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.

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.

 

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.

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


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.

Continue reading “How to remove a spike (crackle or pop) noise in your podcast”