Is it too lofty a goal to create a sound and recorded content that is as well-produced as, say, NPR? That may be a very high standard, but everyone can improve the sound quality of their recordings with these easy tips.
At the Podcast and New Media Expo, I had the opportunity to attend a session presented by Bruce Shape, the inventor of the Levelator. For those of you who may be new to podcasting, the Levelator is a wonderful, free tool that I have personally downloaded and used for the Fletcher Prince podcast.
If you’ve never podcasted before, this discussion does get a little technical. But if you have an interest in audio, read on. And if you’d like someone to work with you on your podcast, please do contact us at Fletcher Prince.
The Levelator automatically evens out the volume of your recording, producing a sound that is more pleasing to listen to than a recording with unadjusted levels.
As Bruce Shape described, there are several steps to recording great sound:
- Record well. Here’s a tip from Bruce Shape: if you’re conducting an interview, and your subject goes off on a tangent and doesn’t really answer your question, but their reply is useful, then after they finish, record the “question” for that answer. Then splice in the right answer. No one will notice, of course, and your interviewee will sound so much better.
- Use a bandpass filter (on sound effects).
- Peak normalize (another sound effect feature).
- Apply noise reduction judiciously (it has its drawbacks).
- Adjust the levels with Levelator. To do this, download Levelator (it’s free) from http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator. Then drag your wav file into the Levelator window. Like magic, in seconds, it creates another wav file that has automatically adjusted the levels of volume in the recording to sound much better, more even, with less peaks and valleys of volume. This is especially useful if you have two people talking, and one of them has a soft voice (like mine) and the other has a more powerful voice (like David’s). The Levelator brings those volumes closer together.
- Edit out distracting sounds, such as “um” or other mistakes. After you have identified the segment of sound you want to delete, Bruce Sharpe recommends using a cross fade on the cut so that the sound cut-off isn’t so abrupt. I use Garage Band for audio editing, but if you’re using Audacity to do post-production editing, you can download Bruce Sharpe’s handy plug-in to smoothly handle cross fades. This plug in can be found on http://www.singularproductions.net.