My Sally Field moment

I had a private Sally Field moment the other day after I came out of the closet. First of all, I should tell you that the closet I came out of had an Audio-Technica microphone in it. You see, it’s my sound booth, which is a major part of my audio production company that, thanks to all the newest whizbang audio gadgetry, consists of only two people — my wife and me. We specialize in podcast imaging and editing. In other words, we produce podcast intros and outros for podcasters, and then we edit their shows. Besides doing voice work and editing, we also occasionally produce the music we use in our productions right here in-house. And I mean literally in-house because our studio is in our house in Georgetown, Texas (just north of Austin).

Using Acid Pro software, a Yamaha MOTIF 6 keyboard, and an E-MU X Board 25 midi controller, I can create a 30- or 60-second music track in about an hour. I try to offer music a bit more on the quirky side because I find that podcasters like off-the-wall kind of stuff. Because each music track I create is custom, I start off with the podcast script in front of me as I sit at my computer listening to various music loops. I first decide on the genre. For example, I just completed a podcast intro for a high school podcaster in Louisiana who asked for music that sounded like Whitesnake and ZZ Top. I knew right away that I would be using electric fuzz guitars, an edgy bass, and rock drums. After laying down about six audio tracks in Acid Pro consisting of electric guitar, bass and drum loops, I fired up the Yamaha MOTIF 6 keyboard — a great keyboard for studio production — and picked an overdriven electric guitar to use for the main lead. After a about three tries, I liked what I came up with up on the keyboard. So I was ready for the final mix.

Song endings are always difficult for me when working with Acid Pro. I usually have to do some chopping of instruments at the end of a song to create a solid ending. However, the client wanted the music to fade, so I created about 64 seconds of music and then faded it down at 60 seconds. When finished with a music track, I always try to come up with a name that describes the song. In a rush, I called it Don’t Mess with Texas because ZZ Top is from Texas. Later I renamed it High Energy.

After completing the music track, I recorded the voice work for the podcast intro. Unfortunately, I had two things going against me. It was late in the day and my voice always sounds strained late in the day. And on top of that, the Saharan dust that somehow made it’s way to Central Texas was wreaking havoc on my throat. I recorded my voice anyway, edited it, and mixed in the music using Adobe Audition. I processed the heck out of it to compensate for my strained voice. I then did the ultimate bad thing: I uploaded it to the Internet, emailed the client that it was ready (well under my 48-hour turnaround time), and I went to bed.

The next day I woke up feeling better. I listened to the podcast intro again and HATED IT!!!! I was embarrassed that I had produced it. After one quick cup of coffee (warm liquid on the throat helps the voice sound better but I confess that coffee is not the best choice), I stumbled back into the sound booth (the closet) and recut the voice work with a much-improved voice, dropped the new voice track into the mix, and posted it online as a revision, as I call it. It could just as well be called saving face because I was really disgusted with the first version. I quickly wrote the client and explained why I did a revision and gave him the link to the new download page. I started planning the next project while waiting anxiously for a response from the client. Later in the day, after coming out of the closet for the umpteenth time between voice takes, I checked my email and found this reply: “You are the greatest! I have not begun my podcast, but your services have encouraged me to go full speed ahead. I am sure I will be contacting you again for more work very soon.”

Whew! I lucked out. He liked it. He really liked it! Sorry, I was having that Sally Field moment I referred to earlier. Although I was worried that the client would feel like he got mediocre voice work, I was also worried he would not like the music. And yet, it was a good ending to a project. Time to check my email to see what my next project will be.

When should you consider buying a new microphone?

I can tell when a podcaster is using a poor quality microphone (or an internal computer or smartphone microphone) versus a high-fidelity microphone. The voice sounds tinny on the poor quality mic. In other words, the high frequencies are there but very little, if any, low frequencies are present. Also, the dreaded popped P, known as a plosive, raises its ugly head. And often there is an ear-piercing sound on words with an S (“sibilance”). As an audio editor at Audiobag, I can remove or reduce plosives and reduce sibilance with post-production enhancing. However, I can’t add something that’s not there: low frequencies. So, the voice is going to be missing warmth. And there’s only one way to correct this problem. You need a decent microphone. The type of mic you choose depends on the sounds around you other than your voice. Oh yeah, and your budget, of course.

The first microphone I purchased for our old studio back in 1987 was a dynamic microphone, which is not as sensitive to sound as a condenser microphone. The reason I chose a dynamic mic back then was because we were recording our voices in the same room where our reel-to-reel recorder was located (yes, Audiobag started out in the days before digital audio) in a studio in downtown Georgetown right next door to a fire station. Talk about noise! So, I purchased a Shure SM7B*, a dynamic mic. All these years later, the Shure SM7B is one of the most recommended microphones for podcasters. One reason is because most podcasters are not recording in a soundproof room. A dynamic microphone tends to knock out distant noises (like your kids yelling, the dog barking, or the sound of the furnace in the background). These days we use a condenser microphone for the voice work we do at Audiobag because we are in a quiet soundproof room (with no analog equipment, thank you very much!). A condenser microphone has a thin diaphragm which is more sensitive to detailed sound than a dynamic microphone. In other words, the words that come out of our mouth are picked up quite nicely by a condenser microphone, as well as other sounds. Luckily, there are no other sounds in our soundproof room.

