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Interview with Michelle Levitt from Heil Sound

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Interview with Michelle Levitt from Heil Sound

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Michelle 0:00
As a musician before I became a podcaster, and I’ve been working for Heil sound for 16 years, and I use mic, I’ve used microphones in every capacity you can think of. I started off as a musician. So I’ve used them on live sound stages, I’ve used them in recording studios, have done professional voiceover work. So I’ve used every type of microphone in every environment you can imagine. And I think one of the things that podcasters really struggle with getting started is understanding the way we talk about microphones. So when I started doing this job, 16 years ago, the only people we ever talked to were engineers. They were broadcast engineers, they were audio engineers, front of house for live venues, they were recording studio engineers. And so the way we talk about microphones and the specs that we talk about, are all written for engineers. And the unfortunate thing is, there’s not a good way to dumb it down. Because these terms, and the ideas behind them are important to understanding what kind of microphone you can use in which kind of environment. So all those different environments I talked about, that I’ve used microphones in, they generally all require different types of microphones being used in different ways. There’s a reason a company like ours does not make one microphone, I have 123, I have nine on my table in front of me all differently. So I don’t I usually use the same microphone all the time when I’m doing podcasting and video stuff. But a lot of times, especially now, due to COVID. I will do mic demos for people so they can hear the differences on a voice so they can understand sort of the range that you can get out of out of microphones. So I’m going to do a screen share for you guys. So you can see Yay. Hold on, I gotta get a reset.

Jessica Kupferman 2:04
Okay, there it is.

Michelle 2:07
It’s important when screen sharing to actually have the the presentation.

Jessica Kupferman 2:11
Are you able to do it? Okay, good.

Michelle 2:13
Yeah. Can you guys see that now?

Jessica Kupferman 2:15
Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, thank you.

Michelle 2:18
I got my notes, so I hopefully won’t get lost. Okay, cool. So this is what we’re going to go over today, we’re gonna go over the different types of microphones, there’s dynamic and condensers. We’ll cover sound treatment and what you need, we’re going to talk about element placement. So essentially, where the element is inside the microphone housing. We’ll go over polar patterns and their implications. rejection, why it really matters. We’ll cover frequency responses, and EQ. And of course, we’ll talk about gain spoiler alert, this is not a volume knob. And lastly, we’ll go over some microphone tips and techniques to get you sounding your best. So if you already own a microphone, and aren’t sure how any of these topics relate, like, if you don’t know if you have a condenser or a dynamic, check your owner’s manual or your manufacturers website for that information.

Jessica Kupferman 3:09
So yeah, let’s show all your mics. Dynamic, or meterk.

Michelle 3:14
They are they’re all dynamics.

Jessica Kupferman 3:17
Okay. Okay.

Michelle 3:18
Yeah. And I’ll, I will explain to you what that exactly means.

Jessica Kupferman 3:22
Yeah, we can. I can wait till we get there. But I just I know that I’m getting into one. So just

Michelle 3:26
yeah, here. Yeah. You have the same one. I have mine just in a different color.

Jessica Kupferman 3:30
Yeah. Okay.

Michelle 3:32
Yeah. So dynamics and condensers. These are essentially the two types of microphones you’re going to run into. There are other types. But for for podcasting applications, these are the only two that really matter. So when you’re trying to decide on the right kind of microphone, there are a lot of things that you should be considering. But the first question you should be asking is if you should get a condenser or a dynamic, these terms refer to the type of microphone element and the element is a cartridge inside the microphone that picks up the sound. Now, you generally can’t tell by looking at a microphone if it’s a condenser or a dynamic, but they are very different. So dynamic elements are made of a synthetic membrane diaphragm that are connected to a very thin wire that suspended in a strong magnetic field. As the sound hits the diaphragm, the coil of the wire vibrates in the magnetic field and it causes an electrical signal. So if you’ve ever taken the cover off of a speaker cabinet, you’ll see an example of what’s essentially a dynamic microphone but in reverse, so a speaker takes a signal and turns it into audio. Whereas a dynamic element takes audio and turns it into a signal and really the inside of these microphones look like a teeny tiny speaker. So, dynamic microphones are durable, they do not need a power source. They’re kind of a jack of all trades. I’ll talk more about that power source in the next slide. And they don’t generally pick up as much audio and ambient noise I don’t have to turn off my heat or my air conditioner. I think just lives in a fairly busy neighborhood kind of thing where you have lots of noise. I know she has a little one, I have a little one. I’m confident that this isn’t going to pick that up. So let’s check out condensers. Actually,

