Does your audio need fixing?

It takes time to train your ears. The good news is that it is both possible for you to do and easy to get started.

Over time with many repetitions, we get better – hopefully! This helps us do three things:

  1. Notice
  2. Name
  3. Fix

Curiosity is something to be nurtured until it becomes nature. We must stay curious to grow.

With audio, we begin by noticing something is not right, or could be better. At first, it is just something. It seems… off. Let’s start with that.

1. Notice

When you listen to audio, what do you notice?

  • Are there audio distractions, or obstacles to hearing and understanding?
  • Something to remove?
  • Something to add?
  • Do you like the sound or is it irritating?

WARNING: these noticing questions may spoil your listening enjoyment or that of your friends and family. Learn to flick a switch – “I am now in noticing mode. My ears are at work”. Just don’t leave it switched on all the time.

2. Name

Being able to fix something begins with noticing the problem. The next step is the diagnosis (e.g. levels, EQ, reverb). Focussing on what needs to be removed or added. What is it and what do you do about it?

3. Fix

Then comes the fix – after the noticing and naming. Not everything is a nail for your favourite hammer. Use the right tool in the right way. It is essential to remember that audio effects and treatments can be damaging if over-applied. We don’t want to create a new problem, so less is…

Notice, Name, Fix

Here are some jumping-in points to get you started or move you on.

Something to see

a brief introduction to sound gym by the mix master Michael Wynne – he tends to be more music focussed but is still relevant for podcasters and has a lovely accent

(and here is another one where he is talking in-depth about EQ for voice if you need an additional rabbit hole).

Something to hear

Those nice folks from NPR create some wonderful audio related rabbit holes. This one tests your ears – a quiz!

Something to read

More from NPR – this helps you know what kinds of problems you might come across, what they sound like and what you can do about them

And finally

  • Life is too short to listen to bad podcasts
  • Life is long enough to make good podcasts