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How Can I Improve Sound Quality with Audacity?

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  • Amanda Hanson
    Hello, All My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
    Message 1 of 5 , May 24, 2013
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      Hello, All
      My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two
      USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
      way to sound more professional. We sometimes sound too quiet, and when we
      all laugh together we sound too loud. We also sound far away from the mics.
      Is there anyway to get a richer sound with just mics and Audacity? Is it
      just a matter of sitting closer to the mics and adjusting volume, or is
      that too simple of a solution? I know, I am showing my ignorance, here. Any
      suggestions will be helpful. Thank you!

      -Amanda in Alaska


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Benjamin Straw
      Editing software is for editing things out and fixing minor mistakes. To me it sounds like you need to start training your selfs about microphone placement and
      Message 2 of 5 , May 25, 2013
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        Editing software is for editing things out and fixing minor mistakes. To me it sounds like you need to start training your selfs about microphone placement and how to use one. First do a 30 sec sound check/recording adjust the volume accordingly. Than try and not move away from the mic. Than train them about laughter, one should move back to do so, kinda like a singer who hits a high note. Next get better equipment, dynamic microphones and a mixer.

        Benjamin Straw
        Cell: 219-712-8103

        On May 24, 2013, at 2:34 PM, Amanda Hanson <ahanson597@...> wrote:

        > Hello, All
        > My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two
        > USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
        > way to sound more professional. We sometimes sound too quiet, and when we
        > all laugh together we sound too loud. We also sound far away from the mics.
        > Is there anyway to get a richer sound with just mics and Audacity? Is it
        > just a matter of sitting closer to the mics and adjusting volume, or is
        > that too simple of a solution? I know, I am showing my ignorance, here. Any
        > suggestions will be helpful. Thank you!
        >
        > -Amanda in Alaska
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Ricardus Vincente
        On May 24, 2013, at 2:34 PM, Amanda Hanson wrote: I don t think you need to make any major investments
        Message 3 of 5 , May 25, 2013
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          On May 24, 2013, at 2:34 PM, Amanda Hanson <ahanson597@...
          <mailto:ahanson597%40gmail.com>> wrote:

          I don't think you need to make any major investments in gear, you just
          have to realize that your gear, and your audio skill-set will only get
          your sound so far.

          With what you have, I would just do two things:

          1) Make sure you're not clipping the audio when you guys laugh, or
          speak together. That simple means the meters in Audacity never go into
          the red.

          2) After you have edited your show (if you edit it), run it through
          Levelator.

          http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator

          Simply drag your audio file to that and it will level all of the audio.
          It will make the quieter parts louder to even everything out. If your
          show has any music content, you won't want to use levelator on the
          music. The algorithms it uses to even out voices don't work too well for
          music.

          See if that gives you the professional sound you're looking for. If
          not, you need to identify what you mean by "professional," and go from
          there.

          ----
          Bloodthirsty Vegetarians Podcast
          www.bloodyveg.com
          Progressive conversation shared over spirits,
          tempered with humor and independent music.


          > Hello, All
          > My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two
          > USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
          > way to sound more professional. We sometimes sound too quiet, and when we
          > all laugh together we sound too loud. We also sound far away from the
          > mics.
          > Is there anyway to get a richer sound with just mics and Audacity? Is it
          > just a matter of sitting closer to the mics and adjusting volume, or is
          > that too simple of a solution? I know, I am showing my ignorance,
          > here. Any
          > suggestions will be helpful. Thank you!
          >
          > -Amanda in Alaska
        • Shawn Thorpe
          Are you able to use both USB mics together? I ask because, in my experience, most audio-production programs will only accept one USB source at a time. Just
          Message 4 of 5 , May 25, 2013
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            Are you able to use both USB mics together? I ask because, in my experience, most audio-production programs will only accept one USB source at a time. Just because both mics are plugged in to USB ports on the Mac doesn't mean that Audacity is hearing both of them. It may only be picking up one mic.

