How to knock out that hollow sound in your podcast

One of the more difficult audio problems to deal when we edit and enhance podcast is “that hollow sound” as customers refer to it. They’re talking about the sound of their voice bouncing off of nearby walls, floors and ceilings.

Unless you deal with the problem, the hollow sound is going to remain in your podcasts and you’re going to sound like you’re doing your show in an empty room. We recently had the problem ourselves in a new studio we put together. We didn’t put any acoustical tiles on the walls because the studio is a temporary one. We found an easy solution to dampening the reverberation of our voices, though.

We ordered a couple of blanket moving pads on Amazon from Northern Tool and Equipment,. We hung the blankets around a 6-foot tall by 2-foot wide audio booth we made of PVC pipe we bought at Home Depot. We put a moving blanket we had already on the top as the roof and another blanket on the wood floor for carpeting. This did the trick! We cut out about 99% of the reverb. The total cost was $55 for the PVC, and $53 for the blanket moving pads (including shipping). You can do this much cheaper if you use fairly heavy blankets instead of moving pads and if you have your local hardware store cut the PVC pipe for you. We used pre-cut PVC pipe which is a bit more expensive.

So with a little effort and money, we knocked out the hollow sound and gave our temporary studio a professional sound. Oh, one more thing. If you’ve already got the dreaded “hollow” sound in your recording, we can reduce the reverberation with a technique called de-reverbing. You can learn more about our audio editing and enhancing service at Audiobag.

 

Before recording anything, do a quick volume test

I’m somewhat (or “kumquat” as I tell my wife — she rolls her eyes) an expert at editing unwanted noise out of audio recordings and video and the number one sound I remove or reduce is room noise — mainly hiss caused from not having the record volume turned up enough. Dang! That was a long sentence and probably should be edited. But let me continue with my thought.

It’s always a good idea before recording to check your microphone level, making sure it’s hitting into the yellow but not the red on your level meter. If it’s in the red, you’re going to have distortion. The good news is that if you’ve already recorded some audio in the red that resulted in distortion, we can reduce it at Audiobag (yes, a little plug for our editing and enhancing business). In fact, I just worked on a recording yesterday that was so distorted, you could see it on a spectral display from outer space.

The simple point here is it doesn’t take a lot of extra time to set recording levels. Maybe a minute of your time. You’ll get a much cleaner sound recording.

If you’d like to learn more about our audio editing and enhancing service, visit our audio editing and enhancing page at Audiobag.

 

 

 

How to Write a Podcast Intro

It’s relatively easy to write a podcast intro. If you go with a 30-second opening for your show, you don’t need more than 75 words. In fact, 50 words would be better. Alright. Let’s get started.

Begin with a welcome of some kind. Here are a few:

  • “Welcome to The Bike Show, a podcast about … “
  • “Podcasting from Austin, Texas, welcome to The Bike Show.”
  • “Streaming from…”
  • “Coming to you from deep in the heart of Texas, welcome to The Bike Show.”

You get the idea. Let your listener know where you are and the name of your podcast right up front.

Next, tell her a little about where you’re podcasting from. For example, “Podcasting from Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world and home to the world’s largest urban bat population, country music singer Willie Nelson, South by Southwest, and the University of Texas … “. Although this isn’t necessary, it helps your listener know what is interesting to you.

Of course, the most important part of your opening should explain what your podcast is all about. “This is The Bike Show, a weekly podcast about bikes and the people who ride them. Hear interviews with special guests and bike news from around the world.” Your listener will now realize that you’re going to have guests that talk about bikes, as well as bike news from all over the world.

Wrap up your podcast intro with the name of your host or hosts, and add a brief description. “And now here’s your host, author and bike expert — Bob Johnson!” And presto! You’ve got your podcast intro written and ready to send to Audiobag for us to produce. Here’s a full sample:

“Podcasting from Austin, Texas — the live music capital of the world and home to the world’s largest urban bat population, country music singer Willie Nelson, South by Southwest, and the University of Texas — this is The Bike Show, a weekly podcast about bikes and the people who ride them. Hear interviews with special guests and bike news from around the world. And now here’s your host, author and bike expert — Bob Johnson!”

 

 

How to record a podcast in front of a large audience

Recently a customer told us that she was going to record an upcoming podcast at a conference in front of an audience and she wanted to know what is the best way to get a decent recording in a large auditorium. There are several different ways to achieve a good recording.

The best way to get good sound is to take it directly from the house sound system — eliminating the acoustic effects of the room. You’ll want to connect your recorder input cables (left and right channel) to the outputs of the sound system. Adjust the record levels so you don’t record too loud and get distortion. Remember that the output from most sound systems is at line level, not microphone level.

