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Thread: Help! Guiding remote podcast co-host in recording better audio

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    Question Help! Guiding remote podcast co-host in recording better audio

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    My girlfriend does a podcast with a cohost who lives in another state. I help with recording on her end, and give as much advice to him on the other end as I can, but he just does a terrible job, and I'd like to help him improve. There's one major stand-out problem as I see it: he can't hear himself.

    So the setup is this:
    They skype in order to talk, and they each record their own audio. She records both her audio and his (via the skype call as a backup to his recording). They sync it up later fairly easily.

    On our end:
    Zoom H6 recorder, with Shure SM58 (with foam cover) going to one channel, and the computer audio (skype, itunes, etc) going to another. Her headphones plug into the Zoom recorder, so she hears both her own voice and the skype audio coming through the headphones.

    On his end:
    He's got what looks like a Shure SM7B (though he says it has a USB interface and I know he's recording straight to a quicktime file on his computer, so I'm not 100% certain what mic it is).
    He plugs in headphones to the laptop so he can hear the skype call, but he isn't hearing his own audio, so it really just comes out sounding terrible, with either tons of plosives or tons of reverb - or sometimes even both, depending on how he's positioned. Essentially, typical problems one gets when recording without listening.

    I'm trying to come up with advice on how to change his setup so he can at the very least hear both the skype call AND his own audio. I figure if he can just hear himself, he'll be more likely to adjust his own behavior to minimize the plosives, etc.

    But it seems surprisingly difficult to figure out how to route skype audio and external audio through a computer (mac) so they both come out the headphones while recording the external audio, either by itself or on separate channels alongside the skype audio, without incorporating an external recorder. I'm inclined to advise him to just get a Zoom recorder too, honestly, but if I'm not mistaken, the USB mic seems like a bit of a hurdle on that front too. Is this more of a software question than a hardware question, or do I need to address both hardware and software problems here?

    Can anybody here advise..?

    Thank you!

    p.s. if you'd like to hear for yourself, go straight to the last episode, and skip to the 3 minute mark.
    Monica! The Podcast by Daniel Rogge & Tracie Potochnik on Apple Podcasts

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    I think you have three things going against you. One, is the guys mic control. If he has a SM7B, that is a pretty good mic, but he is probably on top of it. Hence the plosives. Probably hear breathing as well. He probably needs to back off the mic and turn up his head set. Most people like the sound of close mic'ing voice. Gives it that deep Darth Vader sound. If he wants that, he will need to learn how to work the mic better.

    Which comes to problem two, audio interface. I looked up the SM7B just to see if they made a USB version. It doesn't look like it. Not sure how much gain it needs, maybe some folks can help here. But if he has some cheap USB adapter, maybe he is cranking it too hard to hear himself or ??? I would think to help him out at the basic level, turn up the headphones, turn down the gain and move further back from the mic. That might cause another problem of introducing a bad room sound. But once you fix the the first two problems, that is an easy fix.

    The third is to try and get some decent lossless file so you can mix it better and get it to sound like they are in the same room. Might not be that important, but if you are going through this trouble already, nice little "same" room sound would be a good touch. Have him give his audio file on a file sharing site and then you can easily pull it in and mix with more confidence and better audio source. I am not sure if hearing himself is that big of a deal as long he is not adjusting his voice level for compensation.

    Those are just thoughts from my view, probably others would have better ideas on how to pull this off.
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    Thank you for your response, I agree with everything you said, and I think your notes are spot on.
    My current goal, however, is to simply get his audio from the microphone back into his own ears while also allowing him to hear their skype call through the same headphones. I figure once he can actually hear himself *while recording*, then the tips and suggestions I have for him regarding mic position and room setup etc will actually mean something to him. You know?
    I'm pretty sure if we get him a separate recorder, I'd know what to do from there. But first I thought I'd investigate possible options for him to keep using the hardware he's already got.

    IS there a way to feed skype audio and USB-mic audio into the same headphones while recording without a separate recorder or other hardware to manage the channels (and while maintaining separate tracks, of course)?
    Last edited by Clowney; 06-27-2017 at 14:39.

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    After a little bit of digging around, I've found this app called Loopback. Any thoughts on whether this will be a good solution to address my first/main problem of getting audio of both skype and the microphone back into the headphones of our podcast co-host who currently can't hear himself in his headphones?
    Rogue Amoeba | Loopback: Cable-Free Audio Routing

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    I don't know much about that software. Skype tries to keep the input/output separate to avoid feedback. I have not done any experimenting with this type of focus.
    Keep checking back, if I have some time I may try some different setups see what I come up with. Also, maybe others will see the post and already have the idea setup to help.
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    Doesn't he listen back to his own recording? If so, you could just emphasize why those things he hears are happening.

