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In this episode, I’m sharing a list of all the resources that have helped me learn recording, mixing, and mastering.
Not all of the resources in this episode are specifically about podcasting, but they are great places and people to learn from if you’re interested in editing and mixing your shows, if you want to become a professional podcast editor, or if you want to record and mix music.
Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins
- If you’re just getting started, invest money in a good microphone before upgrading to professional audio software.
- Learning how to mix and master takes time, and you will make mistakes. Don’t let that stop you from experimenting.
- Any mic is ok for getting started, but the cheap mics are not going to sound good, and there’s not any way to fix that audio to make it sound good.
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- 1:53 There are a few things you’ll need to start recording or mixing audio.
- 2:01 You’ll need a computer. Almost anything will work these days, but if you plan on working with a lot of audio tracks, more ram and processor power is better. I use (and love) a 13″ Retina Macbook Pro.
- 2:18 I recommend using XLR microphones (they sound better than most USB microphones, in my opinion), so you’ll need to buy an audio interface to convert the analog signal from the mic to a digital signal that your computer can work with. I use and recommend the Focusrite Scarlett line of USB interfaces. If you want to spend a little more and get something with a little higher sound quality (for recording music, for example), check out the Focusrite Clarett line, or the Universal Audio Apollo interfaces (Mac only).
- 3:42 The microphones I recommend are:
- 4:49 Side note; if you’re interested in recording music as well, you’ll want to pick up a large diaphragm condenser mic like the Rode NT1a, the AKG P220, the AKG C414, or the Shure KSM32.
- 5:11 If you want something a little simpler, you can pick up a USB microphone instead of the interface/XLR microphone combo. I prefer the way the XLR microphones sound, but a USB mic will be fine if you aren’t planning on recording multiple mics at once, or if you want something a little more portable for traveling. The USB mics I recommend are:
- 6:12 Regardless of the microphone you get, you should grab a Pop Filter – $10.
Recording Software (Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW)
- 6:27 The DAW is software that allows you to both record and edit your audio tracks. This is essential if you are going to be recording or editing multiple tracks at the same time. The DAWs I recommend are:
Headphones or Monitors:
- 9:05 You should invest in headphones or studio monitors (speakers) made specifially for mixing audio. You might be wondering, “Why can’t I use the headphones or speakers I already have?” Headphones and speakers made for listening to music have been sweetened; that is, they’ve had certain frequencies adjusted to make the audio coming out of them sound more pleasing to human ears. You need headphones/monitors that are “flat”; they will give you an accurate sound so you can make better decisions about what frequencies need to be adjusted. Here’s what I recommend:
- 12:12 I got a question from Lee in the chat. She asked, Should I invest in better recording equipment, or better editing software?
- 12:23 It’s better to start out with free software like Audacity or Garageband and invest your money in a good microphone. The microphone is the most important part of an audio chain. Start with good equipment and free software, then upgrade your software when it starts limiting you. Garageband and Audacity have all the tools and features you need to make a podcast (and even record music). I upgraded to Logic Pro because I wanted to be a professional audio engineer and Logic has some features that make editing multi-track podcasts a little faster, but it’s overkill for beginners.
If you’re just getting started, invest money in a good microphone before upgrading to professional audio software.
What You Should Focus on Learning:
- 13:21 If you’re interested in learning about recording and mixing podcasts, here’s what you should be focusing on learning:
- Mic Technique
- Mic Placement
- Mixing Vocals
- Noise Removal
Things to Ignore if You’re Just Interested in Podcasting:
- 14:46 If you aren’t interested in recording and mixing music, you can ignore tutorials about:
- Things like panning, mid-side processing
Best Free Resources for Learning Recording, Mixing, and Mastering
- 15:05 Here are all the free resources that I’ve found most helpful for learning about audio:
- Pensado’s Place – Dave Pensado
- Into the Lair (video)
- Recording Revolution – Graham Cochrane
- Home Studio Corner – Joe Gilder
- Izotope – Free Educational Guides
- The Pro Audio Files
- Home Studio Corner Podcast – Joe Gilder
- Simply Recording Podcast with Joe Gilder and Graham Cochrane
- Recording Lounge – Kendall Osborne
- Pro Tools Expert Podcast
- Pensado’s Place (Audio only)
- Home Recording Show
- Working Class Audio
- Recording Studio Rockstars
- Off the Record
- Noise Creators
- 20:06 There are a few other podcasts about audio that I listened to, but most of them stopped recording new episodes a few years ago. If you’re interested in checking them out, just search for “recording” in the podcasts section of the iTunes store.
4. Trial and Error
- 20:28 One of the best free ways to learn is just to try things. Don’t be afraid to push buttons and turn knobs and see what sounds good.
Learning how to mix and master takes time, and you will make mistakes. Don’t let that stop you from experimenting.
Best Paid Resources for Learning Recording, Mixing, and Mastering
1. Online Courses
- Compression and EQ Master Class with Graham Cochrane
- Logic Pro X Tutorials: Mixing and Mastering
- Logic Pro X Essential Training
- The Pro Audio Files
- The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Ow-sin-ski
- Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior
- Zen and the Art of Mixing, and Zen and the Art of Recording by Mixerman
- Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production
4. Online Communities
- 30:24 Q: Would moving to Logic Pro instead of Garageband provide me with the ability to dial in the sound and quality of recording?
- 30:34 Logic doesn’t have many advantages over Garageband when it comes to dialing in sound quality. With the exception of the Izotope RX4 plugins that I bought, the plugins that I use to enhance sound in Logic (EQ, compressor, limiter) are almost identical to the plugins that Garageband has. If you want better sound quality, invest in a better microphone. If you have a great microphone, learn how to set gain levels properly and work to reduce background noises and room echo, then focus on learning more about EQ and compression.
- 32:24 Programs like Logic Pro X and Pro Tools are more powerful but they do have a steep learning curve. These programs will be overwhelming if you don’t have a solid grasp on the basics.
- 32:42 Q: Is X mic ok for getting started?
- 33:13 If you just want to start practicing and experimenting, then any mic is ok, but if you are going to publish something and share it with people then you need to invest in a decent microphone. The difference in quality will pay off in the long term.
Any mic is ok for getting started, but the cheap mics are not going to sound good, and there’s not any way to fix that audio to make it sound good.
- 34:43 Kelsey asked, What are the pros / cons of learning to edit your own podcast vs sending the audio files off to a professional editor?
- 34:54 The biggest pro to hiring a professional editor is time saved. If you are really busy and you don’t want to invest the time to learn post-production and edit your shows yourself, then hire an editor. If you want to make a podcast but you don’t have extra money, then learn how to edit, mix, and master audio and do it yourself.