Jessica Kupferman 5:21
I’m all worried about that. Because also spontaneously with someone vacuuming or leaf blowing, and I always make money about it. So that’s good to know. That doesn’t make that up. I mean,

Michelle 5:32
yeah, no, it does not. So kind of a relief. Yeah, right, condenser microphones, they have an element that’s made up of a thin film coated with a conductive metallic material. This is suspended over a polarized powered backplate. So a condenser diaphragm is part of an electrical circuit that changes voltage with movement, and this voltage becomes the output of the microphone. A condenser plate is a flat surface, and it’s designed to pick up everything in a very, super detailed way. So that means a soundproof space is kind of critical to using these microphones unless you understand that it’s going to pick up a lot of ambient noise. So when we’re talking about power sources, so a condenser microphone does in fact, need a power source, they run on phantom power, which is 48 volts, any mixer or most audio interfaces will have that built in. If you have a USB mic, that’s a condenser, when you plug it into your computer, that phantom power is running back through the mic cable into your microphone. So it’s not like an external power supply or anything like that. Now, when you have when you have those USB mics, and we’re going to talk more about those and those differences a little later. But since we’re talking about condensers, let’s talk about sound treatments. So there are different levels of sound treatment, sound waves, like smooth flat surfaces to bounce off of. And depending on the sensitivity of your microphone, like a condenser or dynamic, you’re probably going to need some sort of sound treatment in your space. So this is an example of a soundproof room. If you’re going to be using a condenser microphone, this is really the ideal environment for that. I’ve done professional voiceover work in a studio like this. They’re really incredible. I’ve used a very nice, very expensive condenser mic and an environment like this. And they sound amazing. Like, I think the first time I used one, I opened my mouth and I was like, I think I can hear the tone of the hairs on my tongue. Like they’re very, very detailed in their sound. But that also means like, I’m tapping my table right now. And you can’t hear that. Which is good.

Jessica Kupferman 7:47
Is this the room that you’re sitting in right now? Is it similar? do you have? Oh, god, no,

Michelle 7:53
I’ll show you. I’ll show you what my room looks like. Yes, yes. This is what my room looks like, Jess, I have a professional Sound Studio in my house

Jessica Kupferman 8:03
in your tapping we can’t hear that’s kind of amusing. I couldn’t Yeah,

Michelle 8:06
yeah. And I will sometimes, especially if I’m doing video stuff, I’ll move my boom, arm out of the way and move it back. And you can’t hear anything, which is great, because I kind of mess with stuff while I talk. So if you’re somebody like me, that’s something to consider Do you shuffle papers Do you type on a keyboard, stuff like that, that’s part of picking a microphone is understanding who you are as a microphone user. And we’ll get we’ll get more into that in a here in a minute. So this is the soundproof space. If you’re going to use a condenser microphone, this is really the environment that you need to be using it in. This is an again, a an incredible example of sound diffuse diffusion. And this is Blackbird studios in Nashville, Tennessee, I have had the privilege of actually being in this room and listening to music in this space. And this is obviously not something that most people could have in their house. But a good DIY example of this would be sitting in front of a bookshelf, sitting at an angle in front of a bookshelf, varying the depth of the books, having openings, having you know, things like that, that just sort of break up that sound as it would as if it would bounce off the wall and into your microphone because anything coming from behind me can get into my audio. And that’s sort of like the business into the microphone, and we’ll we’ll talk about that a little more

