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Getting Sound Right

Bad sound means listeners will cut out early and often. Image courtesy of Business News Daily and SHutterstock.

Bad sound means listeners will cut out early and often. Image courtesy of Business News Daily and Shutterstock.

I once sought out professional opinion on a series of podcasts I was developing for GuruTrack.

One highly-admired journalist (yes, we use to have many of them) was kind enough to comment, although he chided me (nee SCOLDED me) about the sound quality, saying it seemed to have been recorded in a lavatory stall.

Shocked, hurt, and unhappy he couldn’t get beyond technical aspects to bask in the greatness of the concept and content, I was miffed. And then I saw the wisdom in the message he provided.

Simply put, this pro was so off put by the poor (Skype call) sound of the interview, he couldn’t get into the really great (it was, really great) flow of the interview. Terrific subject, good research and witty banter and repartee in a cleanly edited half hour was shot to Hell. The purely amateur dynamics and tinny vocals had rendered it all too difficult to embrace.

Now granted, many popular podcasters these days utilize these same techniques with phone interviews, or worse yet, in in-person discussions or demonstrations, and they seem to survive and thrive. Perhaps audiences have been beaten down to a point where they simply accept crappy sound. But I now have clarity, and I hear only what Marshall McLuhan referred to as “the noise in the communication,” and as a result I get unhappy with the host and tend to tune out.

What to do?
With the many advancements in microphone technology that have emerged, there are no excuses (ignorance and laziness are not excuses) for not racheting up the sound quality. And, while I have invested in a couple good pieces of sound gear, you do not have to break the bank to record really solid audio for your video and listen-only offerings.

SmartLav+Rather than going through my equipment list I am going to recommend one of the simplest, smartest and easiest-to-integrate pieces of sound tech you can employ.

It is called the  Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone, and it literally runs off an app and records to your smartphone. How easy is it?

  1. You plug it in to your smartphone
  2. You clip it onto you collar or shirt, jacket etc.
  3. You open the RODE app, and start a new recording
  4. You lock the phone (so no button pushing will occur) and you put the phone in a pocket

Then you record with no distractions or fumbling with equipment or equipment people, and you get very clear, direct to microphone sound. You are “mic’d up ” and you do not sound like you’re way across the room or in someone’s garage. NOTE: the Rode smartLav+ is a condenser microphone, so it does pick up some room noise, but not in a way that will displace your vocals (or music … it works for that too) so you can count on a great sound.

Once you are done recording, stop the recording on the app. Then upload the recording to iTunes or DropBox to get it onto your computer for editing and syncing up with your video.

As I mentioned, it is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to upgrade your recording quality I’ve seen, and I wish more of the gurus I track would commit to better sound and implement this simple fix.


Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphonesavailable on Amazon for $79-100. 

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About admin

I'm a hybrid talent with extensive corporate and agency experience in results-driven marketing communications, and creative management. I draw from a well of talent for design, copywriting, internal/external communications, brand development, social media, ecommerce, selling and speaking. I have built companies from scratch and run agency and corporate departments. I am remarkably resourceful and dialed-in to digital innovation, business trends and media (print to social).
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