So your content is great, but what about your sound? In episode 9 of On the Mic, Host Lindsay Boyd, and Editor Freddy Trejo discuss the importance of ensuring the proper equipment and setup when launching your podcast and ways to improve your listeners experience.

Be sure to subscribe to the "On the Mic with Ad Results Media" podcast through iTunes.  It's a podcast about the business of podcasting and audio advertising.  We aim to educate, enlighten and push the industry forward.

Podcast Transcript

It can be easy to take the sound around us for granted movies capture us in the action and are usually perfectly mixed. Our nightly meditation apps lawless into a place of peace and Zen and our Podcast delight thrill and educate us while being pleasant in clear to listen to it. And when things go wrong in today's episode of On the Mic, our Editor, Freddy Trejo joins me as we discuss the importance of sound quality and the steps you can take to improve your listeners experience through your surroundings and Equipment setup. So let's get stuck. That's a great thing about Sam's dot com. They grow with you as much fun as I had a clinic, wait to get back to my sleep number bed.

I love my third love bras. They're hands down the most comfortable bras I've ever owned. I love making blue apron and I love it. It's my me time. Freddy, Thank you for joining us in front of the Mic this time. I know that you spend a lot of time in the studio with Nathan and myself and our guests, but this is your, your first foray On the actual Mic. Yeah, I'm actually in front of it. I guess it's really a, it's a very different feeling. Usually I'm here sitting in this dark room by myself, editing those voices and now I have to do it for my voice. So I'm going to hate that process.

(1m 26s):
Well, why don't you start off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself? So I have been in the world of music for a long time. When I was in high school, I was in the orchestra. I was in the band and I did a lot of my own recordings and I tried to make it big, like most people do, but out of that whole experience, I learned that I really love editing and I really love creating things. Even helping people create things I put in more effort of creating films, recording people for tryouts or anything like that. So mixing editing became more of like a, you know, a passion. Nice. It's funny where we find the things that we like. You're not the only person I've also experienced kind of jumping into one thing, expecting that to be like my main focus, my passion, you know, acting was one of them and then transitioning into directing.

(2m 17s):
I just learned through that whole process that I really enjoy being behind the scenes a little more. Yeah. There's, there's something about being behind the scenes where you create things and yeah, maybe a lot of people won't see it, but you know that you, you can sit there. And like I did that. I helped make that it might not be up in front of everyone, but without me, it would probably wouldn't have been possible. And it's, it's a really cool feeling to have one of the things that I really love about Audio editing and creating is that I get to sit here and listen to you guys through these headphones. And it's so great. But what do think is the most important thing when we're recording? Do you think that the quality is important? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Quality of sound is super important. I think it's something that a lot of people take for granted.

(2m 57s):
You don't realize, you know, when you jump in and or I didn't the, the work that goes into it and the consideration that needs to go into your surroundings, you know, some things that people don't think about are like background noise, microphone, quality, and of course, editing, you really want your listeners to be able to enjoy your podcast content or your storytelling or your radio show or whatever it is that you're working on free from that distraction that could pull them out of the overall experience. So there are certain things to keep in mind when setting up your own kind of recording space. And I think the first place to kind of start is with your surroundings.

(3m 38s):
So a lot of people don't realize how sensitive most microphones can be and they can pick up basically any background noise. You don't pay attention to. Absolutely. You forget that your air conditioner is running or that your children are playing outside or cars running by or dogs barking. These are all background noises that we just kind of become accustomed to in our daily lives. But if you are recording, say in a home studio, mini mikes, we'll pick that up. As I tried to illustrate In the previous episode, by showing the different kinds of mikes that I've used in the past, I once actually had to rerecord an entire story that I had narrated for the whispers and the night Podcast, because my dog had walked across my hardwood floors right outside my bedroom door.

(4m 29s):
I didn't think about it because I was used to the tip tapping of their toenails, but my Mic picked up everything. So I lost 30 minutes worth of content that I had to go back and rerecord, I totally can relate to that because there'll be times I'll be sitting here editing or I'll be editing something. I'll sit there and be like, Oh, this is really what does that? No, isn't the background. When you listen to your life, that's a, that's a fly that landed On the Mic. Y Y it's small things that you just don't notice. And sometimes it just passes by and you're like, Oh, cool. That was the truck. Didn't realize that until now. And now you're back again, rerecording, what may have been a perfect take. So kind of keeping your surroundings in mind is very important. It's a really great place to start.