    Although maybe he realizes there's a problem and just doesn't know what the issues are. In which case you're back to square one on the monitoring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Four TV Sports View Post
    Doesn't he listen back to his own recording? If so, you could just emphasize why those things he hears are happening.

    Although maybe he realizes there's a problem and just doesn't know what the issues are. In which case you're back to square one on the monitoring.
    Ugh, you would think that listening back to his own recording might make a difference, right? But it doesn't seem to. He edits the show himself - very well - but he thinks in terms of story and content, not in terms of technical stuff... like, ever.
    So this is a case of trying to change his mind about what's important, and showing him both that what he's doing sounds terrible AND that it can be addressed with just a small amount of effort.

    I feel pretty certain that if I can just get his sound coming back to his ears *while he's recording*, at least 75% of this problem will be addressed simply because he'll notice what's happening in real time (plosives, etc).
    Then again, maybe he won't even notice or care under those conditions, and I'll just have to throw my hands in the air and let them just do their thing their way. :\

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    Hi,
    I can help you with mac routing if you need it, but I'd advise against letting anyone hear themselves live in the headphones because it can be really off-putting.
    If it's essential I'd do it via hardware monitoring, which may not be an option at present...That depends on the equipment.

    Can you find out for certain what microphone and chain this guy has?
    It sounds like a cheap low quality skype call to me but you say that each party is recording their own voice down so...that would mean his mike just sucks?
    We'd really need to know for sure before making recommendations.

    As with any studio/people issue...Have you communicated any of this to him?
    Simply mentioning it might go a long way.

    Actually, further to that, if mentioning it doesn't go a long way, making him hear himself is likely to make much difference either!
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    Hi,
    ... I'd advise against letting anyone hear themselves live in the headphones because it can be really off-putting.
    If it's essential I'd do it via hardware monitoring, which may not be an option at present...That depends on the equipment.

    Can you find out for certain what microphone and chain this guy has?
    It sounds like a cheap low quality skype call to me but you say that each party is recording their own voice down so...that would mean his mike just sucks?
    We'd really need to know for sure before making recommendations.

    As with any studio/people issue...Have you communicated any of this to him?
    Simply mentioning it might go a long way.

    Actually, further to that, if mentioning it doesn't go a long way, making him hear himself is likely to make much difference either!


    I'm pretty sure the mic doesn't suck. (I'll get the specifics - I've sent him an email asking for the model number etc.)
    His setup sucks, for sure.

    I'm confused by your recommendation against letting him hear his own voice while recording. As I understand it, hearing your own voice during recording is like rule #1 in recording 101. Or am I misunderstanding what you're saying here?

    And yes, I've spoken with him endlessly about this. It's been a ton of back and forth, trying to advise remotely, and the success has been a total hit-or-miss situation with each recording session, totally at the mercy of whether he happened to place the mic at a decent spot on a given week. He doesn't care as much as I do, and I'm out of energy for trying to guide him through it without being able to offer specific guidance for him on how he can get his vocal into his own ears during recording.

    You're probably correct that after mentioning the problems to him, making him hear himself probably won't help much either - oy - but I do think that's the most important thing to at least TRY, before I give up on attempting to help.

    Thanks for your response!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clowney View Post
    I'm pretty sure the mic doesn't suck. (I'll get the specifics - I've sent him an email asking for the model number etc.)
    His setup sucks, for sure.

    I'm confused by your recommendation against letting him hear his own voice while recording. As I understand it, hearing your own voice during recording is like rule #1 in recording 101. Or am I misunderstanding what you're saying here?
    I suppose everybody is different..I hate hearing my voice when I'm singing. For speech, I'd definitely hate that.
    As I say, though, maybe I'm the odd one out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clowney View Post
    And yes, I've spoken with him endlessly about this. It's been a ton of back and forth, trying to advise remotely, and the success has been a total hit-or-miss situation with each recording session, totally at the mercy of whether he happened to place the mic at a decent spot on a given week. He doesn't care as much as I do, and I'm out of energy for trying to guide him through it without being able to offer specific guidance for him on how he can get his vocal into his own ears during recording.
    That may be the end of the journey right there, although I admire your drive to get it fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clowney View Post
    Thanks for your response!
    No worries. I think specifics on his gear and environment are going to be very important.
    Ambience wise, he didn't sound particularly close to the mic to me but, as you say, there are blasts and plosives.
    If that really is a 7b, I applaud him!
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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