pick up your voice to not be too loud or too quiet. I like to set the gain knob so that I can see the audio level bouncing around -10 dB on my DAW.
#3 Pause & Resume Recording When Making Noise
While you are recording, you’ll likely need to take deep breaths, take a sip of water, readjust your seating position to get more comfortable, etc. When you feel the need to do this, I recommend pausing the recording & resuming recording once you’re ready to go again. This will make the editing process a lot easier by removing excess noise & reducing the chance that a disruptive sound makes its way into the final product.
#4 Clap Twice When You Mess Up
It’s inevitable that you will fumble a few words here and there, but it doesn’t mean you need to start the meditation over from the beginning again. If you mess up, just clap your hands two times with sufficient vigor & you’ll be able to clearly see where you need to make edits by looking at the audio spectrum of your track inside your DAW.
Once you’re done making your recording, it’s time to move into the post-production stage to start finalizing your meditation recording.
Post-Processing Tips to Create Professional Recordings
Now that you’ve got your meditation recorded, there are a few tricks you can use to take your recording to the next level. Post-processing won’t fix a bad recording, but it can make a good recording sound much more professional.
Post-processing is also a very dense & complex subject, so I’m just going to cover the basics. However, applying these few simple techniques to your meditation recordings will make them better than most meditations floating around the internet.
So, let’s dive in…
#1 Removing Background Noise
Removing background noise, floor noise, white noise or whatever you choose to call it, is a foundational element of that “professional” sound (or lack of sound). No one wants to hear an incessant “pffffff” in the background while they are meditating, so eliminating as much of it as possible, without damaging the clarity of your voice, is highly recommended.
A great free tool for doing this is Audacity’s spectral denoising feature that I previously mentioned. This tool allows you to learn the noise spectrum from a silent section of your recording (when you are not talking), and then remove that noise from the entire recording. It’s not perfect, but considering the fact that it’s free (and the denoising software that I use costs +$1,000), Audacity’s denoising feature is an awesome tool.
Another software that I mentioned previously is the Mac Only Audio Hijack. Audio Hijack also allows you to learn the noise spectrum of your room by recording a bit of silence. Then, by adjusting the parameters, you can tweak the reduction amount until you’re happy with the results. The bonus of Audio Hijack’s denoise feature is that it works live, while you’re recording, so you don’t have to take the extra step of denoising in post-processing.
Accusonus also has a great product for vocal processing & denoising called the Era Bundle. It’s not free, but comes with several plugins to assist with everything from de-essing, denoising, reducing echo, etc. The Era denoising plugin is also extremely easy to use, with a single knob used to control the amount of denoising you need.
#2 Using an Equalizer to Improve Vocal Clarity
What is an equalizer? Well, it’s basically just a fancy volume knob that allows you to change the volume at specific frequencies of the audio spectrum. In the context of creating meditation recordings, applying an EQ to your vocal track can increase the clarity of your voice pretty dramatically.
It’s easy to go overboard when using an EQ, so you’ll want to make sure not to overdo it. To save this article from getting any longer than it needs to be, I have added a photo to show you how to set up your EQ below:
Additionally, if you’d like to learn why I set it up like this, check out this document on applying an equalizer on vocal recordings.
#3 Using a Compressor to Normalize Volume Levels
What is a compressor? Well, it’s also a fancy volume knob of sorts that will help even the volume of your vocal recording.
It’s natural for our voice’s intensity to vary when we create a guided meditation recording, but if the volume varies too much, it can be hard to hear certain words or startling to the participant when certain sections come in much louder than others.
Every DAW comes with its own form of compressor & they all operate a little differently, but the general concept is the same. To use a compressor, apply it to your vocal track then bring the threshold all the way down. This will make you sound very muffled. Then, slowly bring the threshold back up as you listen to the recording until you can no longer hear it affecting the clarity of your voice.
Then, turn up the makeup gain to make up the volume lost due to compression. This will take some trial & error, but once you’ve got it right, your vocal track should be at a fairly consistent volume throughout.
#4 Editing Out Breaths, Mistakes & Adding Space
The last step in this editing process is going to be removing additional noise from your recording & adding space (or time when you aren’t talking) to adjust the timing/overall length of your meditation audio.
Remember before when I mentioned clapping twice where you made mistakes, this is the point where that strategy pays off. Start by scrubbing through your recording & finding those edit points signified by the two volume spikes of your claps and fix those first.
Then, you’ll want to listen closely to your recording all the way through. Specifically, you’ll be listening for any unwanted noises, like unintentional breathing sounds, clearing of your throat, or any other noises you’d rather not make into the final product.
After clipping the unwanted sections out of your recording, the next step is to add space to the places where you think more time should be allowed for your participants to enjoy the silence and/or music.
The most important area to add space is between the Middle of the Meditation & the Ending Bookend (if you don’t know what that means, check out my article on how to create a guided meditation). This is the section where your participants will sit in meditative contemplation for the amount of time you choose and will have a big impact on the overall length of the meditation.
Adding Background Music to Your Meditation
The final step before finalizing your meditation is to add some background music or meditation music to your meditation recording. People often make the mistake of trying to record a meditation with background music using their mic, but to get a professional sound out of your recording, you’ll want to add the music to a separate track in your DAW.
But first, you’ll need to find some meditation music you can use…
Finding Meditation Music to Use in Your Meditation Audios
There are three options when it comes to getting meditation music you can use in your meditation audios:
- Create the meditation music yourself
- Contract an artist to make meditation music for you
- Purchase a license to use meditation music already created
For most people, option 1 is not an option at all, so you’ll either need to hire an artist to make meditation music to your taste or purchase a license from an artist who has made meditation music for this purpose.
A quick search on Google will give you plenty of options to choose from in terms of the music you can buy with the proper licensing to be able to resell & post on social media.
Another option is to find an artist on Fiverr.com or Upwork.com to make some exclusive meditation music for you. This will be more expensive, however, you’ll have a bit more control over the quality & direction the music takes when working directly with an artist contracted for this specific job.
Add the Meditation Music to a New Track in Your DAW
Once you have some meditation music in your possession, adding it in the background of your meditation is easy. Simply drag & drop the music file onto a new track in your DAW & adjust the volume level so that it’s properly balanced with your voice.
Then, you can use automation tools to slowly fade the volume in at the beginning & out at the end of the meditation recording.
Once that’s handled, it’s time to finalize your guided meditation.
Finalizing & Exporting Your Meditation Recording
Now that you’ve processed your audio & added some meditation music, the last step is to finalize your audio & export it.
Before exporting, you’ll want to make sure that the overall volume of your meditation is not too loud & not too quiet.
A good rule on this is to use some headphones & set your computer’s volume (not the DAW’s) to about 50%. Then, either by using a limiter on the master track or adjusting the master track volume directly, bring the volume up or down until the sound is at the level that you would prefer to listen to the meditation.
Once you’ve found that perfect level, export your project to an .mp3 or .wav file & you’re done!
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it was enlightening for you & assists you in knowing how to record your own meditations at a more professional level.
If you’d like more help with this or want to learn how to lead transformational guided meditations in general, feel free to check out The Guided Meditation Framework’s meditation facilitator training.