Ever wonder why professionally made audio sounds so clear? When you listen to your stuff, do you hear the sound of wind on your microphone while you’re speaking? Do you hear loud ‘plosives’ when pronouncing the letter ‘P’? Do some of the voices sound boomy and some thin? These are common mistakes and it won’t require any rocket science to get it right. Just some basic knowledge of microphones and some best practices to follow. I’m Aaron Keane and I’m the Audio Lead here at Better Broadcasts. I’ve been in the business for over 25 years and I’ve made a ton of mistakes. I can help you make a more professional product.
- Location is most important. Ideally your space will be noise free, have a carpet, soft furniture and bookshelves to help absorb sound. If the room has lots of reflective surfaces (painted walls, wood floors, windows) the sound will be filled with echo and reverberation. Make a test recording and listen back in another space to judge the sound of the room.
- Microphone technique. There are lots of types of microphones and depending on what you are using, you may want to modify what you do. Basically, the closer you get to the microphone the louder the signal will be and there will also be added bass frequencies know as the ‘Proximity Effect’. Trouble is, if you get too close you can get plosives and wind noise which is the mark of the amateur. The best thing to do is use a pop filter between you and the mic. There should be an inch or two between the mic and the pop filter and 4-8 inches between the pop filter and you. I’ve had several over the years and the Steadman ProScreen has worked best for me. If you are out in the field and don’t have a pop filter, try moving the mic back a little or even pointing the mic just slightly off axis from the speaker’s mouth.
- Watch your microphone gain setting. Chances are the weak link in your system is a low cost microphone pre-amplifier. The trouble with these tends to be low quality of electronic components that are prone to distort and become chalky sounding, especially at higher gain settings. Here’s a pro tip, don’t turn it up all the way, even if your level is a little low. My experience tells me to turn up the gain no higher than 3/4 of the turn of the dial. That last 25% of the dial tends to put an inexpensive amplifier in the danger zone. Remember, you can always ‘gain up’ the level with out messing up the sound in post-production.
I’ll cover gain staging and equalization to help smooth out the differences between audio files in my next segment. Stay tuned! If you have any specific questions hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org