(5m 11s):
I'm not saying don't set up a home studio. I really think that they're great for the beginner and even more seasoned podcasters. You just need to be able to approach it thoughtfully. Obviously, recording studios are ideal for most recording situations. They've been soundproofed and equipped with dampening panels to reduce and dampen reverb, which if you don't know, reverb occurs when a sound hits a hard surface and is reflected back to the listener for many podcasters, just starting out, recording in a studio may not be the most practical or cost effective solution, but there are elements in your own home studio that you can control. So things like carpet that can dampen reverb, it can also dampen other sounds as well.

(5m 53s):
Like I mentioned dogs walking by on hardwood floors. So if you are recording in home, consider moving into a small carpeted area, such as a closet. I know that that sounds a little goofy, but the more enclosed the area is the more dampening you'll experience with your sound. So a closet really is ideal And it has all those clothes. I will absorb the sound too. So you won't have this revert like you were talking about earlier off the walls, that makes sense. The clothes hanging in your closet can also help. Is it a dampening? It's always one of those funny things you see in shows or movies where the guy will be inside his closet, recording something like this is a recording studio is like, that's a closet.

(6m 32s):
Yup. I mean, it works. It absolutely works in a pinch. So just kind of keeping that in mind, you want to be sure to avoid areas with high vaulted ceilings, wood, or tile floors, all of that big open space and hard surfaces that can bounce sound back to you. Now, if you are deciding to record, you know, in a bedroom or maybe in a living room, you can consider adding blackout curtains to your windows that will help not only dampen your reverb inside, but we'll hopefully dampen some of that outside sound that could be affecting your recording. And that makes sense of there. Blackening corns is a little more, they're a little thicker absorbs more. Yeah.

(7m 12s):
And if you don't have carpet area rugs and being sure that you Ad carpet padding under those rugs can help a lot as well. You can also add upholstered furniture to your recording area. So a couch or a large chair, and those will help catch those extra sounds. Also throw pillows and bean bag. So you're telling me refurnish my whole house to make it into the studio. Yes. Perfect. Absolutely go shopping, pick up a new couch. The more plush, the better. Just write it off as an expense. Yeah. This is for my studio. Nice couch and the stroke pillows for my studio. So those are some of the steps that you can take to utilize the items in your home to create an area that is more conducive to recording.

(7m 52s):
If you are at the level where you're ready to kind of up your game, you can buy acoustic panels or egg crates. A lot of these are available on Amazon. When I first started out, I actually Googled cheap sound dampening, and I found several options for as little as $20. So it's not super expensive to get it going, but hanging them on the walls can cause some damage. So, you know, it's just something to kind of keep in mind. You can also purchase larger acoustic panels, but that option does get pretty expensive and they're often sold individually. So you may look at the prices and upfront think like, Oh yeah, this is totally cost effective.

(8m 34s):
But as you add more and more to your cart, it really does add up here at Ad Results. We actually equipped our studio with sound dampening panels that I purchased in a room kit, but that did run me about $800. That's once again, probably not the most cost-effective option for folks who are just starting out or, you know, people who this is kind of something that they do on the side, right? If it is an investment that you're interested in, I can guarantee you that it makes a world of difference. So recently when we interviewed Andrea Schwartzbach and Marshall Williams here in the studio, I did a video recording of that interview and I was able to pull the audio directly off of my DSLR camera.

(9m 20s):
And it sounded just about as good as the audio that we captured from our, our live mix. I was shocked. And I know that a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have put in the sound dampening and soundproofing panels here in the studio. Now, as I mentioned, just a moment ago, if you don't want to have fixed panels to your walls due to the, you know, any potential damage or maybe your strapped for space, you can actually buy isolation shields for your microphone. Those once again, you can find on Amazon or you can actually get them to guitar center as well. And I've seen them for as low as $30.

(10m 1s):
What isolation shields do is they wrap around your microphone and they create a smaller sound dampening area that you can just speak directly into. And that way you're not having to basically rearrange your entire room or your closet. Now, you mentioned it earlier about when we recorded Marshall and Andrea for the interview, you heard the DSLR audio. So you're saying I can use my DSLR to record my podcasts, or should I go in by myself when you're Mic? I wouldn't. I think that the microphone on your camera could produce decent secondary audio as a backup if you needed it for anything, especially if you are running video in tandem with your Podcast, but I don't necessarily recommend it.

(10m 50s):
You know, everybody's situation is a little bit different, so they need to keep that in mind when deciding what type of Mike's they want to buy. There are a couple of things to consider when thinking about what Mike is appropriate for your situation, just to kind of start off different types of mikes have different polarities, right? So they record differently. And there are three main types which are cardioid Omni and figure rate. So a cardioid Mic is a uni directional mic, and you can think of it as a, like a fan, right?

