Updated: Dec 12, 2019
There are a lot of weird things that can happen during a podcast that are outside of your control. Those are just things we have to live with as podcasters, but you can always control your environment, what room you’re in, what microphone you’re using, how you are speaking into that microphone, as well as post production.
If you ever hear a subtle hiss going on the background of your recordings, and couldn’t figure out what exactly that was. It’s probably a combination of a few things, the quality of your microphone, the size of the room, and the contents of the environment. That little hiss is actually audio being bounced around the room and going back into the microphone. There’s a few ways to fix this, and we’re going to take a look at those in detail!
If you are hearing that hiss in your recording, your environment could be a huge factor. When you start recording make sure to turn off anything that could be considered a distraction, a fan, the A/C, the fridge, anything that makes a little bit of a hum. Your ears are extremely used to hearing the day to day distractions that are all around us, but your microphone is very sensitive to any audio that is bouncing around in your space.
Size of the Space
You should also try and get in the smallest space possible for recording, that will cut down on the amount of audio that is bouncing around in the space that you are in. Getting into a smaller room will also help to cut down on the amount of echo in your room and in the recording.
Contents of the Space
Be aware of what’s actually in the room that you’re doing the recording in. The less reflective, the better your audio will be in the end. If you are recording in your kitchen or dining room, make sure to throw a blanket over everything that is super reflective/hard, or hang blankets all around you so the audio can’t escape and you’ll get less reverb/echo.
Try choosing a space with a lot of furniture or soft objects in it, they will absorb a lot more of the bouncing audio. If your podcast is just you, recording in the closet is always an option, the tightness of the space as well as the clothes makes for an incredibly good recording environment!
It’s always better to get the recording right, rather than to try and fix it in post. I can’t stress that enough, bad audio will always be bad, but there is a neat trick you can use to improve that little bit of hiss in your audio!
There is something in most DAW’s now that can capture a specific duration of audio and attenuate (cut) those specific frequencies throughout the entire recording, without affecting the rest of the frequencies! It’s really a pretty incredible tool that not enough people know about in my opinion. It’s called Adaptive Noise Reduction, and how it works is, you capture that specific duration of audio that you want to be fixed, in this case you want to capture that hiss, also known as the room tone, and attenuate those frequencies.
So you want to capture just the sound of the room you’re in for the noise print, one way to do that is when you start recording, leave about 5 seconds of complete silence at the beginning. Then in post, you will have that 5 seconds of just the hiss that you can capture using the noise print function, and apply that to the entire recording.
Just leaving those 5 seconds in the beginning will help tremendously with the amount of hiss that’s happening in the background of your recording, and it’s a very simple thing to do.