So what microphone should you buy? Well, that comes down to your budget. I recommend spending at least $100 on a new microphone. And be sure to get a wind filter while you’re at it to knock out the popped P’s. If money is not a major concern, then you might want to start around $400. With that said, I’ve done a lot of testing of microphones and I’ve found that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a better-sounding microphone. If the microphone doesn’t sound right to you, send it back. One side note here: I’ve enhanced podcasts where the podcaster used an expensive microphone and yet I still needed to roll-off some of the low frequencies because it was too bassy. So, keep in mind that adjustments to your voice can be made in post-production to make you sound better. And if you need that done, as well as removal of verbal flubs and extraneous noise, check out Audiobag’s editing and enhancing service. Yep, that’s a not-so-hidden plug for what I do for a living. I make podcasters sound their best.

Listen back to your recording. Is it the best your voice can sound? Think about your listeners. They expect quality.

* Note: As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Write a Podcast Intro

It’s relatively easy to write a podcast intro. If you go with a 30-second opening for your show, you don’t need more than 75 words. In fact, 50 words would be better. Alright. Let’s get started.

Begin with a welcome of some kind. Here are a few:

  • “Welcome to The Bike Show, a podcast about … “
  • “Podcasting from Austin, Texas, welcome to The Bike Show.”
  • “Streaming from…”
  • “Coming to you from deep in the heart of Texas, welcome to The Bike Show.”

You get the idea. Let your listener know where you are and the name of your podcast right up front.

Next, tell her a little about where you’re podcasting from. For example, “Podcasting from Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world and home to the world’s largest urban bat population, country music singer Willie Nelson, South by Southwest, and the University of Texas … “. Although this isn’t necessary, it helps your listener know what is interesting to you.

Of course, the most important part of your opening should explain what your podcast is all about. “This is The Bike Show, a weekly podcast about bikes and the people who ride them. Hear interviews with special guests and bike news from around the world.” Your listener will now realize that you’re going to have guests that talk about bikes, as well as bike news from all over the world.

Wrap up your podcast intro with the name of your host or hosts, and add a brief description. “And now here’s your host, author and bike expert — Bob Johnson!” And presto! You’ve got your podcast intro written and ready to send to Audiobag for us to produce. Here’s a full sample:

“Podcasting from Austin, Texas — the live music capital of the world and home to the world’s largest urban bat population, country music singer Willie Nelson, South by Southwest, and the University of Texas — this is The Bike Show, a weekly podcast about bikes and the people who ride them. Hear interviews with special guests and bike news from around the world. And now here’s your host, author and bike expert — Bob Johnson!”



How to record a podcast in front of a large audience

Recently a customer told us that she was going to record an upcoming podcast at a conference in front of an audience and she wanted to know what is the best way to get a decent recording in a large auditorium. There are several different ways to achieve a good recording.

The best way to get good sound is to take it directly from the house sound system — eliminating the acoustic effects of the room. You’ll want to connect your recorder input cables (left and right channel) to the outputs of the sound system. Adjust the record levels so you don’t record too loud and get distortion. Remember that the output from most sound systems is at line level, not microphone level.

If it’s not possible to connect to the house sound system, you can mike the guests with your own gear (or equipment you rent). I suggest you mike each guest separately. You’ll need several microphones, mic stands, pop filters, and a mixer. Place the mike within 24 inches of each guest. Plug each mike into a separate channel on your mixer.

You can buy (or rent) a mixer at most musical instrument stores. For example, a Zoom R16 or R24 Multitrack Recorder might work nicely for your needs. You’ll have a mixer with mike inputs on the back for each guest microphone and a recorder all in one piece of equipment.

When you finish recording your podcast and need a little help cleaning it up (coughs, bloopers, long pauses, etc.) and turning it into a polished podcast, check out our audio editing and enhancing page at Meanwhile, good luck with your recording.

How an audio production studio got into editing video

pexels-photo-257904.jpegIt’s really quite simple. We got into editing video because when enhancing the audio in videos customers sent to us, we noticed that the video also needed attention. It was too dark, too light, blurry, and often had verbal flubs — all of which could be repaired.

Audio is often the weakest part of a video, so make sure whoever does the post-production work on your video is an audio expert.  We find it often the case that the people speaking on camera are not mic’d properly because the microphone is several feet away on the camera or smartphone. This not only creates low volume, it also produces a hollow sound and room noise (hiss). So the best advice we can give you is to use a boom mic or lapel mics.

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Tips on recording a podcast

peoplepodcastingIf you’re a podcaster and you’re not quite sure what settings you should use for recording your show, I can shed some light on that for you. First, if you’re recording just your own voice, you only need to record in monaural (no need for a stereo track). If you’re recording yourself and a guest, use two microphones and a separate track for you and a separate track for your guest if possible. Having two separate tracks makes it easier to mute each track when the other person is talking — knocking out thumps and paper shuffling. Now let’s move on to what sampling rate you should use.

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A simple trick that will improve your podcast

IMG_0011We’ve edited and enhanced many podcasts through the years and the biggest problem we hear in the recordings we enhance is the lack of good room acoustics. “Room acoustics” is simply how the room sounds once you turn on your microphone and start talking. Most podcasters don’t realize one very simple trick will drastically improve the sound of their podcast.

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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?”

A step-by-step guide to creating a podcast with Audacity

Here’s a step-by-step approach to creating a podcast in Audacity — a great free audio software program available at

We hope you have an intro and outro for your podcast. If not, you can get them at (yep, that’s us). Now let’s get started putting it all together.

Continue reading “A step-by-step guide to creating a podcast with Audacity”