When should you consider buying a new microphone?

I can tell when a podcaster is using a poor quality microphone (or an internal computer or smartphone microphone) versus a high-fidelity microphone. The voice sounds tinny on the poor quality mic. In other words, the high frequencies are there but very little, if any, low frequencies are present. Also, the dreaded popped P, known as a plosive, raises its ugly head. And often there is an ear-piercing sound on words with an S (“sibilance”). As an audio editor at Audiobag, I can remove or reduce plosives and reduce sibilance with post-production enhancing. However, I can’t add something that’s not there: low frequencies. So, the voice is going to be missing warmth. And there’s only one way to correct this problem. You need a decent microphone. The type of mic you choose depends on the sounds around you other than your voice. Oh yeah, and your budget, of course.

The first microphone I purchased for our old studio back in 1987 was a dynamic microphone, which is not as sensitive to sound as a condenser microphone. The reason I chose a dynamic mic back then was because we were recording our voices in the same room where our reel-to-reel recorder was located (yes, Audiobag started out in the days before digital audio) in a studio in downtown Georgetown right next door to a fire station. Talk about noise! So, I purchased a Shure SM7B*, a dynamic mic. All these years later, the Shure SM7B is one of the most recommended microphones for podcasters. One reason is because most podcasters are not recording in a soundproof room. A dynamic microphone tends to knock out distant noises (like your kids yelling, the dog barking, or the sound of the furnace in the background). These days we use a condenser microphone for the voice work we do at Audiobag because we are in a quiet soundproof room (with no analog equipment, thank you very much!). A condenser microphone has a thin diaphragm which is more sensitive to detailed sound than a dynamic microphone. In other words, the words that come out of our mouth are picked up quite nicely by a condenser microphone, as well as other sounds. Luckily, there are no other sounds in our soundproof room.

So what microphone should you buy? Well, that comes down to your budget. I recommend spending at least $100 on a new microphone. And be sure to get a wind filter while you’re at it to knock out the popped P’s. If money is not a major concern, then you might want to start around $400. With that said, I’ve done a lot of testing of microphones and I’ve found that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a better-sounding microphone. If the microphone doesn’t sound right to you, send it back. One side note here: I’ve enhanced podcasts where the podcaster used an expensive microphone and yet I still needed to roll-off some of the low frequencies because it was too bassy. So, keep in mind that adjustments to your voice can be made in post-production to make you sound better. And if you need that done, as well as removal of verbal flubs and extraneous noise, check out Audiobag’s editing and enhancing service. Yep, that’s a not-so-hidden plug for what I do for a living. I make podcasters sound their best.

Listen back to your recording. Is it the best your voice can sound? Think about your listeners. They expect quality.

* Note: As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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!”

 

 

Cleaning up a 48 year-old jazz recording

imageOur pet project at Audiobag is cleaning up recordings made almost a half century ago by Sonobeat Records — the company who introduced the world to Johnny Winter, Eric Johnson, and other great musicians who either lived or passed through Austin in the ’60s and ’70s. One of my personal favorite recordings was released digitally today on iTunes and Amazon.

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When radio towers become obsolete


towerIt’s a cold hard fact that making money is more important to radio station owners and investors than being the best they can be. Don’t get me wrong. Making money is vital. However, when making money trumps being your best, radio stations become mediocre. The proof is in the production room where sloppy mistake-ridden commercials make it to the air, and in the control room where fewer and fewer actual live shows occur because shows are voice-tracked days in advance. So the DJ forgoes being fun or interesting and instead reads uninteresting PSAs or station promos (which most listeners could care less about) in order to quickly whip through the six shows he needs to record in one sitting.

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Observations from a waiting room

Today I’m writing this post in a dentist’s waiting room where I brought my 93 year-old mother for her appointment. Life is a cycle. I remember her taking me to the dentist back in my childhood. Now I’m the one taking her. The waiting room is quite nice with everything looking perfect. Perfectly painted walls, perfectly chosen wall hangings, perfectly selected wood flooring, and perfectly selected visual branding in the office area (so you’ll know to whom to write the check). There’s one thing that’s not perfect, though.

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