23. Ear Training and Critical Listening Exercises to Better Hear and Mix Podcast Audio
When new podcasters or audio engineers are reaching out to their peers for help with their production, it's not uncommon to hear the super frustrating and unhelpful response of "just trust your ears". Unfortunately when you're so new to audio, that means nothing. It's a lazy cop out that relieves the person being asked for help from actually teaching anything. It would be like a new fighter pilot asking his superior how to fly a supersonic jet and getting the response "just trust your gut". Sure the stakes are much lower in audio production, but there still needs to be some foundational understanding in place in order for our ears to be trustworthy.
This process of analyzing and critically listening to audio is called "ear training". It's very aptly named, as it's a very long term process that is constantly expanding upon previous trainings and exercises. Just like you would never finish a marathon with 0 training, you won't hear audio the way a professional does after a couple of days. With running, you need to run to the edge of the block first. When that feels too easy, go all the way around the block, then work your way up to 1 mile, 2 miles, 5 miles, 10, 15, then 26.2 miles. When we first start critically listening to audio, some changes may be so subtle you start to question if you're listening to 2 identical audio files, meanwhile someone else is waxing poetic about how wildly different the sounds are.
This episode will teach you how to effectively develop your skills as an audio professional and podcaster so you can better hear subtle differences in audio, then use those skills to slowly but intentionally increase the quality of your audio week by week.
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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 L2 Limiter
Waves WLM Meter
Waves Durrough Meter
Waves Abbey Road Studio3
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Midroll Song: Road Trip by Joakim Karud
Closing Song: I Feel the Heat by Joakim Karud