Jessica Kupferman 9:30
in a minute. Would this the equivalent of using a clock also, is that that same? I mean, a lot of women put us in their closets mostly because of the absorption of sound. But now I’m wondering, I’ve seen that, is it having that effect to have different fabrics different sizes are no

Michelle 9:52
right. So what it’s probably doing more is the sound dampening, which is this, this so that can range from you No moving blankets, clothes, jackets, whatever. This is a picture of my podcasting studio that I used to have in Buffalo. This on the wall is actually a I’m pointing at my screen. Like you’re in the room with me all habits, right. So this is actually sound dampening fabric that I had printed with 3d drone photography of the city, you know, most podcasting studios or windowless room and I felt like that was kind of boring. It was a local studio there like a print shop that made these. So if you’re interested in something like this call around the local print studios, they may be able to print something really beautiful like this for you. We regularly had like three to five people in the studio at a time. And we generally spoke across the table from one another. And what we realized would happen is the audio would bounce off the wall, from the opposite person and into that microphone. And so then we would end up with a lot of bleed. And our audio engineers, they just did not like that. I don’t I can’t imagine why.

Jessica Kupferman 11:05
Love it, it says you probably need some,

Michelle 11:08
yeah, probably needs some, right like, my studio in Heil sound, which I don’t actually have a picture of. I had some because I had hard walls, hard ceiling tile floor. And I was like, well, this isn’t ideal. So I put like one rug in the room, it didn’t even cover all the floor and a few panels. And it just, you can do a clap test too. So when I set up the studio space, my my audio engineers actually calculated the surface area of the room and how much we would need to cover to like to make it not have any sort of ring to it. Because when we didn’t have anything on the walls, we could hear that there was just a slight amount of echo. And so you know, my fancy engineers did all this math and stuff like that. And I was like you know what else you can do? You can just clap your hands. And you’ll hear that it has a little bit of echo in the room. So that’s one way to look at it. Oh, and by the way, don’t do this. Anyone who tells you to put a blanket over your head to record an hour long podcast is not your friend. This is absolutely ridiculous. If you need to do this to make your audio sound good, you have definitely got the wrong kind of microphone for your application. So there’s so many people who do this. It’s so bad, right? It just does not make

Jessica Kupferman 12:31
now that you should show it like this. It’s ridiculous. But I have so many people that do this.

Michelle 12:37
Yeah, this is NPR.

Jessica Kupferman 12:39
Oh, stop it. Nope. No,

Michelle 12:42
this isn’t NPR correspondent, you would think that they would know better. And somebody would go here, just take this and you won’t have to like put a rug over your head.

Jessica Kupferman 12:53
Wow. It’s great.

Michelle 12:54
Yeah. said to sit on your bed.

Jessica Kupferman 12:57
Because they’re like the

Michelle 12:59
pillows and the Yeah, if you’re comfortable doing that, I’m telling you, it’s gonna wreck your back. Like I’ve worked. Yeah, I’ve worked at home for a long time. So I’ve you know, spent a lot of time sitting in improper environments to work in if you’re spending a lot of time doing your podcast, if you record multiple episodes in a day. I think the the point is just to have some sort of sound dampening, like don’t be in my office at Heil sound with tile floors and hard walls and hard ceiling and not have anything. You got to have a little something like this room has carpeting. I really didn’t put anything up. This is fabric behind me. It’s not any special fabric. It’s a trade show banner, actually. So you know, not anything

Jessica Kupferman 13:44
richer, that if you aren’t going to do it on the bed is you please yourself, just so and then you put the mic in your boobs, so it does Yeah. And then look, you just don’t move and you’re all set. You’re solid. Yeah, that’s right.

