The audio gets less attention than it deserves. With everyone focusing on video, sometimes audio can get left out of your planning altogether. This is a huge mistake, and correcting it can really put the finishing touches on a multimedia experience, or even carry the whole show. There are a few tips and tricks you’ll want to know and use to make your audio top quality, whether it’s to enhance your video or as a star on its own.
You Don’t Need a Studio
At best, you need a few items of equipment, and some tips and tricks on using them. If you’re absolutely bare-bones and completely new, using a cloud-based videoconferencing service like Blue Jeans to broadcast live audio and keep a recording in your account can be a great option. These services offer quality audio for the price without having the learning curve on Adobe Audition or Audacity. Let’s cover some real Audio 101 tips to set the proper background for your content.
- Test the audio quality of the space where you’re going to be recording. Ideally, you should be in an inside room, away from street or office noises. The room should be furnished and carpeted to absorb sound. Hard surfaces reflect sounds such as movement and speech.
- Inc. recommends that all participants turn off mobile phones, and silence incoming landlines by turning off the ringer or unplugging them. Turn the sound off on your computer, too, so that your listeners are not treated to alerts, beeps, boops, and bongs.
- Hang a “do not disturb sign”, or go completely off site where co-workers, family, housemates, dogs, cats, UPS drivers, pizza delivery, and so forth can’t interrupt you.
- Distribute an agenda and schedule well before the event, and make sure that everyone is able to be there on time and prepared.
- Do a sound check with your on-site and remote guests before the event. Remote guests will be limited by the technology they have on hand, and the speed of their internet connection. Again, using videoconferencing can really help here.
- You may want to have a dress rehearsal the a few days before the actual event date so that you can run a time test against the agenda and make any needed alterations, and to make sure that speakers, interviewees, and moderators can be heard.
- A wired connection is always preferred over a WiFi or mobile device connection. WiFi and LTE connection speeds can vary even if the user is sitting in one place.
- Computer issues can crop up if everyone is multitasking, thus using RAM and processor capacity. This is also the etiquette equivalent of talking in a lecture. It’s rude and annoys the people around the person doing it, and is disrespectful of the speaker.
- Invest in learning about audio interfaces and then finding the best audio interfaces for your requirements. It gives you a profound control of the sound that you are producing. An audio interface can really improve the quality of your audio recording, and many come with the ability to add instruments too.
Microphones are a complicated subject, and one that takes some thought. Understand, microphones will pick up everything. Heavy breathing, swallowing, paper rustling, coughing—you name it and into the mix it goes. You may want to start out simply, with a plain noise-cancelling headset or clip-on microphone that will filter out background noises. Lifehacker has a great list of tabletop/desktop and headset mics that will not break the budget, while The Podcast Host goes more in depth on the benefits of condenser mics.
If you’re doing a TED-type talk, with video and audio, then a videoconferencing service is your best bet, and you may want to consider investing in a better class of AV gear that allows your speakers or interviewees to get out from behind the podium, letting them move and speak in an engaging and natural way. Audio and video can work separately or together, but remember that not every event has to be a big multimedia production. Some information can be delivered with audio only, and still be engaging and memorable. In fact, Edison Research estimates that there are 46 million Americans who listen to podcasts. Whether it’s educational, informative, or pure entertainment, audio is a great way to message and interact. iTunes even has podcast charts, similar to the Nielsen ratings or Billboard music charts, tracking the listenership of podcasts.
Don’t Write It Off
Audio is still a huge factor in distributing information, and learning how to create great audio content can pay off in expanding your audience, or simply getting information out to your organization. It can save the day in situations with low bandwidth, and can be played back or transcribed at a later date. As with every new attempt, there is a learning curve, but with practice, the right equipment, and some simple tips, you can get audio meetings and podcasts off the ground, and have some top-notch content to become a memorable part of your brand.