Top 5 Mistakes Podcast Amateurs Make
You’re using the wrong software.
A carpenter uses saws, an astronaut wears a spacesuit, and a hunter carries a rifle. Sorry, Adobe Premier, you’re great for editing video, but you suck with audio. Don’t be lazy; export those audio stems into a more audio-friendly platform.
If you’re a Mac user, GarageBand is a great start, but it has limitations. If you want to step up your game, get Logic Pro. For audio, it’s the best $200 you could possibly spend. It’s an extremely user-friendly DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that can do all the main things most podcasters, singer/songwriters, EDM producers, and indie filmmakers routinely need. It comes with all the most important audio tools for most folks, including a lot of great built-in mixing plug-ins, effects, and virtual instruments.
For PC users, while Audacity can get the job done if you’re just recording a couple vocal tracks and handing them off to us for production, it’s not very user-friendly for anything else, so if you want to do more yourself, you’ll have to invest a bit more money in better tools and spend some time learning to use them.
We here at Podsworth use only the cream of the crop for audio production: the latest full version of Pro Tools, which is by a landslide the best cross-platform DAW in the industry for audio editing, general processing, and mixing. If you ask any of us here at Podsworth, Logic beats Pro Tools on MIDI flexibility and ease-of-use for newbies, but Pro Tools is what you have to use for the most serious professional audio tasks. By the same token, within Pro Tools, we use the best third-party plugins on the market (which aren’t cheap) to repair clipping, attenuate background noise, remove mouth-clicks, and generally isolate and improve dialogue from our clients as much as possible.
Bottom line: Whatever you’re doing, get the right tools for the job.
2. You’re too loud
(or not loud enough).
A microphone is like an ear. You wouldn’t scream in someone’s ear during a normal conversation, and you wouldn’t just whisper all the time either. The same goes for recording. Ideal recording levels are between -6 and -10 dB. If your meter is hitting 0, then SURPRISE, YOU ARE CLIPPING. Clipping causes distortion, and unintentional distortion is a sure sign of an amateur. Conversely, if you are too quiet, then bringing your voice up means bringing up the noise floor as well. More noise is obviously BAD! (This is something we fix ALL THE TIME for our clients, though, so we can help… but in general, less problems to fix = a better—and cheaper—final product.)
3. You didn’t use a filter
(we can tell, BTW).
You filter coffee because you RESPECT IT. The filter keeps all that extra crap out of your cup. Now, start respecting your audio, and filter out that low-end junk. Use a pop-filter to stop your plosives, and use a hi-pass filter for all the other low frequency noise. Cars, wind, and air conditioners are the enemy of your recordings. Seriously people, unless you’re recording bass guitar, drums, a tuba, or something experimental, there’s no need for any sound below 90hz.
4. Your story is boring.
Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s an engaging plot with a climax that leads to finale, usually with some resolution that ties up loose ends. Songs are similar. They usually have an introduction, verses to provide context, dynamic build-up prior to the choruses, and bridges thrown in to change things up. Finally, they conclude with an outro, or climax with a last big chorus. Have a primary goal or message in mind, and build supporting ideas around it. Whether you’re podcasting, rapping, or making films, this will give your content some dimension. Focus on cohesiveness and structural maturity. Finally, get some outside perspective on your content before releasing it.
5. You’re over-compressing.
Do you like it when people squeeze your hand really aggressively during a handshake? That’s how people feel when you over-compress your audio. My advice: learn how to use a compressor correctly, or don’t use it at all. Over-compression kills all the life in your audio. It can also make your audio fatigue the ears of your listeners quickly. Here’s a quick demonstration of what over-compression does to your sound:
About the Author
Austin Kirk is a US Air Force veteran and an audio production graduate from the Art Institute of Austin. He spent his teenage years overseas in Japan and now works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Podsworth Media. His love for audio has driven him to produce music for many local artists in the Austin, TX area, including his own band, MACRO.