Unknown Speaker 14:01
I gotta say I do voiceover as well. I’ve done something similar when you’re traveling, you may have an audition or you have something to do. But to do a podcast like this. And to know that this is an NPR producer or host is very humbling and makes me feel like I’m ahead of the game already. So yeah,

Michelle 14:19
that’s so funny. That is so funny. So I’m glad you mentioned that we have one of my very dear friends that I went to college with. He’s a professional voiceover guy in LA. And he uses our microphones to do voiceover stuff. And he said he uses it for pickup audio, which is incredible. So he will go in a studio and use a condenser like a $5,000 microphone. And then when they need him to re record like a word or a sentence, he will do it on one of these and they will put that into the same mix with the audio from the $5,000 mic, and he can do it. He also told me he wants He said the only time he had to ever put a anything over his head to record was in a family bathroom at the Dallas airport. And I was like you recorded voiceover in the Dallas airport bathroom. He’s like, yep.

Unknown Speaker 15:15
I did it on the when I was in LA and I had an audition that was do I was on the 405 and had quilts over my head. And I was Yeah, recording. So yeah. But not at an airport.

Michelle 15:28
Yeah, yeah. So the good news, with with a dynamic microphone there, there are a lot more durable. So if you have to, like tote it around on a regular basis, so you don’t know when you’re going to be stuck in LA traffic. It’s something you can easily like have in your car, just leave it in there. Take it in and out of your car and not have to worry about it. One of the things about condensers that he didn’t mention in that original slide, is that because of the way those metal plates kind of lay together, they’re very sensitive, not just in terms of what they pick up, but in terms of how they function. And if you drop them. A lot of times, that’s all she wrote. So it can be Yeah, don’t. Yeah, people are like, drop the mic. Yeah. You’ve never bought your own mic. Have you?

Jessica Kupferman 16:17
Yeah. That’s saying up the mic.

Unknown Speaker 16:21
Yeah. Terrible. Seriously, when I see that I just cringe I go, yeah. Okay. If

Michelle 16:26
you want your sound guy to beat you over the head with a broken microphone, go ahead and drop the mic. Yeah. Okay, so let’s get back into the tech talk. So the business end of the microphone. microphones are either end fire or sidedress. And it’s important to know what this is because this tells you where your element is inside the housing of your microphone. So this, this microphone that I’m using, this is an address microphone, this is the PR 30 because everybody always asked me what it is I use the same mic the just has. And this is an in fire, so you talk into the end of it. Now this one, on the other hand, is a sidedress mic, so you talk into the side of it, that means the element is positioned to where the sweet spots on the side. So let’s talk about the polar pattern. So every microphone has a polar pattern. This is what a polar pattern chart looks like if you find this on a manufacturer’s website, or if you’re in your product information sheet for your microphone. So what is this, the polar pattern determines how a microphone will pick up audio. So this matters because depending on how you intend to use the microphone, the polar pattern can help or hurt your audio. The polar pattern is the area around the microphone element that captures audio. So note at the top of this chart, there’s a zero, this zero represents talking straight into the mic. And when you’re at 180 degrees, this represents the very back of the microphone like where you plug it in, you’ll hear people talk about rejection of a microphone at 180 degrees off axis, that’s what they’re talking about. Anytime that you get further off of zero, you’re further off axis. So it might look like I’m talking straight into my microphone, but I’m really not because I’m talking like kind of across it an angle. So now you can see why it’s important that you know where the microphone element is to understand, you know how like if you know what the polar pattern is, but you don’t know where the element is, it doesn’t, it doesn’t help you at all right. So let’s look at a real example of this. This is the PR 40 and I use the PR 40 because I already had these graphics made. So if we can see through the PR 40 it would look like this. And you can see the elements like way up close to the end of the windscreen. Now to understand the polar patterns, you start at the end of the microphone element not at the end of the microphone. Because your element can be positioned others in places other than like right at the end of the windscreen, right. So this is the polar pattern that we saw earlier. This is a cardioid polar pattern. And that means it picks up audio out of the end of the microphone and out of the sides a little bit but not like on the side of the body and nothing out of the back. Now there are different types of polar patterns. And the types of polar patterns dictate their applications. So when I was talking about my experience in live sound, this is a huge thing in if you’re miking instruments and things like that, this can also be a thing that can bite podcasters hard when they buy the wrong kind of microphone. So first up is the cardioid. So when we talked about these are really ideal for podcasters because they’re very directional, and it’s not it’s going to reject the audio out of the sides in the back. That’s what makes me confident that you’re not hearing like my one year old. That I think just woke up, because I can hear him through my, through my headphones, but I know you can’t hear them through my audio. So this is a super cardioid, this microphone is actually a super cardioid. This is another great option for podcasters. Because it’s going to have a little tighter polar pattern in front, it’s still not gonna pick up anything, the only thing you have to be careful of is that it could have picked up a little audio out of the back. So don’t like, you know, point the back at something really noisy. Now an omnidirectional microphone, you’ve maybe used one of these, in the field, journalists like to use these because you can just kind of aim it at the person you want to talk into the microphone, and you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to getting it just right in front of them. Also, lapel mics are almost always omnidirectional mics, because they have a really big polar pattern and it picks up everything, which is also why like, if you touch your shirt, when you’re wearing a lapel mic, it’s going to pick up all that noise.

