20. A/B'ing Your Audio to Produce Better Sounding Podcasts
My father always taught me the worst thing you can do is to constantly compare yourselves to others. It can be limiting, anxiety inducing, and can guide you off the path you should be taking in life. Every person, every voice, and every experience is unique and should be treated as such. However! When we're duding our own audio quality, it's important to keep comparing our audio against that of other podcasts and voices that are KNOWN to be of good quality. Here's the reason why...
I've said it many times in past episodes, our ears are more susceptible to change than constants. When we listen to nothing but our own audio for an extended period of time, we become deaf to less than ideal qualities in our sound. When we first hit play, we may think "oh, that sounds a bit off...". But after 20 seconds, our ears adjust to the sound and the longer we sit with that audio, the more it becomes normal to us. It's not until we take a break and listen to a show with audio we love that we realize we took a left turn somewhere in our mix and now we have to undo a lot of moves to get back on track.
If we take periodic and frequency breaks from our audio to listen to a show with amazing production quality, we will keep our own audio in check, constantly comparing our sound to something great so we know where we should be heading. It's like a beacon of light letting us know which path we should take when we hit a fork in the road.
There are several tools we can use to quickly switch back and forth between our audio and the audio of others, but the process of A/Bing can be as simple as you want it to be. Hit pause in your DAW, hit play in the browser of NPRs website. Take stock of the differences in quality. Maybe you'll realize your voice could use a little bit more low end. Maybe it needs a little less midrange, and we wouldn't have noticed that if we didn't have a comparison to look to.
This is also extremely helpful to compensate for the coloration of our output devices. In past episodes I've mentioned that EVERYTHING affects how we hear sound. The shape of our ears, the size of the cones in our studio monitors, the quality and accuracy of our headphones, and the environment in which we are listening. When we have something to compare our voice to, we can compensate for the coloration of our output devices, and this is EXTREMELY helpful when we're not 100% comfortable with the way our devices translate sound.
Metric AB by ADPTR (free 14 day trial)
Fabfilter ProQ3 (free 30 day trial)
My Signal Chain
Audio Interface: Apogee Ensemble
Microphone: Shure SM7b
Headphones: Audio-Technia ATH-M50x
Earbuds: Klipsch R6i II
Studio Monitors: Yamaha HS7
Mic Stand: Rode PS1A Boom Arm
IzoTope RX6 Mouth De-Click
IzoTope RX6 Voice De-Noise
Waves Vocal Rider
Waves API 2500
Waves L2 Limiter
Waves WLM Meter
Waves Durrough Meter
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Midroll Song: Road Trip by Joakim Karud
Closing Song: Luvly by Joakim Karud