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How to Get Better Audio For Your Podcast or Videos

Jul 20, 2023 | Online Strategy, Podcast

Future Steps Creative Podcast – Episode #74:

View or listen below:


In this episode of Future Steps Creative, I’m covering how to get better audio in your videos or podcast.
There’s nothing worse than having to put up with poor-quality audio in podcast episodes or videos s this can be very distracting to the audience and doesn’t provide a great experience.

I’ll share with you some of my top tips to improve your audio straightaway.

►Free Podcast Starter Guide:

Key Points and Takeaways

**This may have been autogenerated and may not be 100% accurate or grammatically correct.

[00:02:32] Optimal recording environment: quiet, echo-free, well-furnished.

[00:03:54] Choose the right microphone for home recording.

[00:08:17] Enhancing recording quality requires pre-production effort.

[00:10:37] Balance audio levels to avoid annoying listeners.

[00:16:32] Use compression sparingly for better audio. Better audio leads to longer viewer/listener engagement. For podcasting, check out my free guide.

[00:17:56] Please like, review, and reach out, thanks!

View Transcript

*This may have been autogenerated and may not be 100% accurate or grammatically correct.

Marlon McPherson [00:00:00]:

Welcome back to another episode of Feature Steps Creative, the podcast that talks about strategies or tips for your online content, especially with your podcast or your online videos, as well as your website so you can attract and convert your ideal customer or client. This episode is going to be focused on how to improve or get better quality audio in your videos or your podcast. I’m going to be talking about it from the position of doing a video because you can translate that back to just doing audio only. And that is how I record my podcast primarily. I do it as a video. I’m a video first content creator, and I can always take out that audio and use it for my podcast, which is exactly what I do. So it will apply either way. But I’ll talk in the context of videos primarily in this episode.

Marlon McPherson [00:00:57]:

So if this is something that you’re looking to improve, you’re in the right place right now, because gone are the days when people are going to tolerate bad quality audio. You want to make sure that you step up your production quality as far as the audio is concerned, because I’ve said this before and you’ve probably heard it before as well. If someone’s watching a video and the quality of the visuals isn’t that great, but the audio is pristine or it sounds really good, then they’ll stick around. They’re more likely to stick around. But if the video is pristine and the audio is bad, they’re not going to stick around. It’s not going to be a good listening experience, and you want to make sure you provide that. So coming up, I’m going to share that with you, some of my tips and strategies around that. Hey.

Marlon McPherson [00:01:43]:

My name is Marlon. If you’re new here, welcome to my content. And as I’ve said, I’m going to talk about how you can improve your audio for your videos or your podcast. Now, I’m going to talk about two areas or two aspects to this. And within those two areas, I’m going to give you some tips that you can actually apply immediately to help you improve tremendously what you’re getting already if you’re not getting really good audio. So I’m going to talk about one, the recording environment, which is really important. So this is before you even start recording, you need to consider the recording environment or your setup. And then the second aspect is the post production side of it, which is going to concentrate on what you can do after you’ve recorded to improve the quality of your audio.

Marlon McPherson [00:02:32]:

So let’s start with the recording environment or your setup. The first thing you want to do is to make sure that you’re in a quiet space. You don’t want to be in an environment where you have loads of people talking. There’s lots of background noises going on, like, I don’t know, traffic, if you’re near a road or if you have a window open while someone’s cutting the grass and you can hear that lawn mower coming through. This is not optimal for recording because people are going to hear that background noise and it’s going to be really distracted and take away from what you’re trying to present, right? So you want to start with having a quiet room or space that you can record in and also have a space that is not going to be too echoey. So if your room is really empty, you’re going to pick up a lot more of the reflections off the walls when you actually talk, because the mic signal is going to well, your voice is going to bounce off the wall, go into the mic, and then it’s hearing you directly in front of the mic as well. And it just creates that echo, which is kind of hard to listen to. So if you have a room that has things inside it, furnishing, so on and so forth, it does help with deadening the sound.

Marlon McPherson [00:03:54]:

Now that takes me to my second point with the recording environment and that is actually to choose the right microphone to record with, you have to have appropriate mics for the situation, right? So a lot of people might end up thinking, okay, I’ll just use one mic for whatever my scenario is. But a mic is like a tool and different versions of mics or different types of mics are like different tools that you can choose depending on the setup. So what I recommend is that for most of you who are most people who are not actually recording in a sound treated room, meaning that you’re not in a recording studio, you’re not in a room that has foam. Around it or acoustic panels and things like that that you’d find inside a recording space that is professional to deaden the sound or stop reflections. You want to make sure you choose a mic that is appropriate for a home setup. And the best type of mic, I would say for recording a video or a podcast is a dynamic mic. This is the type of mic I’m using right now where it actually requires you to be pretty close to the mic. It’s not as sensitive as a condenser mic, which is the other type of mic if you’re watching the video.

