Any day that you can work in a Fresh Prince reference into a blog post, as far as I'm concerned, is a good day.
Okay, so we’ve already discussed why having a nice, clean vocal recording is a good thing. Essentially, it’s critical for giving your listeners a nice, easy time listening to your recording. It helps get that really good intimate sound that all you podcast fiends have come to know and love. It’s a topic I’ve covered before, and it’s a topic I will cover again, dagnabbit, because it is that darn important. Although having said that, I feel like I skipped over the basics. So let’s take a step back.
Why are there echoes in my podcast?
Echoes are, in the purest sense, reflections. You see, when you record, we’re hoping that all that sweet sweet noise of your voice goes straight into the microphone. We hope it's turned into electrical energy, and then it all goes into your recorder of choice. But that’s not always how it works.
You see, some of that noise misses the microphone. It goes past the microphone, reverberates off your skull, hits the floor, the ceiling, the walls… and THEN it goes into the microphone. Sure, all that happens in a matter of fractions of a second, but it’s enough to mean that what was a nice clean crisp speech now becomes a wishy-washy mess.
What can I do about it?
Treat my room? What, like take it out for ice cream?
No, acoustic treatment! Look, proper acoustic treatment involves a buttload of maths, and a few trips to the hardware store for building supplies when you find out a wall is in the wrong spot (seriously!). I failed at maths in high school, and I rent my home, so my version of acoustic “treatment” is really just controlling reflected sound. And to do that, there is one rule that trumps all others. Ab. Sor. Bent. Sur. Fa. Ces!
If it’s hard and reflective, it’s echoey and bad. If it’s soft and cushy, it’s absorbent and helps. If you want to do voiceover, the quick tip is to jam your microphone in your wardrobe, and let the coats soak up all the reverb! (I’d probably still try and cover the walls a little bit just to smooth things out). However, interviewing people in your cupboard is probably a bit weird, so here’s all sorts of things you can try:
As always, it’s not as sexy as a brand new microphone, but all this stuff really helps to get your podcasting sounding great. Have you got any ideas about what else could make for really good reflection dampening? Leave it in the comments!
And if you’ve already recorded your podcast (and it’s got a bunch of really nasty echo in it), then I can help! Get in touch!
Chris Plumridge is a freelance audio producer, voiceover artist and writer from Leongatha in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.