(11m 32s):
And from the front of your mic is going to pick up whatever sound falls in that fans space. So everything directly in front of it will be picked up. But if your speaking behind the Mic, or even to the sides, that sound is going to be missed. Now, if you're looking for something tighter, you can get a super cardioid Mic, which has a tighter fan area it's more narrow. Yes. Yes. So if you are maybe recording in a bedroom or a small apartment where you do have a lot of surrounding sounds such as neighbors, upstairs, neighbors on either side of you cars, driving by as super cardioid Mic might be better for your situation.

(12m 24s):
I also mentioned the omni-directional. So for those, imagine a globe, okay. Surrounding your mic and whatever sound falls into that globe will be recorded. So that's good. If you're in a group setting, maybe your interviewing multiple people that need to sit around the Mic and record, or you're just jamming with friends. Yes. I know that one. So, so the idea is having that, that Omni directional Mic has to be, Hey, it could also be pretty good for people who are on a budget and say, we're just going to buy one Mic. Exactly. Yeah.

(13m 4s):
So if you have multiple hosts maybe, and you are just starting out and you are on a budget, omni-directional is probably the way that you would want to go. Awesome. And then the last type is your figure eight or your bi-directional Mic In. And that one really operates exactly as it sounds. So, imagine your, your Mic head is the center of your figure eight. So everything that is presented in front of and behind the Mic will be recorded and captured, but anything on the sides will be lost. So once again, for your interviews, you can have one person on either side, it's a good one-to-one interview Mic.

(13m 47s):
Or if you just have two hosts that will be recording in the same room together, that's another option for, for those two. So that's just the tip of the iceberg. As far as the types of mikes, there are also three major categories to keep in mind when choosing your mic. And the one that most people are going to be familiar with is your dynamic microphone as a musician. I'm sure you have lots of experience with it. My dynamic Mic that I use all the time is my hairbrush. Is this the iconic one, right? That every singer uses. Yeah. Yes. Every, every singer that you see on stage is most likely using that dynamic microphone. You've got your kind of black rounded head and usually like a silver cylindrical body, sometimes black, you know, depending on the brand, but everyone has seen a dynamic Mic at some point in their life.

(14m 34s):
Now these are incredibly popular. They're very durable. So they're ideal for live performances. They can take a beating. They're also not quite as sensitive as the other two categories that we'll go into. So they're great at handling loud noises. They are ideal snare drums. If you are needing to record any kind of Foley, they could be very useful in that situation also because of their insensitivity. They're very versatile and can be used in various studio situations. Now the majority of dynamic mindset you come across are omnidirectional. So they're perfect for home studios. You can point the Mic away from the areas of your room with the most reverb. So you're able to better compensate for having to record in a living room or a bedroom closet.

(15m 18s):
So they're ideal for that, but not so ideal for interviews or podcasters who may be on a budget and have multiple hosts and might need to record just using one Mic for that. You would probably want to consider a condenser Mic. Unfortunately, they are a little more fragile than dynamics and therefore more expensive, but they're perfect for studio use. They're also great for picking up softer sounds such as speaking of voices do to their sensitivity. So while condensers can't be used on as many sound sources, once again, due to their sensitivity, not a great option, if your, you know, gonna place it in front of like a snare drum or a drum kit, You might just damage the Mic.

(16m 2s):
Exactly Whatever sound they do pick up actually sounds less muffled than they would. If you were using a dynamic Mic, it creates a much more clear and robust sound. Also, the great thing about condensed your mics is that many of them have the option to change their pattern type between uni directional bi-directional or figure rate and your omni-directional. So while they might be a little more expensive upfront, most podcasters would probably find that it is the better option for them, especially if they are doing interviews or having guests, or have more than one Host.

(16m 43s):
And they really do need something that they can just all use all at once. That condensed your mic is great because you can just flip flop between the recording patterns. So this third category of microphone is one that I've never personally used, but you might have, are you familiar with ribbon mikes Or those are the mikes that Elvis used to use when he was doing Music. I was thinking Elvis 100%. Oh man, those are the, every gig you want that when you're like, I want that one. I'm going to look cool. That's the one I want to sing at. Even if Our listeners have never personally encountered a ribbon Mic, they will absolutely be familiar with them.