Marlon McPherson [00:05:14]:

Now, I’ve got a condenser mic just to the side of my shot here. This is a lot more sensitive and it picks up every little sound, especially all around a room and further away from the mic. With a dynamic mic, you actually need to be up close to actually get that best quality. If you’re too far away from it, like I’m leaning back, it drops off significantly so you’re less likely to hear that background noise. So choosing the right mic for the right situation is where you need to go. Now if you are thinking to yourself, you know what, I don’t want the mic in the shot. It’s going to be difficult because your choices are going to be limited. Your mic needs to be within a fist or so away from your mouth to get that optimal audio quality.

Marlon McPherson [00:06:01]:

You can always get what’s called a shotgun mic, which is those long, narrow mics. I don’t have my shotgun mic with me right now inside the room, but you can actually put it on a boom arm and have it come down. It’s kind of those mics that you see in films where the sound person is holding that long pole with that long narrow mic on it. That’s a shotgun mic. It’s very directional and it can be slightly outside the shot and no one would actually know that it’s there because they can’t see it. But it’s near enough. It kind of zooms in in a way and picks up the sound much better. It’s actually kind of like a condenser mic, but it’s designed to be more directional.

Marlon McPherson [00:06:44]:

So that’s another option. But even with that, when I do record, I’ve recorded my podcast episode using my shotgun mic. I actually have it within a few inches of my mouth. I just turn down the gain or the sensitivity so that it doesn’t sound distorted. And the lower you can turn the volume down, the gain down, the less likely you are to pick up sounds that’s further away. And then when you’re closer you are, the source is going to pick you up more than the noise in the background. The other thing that I wanted to mention, which I’ve actually spoken about, is the mic positioning. So as you probably can tell, I am very close to this mic right now.

Marlon McPherson [00:07:27]:

And I’m just reiterating what I’ve mentioned. I’ve kind of gone ahead of myself just now. Yeah, it’s to just have the mic close, as close as possible to you and make sure that you adjust the levels so that you’re getting you as the source as the main thing the mic is picking up and less of any background noise. Now, as I was recording this, they’ve stopped now, but there was someone cutting grass using a lawn mower outside the house and I can hear it. I could hear it, but I suspect you could not hear it because I’m very close to this mic and this is a dynamic mic. And that just goes to show how that works. Okay, so that’s it for the recording environment. That’s pretty much the tips that you can follow to make sure that you’re getting the optimal set up before you even start recording.

Marlon McPherson [00:08:17]:

So then you don’t have much to do when it goes to post production, which is what I’m going to talk about now. So in post production, the things you can do is going to be centered around enhancing the recording that’s already been done. So a lot of people take the approach of, yeah, I’m just going to fix it in post. No, do not take the lazy approach and say, oh, I’m not going to concentrate on doing the things that I need to do in my recording environment because I can always fix it in post. If you have any experience with editing video or editing audio, you’ll know that it’s a nightmare to actually get rid of things that’s in the shot that’s not supposed to be or in the recording of the audio that’s not supposed to be there. And if you do get rid of those things, it’s going to degrade the overall audio quality to a point where it’s terrible because there’s software that can actually help you edit things out and isolate certain types of sounds and certain types of frequencies. This is very advanced and it’s not something that I personally even try to get into because it’s just not worth the squeeze. So I don’t get myself in a situation where I have to be correcting things in post.

Marlon McPherson [00:09:35]:

I would just want an easy, smooth ride so I get things right as much as possible in the setup in the recording environment, as I’ve mentioned to you. So either way, there are things you can do to improve the audio quality in post that’s after you record and now you’re doing the post production. So I’m going to give you three things here that you need to look at. So first of all, this is one of my pet peeves. When I listen to even TV programs or things on the radio that should be really professionally produced, this is audio balancing. They’re not getting the balancing right with clips. So take for example, you’re watching or listening to a program and they go to an ad break and the ad is significantly louder. Or if in that same program they have two clips or multiple clips going on, like from different scenes, you might have one person speaking in one scene and then somebody else speaking in another scene and the volume levels are not matched, they’re not balanced.

Marlon McPherson [00:10:37]:

So you will have like a dramatic rise in the volume and then you have the other person sounding super quiet and so on. This is what they need to do. They need to mix the audio and balance those out so that you don’t have to keep the listener doesn’t have to keep turning up and down their volume levels. I remember my mom used to say to me, oh, why is the TV so loud? And it’s just at that point when the ads come in that she realizes that she notices that the TV is loud, but it’s not that you’ve turned it up, it’s just a matter of the programming that they had going on before the level was a lot lower and then the ads are super loud. So make sure that you’re not annoying your listener by having inconsistencies in your audio. So all you got to do is listen back to it and watch your audio meters inside the program that you’re using to edit, you should have these wave meters that tell you, or even if you look at the waveforms, pretty much all editors that you can use will give you some sort of a waveform indicator. If one clip looks like way higher just visually than the other, you know that there’s going to be an inconsistency and you’ll be able to hear it. So just use your ears, use your eyes to balance things out.

