Since lockdown began we’ve been working with clients to ensure they can still deliver great quality content to their audiences, clients and prospective customers. The good news is that there are a myriad of ways to produce great audio in this current climate and the better news is that it’s not difficult or expensive. So today, I’ll talk you through some methods as well as sharing best practice tips for both recording and post production.
Tip #1. Choose a room with soft furnishings and use blankets rugs etc to cover hard surfaces.
Environment is just as important as equipment. You could have the best microphones in the world, but if you’re in a room with hard surfaces and bouncing sounds, your audio is going to have an echo and not be enjoyable to j m. listen to. Try find a small space to record with lots of soft furnishing to help diffuse echo - a bedroom or living room works well.
Also it helps to do simple things to reduce background noise - things like close the windows or let the other people around you know that you will be recording.
Tip #2. Ensure a strong internet connection
Many of the methods we’re about to run through require a Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts call. The quality of the audio will be reliant on a strong internet connection so if you can, position yourself close to your router. If you’re noticing a delay or lag, try turning off the video on the call.
Tip #3. Use headsets
Most people will have either a headset, or a set of headphones with an inbuilt mic. Plug these into your computer and instruct your guest to do the same. In an ideal world, use a plug in USB mic like the rode podcaster USB or the Blue Yeti. If you are going to invest in a microphone, look for a USB mic that’s designed for podcasting.
Method One - Using Audio captured from Zoom
By now, everyone is familiar with Zoom. The great thing about Zoom is that the call can be recorded and the audio can be used afterwards for your podcast. Even better - Zoom has a feature which enables you to download the audio file of each speaker individually. Now this is important because it allows us to individually treat each speaker in post-production. If there is background noise on one person's recording, it can be easily removed in post. If one person's levels are low, we can balance these in a multitrack session before mixing down the final podcast. To enable this feature, login to Zoom on a web browser, navigate to settings - record settings and check the box that says Record an audio only file.
The benefits of this method are that everyone knows how to use Zoom and as far as your guest is concerned, they show up, talk on the call and don’t have to worry about additional equipment.
Method Two - Each participant records their audio into phone or computer
While Zoom is a brilliant method, the internet connection will affect the audio. If the connection falls or the audio becomes distorted momentarily, there’s little we can do in post-production to recover it. An option that works very well is to simultaneously record an audio file on Garage Band, Adobe Audition or Audacity - which is free to download.
If your guest does not have a recording programme on their computer, ask them to plug their headset into their phone and record on any voice memo app. After the recording, the participants must all send their audio to an assigned producer who needs to do a bit of work to sync up the files and level out the sound. The pros of this method are that the audio is more reliable than Zoom, but the downside is that it takes some knowledge to correctly sync the files in post-production.
Method Three - Whatsapp Voicenotes
Our final recommendation is to use Whatsapp Voice notes stitched together.
This method works for lifestyle and comedy podcasts where the Voice Note element can add to the story. It’s a great method to interview your subject when they’re tight on time.
The benefit is that most people are comfortable with Whatsapp and familiar with voicenotes already.
Line up your audio files in a multitrack session on Audition or Garage Band. As said previously, you can amend the levels on each track individually and apply individual compressions, filtering and EQ to produce a much warmer sound. Remove and reduce rumbles, background noise and any distortion. Add your usual stings, backing tracks and sound effects.