The Four Horsemen of Audio Recording

I posted a slightly revised version:

The Four Horsemen of Audio Recording (time tested ways to kill your show)

– 1. Echoes and room reverberation (It will always sound like your show was in a barn.)
– 2. Overload and Clipping (Any sound that’s too loud is permanently trashed.)
– 3. Compression Damage (Never do production in MP3.)
– 4. Background Sound (Don’t leave the TV on in the background.)

I love this sound clip from a web site selling, I think, diet solutions. I think they shot the main show normally and it sounds fine, but they discovered the into was damaged or missing, so they shot it again…

I’m considering more detailed explanations of each one as a clickable link – why each one is deadly. I know I write different versions of each one time after time. Also, I think I found a better tag line for #1. “Like you shot it in your mum’s kitchen.”

Another note on #1:

Yesterday, I shot a “Double Ender” where I shot the high quality voice of one of our directors while he talked on the phone to the person doing the interview, who was in turn being separately recorded high quality. Smash the two sound files together for the finished show. Since this was an actual broadcast production, we in LA double recorded it, the second, backup track to a Zoom H4.

We didn’t need it.

I’m going to post a picture of the setup. It looks way too complicated for what it was. The star equipment isn’t obvious. I shot it in the all but dead silent, echo-free Executive Conference Room.


This is a terrible illustration because it’s too complicated and it’s actually two shoots, but I had to grab a shot before the mum of the room came in and chased us out with a stick.

The right-hand section is a Rhode mic with echo suppressor and it plays into a Zoom H4, not shown. The headphones were theirs.

The left section is the AKG mic with blast filter and natural room sound. It plays into the Peavey mixer and on to Audacity 2 on my Mac. Those are Koss headphones and also featured is the telephone deskset which carried the actual interview.

The blue furniture moving pad was played by a furniture moving pad. I have a two foot tall stack of those in the car park for sound work.

It’s a study in overkill, isn’t it? I’ll see if I can get permission to post some of the track. I’m not sure who “owns” it.


It is. The problem is it doesn’t match the rest of the show. They’re trying to sell professional diet solutions and the intro sounds like a 12-year old recorded it in the garage. Koz

Maybe to your standard person trying to record things at home, but I don’t think so. Nothing matters more than having options, especially if some unforeseen thing happens that ruins the entire recording and nobody was monitoring in checking the whole time. But even if we don’t record a source with multiple mics, we still end up mixing several versions in different tracks, sending them to various auxiliary buses, using different amounts and types of EQ and compression, and then recombining at varying levels to create a “Super Quality” version.

It’s pretty common in compression too. Parallel compression (New York compression) is designed around the concept. It might be overkill to some, but you’re doing it right, especially to capture two options at the source instead of depending on one and then using effects to process them later.