Tips On Minimizing Sound When Recording Your Podcast.
Is that a cat I hear?
Close the door and the windows and just listen.
What do you hear?
Traffic going by? A leaf blower somewhere? Your heater and air conditioner? The hum of the refrigerator?
Most of us don’t pay any attention to this background noise. My wife and I used to live a block and a half from a railroad crossing, and when friends would come over, they always said the same thing, “How can you stand that?”
We had become used to it, and only noticed it when someone pointed it out. People who live near airports say the same thing. Or who live near freeways and construction sites.
But your microphone picks up ALL of that sound, and if it’s in your podcast, people will hear it, and they WON’T be used to it. It can be jarring.
My point is you should do your best to minimize what you can.
First, there is a way to check if this might be affecting your podcast.
Turn on the mics, start recording, and leave the room for 30 seconds. When you come back, listen to the recording. You might be surprised by what you hear. And chances are if you can hear it, so can your audience.
What can extraneous sound do to your show?
Have you ever found yourself immersed in a good book, then you suddenly come across a typo? I bet it pulled you out of the story, right?
This is what happens when a truck goes by. You may be so engrossed in your conversation that you don’t even hear it, but your listeners probably do. If it’s loud enough to affect hearing the conversation, your audience can just go back 10 seconds and no big deal, but if it happens too often, people will start to get annoyed.
But my living room is the only place we can record!
At this point in podcasting, people have become accustomed to these kinds of sounds. We can tell when you’re recording in your house, and for the most part, it doesn’t matter. Big time shows are different though. From those we expect pristine audio and we get it because they’re likely in a studio.
If you don’t have a space covered in soundproofing, that’s okay, but at least let’s examine ways you can minimize background noise.
First, listen to the 30 seconds you recorded so you know which sounds you’re dealing with.
Close doors, close windows. Close curtains and blinds, they absorb more sound than you think and can cut down the traffic noise.
If you can do without the air conditioning or heater for an hour, turn them off.
Analog clocks? I had already recorded a few shows before someone pointed out they could hear a clock ticking the entire time. It turns out there was a clock just five feet from me, and I was so used to it I didn’t hear it at playback. The next episode I moved it.
Get away from the noise.
Move everyone as far away from windows as you can. Set up the mics in the middle of the room. Double check if the fan on your computer is running, and if so, move it away from your mic as well.
Are they capable of being quiet for an hour? My wife works from home, and any time she tries to take a phone call or go on a zoom meeting, the cat screams for attention. Her co-workers often laugh, they’re all used to it. But what should you do while you’re recording? The best thing is to actually acknowledge it. As long as we’re aware that you’re aware, as an audience we’ll be okay if you just continue. Even better, make it a running joke on the show. That’s the type of little thing that can endear you to listeners.
You could try hanging moving blankets. They’re relatively affordable, and I use curtain tension rods and workshop clamps that can easily be put up and taken down.
Mic technique matters. Try to keep your mouth about 6–10 inches from the mic. If you’re too far back, you might be inclined to turn up the gain on your mics, and that will also enhance the unwanted room noise. Find a balance.
Try not to overthink it. You’ll never be able to eliminate all sound. Even pros with home studios fight the sound battle. Just be aware of the biggest offenders, and do your best to minimize what you can.
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