Recording sound is tricky. There is a lot that goes into creating a quality audio production and I have stumbled through this craft for a long time. While my first podcast was recorded in my car on a portable MP3 player - I've moved to a bit more robust rig over the years.
I feel that I have finally hit the sweet spot for my voice, my environment, and my gear.
Here's a profile of my rig at the moment and the hardware and software settings I use to get a more professional sound.
For me, taking audio from analog to digital requires the following setup:
- Sure SM7B microphone
- DBX 286s preamp and processor
- Behhringer Xenyx 302 USB interface
- Camtasia for audio/screen recording
- Adobe Audition for recording and audio production
The signal goes from the microphone into the DBX, and then to the USB interface. Once the recording is done, then I go through a few post-production steps to improve the overall quality of the audio.
The DBX 286s is an amazing piece of hardware and pairs excellently with the Sure SM7b (yep - the same model microphone Michael Jackson used on "Thriller"). To get an idea of how to get the optimal settings for the processor, watch Mike DelGaudio's: DBX 286s Mic Preamp and Processor Walkthrough. Mike does an excellent job detailing the reason for each setting while showing you where the dials should be set.
Once I have my audio recorded, I do some post-processing on the file. I find that using these settings helps make my recordings consistent and as clean as possible.
In Adobe Audition I have created a rack preset that includes compression, equalization and limiting. Not included in the effects rack is noise reduction, but that's because I always take a new noise sample with each recording to mitigate changes in my surroundings that my pop up as noise.
The Single-band Compressor has some custom settings. I should take time to translate these settings to update my compression settings on the DBX, but alas, this is what I am using for now.
The next two settings are for the 30 band and parametric equalizers. These adjust the tone of my voice a bit.
Finally, I use a hard limiter to ensure that I the signal is topped off at a comfortable listening level. This can't recuse audio that is recorded too loud, but just ensures I'm not blowing out any ears as listeners use earbuds or headphones.
Lastly, I go clip by clip and open the Noise Reduction window and take a sample of the noise in each clip then select the entire clip and apply the filter. Notice that noise reduction is only set to 70%. This helps ensure I don't end up with a robotic sound after the filter is applied.
- If I'm going to do it, I don't want to just do it half-way
- I don't want to bear the expense to fully commit to doing it right
- I don't need it
I also want to say married. To do it right, sound treating my office would significantly change the design aesthetic of a room that is near our home's entry - so there's that ;)
Even though my office is square, features a set of glass French doors and an adjacent window - any amateurish attempts at sound treatment did not make a difference in my sound quality. Your mileage my vary.
While my setup is by no means a budget rig, you can certainly get an excellent quality sound from the right hardware and a few post-production steps.