Michelle Sullivan Communications

PAB2007 – Day 3 – Treats for your sound

It’s Sunday morning and we have Internet access in the conference room, so I’m going to take advantage of it and blog live : I’ll post the rest of Day 2 topics later on.

Bruce Murray from Zed Cast is up first and he’ s talking about sound : some low cost and no cost solutions for podcasters.

5 key things that can make a difference – Bruce calls them 5 treats :

1. Treat your room

2. Treat your voice

3. Treat your mic

4. Treat your file

5. Treat your listener

Treat your room

According to Bruce, there are 2 things to consider : isolation and reverberation.

For podcasters who work in studio (or at home), the goal is to cut down as much ambient sound as possible. So turn off everything that makes interfering sound (air conditioners, fans, dimmers etc). The mic will pick up sound that you won’t necessarily hear when you’re recording. The goal is to create a dry sound. You can create ‘soft walls’ by hanging up packing blankets, drop cloths or screens, for example. Also, it’s important to avoid hard and parallel surfaces as well as corners. Setting up corner baffles is a solution. Reflection filters can be very practical, although an investment for podcasters. Bruce built his own out of recycled materials : cardboard tubes and foam.

Ground loop hums are caused by wiring or audio equipment. To avoid this, use the same plug strip for all your equipment. Separate power cords from signal cables to minimize humming caused by magnetic fields. If they must cross, cross them at right angles so they have the least amount of contact possible. Try to keep cables shorter than 2 metres, as coiling causes magnetic fields. Drop them loosely on the floor. To quote Bruce, the neat packing of cables is not your friend. Use balanced (XLR) cables.

Mobile podcasting brings a few solutions. Cars provide podcasters with the ideal soundbooth. Being able to move your podcast to a quiet area, such as a park, is also an advantage (in fact, someone said yesterday that he has podcasted from the local cemetery).

Treat your voice

Bruce recommends brushing your teeth, drinking water with lemon, avoiding dairy. Reading and rehearsing your script is important. Humming, sighs and stretches are important for vocal warmup. Standing up makes you sound more animated.

Treat your micUse windscreens. Pop filters. Shock mounts for microphones, to reduce vibration.

Treat your file

Try to get the hottest signal that you can without clipping. If possible, put audio on separate tracks, giving you control over volume. Free filters are available through programs like Audacity and The Levelator (particularly good for panel discussions). SpitFish, FloorFish and BlockFish are free plug-ins that can be very useful. Sound FX are available through ljudo.com, Free Sound Project and SoundoftheDay Podcast. Encode at 44.1 kHz to avoid the chipmunk effect.

Treat your listener

Fill out ID3 tags. Use consistent sound levels.

Other sources : homerecordingnetwork.comInsideHomeRecording.comhro.libsyn.com

Thanks, Bruce, for these tips. A pdf version is available through his site.


  1. Bruce

    2007.06.28 @ 19:17

    Merci Michelle,

    Thank you for doing that summary of my talk. I hope the information was helpful to the audience.

    The PDF will be available before the audio goes up on the CPB feed.

    See you at PAB 2008! – Bruce
    – –
    Bruce Murray
    Host of The Zedcast

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