            -Shawn
            http://nomarket.org/

            On May 24, 2013, at 12:34 PM, Amanda Hanson wrote:

            > Hello, All
            > My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two
            > USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
            > way to sound more professional. We sometimes sound too quiet, and when we
            > all laugh together we sound too loud. We also sound far away from the mics.
            > Is there anyway to get a richer sound with just mics and Audacity? Is it
            > just a matter of sitting closer to the mics and adjusting volume, or is
            > that too simple of a solution? I know, I am showing my ignorance, here. Any
            > suggestions will be helpful. Thank you!
            >
            > -Amanda in Alaska
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Kenn Crawford
            Hi Amanda, I listened to the first few minutes of your podcast and have a few suggestions to help you improve the sound
            Message 5 of 5 , May 25, 2013
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              <http://kenncrawford.blogspot.ca>Hi Amanda,
              I listened to the first few minutes of your podcast and have a few
              suggestions to help you improve the sound quality. First and foremost, you
              should seriously consider treating the room you are recording in. That one
              step will make a major improvement in your audio quality. As it is now, you
              both sound like you're in an empty auditorium. That is caused by the sound
              of your voices bouncing off the hard flat surfaces (walls, floor and
              ceiling) and back into your microphone.
              For how much "reverb" sound there is in your recording, I'm guessing the
              floor is not carpeted. It kinda sounds like you are recording in an empty
              spare bedroom. A large area rug and anything on the walls to help absorb
              sound is a must. If you have some way of hanging heavy blankets on the
              walls that will help absorb some of the sound so it doesn't bounce around
              as much. Empty rooms are not good because there is nothing to break up the
              sound waves. You need "stuff" in there to disrupt those sound waves. What I
              did when I was recording at my summer cottage is use boom mic stands and
              blankets... Make the boom in the shape of a T and raise it as high as it
              will go. Drape a heavy blanket over this and place it directly behind you
              (almost touching your back). I'm guessing your co-host is seated opposite
              you? Do the exact same thing with another mic boom stand and place it
              directly behind her. That will help A LOT. Also, spread a blanket or
              something on every table and desk so your voices don't bounce off them and
              back towards the mic (if you use a laptop don't place it on the blanket, it
              needs air or it will overheat - the laptop shouldn't be in the same room as
              the mics but that's another story :)

              Try to set up your mics so they are closer to your mouths. Having them "off
              to the side so they are not distracting" is not good because they will pick
              up more room sound - and having an echoey room is the last thing you want
              it to pick up. The general rule of thumb I use for condensers is to have it
              directly in front of you so you are looking straight into it and the mic's
              element is at eye level. This will allow the mic to pick up more of your
              voice without popping unless you tilt your head backwards. And because it
              doesn't pop like that you don't need a pop filter which will obstruct your
              view of your co-host. Being a very conversational-type podcast, having eye
              contact is important, but not to the point where you are sacrificing sound
              quality. With the mics in front of you as described above you should still
              be able to see each other. If eye contact is crucial for you and your
              co-host, then set the mics up below your mouth (approx chin level) and USE
              a pop filter because the minute your head tilts down, a blast of air is
              going to pop it. Either way, make sure the mic is in front of you and not
              off to the side.

              Make sure you record to two tracks - 1 mic per track. As
              previously suggested use The Levelator. It's a great tool to have ,
              especially when you have more than 1 voice. It will automatically lower the
              too-loud parts and raise the not-loud-enough parts. The Levelator only
              works on uncompressed AIFF or WAV files, not MP3s and it doesn't work on
              music. It will create a new audio file for you and that is the one that you
              add music etc etc and then export to mp3. But the levelator needs
              uncompressed, voice-only AIFF or WAV files.

              Best of luck.

              Kenn




              On Fri, May 24, 2013 at 4:34 PM, Amanda Hanson <ahanson597@...> wrote:

              > **
              >
              >
              > Hello, All
              > My friends and I just started a podcast (northernblights.com). We use two
              > USB condensor mics and Audacity on a Mac. I was wondering if there was any
              > way to sound more professional. We sometimes sound too quiet, and when we
              > all laugh together we sound too loud. We also sound far away from the mics.
              > Is there anyway to get a richer sound with just mics and Audacity? Is it
              > just a matter of sitting closer to the mics and adjusting volume, or is
              > that too simple of a solution? I know, I am showing my ignorance, here. Any
              > suggestions will be helpful. Thank you!
              >
              > -Amanda in Alaska
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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