Content Catalyst July Topic - Build your Content Library

Your audio is killing your content

Your audio is killing your content

If you’re in business, then in this digital age…like it or not you’re a content creator. Or at least you need to be if you want to maintain or grow your business.

That could be writing blogs or articles, recording a podcast, presenting a live stream on Linkedin or making an instagram reel. 

As a content creator you want to be creating the best quality material possible to reflect your brand and make it reusable. It’s vital then your audio and visual content is the best it can be.

People will watch lower quality video however they will tune out if your audio is poor quality.

So what are the best audio options when creating content?

I was working with a business years ago when I first started making videos for social media and we created a weekly live streamed segment. The first episode of the live stream had to be filmed outside and then it started raining. The topic we were talking about was really valuable but the audio captured from the iphone was terrible. Meaning I couldn’t edit up that content to repurpose.

So the first thing I bought was something to hold up my phone and the other thing was microphones to capture clear audio.

These days I still walk around with a selfie stick tripod and a microphone in my handbag.

The microphones were a big investment compared the tripod, at the time. My video mentor recommended the Rode mics which we still use to this day and it was a great investment.

The difference between good and bad audio is emphasised when it’s just audio because there no video to distract you.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and host was crystal clear yet the guest was echoy and her volume different to the host. I ended up switching off after about 5 mins because it was so difficult to listen to.

You’re message is not getting through if people switch off. 

I was in a recent masterclass where the presenter didn’t have a microphone and was using their phone mic. It was really tinny, the reverberation was so bad, that’s all I could focus on for the presentation, the annoying audio and again I ended up turning off, which was such shame because the content being presented was great.

So what kind of microphone should you invest in?

Well that depends on what you’re going to be using them for?

A good podcast mic gives the listener the feeling like you’re in the room with them. A good wireless mic will help you capture your video and audio while you’re moving around. While a lavier mic is discreet and will help to minimise the ambient noise and ideal is also for making video content on the go.

How much should I spend?

When it comes to investment vs budget. I would start with the best quality microphone, I could afford over a fancy tripod or camera and would spend the largest part of my budget on good audio.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a budget of $100 or $1000. You can get microphones to suit you and succeed.

Podcasting Microphones

If it’s just you, always in one place let's say your office. They a microphone with a USB connection plugged into your computer is all you need.

However, if you are recording with more than one person in the same place then you will then need a microphone with an XLR connection and mixer to plug into your computer.

I have the Rode Podmic because I record with guests in my office studio. This mic has a usb connection as well as an XLR connection for when I have guests. 

When it’s just me, I plug in the usb connector directly into my Macbook. Then when I have guests, switch the cable and plug a XLR cable into the mic which then goes into my mixer, which then goes into my computer. I currently have the Tascam Mixcast which can record 6 guests and it was reasonably priced.

The other thing I love about the Rode Podmic is the superior broadcast quality and being a dynamic mic it is better for spaces that might be more noisy. 

Let’s say you have a noisy outdoor space with dogs barking, busy road or someone mowing the law outside. Then a dynamic mic is ideal because the sound is very focused to you. (Listen to my podcast Content Catalyst to hear the sound when I talk away from the mic).

Most USB mics you buy (unless specified) are usually condenser mics. This means they are super sensitive to sounds and will pick up every noise in ear shot.

Its not what you have it's how you use it!

Other factors that effect your sound quality is mounting the podcast microphone, because remember no matter the gear, it’s not what you have its how you use it.

Many USB mics have a stand mount. Which means they will pick noise from you typing on your keyboard and the ambience of the room. You mouth is usually further away from your mic on many desk mount stands. 

Your recording space

If you have floorboards or tiles in your recording space AVOID these microphones with the low profile desk stands. This is why I’m not a fan of the Blue Yetti mics. They are super sensitive and have a low profile desk stand so it makes it more difficult to get good audio in a noisy or echoy space.

I prefer a boom arm with a shock or yoke mounts over a desk stand.

A boom arm is attached to the desk with c clamp and allows you pull the mic in and out from you easily. A shock mount is simply the springy bit that holds the mic to the boom arm while the yoke mount has a U frame that screws directly into the boom arm which is what the RODE PODMIC has.

How to get the best sound in your office.

The smaller the room the better.

Curtains and carpet help with absorbing the sound. If you have floorboards or tiles, be sure to put down a rug. The thicker the better. I have carpet and a fluffy rug under my chair (if you can't do that, place a thick doona on the floor recording. 

Here's a simple exercise to test the acoustics of your recording space, go into the room you want to record in and clap your hands. A room with poor acoustics will have alot of reverberation or echo.

Try this in your bathroom vs your walk in wardrobe and you will instantly notice the difference.

Apart from curtains, rugs and carpet. You can improve your room sound with acoustic panels for the walls and drap sound blankets over the windows. Although sound blankets can cost around $500, so instead head to Bunnings and pick up removalist blanket for just $20.

If you’re just recording audio only podcast, then try recording in your wardrobe or car for the best sound.

Audio on the go

What about if you are recording your course or social media content on the go, what mics would you need then?

Here are 3 options;

Directional Mic - This picks up noise in a certain direction

Lavier Mic - small mic attached to a wire

Wireless Mic - the ultimate portable mic with no wire.

Personally I avoid using directional mics unless I want ambient sounds of say a crowd or to record sound effects. I usually keep a Lav mic in my handbag because they are reliable and don’t rely on power.

However I do love my Rode wireless Go mic.

Again I’m a fan of RODE mics, they make world renowned audio gear and they're an Australian company.

You can listen to my podcast episode of Content Catalyst as I discuss the audio options and hear the quality of my microphone.

Happy recording!

Deb Szabo


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