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Author Topic: Podcasts - The New Microphone Frontier  (Read 472 times)


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Podcasts - The New Microphone Frontier
« on: October 29, 2021, 09:21:28 PM »

It’s high time to survey the burgeoning Podcast scene, now that two of my three friends have started one too.

The audio quality of many podcasts ranges from awful to barely listenable. Muffled, distant, hyper compressed... some pods hovering near AM-audio quality- a multitude of sonic sins committed in the name of getting your voice heard on the interwebs.

I have consulted with hosts of nationally-distributed podcasts. At least some of them have taken my suggestions, changed their setup and fine-tuned podcast quality and delivery.

I am sharing a few of these suggestions:

1. Clean up your mic and recording chain. Throw that plastic mic that came with your uncle’s Wollensack recorder back in the carton, and buy any of the excellent, reasonably-priced Audio Technica or entry-level Neumann condensers.
Why not an RE20 or SM57, you ask? Because lots of podcast listening is done while driving, jogging, biking, and every bit of extra detail and added mid range resolution helps against listening fatigue and fighting a noisy environment.

2. Bypass the analog audio input on your laptop with its low quality A/D and mic pre, and hook your new mic up to one of the surprisingly cheap but high-res A/D pre amps, like the Scarlett Solo (or the two-channel 2i2 if you record interviews or work with pod partners) and plug that directly into your computer’s digital input.

3. As you likely won’t have money to spend on good room acoustics, make it a habit to keep your mouth within 5 inches from the mic. Covid-era Zoom and Skype interviews have proven that there is nothing more annoying than the excessive amount of room sound from a speaker several feet away from the built-in computer mic.

4. If you have a guest or two on the pod, make use of at least a slight stereo spread, panning the speakers to, say, 11:00, 12:00 and 1:00, which still sums nicely to mono. When listening with EarPods, spreading and separating the speakers in your headspace keeps them distinct and intelligible, especially when their voices are similar and it's hard to identify who is who, or when they talk on top of each other.

That's a good start towards a professional-sounding, impactful podcast, as long as the contents are equally exciting. I invite others to add more tips.
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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