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I have been recording keypress from laptops using my phone and it seems that I get better results when both the laptop and the phone are placed on a hard surface like a wooden table than when they are on separate surfaces like different tables or when the phone is handheld. Is the transmission of sound affected by the surface, and how does it alter the recording of the sound?

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    > ... it seems that I get better results when both the laptop and the phone are placed on a hard surface Actually, your question contains the answer in itself. If you feel that something sounds "right" to you then go for it! You aim for the result, not for the process of acheiving it. I'd say that it's one of the "general rules" of the sound design. Experiment, be creative and acheive what you want! – shredthesky Apr 9 '14 at 18:21
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Are you using your mobile phone to record the keypress? If so, then yes. The microphone in your mobile isn't the best for SFX recording, especially small sounds like keypress. Having your phone on the table with your keyboard will allow the propagation of sound to reach your microphone in a more direct fashion.

When recording with your phone from above, the sound of the keypress travels through the air into the microphone of your phone. When recording with your phone on the table, the vibrations travel a lot quicker and more direct into your phone because its a mainly solid transmission.

There's a wiki article here all about sound http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound

I wonder why I answered this... It's probably something we shouldn't be getting here.

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    Why do you think these questions are not welcome? It's about sound recording in a specific environment. Sure it doesn't use the optimal tools for it, but that shouldn't matter. – Saaru Lindestøkke Apr 7 '14 at 14:07
  • Not really, I don't see it as recording in a specific environment, rather more like basic recording 101. Not having an optimal tool should never be a problem, but the lack of understanding of the tool available is. Personally, I do think the forum is more advanced than this. – user6513 Apr 7 '14 at 17:22
  • Oh, maybe that's a difference between Sound.SE and other SE's I'm active in, but I always thought that well stated beginner problems were welcome. Sound travelling through different media is not trivial (different soundspeed and attenuation) so I don't see any problem with this question. But I'm new here, so I might be mistaken. – Saaru Lindestøkke Apr 7 '14 at 23:06
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Surface as amp is an often mentioned technique in texts on recording foley. I myself don't like the sound of a keyboard on a hard surface, usually the surface resonates too much, but on the other hand, on anything soft a keyboard can sound really thin. That said, the project dictates the sound you're after..

Also, don't record avoid recording with a phone, smart or not. The engineering tradeoffs inside it destroy the sound. The graph below is only part of the story.

iphone mic frequency response graph

graph from here.

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