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How to Make Your Podcast Sound Great

Lesson 5 of 10

How To Speak Into the Microphone

Ray Ortega

How to Make Your Podcast Sound Great

Ray Ortega

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Lesson Info

5. How To Speak Into the Microphone

Lesson Info

How To Speak Into the Microphone

We're actually ready to record into those. It really is just as simple as talking into a microphone now, right? Yes, once we learn how. (laughs) We wanna learn how to talk into a microphone. I have this; Matt McGlynn, he runs a site called It's the largest database of microphones. If you need geeky specs, it's there. He was on my show The Podcasters Studio, episode 71. I love this; he said, "Podcasts are listened to mostly through headphones." That's how I listen. "If you have a sibilant, piercing S sound, it's like an icepick in the ear. Don't do that to your audience." Just alluding to the fact that there are things we can do with our voice in the microphone that is gonna be super annoying to your audience. This is the thing they'll probably send you an email about. "Hey, can you not eat an apple while you talk in the microphone?" (audience laughs) Or, "Dude, drink some water because your mouth is straight sticky." (audience laughs) The S is a little harder to dea...

l with, but there are some things we can do. As I tongue-click; see? We'll get to that. So I am gonna use this microphone. Before I actually get to putting some audio through this, I wanna show you proper address. This microphone here is a great example. Do you guys see this? This looks like a classic condenser microphone where it sits into a stand like this. Maybe you got a big pop filter and I'm gonna belt out my next number one single right into the side of this microphone, and that would be wrong. I see people use this Heil PR-40 like this all the time because it seems obvious. That's the biggest space. It looks like it's receiving audio. It needs to be this. So you need to know; where does your microphone pick up its audio from? This is such a problem apparently on this mic, I don't know, that Heil has put this little happy face here with an arrow. It's saying, "Hey dude, it's front-firing up here." (audience laughs) I'll see people on livestream ... I'm like, "Hey, just turn the mic." They're like, "Oh my God, this thing sounds amazing now. (audience laughs) I thought this mic sucked and I spent all that money." Know where your mic is picking up that audio from. That's just proper address. Is it a side address microphone or a front address microphone? This microphone seems a little bit more obvious. It's pointing right at me. Basically you can see the audio levels that are going when I'm talking in this microphone. This is actually pretty good level. I'm bouncing around that yellow, somewhere around -12. It's a little louder than I want and we're gonna get into that, but I'm close to this microphone. Distance is a big issue. I see people like, "I'm set up to record. Cool. Yeah, that's nice." So what you can see, this one's doing a pretty good job. But as you back off this microphone, there's a thing called the inverse square law. It's gonna tell you that if I ... The right proper spot for me is two inches from the mic, which pretty much on this type of microphone, two to three inches. Soon as I double that, so I go from two inches to four inches, I've lost 6 dB of audio. What am I? Oh man, I need to quick math? Now I'm like four inches off. That was four and six. Now I'm losing like 12 dB of audio. We're going to have to take that audio in post-production and turn it way up. We're gonna turn up everything, the noise floor, so we want to be really close. Just know which way to talk in your microphone and then stay close to it. Again, the pop filter, if you need that, can act as training wheels on different microphones. Stay on top of the pop filter. But being close like this can create an issue called plosives. All that air that's coming out of our mouth, it can go direct into this microphone. This is a windscreen; it's protected from plosives. You might be hearing some. I'm not monitoring my audio, so bad on me. But depending on the microphone, each one's gonna be more susceptible to plosives or less. One of the ways I can deal with that is put on another pop filter. I've seen this microphone, even in the podcast setup here, has a little pop filter. But instead of talking right into the microphone and the air (hard breath noises) going directly in, talk off-axis. So now we still in that polar pattern, but all that breath coming out of my mouth is going through the pattern and past the microphone. It's not going into the ... You still sound as good and you're close, but I can say P's and B's and it's most likely, you'll have to adjust, but it's not going directly in the microphone. You might have heavier P's and B's than others. Sounds funny, too. Your P's and B's need to go on a diet. Sibilance, that piercing S sound, is a little harder to deal with. But ideally you have a microphone that's gonna help you with that. This has a really flat frequency response. It doesn't accentuate the high end, where the sibilance is gonna play around in this treble area, this high-frequency area. This one picks it up, that area. It doesn't boost it the way the other equivalent mic, the ATR2100 does. If you have sharp S's like that, you can use a mic that doesn't enhance it. That's a good start. Different mics are going to handle those type of noises better. So knowing if you have heavy P's and B's, is there a plosive? Is there a microphone that deals with plosives better? S's is their frequency curve that's not enhancing that range of frequencies. What we can do at the microphone in terms of mic technique is, we talk about off-axis, so coming in the side and talking across ... But with sibilance, if you're having a problem, you can decide to go underneath a little bit, and it's just position. You have to play around with the mic position and see if that lessens it. You're gonna be a little