Noise is probably the most-common problem in amateur podcasts. Professional podcasts sound great not just because of the equipment, but also because of techniques. Learn some ways to reduce noise before and after you record.
Reduce noise before you record
Turn off noise-makers
Fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, computers, and more can all cause background noise in your recording; try to turn them off if you can. I turn off my air conditioner whenever I start recording because I have a loud vent right above my studio equipment.
Consider a different room
If you can't turn off noise-makers, such as an air conditioner or refrigerator, consider switching rooms. Pay attention to the carpet, walls, and furniture in the room. The less “flat” you can make the room, the less the sound will reverbrate.
Reduce computer fan noise
Turn your microphone away from the computer and place as far away as possible. If you use a notebook computer, try to minimize your running software to prevent the fans from activating.
Switch to a dynamic microphone
Condensor microphones can capture a beautiful range of audio, but they're more sensitive to noise from the room (great for ambiance recording). Dynamic microphones are traditionally not as good with the audio range (such as the low pitches), but are more focused in what they capture and aren't as sensitive to room noise. There are cheap dynamic microphones, but they won't have the wide dynamic range of audio that they can capture. There is also my prized Heil PR40 for $325, and it sounds beautiful.
Reduce the gain and get closer to the mic
The microphone won't eat you! Get closer to it! You may think this will distort your audio and you're right, but that's why you reduce the gain, which is the mic's sensitivity. The more sensitive the mic, the more noise it will capture. Imagine it like a bubble around your mic. Gain makes the bubble bigger, which captures more sound. Make the “bubble” smaller and get inside it!
Get a compressor/limiter/gate (CLG)?
Not really. I shared in-depth settings for Chris's Dynamic Compressor for Audacity, and also just discussed software and hardware compressors. CLGs are only effective at not allowing any audio in the spaces between your talking. It won't remove noise while you record.
Plug everything into one power outlet
When you get electronic interference with your hardware (as I still have in some of your recordings), keep all your hardware plugged into the same outlet via surge protector. Also ensure your hardware is not in close proximity with other pieces (like audio cables sitting on power adapters—I made this mistake recently).
Use a USB adapter
If you record directly into your computer, converting that analog audio signal to digital before in reaches your computer has proven an effective method for reducing computer interference noise. Get either an adapter with 3.5 MM jacks or a Behringer U Control UCA202 USB Audio Interface for RCA jacks. This works great for desktops and notebooks.
Removing noise after you have recorded
Do everything you can to reduce the noise before you record. It's possible to easily reduce it so much, that you won't need to removal the noise afterward. There are probably some of these steps you can implement to get better recordings. If you still need to edit things after you recorded, here's how to remove noise with Audacity.
- Select the “silent” section of your audio, where it's just noise.
- Go to the Effects menu and click Noise Removal.
- Click Get Noise Profile.
- Select all of the audio from which you want that background noise removed.
- Go to the Effects menu and click Noise Removal.
- Adjust the settings if necessary (defaults are fine) and click OK.
- Listen to ensure your audio doesn't sound like it's underwater.
Here are the before-and-after waveforms.
No live shows for a while
I got married! Although I will have prerecorded episodes still released on a schedule, this was the last live recording for a while. After I'm married, I may rearrange the Ramen Noodle™ and The Audacity to Podcast™ to be live on the same night.
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