Now a bidirectional polar pattern can be used to record more than one audio source at a time. And I know that sounds really tempting if you have a co host, and you’re thinking, well, I’ll just buy one microphone, they can record both of us. So the problem with using a bidirectional mic to record two podcasters is that you have a single audio track. And speaking from experience, when you record two voices on one audio track, your co host will inevitably say something or do something while you’re saying something brilliant. And then you can’t ever edit it out. So you do not want to record one person or two people with one mic ever. And especially not into a single audio track, which is the only way you can use a bi directional mic.

Jessica Kupferman 21:46
Is this kind of like that, that the zoom portal thing? Is that what that is, actually that has two mics facing different directions like this right now i

Michelle 21:54
know i know, a Blue Yeti has an option to do bi directional. It’s, it’s one of those things that like, I mean, I guess in a pinch, you could use it that way. But here’s the catch. When you can’t, when you have two different people, and you can’t adjust the audio levels. If one person talks louder than the other person, there’s no way to fix that. And the whole podcast is just going to sort of sound like that back and forth. So that can be really problematic.

Jessica Kupferman 22:27
You know, in a recent episode, Elsie and I were talking about how we didn’t plan ahead, we were trying to do a podcast in Chicago, a podcast movement, and one of us didn’t have a mic. So we sat on the bed. But the thing in between us. And what you don’t account for is how awkward it is to use one mic with two people because God forbid you talk over each other. You can share it and I mean, if you talk together like we have two heads like I’m just trying to not, you know, just kind of share the mic. It’s a nightmare. Yeah, doing that. Yeah, nightmare. But, but I know that the zoom was meant for, I guess voxpop and going out, you know, like, reporter on the on the street and row. I just wasn’t sure if that’s how it works.

Michelle 23:10
Yeah, it probably does. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t feel confident saying for sure. Without like knowing the specs of that mic.

Jessica Kupferman 23:18
That’s okay.

Michelle 23:18
But again, the only catch is you got that one audio track. So it makes post production really yeah. And if you’re sending that to a to an actual audio engineer, they are not going to want to have to deal with that. Because it’s a nightmare to

Jessica Kupferman 23:37
to that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Michelle 23:41
Okay, so now that we know how the microphone picks up audio, let’s talk about what it doesn’t pick up late, but

Jessica Kupferman 23:47
where you going can share off question really quick. Sorry, I just have her.

Unknown Speaker 23:51
Thank you very much. I’m curious. Michelle, do your mics in particular, the one that you just talked about the PR 40 have multiple polar patterns, or are they very specific in their patterns?

Michelle 24:01
No, they’re very specific most Actually, I don’t know if there are any professional dynamic microphones that you can change the polar pattern. That’s typically not a thing that people want to do. Like patterns tend to be a very like specialized application specific thing.

Unknown Speaker 24:22
I’m so sorry. I was referring to because I have a mic tech condenser it does have multiple polar patterns on it. So I guess I was referring to your condenser are all of you I thought you said all yours were condenser, or no, they’re all dynamic. They’re all dynamic. Okay, so I understood you My bad.

