Among the tools needed for podcasting, a microphone is perhaps the most important one. It is a crucial gear for recording quality audio for your show, but it is trickier than it sounds.
Owning a great microphone and speaking into it is not what it takes to record professional sounds – if the mic quality is bad, the sound will also be poor. There are many reasons as to why your mic quality may be bad, some of which we have discussed below.
Reasons Your Mic Quality May Be Bad
If you are an experienced audio recorder, you will notice the differences between cheap and expensive microphones. While the differences might seem subtle to the untrained ear, they make a huge difference in overall audio quality.
When it comes to the quality of a mic, you essentially get what you pay for, so if you want quality sound you have got to buy a quality microphone, which often means paying more.
Another reason for bad mic quality is wireless issues such as multi-path interference, noise floor, and interference, intermodulation distortion as well as frequency coordination.
The diaphragm of a mic is a component that vibrates after being triggered by sound waves. Material, diameter, thickness, design, and size can affect the quality of the microphone. Large-sized diaphragm microphones (more than 75 inches) are often considered better quality than small diaphragm microphones.
Background noise can also affect the quality of your microphone because most mics, especially higher quality ones, will pick up all unwanted noises such as mouse clicks, chewing, and typing.
Last but not least, if your mic is damaged, its quality will also be damaged. Although microphones are designed to last longer, continue usage and occasional drops can damage the mic in the long run.
How to Make Your Mic Sound Better
A quality microphone sound will invite the audience and make them feel like you are delivering the content face to face to them. It also means recording your audio without fearing unwanted noise being picked up from the surroundings or without breathing noise and consonant noise being captured.
With that being said, here is how to make your microphone sound better.
Microphone Distance to Mouth
I have seen people positioning their microphone right in front of their mouth because they think that is a way of ensuring what they say is captured by the mic. But this can compromise the quality of the microphone because it will pick too loud and booming sound as you speak.
External microphones are extremely powerful and will capture your voice even from a distance away, so consider positioning yourself about 20 centimeters away from the mic.
There is a need to find the right distance between the mic and your mouth because if you are too far away, your audience will not hear you properly and if you are too close, the mic will pick up unwanted noises from your background.
So try to experiment with the distance before you start recording, but the ideal space is between 20 cm and 30 cm.
Another thing, you can adjust how low or high your mic sits on the desk – most microphones need their capsule to be at most 8 cm off the desk surface.
Provide you position your mic at an ideal distance with appropriate posture, then you don’t have to worry about microphone sound quality.
Keep Noise Low
To avoid your microphone picking up unwanted noises in the surrounding, try to record in a quiet room with few hard surfaces.
Recording in a room with low noise is the first step in ensuring your audio sounds better. If there are plenty of back noises such as construction, children playing, cars, or any other noise, your mic will pick up and make it hard for your audience to concentrate on the main points.
Luckily, you can avoid this by first test-recording yourself talking and then playback the audio to see if there is any background noise.
Rooms with hard surfaces are also not ideal for audio recording because these surfaces will cause reverb or echo, which can compromise the quality of your audio.
If possible, set up your recording studio in a room with soft surfaces and items on the walls. An example of this space is a closet – if you have sufficient room in there, consider setting up your recording space there, because clothing will try to soften the echoes.
But even if you can’t find a room with soft surfaces, you can use coats, blankets, or any other soft clothing to cover hard surfaces that produce echoes.
Keep Still While Recording
In addition to positioning your microphone at the right distance, it is important to keep still while recording your podcast. You can move around if necessary while recording, just don’t overdo it. Of course, you don’t have to stand still throughout the recording – gesturing and other body movements are important in articulating a point and are completely fine, provided you don’t change your body position too much in relation to the microphone.
Moving around constantly or farther away from the mic might lead to fluctuations in volume and audio quality, which can be unpleasant for your listeners.
Device Settings are Correct
Your app or device setting also plays an important role in ensuring quality sound input. If you want to enhance the quality of your mic audio, consider doing some tweaking and digging to find the right settings for your device or app.
Try changing some of the internal settings of your devices to make sure your microphone sounds better on all platforms including Mac, PC, PS4, or Xbox – and even Streamlabs and Discord.
All of the above devices and apps have settings that are customizable to boost the microphone sensitivity as well as volume levels. Platforms such as Streamlabs and Discord come with these settings too.
In the case of PC, open Control Panel and select Hardware and Sounds > click sound > Recording > Microphone. Right-click and then select Properties.
