I Need a Checklist

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Every week Christine and I are producing a video podcast and an audio podcast. Starting next month, I will be doing another as well. Generally, I think we have the routine down well, the editing isn’t too bad, and we had some fun with some TV and movie clips in the first couple of episodes. The most crucial part of a good episode is the audio. I’ve spent a lot of time nailing down the sound feeling I want to have, and in all the tests, it works great. Then we record for real. Then fail.

Last night we recorded the latest episode of The 29 Podcast. I made a huge mistake by not having a checklist to go over before starting the recording. Last week I forgot to firmly connect my mic cable. The week before, Christine kept talking to me and not into her microphone. This week, I didn’t check the Composer Pro-XL settings and accidentally left the audio gate turned on. Usually, an audio gate is excellent for recording drums or quick, loud instrument sounds or a live speech on a large stage, not a podcast with two people sitting next to each other in a small room.

The audio gate lets sound over a certain volume level (in our case) pass to the recorder. Any sound below a set volume level, the gate shuts and is entirely silent. I want to have this turned off and use the expander mode, which is similar, but instead of closing off all sound and delivering silence, it just reduces the output volume. This has a pleasant effect when listening to two people talk on a recording. However, the audio gate is terribly annoying since the recording goes from normal voice volume to dead silence instantly, then back to normal voice sound when someone starts to talk again.

To fix this in episode 4, I used the audio from Christine’s microphone plus the audio from the boom mic backup recording and tracked them together, then exported as a standard mono file. The results are pretty good for the situation.

I’ll have a YouTube video about our audio equipment posted in the next week or so if you’re interested in that kind of stuff.

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