Perhaps you are creating a course or podcast that you know is dynamite and will greatly benefit others.
You are ready to take action–except you don’t know where in the world to start with audio production. Let's cover some basics.
Speak to your audience like you would a friend. If you want them to keep coming back to your show, you want everyone to feel welcome in your little audio-world.
Record yourself and play it back, or better yet, share your recording with someone you trust. You don’t want to turn off your audience because something about your voice is unpleasant.
Keep this in mind:
If you are certain that podcasting and audio recording is going to be a regular commitment for you, invest in a good microphone.
There are many to choose from, so do some research and talk with other knowledgeable people in the industry. These are XLR microphones and will require an amplifier and/or audio interface to work with your computer. Below is a small list of some tried and true standards in the industry.
However, if you aren’t sure that podcasting is going to be for the longterm–don’t spend those big dollars. Most of these listed below are USB microphones.
This means you plug them right into your computer. No preamp needed. You won’t sound as pristine, but you won’t break the bank either. Check out my top 10 list of USB mics.
• Samson Meteorite
• Samson Meteor Mic
• Blue Snowball
• Blue Yeti
• Audio-Technica: AT2020USB * AT2005USB * ATR2100USB
• Apogee MiC 96k
Pro Tip: Normally, in the world of voiceover and audio production, the talent/artist would try out many different microphones–known as a mic shootout, this determines which mic brings out the desired quality in their voice-you know, the sound most appealing that will make them money.
You would also want to test a microphone with the amplifier you would be purchasing or using, because the pairing of the two can greatly alter the sound of the vocals.
No matter what microphone you chose, it is always wise imperative to use a pop-filter and if necessary a windscreen–especially if you are always popping consonants (plosives).
Shock mounts and Boom Arms: You should have both of these, if your microphone body permits. This is essential to your set up and a key part of having a good sound.
Try to find a boom arm that isn’t too noisy (springless really is the best). If not, grease wherever it squeaks. Once your microphone is in place, leave it the hell alone and record.
The general rule of thumb is anywhere from 4-8 inches. There are many factors that can negate the rule. It depends on the microphone, the placement and how well you project your voice.
The best thing to do is to record yourself speaking a sentence or two in the normal speaking range of your voice. Play it back, listen to your tone and inflections. See what works best for you.
• Place your microphone above your mouth and slightly-off-axis. Less plosives and unwanted sibilance cut down on editing time, and you sound professional. Nobody wants to listen to a beat-boxing snake.
• Sit Close to the microphone and Sit Quietly. Getting centered and keeping good posture helps you focus and cuts down on excessive noise.
• Turn down the gain to cut down on background noise and record in a quiet space. If you have to, use your closet.
• If background noise is an issue, try building a soft portable box insulated with studio foam and place your microphone in it.
The list of good amplifiers is endless. Ideally, for a higher-quality microphone you would have a separate amplifier and interface.
To make recording easier for you, I’m going to list some reliable and fairly inexpensive amp/audio interface units.
*Remember always use a good surge suppressor and if you can afford it, get a power conditioner!
I use this one: Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner
This is a budget friendly alternative: Furman M-8X2 Merit Series 8 Outlet Power Conditioner and Surge Protector
You don’t have to make your wallet cry to have good studio headphones. The AKG K240s are my favorite. They are good for mixing and recording simple audio tracks. Here are some other inexpensive options.
• AKG K240
This is preferential and there are MANY options. As you become more experienced, you may change software. I went from using Audacity, to Adobe Audition, to iZotope Rx6 for my voiceover work. I strongly suggest you do some research to find the software you will be comfortable with.
• Pro Tools First
• Adobe Audition (monthly subscription)
• iZotope Rx6
• Pro Tools (overkill for podcasting, but it’s an option)
• Podcast Producer 2
• Logic Pro with iZotope plugin
• ePodcast Producer
Mono vs. Stereo
If you are recording a simple audio track that’s just voice record in mono. Mono simply means, ONE audio stream. If you are working with one microphone and one cable (output), go MONO. You can still add effects to the vocals and keep your file in mono. Mono files are smaller than stereo files.
Stereo is two audio streams, left and right. If you are using two microphones or two cables (outputs) then use stereo.
Buffer Size, Sample Rate, Bit Size
When I record a single track with only my voice, I use a buffer size of 256, with a sample rate of 44100 at 16bit. If you are recording voice only, this is a simple formula.
MP3, WAV, AIFF
You will almost always compress/convert the large WAV file to an MP3 format–which is smaller than a WAF or AIFF file. There are other formats, but these are the most common.
Now that you have a good foundation on using your voice, what audio to get, and how to record, it's time to get started.
If you find this information beneficial–please share it with others.
I hope this helps you out, for questions, more information and great tips visit: SoundXcape Studio
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