From there, select Levels to adjust microphone sensitivity to your liking. Just drag the pointer and play around with the sensitivity level until you stumble upon the right setting for your microphone. Another option is playing around with the microphone booster setting.
But be careful with device settings because too much sensitivity on the mic can result in echo and sound distortion.
For Mac users, the computer comes with an integrated feature that allows you to customize your microphone sensitivity setting.
So head over to System Preferences > Sound > Output and click on your microphone/headset. From there, click Input and start adjusting your microphone sensitivity by dragging the pointer to the right or the left.
Set Gain to Right Level
In audio, the gain is like a floodgate where instead of water, it regulates the amount of sound coming through from the microphone. It is essentially the ratio of out and input power expressed n decibels. Using the floodgate example – the wider the gate (in this case gain) opens the stronger the water flow (voice).
Low gain means you have a higher probability of letting through some unwanted noises comparative to the amount of voice that needs to be recorded.
The aim of gain (as you may know by now) is to regulate the amount of signal coming from the microphone and into the mixer.
Ideally, it would be nice if all the vocals and instruments sent through would have the same signal level, but since they don’t, you have to adjust the gain to the right level to equalize them.
If you are using or own a digital mic, you will notice a small knob labeled ‘gain’, but most mixers also have gain knobs.
On mixers such as Behringer mixers, you want to set the gain to around the -18dB point, although some mixers may have this point exactly at 0dB.
Regardless of where this magical mark is located in your mixer, the goal is to stop where the green lights meet orange or yellow lights. But remember that there will be some moments where you will hit more than the oranges and yellow lights, particularly if you plug in an instrument.
Use Editing Tools to Help Improve Sound
Before you publish your podcast episode, you will need an editing tool. Which tool you choose depends on a number of factors – your skill level, what you will be using the tool for, your budget, and so on.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of audio editing tools, there are plenty of options out there.
Nevertheless, a good editing tool is designed with sound editing capabilities in mind, but each editor has its own set of tools to enhance the process of audio editing. But all editing platforms have at least the basic features such as copying and pasting, recording directly from a microphone, and deleting files from the timeline.
You can use any editing tool to trim your audio file and fine-tune it to enhance sound quality.
Wearing headphones make it easier to edit your podcast because since you are listening to the sound as you record, it becomes a lot easier to control it.
If you didn’t know, editing takes plenty of time, so the trick is to try and do much of the work during the recording phase.
Microphones can pick up more than your ear can hear – the buzzing of the vending machine, slight breeze, and even air conditioner. And the last thing you need is for your audio to be littered with these unpleasant sounds.
So if you do not monitor the sound as you are recording using your headphones, you may find out in the end that some sounds are impossible to edit out. Or spend a ton of time fixing something that could have been prevented entirely.
This is even more essential if you are recording with a co-host or guest because the last thing you need is to ring your guest asking them to “do it again” because there was “some glitch with the first audio.”
Sure some people may enjoy doing it again but it will be near too impossible to re-capture the feeling and aura of the first recording. Your reaction to their jokes, stories, and advice will not be the same because you already expect them.
When you wear headphones, you will be able to regulate your voice while recording.
Use a Pop Filter
A pop filter is a tool used to prevent plosives – the sounds associated with letters p, k, d, b, g, and t in English words like bag, pat, or kid. These sounds can be distracting – and let’s be honest, annoying – and can ruin your show.
Thus, you need to filter them out or prevent them together by using a pop filter.
If you are working on a strict budget, a sock can also function as a pop filter and will save you money because you already have one lying around in your house. But make sure you use a thin sock so that it does not cancel your voice, otherwise you will have to speak really loud to allow the mic to pick on your voice.
Another alternative is foam windscreen, which although is also effective, the difference with an actual pop filter is the amount of noise they drown out as well as their durability.
How to Enhance Phone Microphone When Recording
You may not be able to afford an external microphone or if for whatever reason you don’t have a mic during recording, you can use your smartphone microphone instead. Find a recording environment with little background noise and ensure your voice is the focus of your recording.
Just like using a microphone, make sure you record in a room with fewer hard surfaces or furniture to prevent sound from echoing or bouncing.
Another trick for enhancing your phone microphone is sticking a small piece of tape over the microphone of your phone – it is usually an area near the bottom edge of your phone. This way, the tape will help cut down the amount of unwanted background noise during recording.
You need to know how to make your mic quality better. There are several keys like mic distance and area noise that will help.