How audio affects our mood

I was sitting in one of those brown wooden chairs in a Barnes and Nobles bookstore yesterday skimming through various audio magazines when suddenly there was a loud crash of dishes breaking as they hit the floor in the backroom of the bookstore cafe. The noise was so startling, I expected to hear crying next. Because I was reading about audio, I started thinking about the sounds we hear on a daily basis. With the exception of the hearing-impaired, we’re bombarded with thousands of sounds every day. And many of them are unwanted.

I started wondering what it would be like to live in a rural community or, even better, in the woods all alone with only the sounds of nature. Would I be less stressed? Probably. Because I love big city amenities, I have to take the bad with the good. On this day, the bad was the loud noises coming from what is normally a fairly relaxing bookstore.

Sounds influence my mood and I imagine your mood, too. I was in a peaceful mood until I heard the crash of breaking dishes. Then suddenly my mood changed to one of anxiety and stress. So, if sounds have that kind of control over me, they’re pretty darn powerful, aren’t they? Audio can control us — even manipulate us. How can we use audio to better our lives? What kind of sounds would have changed my mood back to a peaceful one after the crash of the dishes? Perhaps something like this:

A recording of Steve Erkel asking, “Did I do that?”
Colonel Klink yells, “You vill clean up dis mess!”
Ten seconds of violins pizzicato plucking a happy cleanup tune.
Then an announcer says, “Bounty Paper Towels clean up even the toughest spills.”

Was that a commercial or just a brief bit of entertainment to put customers back into a good mood? I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t care. But I believe it just might have worked. It would have put a smile on my face and got me back into the right frame of mind. Oh, and by the way, I would have had a positive image of Bounty Paper Towels. Audio. It’s effective when it’s used the right way at just the right time. I made a mental note to always strive to offer the best sounds I can to everyone around me, including my clients. It will make for a nicer world.

How to knock out that hollow sound in your podcast

One of the more difficult audio problems to deal when we edit and enhance podcast is “that hollow sound” as customers refer to it. They’re talking about the sound of their voice bouncing off of nearby walls, floors and ceilings.

Unless you deal with the problem, the hollow sound is going to remain in your podcasts and you’re going to sound like you’re doing your show in an empty room. We recently had the problem ourselves in a new studio we put together. We didn’t put any acoustical tiles on the walls because the studio is a temporary one. We found an easy solution to dampening the reverberation of our voices, though.

We ordered a couple of blanket moving pads on Amazon from Northern Tool and Equipment,. We hung the blankets around a 6-foot tall by 2-foot wide audio booth we made of PVC pipe we bought at Home Depot. We put a moving blanket we had already on the top as the roof and another blanket on the wood floor for carpeting. This did the trick! We cut out about 99% of the reverb. The total cost was $55 for the PVC, and $53 for the blanket moving pads (including shipping). You can do this much cheaper if you use fairly heavy blankets instead of moving pads and if you have your local hardware store cut the PVC pipe for you. We used pre-cut PVC pipe which is a bit more expensive.

So with a little effort and money, we knocked out the hollow sound and gave our temporary studio a professional sound. Oh, one more thing. If you’ve already got the dreaded “hollow” sound in your recording, we can reduce the reverberation with a technique called de-reverbing. You can learn more about our audio editing and enhancing service at Audiobag.


Before recording anything, do a quick volume test

I’m somewhat (or “kumquat” as I tell my wife — she rolls her eyes) an expert at editing unwanted noise out of audio recordings and video and the number one sound I remove or reduce is room noise — mainly hiss caused from not having the record volume turned up enough. Dang! That was a long sentence and probably should be edited. But let me continue with my thought.

It’s always a good idea before recording to check your microphone level, making sure it’s hitting into the yellow but not the red on your level meter. If it’s in the red, you’re going to have distortion. The good news is that if you’ve already recorded some audio in the red that resulted in distortion, we can reduce it at Audiobag (yes, a little plug for our editing and enhancing business). In fact, I just worked on a recording yesterday that was so distorted, you could see it on a spectral display from outer space.

The simple point here is it doesn’t take a lot of extra time to set recording levels. Maybe a minute of your time. You’ll get a much cleaner sound recording.

If you’d like to learn more about our audio editing and enhancing service, visit our audio editing and enhancing page at Audiobag.




How to remove a spike (crackle or pop) noise in your podcast

I was listening to a podcast the other day on one of my late afternoon walks (yes, we can take walks in the middle of winter here in Central Texas), and I was amazed that the podcast had an annoying spike noise throughout the show. I contacted the podcaster and offered up some quick advice on how to easily remove the noise. I thought I’d pass it along here as well.

Continue reading “How to remove a spike (crackle or pop) noise in your podcast”

Who says podcast listeners like to hear mistakes?

Click to enlarge view of audio in Sony SpectraLayers


The goal of a post-production podcast engineer is to make a podcast sound the very best it can. It’s a time-consuming job, often taking days. Some podcasters try to justify leaving noise and verbal flubs in a podcast by saying it makes it sound more authentic. Frankly, that’s an excuse for being lazy and not caring about your listener to give them your very best. Would you like watching a movie if the director decided to leave in mistakes? I doubt it. Podcast listeners want quality audio, too. But how do you achieve that?

Continue reading “Who says podcast listeners like to hear mistakes?”