Michelle 24:38
No, no problem. Okay, so let’s talk about rear noise rejection. So this is really going to only apply to dynamic mics too, because that just because of the sensitivity of condensers they can’t really reject a lot of noise. So, okay, this is my reality, kids. This is the other side of the don’t look behind the curtain sort of Wizard of Oz moment, I took this picture, I think yesterday. So you saw my old podcast studio a few slides back, this is what I’m dealing with. Now, I was in my son’s playroom for a little while, which was cute. But he’s way more active now. And he doesn’t like to share his space. So yeah, that’s like a, you know, the guest bed propped up to the side. So we had to do podcast movement, we had to have a dedicated space for two weeks that we could talk to people in and I was like, I just can’t, I can’t do that to the little guy. So my husband works for Heil sound, too. And we would just come in and out of here. And this was this is sort of our, our microphone, podcasting. You know, streaming whatever space. And, you know, most most of you guys are, are probably at home working the way I am. This is just the reality. So rear noise rejection really refers to a microphones ability to reject audio coming out of the back of the microphone. So I’m going to, can you guys see me in the like, the people screen, they’re going to snap into the back of my mic. Can you hear it? A little bit. So we barely are Right, right.

Jessica Kupferman 26:25
What about me?

Michelle 26:28
No, not at all. Just barely. Right? So that’s that rear noise rejection. So what we’re talking about is the fact that, you know, like, I had a landscaping project going on this morning, and they’re like driving these little mini bulldozer things around my yard. And I’m like, Okay, I’m cool with that, like, so if you’re somebody who has to be in an apartment building, or something like that, I know, I don’t have to have a soundproof space. Because I know my microphone has a lot of rear rejection. So that’s one thing that you should be looking for. In a microphone for podcasting is really good rejection. And my neighbor got a Moses grass like five times a week. I don’t know what he’s gonna do when it snows.

Jessica Kupferman 27:15
People get really crazy their grass, I’ll tell you.

Michelle 27:17
He’s retired and he just likes to mow grass. He told us that when we first moved in, and like now he can’t go anywhere

Jessica Kupferman 27:24
all the time, like, perfect.

Michelle 27:28
He probably hates us.

Okay, so this was my old studio in, in Buffalo. Again, this was us on a regular basis, we would have, we had three hosts or audio engineers in the room with us. And then we would have one guest. Usually, sometimes we had even more. Now, this was a space I was talking to you about. So we can talk across the table to one another, and that audio doesn’t end up in the other microphones. That’s a concept that we call bleed. So one voice one microphone is the idea. You record each of those in their own audio track. And then you have nice clean audio. So you can edit out your co host, Paul, everybody’s got a co host, Paul, you know, somebody that just inevitably says stuff that you’re like, Oh, where’s the mute button. So one place that I recorded that was really, really terrible. And I would never recommend this to other people. Unless you’re using microphones, but we recorded at the Nam show in Anaheim, California, which is a the the largest trade show for the music industry. It has 100,000 people there. And it is known to be one of the loudest trade shows that you can attend. It actually has a hall filled with drums. It’s nuts. We set up to record our podcast, which the Heil sound podcast called 50 years of maximum rock’n’roll. It’s a really cool podcast, we had so much fun doing it, our founder, Bob Heil used to be the sound guy for the Grateful Dead and the who. So the stories are just crazy. And for the 50th anniversary of the company, I wanted to do a podcast, I wanted to do something special. And I wanted it to be something that made sense for Heil sound. And Bob Heil, being able to tell his stories through our microphones really felt like that thing. And so we set out to do this podcast. We knew a ton about audio, but we knew nothing about like how to actually make a podcast and so was definitely sort of, you know, jumping in the deep end. But one of the things we did was record at the Nam show because you have such an opportunity to talk to people that you only get to see once a year. And so when we set up to record, we actually had to mix in sound from the hall to make it sound like we’re recording at Nam because we put the headphones on we’re like a it sounds like we’re like in a recording studio. Like, nobody’s gonna believe us that we actually did this here. So if you do want ambient sound for your podcast or a music track or something like that, you can always record that on a separate track and then mix that in in post production. And that was something that I ended up that I’ve done many times and other podcasts as well. Whether it’s like a meditation podcast or something like that, having ambient soundtracks with your audio can be a really cool thing.