more nasal-y because you're pointing right up your nose. And then maybe you're coming down, pointing more ... This one, I'd have to adjust this, but maybe more down towards your voice. So up and down you can adjust for maybe sibilance or plosives even, and then off-axis. It's gonna be different for everyone, but if you're picking up those kind of issues in your mic, play with the position of the microphone. Stay close and move it around and see where it sounds best for you. That'll also help with breath sounds. People in an interview when they're not talking ... (heavy breathing) (audience laughs) That's a lot of editing. (audience laughs) Breath sound gone, breath sound gone. So maybe you need to position it not underneath their nose. And have water; we're going back to that. I built in my own water breaks; it's fantastic. Have water because my mouth probably sounds pretty sticky. I have a host who starts a lot of sentences like this. (clicks tongue) Has a tongue click. It's a sharp spike in our audio. (mumbles) record a piece? Hey, so I'm recording into Adobe Audition. My voice looks good, I got good level. What if I go over ... (clicks tongue) That's a tongue click. That's my technique that you have control over. Part of my technique is just learning your habits and then stopping them. (audience chuckles) Couple of these, if I talk, (clicks tongue) it can be really close to the audio. Some people have um's and ah's that merge right into their sentence, and in that way, it's really hard to take it out. If your tongue click is right next to your sentence, and it's a little more separated in this case, it's gonna be hard to edit that. Can I play this back? (laughs) Anyways, tongue click. If you have some issue like that, that's something you can work on yourself. Distance, plosives, proximity. Proximity is, we are close to this microphone because it's helping us with getting a good signal and taking out some of the room. Some microphones, that frequency response that I talked about will enhance the low end. As you get really close, it'll be what they describe as muddy. I talked to my previous class about describing wine. The wine tastes jammy. Oh, I know what that means. Sounds muddy; it almost sounds like I'm putting my hand in front of my mouth, like you're talking from behind a door. That is a distance issue. Proximity effect only happens when you're really close. If you hear that and it's just really bass-y, just back off a little bit. Maybe four inches is where you need to be, not two inches. If you hear it and it's getting really muddy, it's just the distance issue. Some mics handle, again, proximity effect, they'll roll off that low end so it's less susceptible. The RE320 and RE20 mics we looked at, they're expensive, but they're immune to almost sibilance and plosives. They have a special, the way they bent the microphone that releases those proximity effects. Expensive, but it does a lot of cool things. This one is not actually ... It's talking into the microphones. It's not gonna affect the microphone, but I like to put this here as a tip; your cadence. When you talk into a microphone, your mouth is going faster than your brain can process. What happens then, it's, "I'm talking to you guys and, um, I'm gonna go over to this and, uh, let's talk about, um ..." You're getting into edit and you're just like um, ah, um, ah, removing those. You don't have to do all of that. And as I said, some of those um's and ah's can go right into your sentence and they're harder to remove. Those I would just leave. Don't get too crazy about removing all the um's and ah's. Podcasts, we're natural here, but you don't want too many. If you just slow it down a little bit and don't be afraid of the empty space. When I'm recording, instead of filling that dead space, letting my brain catch up to my mouth because I'm filling dead air because I don't want dead air, I just let the dead air happen. You can see this is very easy to see in the editor when I don't talk. Now all you have to do is tighten that up. If it's an uh and then they keep talking, where's the um? Where's the space? Work on slowing yourself down. I had to get painfully slow when I started my podcast, almost talk like this. It's not gonna sound good, but then I learned to avoid the um's and ah's by just being a little more patient. Then I sped it back up as I got more natural. I think I'm better at the um's and ah's. Cadence I just put there.

Class Description

So you’ve bought, borrowed, or bartered all of your podcasting gear. Congratulations! Now it’s time to figure out how to use it. In this comprehensive technical course, Ray Ortega will show you the ins and outs of how to record audio and process it for publication.

You’ll learn everything from how to connect your equipment to how to speak into the microphone to how to record the cleanest audio possible. By the end of this course, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence you need to embark on your podcasting journey and create a high-quality recording.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Record audio that’s clear and free of noise.
  • Connect your gear.
  • Use your microphone correctly.
  • Set recording levels.
  • Identify audio issues.
  • Add in recording effects.


Julio Lemmen Meyer

Great detailed information and technical best practices for the new podcaster. Ray is a great teacher. He explains complicated technical stuff in an easy to follow way. I got a lot of value from this class. I am sure that it will allow me to avoid and headaches and some time consuming mistakes in the future. Thanks Ray!

Chrissy Gabelman Dunham

Such a Great Course! Wish I would have had this before I started my podcast and bought the wrong equipment, twice, LOL! SO Good!

Michelle MartinF

Ray had a lot of information to cover in a short amount of time and he was generous with his hard-earned insights, well-organized and offered detailed information on hardware. He did a great job talking about the must-haves as well as the great-to-have-when-you're-ready items.