Finding your balance when podcasting

jon-tyson-balance

We all want to find the right balance – in so many ways.

Balance is a multi-purpose word. Often referring to pan – the distribution of audio between right and left channels in a stereo track. But, the balance I am thinking of here is how the audio sounds in the round – where the pieces sit in relation to each other. Balance in a mix gives space for all of the parts but keeps the main thing, the main thing. Our ideal is for the audio engineering to be invisible and seamless.

As you listen what do you notice? Things demanding attention, compared to being appropriately present. Things present that shouldn’t be; while others are missing.

Noticing is a key podcasting skill and as we continually train our ears they become our indispensable tool. How did you get on with the links and websites from last time – helpful? Little and often brings progress.

Frequency and EQ

EQ stands for equalisation and identifies the level of different frequencies, low to high. Sound is made up of this full range of frequencies but at different levels. An exception is white-noise, which has equal energy for each frequency interval. Think of two voices you know well but that are different. This is an example of a different range of frequencies, at different levels.

EQ allows us to boost or reduce frequencies, usually in bands, to correct (or shape) the sound. This is part of that signature radio sound with its heavy bass feel (though that also involves compression – but that’s for another day). Another example would be wind noise from an outdoor recording. The low rumble can be reduced or even removed by cutting bass frequencies. This is using EQ to fix a particular problem. Subtle changes can bring a recording to life and give it a sense of air and presence, making the speech clearer and intelligible.

Some environments – like our faithful bedroom recording studio – can affect the levels of frequencies in a way that needs to be fixed. Different voices and different environments all have different frequency spreads. EQ is the way to make it sound ‘normal’ again. BUT! don’t overdo it or you will fix one problem and create a new one. Subtle changes make for the best audio. A good approach is to adjust until you notice it and then back off slightly.

My suggestion is you listen to some audio and think about what you could do with it to lift it slightly – and then actually have a try. If you can, record something simple and then explore the EQ effect settings in your favourite DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Try out the different presets and see how they change the sound, and how the frequency levels have been changed by those settings. For ease of comparison, duplicate a track and then apply the effect to one of them. Now playback with one track muted and switch between them. It could be an ear-opener.

Practice

  1. Listen at different volumes to your usual level – higher and lower. You will find that frequencies interact differently. What do you notice?
  2. Listen through focussing on specific things – eg breaths, or thin voices. Expect the unexpected and listen out for it.
  3. Establish a normal baseline using your own or other work that sounds right, at least to your ears.

See something

Billy Crystal spoke at Mohammad Ali’s funeral memorial. Funny, moving, poignant, powerful. Just really good. Listen the first time and soak it in. Listen the second time and take notes of how he crafted the content and delivery. Something to learn and apply.

Hear something

Brian Miller was good when I first met him and seems to have just continued to develop his craft of content and delivery. Listen to the podcast episode and then go check out his website or YouTube channel. But I want you to hear what he does first. Again, listen twice – for content and then for delivery – try to identify what he is doing, apparently naturally, and then realise how much is planned and choreographed in such a stylish way.

How to Act, Feel, and Be Seen as a Professional by Beyond Networking with Brian Miller

How to Act, Feel, and Be Seen as a Professional by Beyond Networking with Brian Miller

How to Act, Feel, and Be Seen as a Professional from Beyond Networking with Brian Miller on Podchaser, aired Thursday, 8th July 2021. Being an artist is hard. People aren’t going to do what you consider respectful, or fair. They’re going to do what they believe serves the audience, which is not you…

https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/beyond-networking-with-brian-m-784214/episodes/how-to-act-feel-and-be-seen-as-94543471

Read something

This book about writing has released something for me in the way I think and develop ideas. It is an outstanding book and is on my ‘everybody must read this‘ list. Several short sentences about writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg – a paradigm shifter.

Several Short Sentences About Writing

Several Short Sentences About Writing

Most of what you think you know about writing is useless. It’s the harmful debris of your education—a mixture of half-truths, myths, and …

https://www.goodreads.com/work/best_book/18333546-several-short-sentences-about-writing

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13155290-several-short-sentences-about-writing

And finally

  • Identify your superpower and use it
  • bring your best game, always
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