We’ve edited and enhanced many podcasts through the years and the biggest problem we hear in the recordings we enhance is the lack of good room acoustics. “Room acoustics” is simply how the room sounds once you turn on your microphone and start talking. Most podcasters don’t realize one very simple trick will drastically improve the sound of their podcast.
Our 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.
The goal of a post-production podcast engineer is to make a podcast sound the very best it can. It’s a time-consuming job, often taking days. Some podcasters try to justify leaving noise and verbal flubs in a podcast by saying it makes it sound more authentic. Frankly, that’s an excuse for being lazy and not caring about your listener to give them your very best. Would you like watching a movie if the director decided to leave in mistakes? I doubt it. Podcast listeners want quality audio, too. But how do you achieve that?
It’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.
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.
My wife, Cathy, cut a Ziggy comic strip out of the newspaper several years ago. I liked it so much I taped it to the pen and pencil container on my desk. It’s of Ziggy standing outside a shop on the street with a sign over the door.
When I’m on vacation in Canada, I often hear “eh” at the end of every sentence. “Beautiful day, eh?” Then there’s my favorite question,”You’re not from around here, eh?” I hear that when I accidentally use the word “y’all” in a sentence — like when I asked a nice Canadian family sitting outdoors at a restaurant in downtown Bobcaygeon, Ontario, “Are the black flies eating y’all up over there at your table?” You may be wondering where this is going. It’s all aboooot watching your pronunciation and colloquialisms when recording your voice.
We often receive script at Audiobag that just needs a tiny bit of tweaking before we go into our sound booth to record it. We don’t mind editing it. In fact, it’s our job to help our customers sound their best. So we look over the script, change a word here or there if necessary, get our customer’s approval on any major changes, and then we head into the room that’s so quiet it actually hurts our ears (okay, I’m exaggerating).
1. Podcast idea: Use 15-second bumpers to encourage podcast listeners to click on your website pay per click ads and to promote your podcast sponsors.
2. Saving your talk podcast as 64 kbps mono MP3 is acceptable audio. For music, save it at least as 96 kbps stereo MP3 (128 kbps is better).