Unknown Speaker 30:27
Michelle, was that two years ago? The Nam show know that you did that 50th anniversary two years ago? No,

Michelle 30:36
I think it was like three or four knows, like four years ago. Okay. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 30:42
I was the last name show went to was two years ago. And for some reason, I recall that. So

Michelle 30:48
yeah. Well, we were there. We were definitely there. Did you stop by two years ago, I was only there for like, one day two years ago.

Unknown Speaker 30:55
I may have I was only there one day as well. And I was where all the microphones were because I was talking with another company. But yeah. So but I, but I wanted to learn about you and your company. So that’s why I’m here.

Michelle 31:12
Yeah, nice. I love it. I was like, Oh, did I meet her? Because sometimes you meet so many people at a trade show like that. I know, I write down

Jessica Kupferman 31:22
guilty about that.

Michelle 31:24
I write down everything. And sometimes I take pictures with people strategically like with their name badge in front of them. Smart, I feel terrible if I forget. Okay, so let’s talk frequency responses. So now that you understand where the microphone picks up audio and where it doesn’t, let’s talk about how that audio sounds and the frequency responses. So this is a frequency response chart. Each microphone has its own unique frequency response. And it’s that frequency response that affects how the microphone will sound on any given person. So people sometimes make a bigger deal out of this than what it is what you really need to look for in a chart like this is that two to five kilohertz range. So between those red bars in this diagram, this is where the human voice is most articulate. And you want to see some sort of rise in the response in this area that will tell you this, this microphone will sound good on the human voice. If you don’t like the way your voice sounds on your microphone, you can always use some EQ to adjust that. So, equalization controls can be on an outboard mixer, like the one that I’m using, these can be internal in your DAW, if you’re using some sort of audio interface. If you’re using a USB mic, they’ll be internal on your door. So if you need so this is how EQ works. Like the long and short of it, the best way I can tell you to learn how to use EQ is just play with it, turn it too far, and then turn it back. So if you want your audio to be warmer, than you increase your low frequencies, and if your audio is too muddy, you decrease your low frequencies. If you want more articulation in your sound, increase your mid range frequencies. And if you’re, if your audio sounding too nasal, you can decrease them. If you want more presence or sibilance to your voice, increase your high frequencies. And if it’s sounding a little like harsh, and se, you can always decrease those high frequencies. And that’s sort of like how to EQ in a nutshell. And like I said, just play with it. Take it too far, you’ll be able to see that it’s too far. And then dial it back. Michelle Yeah. Where do you Where would I even be able to play with it? Like, is it a special software that I have to get with my mic? Or? No? If you’re a Mac user, something like GarageBand has it internally. There’s Yeah, so that’s a good way to play with it. I don’t know how well you can EQ like a headset thing. Or if you can’t at all. Um, but it’s worth trying if you just want to play with it and see what it does. I’m sold I’m gonna get on mic. Okay, so I don’t actually use any EQ on my mic. This is totally an EQ. This is how it sounds when it comes out of the box. I would guess just doesn’t have any EQ on or mic.

Jessica Kupferman 34:19
I do not but I use Adobe Audition but I also have a very persnickety producer. So I give it to him and let him do that he says that my he says that a combination of my lack of knowledge and make technique means I blow everyone else’s audio out of the water and I’m the worst one to edit in all of this clients.

Michelle 34:37
That’s fantastic. I love it. I

Jessica Kupferman 34:39
I know I have a very loud voice but you know, I only have focus right? Like my mixer is basic. And I could probably fiddle with it in Adobe, I would try to just mess it up. I mean, before this day, I had no idea that these these and take part in existed. I just thought you know i To the till I thought I sound good. And what do I know? Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 35:05
Okay,

Unknown Speaker 35:06
I suggest Michelle to Marissa to play around with a Dasa T. It’s a free software. Yeah. And you can mess around with your EQ there if you want to or GarageBand if you have

Jessica Kupferman 35:20
the audacity it’s called

Michelle 35:21
Jesse’s free Odyssey is very, very, very, very basic. There’s a ton of videos on there, out there on how all of this works. So grab me. Did you Did I cut out as you can adjust?

