Avoiding Pesky Recording Problems

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When I think back on it, I held a positively appalling approach to field recording when I first started out as a producer. A problem would present itself in the field and I used to think “I’ll fix it later.” Wow. What a mistake.

For instance, while recording outside in a windy spot, I’d say to myself “Don’t worry. I’ll just filter out that rumbly wind noise on my computer.” Wrong. Often, my fixes made the recordings worse.

I think part of the reason I worked that way was because I was afraid to ask for what I needed. Take the windy situation again. I simply could have asked the person I was interviewing to move to a less windy spot. But, I thought I’d be imposing on my interviewee. Or that they’d think I picked a lousy location and I didn’t know what I was doing.

I also thought my editing software had magical powers. That a computer could fix pesky sound problems with the push of a button. That’s when I learned I didn’t really know which buttons to push. Or how they even worked. EQ-ing and filtering sound is more complicated than it initially seems.

So, over the years and after making a ton of mistakes, I figured out that “fix it in the mix” is really the last thing I want to do. That it’s best to record sound correctly the first time.

Rob Byers joins me on this HowSound. Rob’s a Production Specialist with NPR’s Training Team. He reviews some of the basics for avoiding pesky sound problems and getting recordings right the first time.

A lot of the material Rob discusses with me, including samples of bad recordings provided by NPR, can be found at NPR’s Ear Training Guide for Audio Producers. But there’s quite a bit that Rob and I did not talk about. Problems like phase and hum and sibilance. So, after listening to HowSound, be sure to check out all the guide has to offer.

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