@seoul123 “What can you do to make professional-sounding recordings?”
Become a professional round recordist?
Professional-sounding recordings are the result of professional sound engineers applying their professional skills and working with professional-grade sound recording/production equipment in professionally treated sound booths and mixing rooms.
Now, let’s scale that down. I assume that what you meant by “professional-sounding” was “something that doesn’t sound better than what I have now.” What you need is this:
1. Have a basic understanding of how audio-recording equipment works: setting up a mic, adjusting levels, etc.
2. Have a basic understanding of what audio post-production is: editing, equalization, compression, etc.
3. Have a basic understanding of the differences between acquisition and delivery formats: uncompressed audio, various compression options (mp3, AAC, and so on).
Once you’ve covered the above, you can begin recording. To record, you’ll need to:
4. Get a decent microphone, mic preamp, and recorder.
5. Get a decent monitoring equipment (amplifier, speakers/headphones).
6. Eliminate all extraneous noise. This includes pets, children, relatives, washers, driers, and that guy having quality time with his pneumatic drill outside your window.
7. Soundproof your room, or at least reduce the amount of unnecessary sound reflections (drapes, blankets, etc.)
@Ernie “I might try the kind that clips onto one’s collar . . .”
They’re called lapel or lav (lavalier) microphones. Their prices range from a few bucks to several hundred dollars. Virtually all of them require a small amount of power to work (a few volts). It is normally supplied by an amplifier, but sometimes lav mics come with their own power supply (a tiny battery).
You can get decent results using a small portable recorder and a pop filter (tights stretched over an embroidery hoop will do just fine). #6 and #7 from above still apply.
Hope this helps. If not, ask away and I’ll try to clarify.