TIP #1: Eliminate Unwanted Noises
In order to guarantee great-sounding audio, you’ll need to consider all the other sounds in your space — from the obvious things like outside noises to more subtle things like reflections off a hardwood floor. All these little things add up and eliminating as many variables as you can, has an imense impact.
Here are some small tweaks you can make to your recording space right now!
- Throw down a rug if you have a hardwood floor
- Pull down the curtains
- Move away from anything creating unwanted sounds like your air conditioner, air vent, or fan.
If you don’t know what kinds of noises might be impacting your audio, take a few minutes to walk around your space. Try speaking in a handful of places within your space and listen for the subtle differences. Record some tests in your top 3 spots and see if there’s one that you prefer.
Once you find the right spot, don’t be afraid to move your desk and your setup. This alone will cause a profound shift to your sound.
TIP #2: Mic Placement and Mic Choice is Key
Miking something is as much about what you want to reject as to what you want to pick up. If your ears hear a little, a microphone hears a lot.
A microphone is meant to magnify, it’s meant to pick up things that your ears only keep in the background at a very low level and that your brain helps to filter out.
If you are constantly moving around your microphone when you speak — turning your head to look at your notes or interacting with any props — your sound levels will vary significantly and just these little movements will throw off your audience.
Voice actors are really good at keeping the mic in front of them, keeping their position, speaking and inflecting in just the right way. Does that mean you need to have the same level of skill as a professional voice actor? Of course not! You only need patience, a good ear, and a willingness to practice. (Having a microphone with a wide and generous sweet spot sure helps as well.)
When using a microphone, you need to keep in mind where and how it is positioned and what it is pointed at. You can actually get your voice to sound bigger, fuller, and more present just through how you point the microphone. Play around and find the optimal spot that is most comfortable to how you record and where you sound the best.
This is why you’ll want to invest in good pair of headphones. While you don’t have to record in them, headphones really help you dial in your mic placement. Your audience hears you differently than you hear yourself and that is what you want to pay attention to.
The reason that ETHOS — Earthworks’ flagship broadcasting and streaming XLR microphone — is so popular isn’t just how it sounds; it’s the incredibly wide pickup pattern. No matter how much you happen to move while recording, you’re still going to sound excellent.
There’s one more critical element to talk about here. If you’re broadcasting over radio or just recording a podcast or running voice-over, it doesn’t matter that the microphone is right in front of your face. But if you’re streaming or creating videos, you also want to look your best. No one wants to block their face with an ugly mic. This is the same challenge that sound engineers and movie directors have been dealing with on movie sets for years and years. The boom operator is doing all he can to get the sound right but the director’s yelling at him to keep the mic out of the shot.
All Earthworks streaming microphones were designed to be on camera. They look as great as they sound.
TIP #3: Rehearse What You’re Saying
Just like anything in life, preparation is key.
Once you have your space set up and you’re ready to record, take some time to go through what you’re going to say. If you go through it once and get your ideas down, then you have a much better basis to start from so that you can intentionally take it in a direction.
If you get a really good place to start, you can then make creative decisions instead of corrective decisions. It’s the difference between messing it up by accident and messing it up on purpose.
It’s like the difference between a grunge album recorded at home on a little four-track tape recorder where nothing is in the right place and listening to a Nirvana album where everything is distorted on purpose.
Once you’ve read through your material a few times, try experimenting in different inflections and deliveries.
And don’t forget to smile! Even if your audience can’t see you, they can hear it. They know you’re not smiling and they know you’re not excited about what you’re talking about because they can hear it in your voice.
If you smile when you record, your audience can hear that you’re excited. That’s going to keep them engaged, and it will bring some life to your broadcast, video, or stream.
These tips were extracted from an interview with Michael Bader during the Earthworks “From The Stage to the Screen” series. This show takes best practices from industry professionals — from your favorite concerts, albums, movies, and productions — and helps streamers, gamers, creators, and business presenters to tell more impactful and meaningful stories. Let us know if you want to see the full collection of tips.