Recording problems can result in noisy, corrupted, or missing audio. Test before anything important! Here are solutions to these common podcasting problems.
Whether through software or hardware, there’s a chance you’re not recording everything you think you are. Here are some things to check.
- Can your tool record what you want? I’ve seen a lot of podcasters think recording Skype calls was as simple as using Audacity, but it’s not. Whether you’re using hardware or software, ensure that it can even do what you want it to do with the tools you have.
- Is everything properly connected? Cables might be loose or not connected, or apps might not be running.
- Is everything on? Power, mute, volume, and more could be simple switches or knobs that might not be in their right place.
- Are signals properly routed? Trace the cables and audio processing chain to ensure everything is going where it should be. On the software side, ensure that your apps are looking at the right devices for inputs and outputs.
It’s horrible to record audio only to discover it’s completely unusable due to corruption. Here are some things to check.
- Reboot before recording.
- Quit as many background apps and processes as possible and don’t run anything resource-intensive.
- Unplug and reconnect digital audio interfaces.
- Keep enough free space on recording devices.
- Ensure your input levels aren’t too high.
Unwanted noise comes in many forms. You may be able to remove it with software, but it’s best to remove it before you record. Here are some things to check.
- Ambient background noise: turn off what’s making noise, move away from it, put things between your mic and the noise, and point your mic away from it.
- Constant hiss (not background noise from your environment): get closer to the mic (about a fist-width away), use quality equipment, and don’t let low-quality gear handle the audio amplification.
- Humming, buzzing, or strange interference: keep audio cables away from power cables, plug everything that’s connected to each other into the same surge protector, use a ground-loop isolator, use a HumX, move equipment farther away from each other, and invest in quality gear (including cables).
If the audio is too loud, it will clip and distort. If it’s too quiet, then you may introduce more noise when you amplify the audio. Here are some ways to ensure consistent volume levels.
- Learn good microphone technique: stay a consistent distance from the microphone, but move farther away when you get louder.
- Watch volume meters when testing different sources: have each host or sound source come through one at a time and ensure they average the same volume range.
- Record test audio for review: it’s hard to mix your own voice with others’ in real time. A recording will let you see and hear the actual differences to tweak.
- Listen instead of looking: loudness is more than the visual waveform (although it is generally a good representation). A highly compressed signal may look quieter than an uncompressed signal, but it could still be louder.
- Use proper measuring tools: use a LUFS-measurement tool, such as r128x-GUI for OS X, Orban Loudness Meter for Windows, or the measuring tools in professional software to get actual numbers. These are integrated loudness (measured in LUFS), loudness range (LRA), and true peak (dBTP). Ideal targets are -19 (mono) / -16 (stereo) LUFS, under 4 LU LRA, and -1.0 or lower dBTP.
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