Marlon McPherson [00:11:54]:

And it comes with practice as well. You won’t necessarily get it 100% right all the time, but at least within a certain range it should be acceptable. The next thing you want to do is apply some noise reduction. So most editing tools now have noise suppression or noise reduction built in. So you should be able to apply this. And what this does is it gets rid of some background noises or some ambient noises. Every single mic, especially cheaper ones anyway, will have some sort of hiss or noise that comes through even when you’re not actually talking or anything’s going on. It will just pick up this lower level noise that’s just to do with the circuitry.

Marlon McPherson [00:12:40]:

The electronics that’s built in more expensive mics will have very little, sometimes even none. But regular mics, as in cheaper mics and stuff like that, that most content creators or people will be able to get hold of, will have some level of noise. So again, you might want to invest in a better mic if you have a super noisy mic, but noise suppression or noise reduction effects should be able to help you or the option in your tool, the feature, I should say. So just look for that and use it sparingly. Because if you overuse it, then you’re going to find that your audio is going to start sounding robotic and so on, right? So if you can adjust the levels of it, just do it subtly to the point where it’s comfortable for you to listen to and still have good quality sounding audio. And then the last thing I want to mention is to have EQ and compression applied. EQ is for short, for equalization. So equalization is where you adjust frequencies.

Marlon McPherson [00:13:43]:

So if you think about it, as you have the highs, mids and the lows, you might just have those three controls or you might just have a bass and a treble, or you might have multiple frequencies, like five or more frequencies that you can adjust in some equalizers, right? Again, a lot of tools have this built in, so you can actually adjust a lot of things. So what I tend to do is drop off the bass frequencies a lot on my speech because you don’t need that for just dialogue, right? You don’t need a lot of that bass bassy sound. You can have a bit to balance out the sound, but just having that bottom end rumble can actually introduce a lot more frequencies that you don’t need and say you bump the mic or you move something, it can get picked up and it’s quite irritating. The same goes for the top end of things. So the highs, as in the treble end of it, if you turn up the highs too much, the high frequencies, it can be quite irritating to the ear. So like the s sounds and things like that can be a bit harsh. So try and use it sparingly. It’s like seasoning, right? You don’t want to add too much salt or too much pepper, otherwise you ruin the food.

Marlon McPherson [00:14:57]:

So that’s what equalization is. It’s just to sweeten the sound a little bit. So if you find that you need it, just add it to your mic, to your recording. It’s going to depend on your mic and depend on your voice. No two combinations, no one setting is going to be good for everyone. Everyone’s got a different voice frequency range, everyone’s got a different mic and the way they sound on a particular mic is going to be different. So you need to adjust based on the recording. Compression is a term that relates to basically squashing down the peaks in the audio and bringing up the lows.

Marlon McPherson [00:15:33]:

So if you have a fluctuation, a lot of peaks and valleys in the waveform when you do your recording like someone speaking super quiet, like I am now, and then I raise my voice a little bit. You’re going to have a higher peak when I raise my voice and a much lower peak, or a much lower waveform, I should say, because that’s like a trophy or a valley. When you lower your voice, that’s just natural. What compression does is it allows the sound to get balanced out a bit more just for that particular clip. So it squashes down that peak and brings up the levels of the lower one so it sounds more consistency consistently or it sounds more consistent. So what happens is that it gives you that kind of a broadcasty sound because they use this in TV and radio a lot, especially on radio. So if you overuse it though, it might sound a bit too broadcasty and unnatural. So again, it just depends on personal preference.

Marlon McPherson [00:16:32]:

I tend to use a bit of compression because I like the way it sounds on my voice and I kind of sometimes talk a bit quieter and then I go up in tone and so on. So it just depends, right? So use those sparingly and you should start getting better sounding audio. All of this is going to translate to people watching your videos for longer or listening to your podcast for longer because they’ll have a much more pleasant listening and viewing experience. And this is what you want, ultimately, you want them to not think about anything else apart from the content that you’re delivering and the value that you’re bringing to the table. If you have distractions, it’s just going to take away from the quality of what you’re doing and you want to retain the attention of whoever is viewing or listening to your podcast or watching your videos. Now, if you want to start a podcast, I have a free guide that I’ve put together called the Podcast Starter Guide, and you can get that over on my website. By heading to Marlonmcpherson.com/podcastarterguide, you’ll be able to just drop your email, I’ll send it across to you, and I’ll share with you the exact steps that you can use to start a podcast and that should get you going. I share some additional resources in there as well that would be super helpful to you.

Marlon McPherson [00:17:56]:

So go ahead and grab that if you’re looking to start your podcast. If you find this helpful, go ahead and hit a like if you’re watching on YouTube. If you’re listening in the podcast app, whichever app you’re in, feel free to leave me a five star review over there as well, and you can reach out to me on my website if you have any comments that you want to make or send me. Obviously you can leave them in the YouTube video as well. Thank you for listening and go ahead and check out another piece of my content, either linked on screen or in the description, and I’ll speak to you in the next one.

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