If it’s not possible to connect to the house sound system, you can mike the guests with your own gear (or equipment you rent). I suggest you mike each guest separately. You’ll need several microphones, mic stands, pop filters, and a mixer. Place the mike within 24 inches of each guest. Plug each mike into a separate channel on your mixer.

You can buy (or rent) a mixer at most musical instrument stores. For example, a Zoom R16 or R24 Multitrack Recorder might work nicely for your needs. You’ll have a mixer with mike inputs on the back for each guest microphone and a recorder all in one piece of equipment.

When you finish recording your podcast and need a little help cleaning it up (coughs, bloopers, long pauses, etc.) and turning it into a polished podcast, check out our audio editing and enhancing page at https://audiobag.com/audioediting.html. Meanwhile, good luck with your recording.

When should you create an intro for your podcast?

Should you create an intro before you record your first podcast, or should that come afterwards so that you can determine what your show is truly about? I believe the second part of the question is basically the answer. If you have a name for your podcast before recording the first show, you should be good to go ahead and record it, leaving the intro script and production for later.  After all, it might sound funny to say, “Welcome to our show. We haven’t named it yet. But we will eventually!”

After listening back to your recording, you’ll know the attitude and character of your show – whether it’s low key or upbeat, serious or funny, informative or entertaining, fast-paced or slow. We’ve produced a lot of podcast intros for customers who, at the time we produced their intro, had not yet recorded their first show. So, it was left up to us to set the tone of the podcast – not really knowing the tone of the show. And if the podcaster didn’t have the same interpretation of the image we created, the intro missed the mark and failed to set the proper atmosphere.

When a new customer places an order for a podcast intro and outro from us, we have a place on our Script and Instructions form to place a link to the podcast. We’ll listen to the show and immediately know whether to use a conversational or more high energy voice delivery, what genre of music to use, and whether sound effects will add or detract. And if we don’t nail it the first time, we offer a 30-day period for the customer to give us feedback so we can revise the  intro to better meet their needs.

You can learn more about podcast intros and outros as well as purchase them here.

How an audio production studio got into editing video

pexels-photo-257904.jpegIt’s really quite simple. We got into editing video because when enhancing the audio in videos customers sent to us, we noticed that the video also needed attention. It was too dark, too light, blurry, and often had verbal flubs — all of which could be repaired.

Audio is often the weakest part of a video, so make sure whoever does the post-production work on your video is an audio expert.  We find it often the case that the people speaking on camera are not mic’d properly because the microphone is several feet away on the camera or smartphone. This not only creates low volume, it also produces a hollow sound and room noise (hiss). So the best advice we can give you is to use a boom mic or lapel mics.

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Tips on recording a podcast

peoplepodcastingIf you’re a podcaster and you’re not quite sure what settings you should use for recording your show, I can shed some light on that for you. First, if you’re recording just your own voice, you only need to record in monaural (no need for a stereo track). If you’re recording yourself and a guest, use two microphones and a separate track for you and a separate track for your guest if possible. Having two separate tracks makes it easier to mute each track when the other person is talking — knocking out thumps and paper shuffling. Now let’s move on to what sampling rate you should use.

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How do you know if you have great radio imaging?

Radio imaging can make or break a station. If your voice talent sounds confident and in control, your station will sound professional. If your voice talent sounds weak, you’ll sound amateurish. If there are too many zaps, lasers, and explosions in your radio sweepers, you’ll sound annoying. If you use rock music in your sweepers on a country station, you’ll sound like you don’t know your target audience. And if you say the same things other stations say in their liners, you’re plagiarizing.

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How to remove a spike (crackle or pop) noise in your podcast

Click to enlarge

I was listening to a podcast the other day on one of my late afternoon walks (yes, we can take walks in the middle of winter here in Central Texas), and I was amazed that the podcast had an annoying spike noise throughout the show. I contacted the podcaster and offered up some quick advice on how to easily remove the noise. I thought I’d pass it along here as well.

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How to have a cleaner sounding phone interview

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Actual screenshot of the audio samples in this post. Notice how the guest’s volume is much louder (in fact, it’s overmodulated) than the interviewer’s volume.

When recording a phone interview for your podcast, one of the smartest things you can do is to put your microphone source (that’s you) on one track of your recording (track one), and your phone input source (your guest) on another track (for example, track two). Feed track one to the left channel recording input in your recording software program, and feed  track two to the right channel recording input. In other words, you’ll be on the left channel and your guest will be on the right channel of a stereo recording. That way, if your guest makes unwanted noise while you’re speaking, you or your audio engineer can mute your guest’s recorded track in post production (and vice versa in case you make unwanted noise).Let’s listen to a before and after example of what I’m talking about.

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