(17m 27s):
If they have ever watched a live performance by Elvis or, or really any performer from the fifties or sixties, it is a very iconic style. And it's very expensive. Yes. But I'm going to test you. They're very expensive. They are normally bi-directional mikes. They're incredibly sensitive. And honestly, unless you're looking for a very specific type of retro sound, I really wouldn't concern myself too much with, with trying to acquire one. They're very good for a string recordings, especially for like orchestras or violin pieces or even, you know, very soft like Harper piano pieces.

(18m 10s):
And as I mentioned, they, they create a very specific vintage sound, most podcasters aren't looking for that, but if you're going for like an old style, like radio play, it could be something to to think about. But nine times out of 10, you're really not going you're you're not going to need one. Yeah. Those are the sort of, for a very specific niche of, of people who want that. Right. Absolutely. Okay. So we've talked about it, all of these mikes, but which one do you use, do you personally use? Because I know in the last episode you talked about how you did a voiceovers and we're part of the Podcast as well. Yeah. Yes. So in my spare time, I do do theater as well as voiceover acting personally, I'm a big fan of any of the shore mics.

(18m 58s):
The SM seven B is actually a staple for most studios. And it is the type of Mic that we use here at Ad Results. I highly recommend them. However, they can be pricier. If you are looking to start off in the Podcasting Business, I would honestly consider starting off with a blue Yeti. It is a condenser mic and it is USB, very simple setup, plug In, go, and you can usually snag them for under $150. Amazon puts them on sale all the time. I've seen them for as low as like 85. Now, not only does it's USB option offer you the ability to just plug and go. You can switch between uni Omni and bi-directional recording patterns, which is for the price, I think is absolutely the way to go.

(19m 44s):
Now, there are a few more essentials that I would consider. I know that we've spent a good portion of time talking about your surroundings and your microphones, but your sound doesn't just stop there. Don't skimp on your pop filters. You don't realize how important they are until you listen to your first recording. So for our listeners who don't know, pop filters are created from a mesh like material and they fit in front of your microphone and they're created to capture your hard consonants. So your peas, your case, your T's, anything that creates that kind of harsh puff of sound towards the microphone. Now, if you are choosing to use the dynamic microphone, you could probably get away with not using a pop filter, do to their insensitivity, but honestly, you really can't go wrong with having one, no matter what type of Mic you choose after pop filters, Freddy, you're probably more familiar with this than I am, but quality cable.

(20m 43s):
Yes. You want to have a cable that is good to save. You get a Chibi cable. It works maybe for the first day, maybe the second day, but you're probably going to have some interference because some cables that are on the cheaper end, won't be wired correctly. Exactly right. They can produce their own sound popping. And hissing is pretty commonplace with your cheaper cables. Also your just going to have to replace them more often last, but certainly not least. And possibly what I consider to be the most important piece of equipment that you can. Okay, here we go. Headphones really headphones. That, that sounds funny. And I know that a lot of people will kind of question my judgment on this one, but, but hear me out.

(21m 26s):
How many people have you met, who have recorded themselves and have listened to a recording of themselves? How many have come away from that saying, Oh yeah, that's totally what I sound like. No one, no one everyone comes back and their immediate responses. That's great. I mean, I've said that multiple times, You have, I have Nathan has, but the thing is you do sound like that. And what the headphones do is they give you a very clear unadulterated version of your voice. It is what you hear from me as we stand on opposite sides of this table, recording this episode. So what you're hearing on the daily, as you talk to others is you hear your voice through your cheekbones and through your sinuses.

(22m 12s):
So your voice is altered slightly due to whatever's going on inside your head. And basically, you know, if you have allergies, if you're not feeling very well, your voice is being affected as it travels through your sinuses, your cheekbones and into your ears. So naturally you will sound different to yourself. Then you sound to those around you. So headphones are very important. Also your brain is really great at self-regulating down to the millisecond. So as you are recording, and as you're listening to yourself, record, your brain will course correct. Whenever it hears anything kind of funky. So maybe a funny pronunciation of a word or your P's and your caves are maybe coming out a little too hard.

(22m 57s):
You're able to course correct because your brain is hearing that outside of just you speaking the words it's taking in the information and it's fixing it down to the millisecond, honestly self-regulation could save your podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe for updates on future episodes and leave us a comment with your feedback, questions, or ideas for future segments. Please join us next time. As we discuss the second element to produce and quality sound by focusing on tone and direction, if you would like more info on Ad Results Media and what we do, please visit our website at Ad Results. Media dot com. This podcast was written by Lindsay Boyd with sound mixing and editing by Freddy Trejo.

(23m 38s):
This podcast is an Ad Results, Media production.