Jessica Kupferman 35:38
Probably you I just wanted to know if GarageBand is better.

Michelle 35:42
Oh, you’re asking me? Oh, God, better than Audacity. I hate when people ask me about DAWs. So I’m okay. No, it’s fine. Um, I am a graphic designer too. So, I use tools that I have to use, right? Like I use Photoshop. I use InDesign, do I love them? No. Are there 100 things I would change in each of them?

Jessica Kupferman 36:06
Yes.

Michelle 36:08
What do I use to record whatever. I’ve used logic, I’ve used Pro Tools I’ve used audition, audacity, zoom, you name it, I’ve used it. And there’s not one that I love. So what I would say is, go to YouTube, do some research, figure out what you’re going to be comfortable using. Because that’s a lot of it like audacity is basic to the point of you have to know what you’re doing in order to build out your door. audition, if you’re used to the Adobe world, if you have Creative Cloud. And you can play with that go for it. GarageBand is very basic and very easy to use. So it just kind of it kind of depends on where you’re at and where you want to be. Sometimes things like GarageBand are a little too basic when you get a little further along. So it might be that you start with one and then you change to another. I hated logic, we use that my polycast studio and it was just, it was pain in the butt. So So next up though, we got to talk about gains. So this is the really important thing. And if you’re going to have a mixer, or if you have, if you have a USB mic that has outboard game controls, this is so important. So this is such a common issue for podcasters. Most interfaces, mixers, some USB mics, they all have some sort of gain control. So many podcasters turn up the gain when what they really want is volume. And I can’t stress this enough gain is not volume. I’m gonna say that again, this is so important gain is not volume. So

Jessica Kupferman 37:50
as you can see, like volume, it does like it would be volume,

Michelle 37:54
it feels like it wants to be volume, but is it not to be I know it does. So check this out this mixer is actually a good way to demonstrate this. So you can see that the red arrow is the gain. That’s a it’s on the same channel as the blue arrow, which is the level out or the volume. And then over on the right you have the main mix of the green arrow. Okay. So in a multi channel mixer, you would change everybody’s gain and level to adjust to that person, right, we talked about how just is very loud when She Podcasts, I can imagine her gain doesn’t have to be as high and her audio level doesn’t have to be as high. And so then you would adjust your main mix level for everybody’s audio all together, right? So you do this on each channel. So each person in the end kind of sounds the same. Despite the fact that one person is louder than the other. It makes it very easy to listen to a podcast. So simply put, gain is the control of the microphone microphones input level. So it’s the strength of the signal. And volume is the control of the microphones output level or what you perceive as loudness. So there’s a big difference. And what happens when you increase the gain instead of increasing the volume or the level is it just gets noisy? It starts picking up more stuff. Here I’ll give you an example. So I’m going to mess with the gain on my microphone. That makes sense. You can you hear this now? It’s probably crazy, right?

Jessica Kupferman 39:27
Yes. But make sense. Because what you’re doing is gaining. you’re gaining more stuff in the room. You can think of it like that or you’re gaining that is an excellent way to put it. Yeah, yeah, you’re gaining so we’re pickup,

Michelle 39:42
right and what can happen if you get too much gain is the microphone can start cutting out it can start clipping. You’ve probably heard clipped audio before. And worst case scenario, you can actually make a mic feedback. So if you’ve ever been to a live music event and you’ve heard a microphone feeding back, that is almost 100% again issue, like the person’s cup, the microphone and a high gain situation, something like that. So that’s gain. Don’t crank it up if you want volume. And for just newbie here is gain gain is something that’s actually on your microphone or it’s on a separate. Um, so yeah, if you have like a USB condenser mic it is on the microphone. If you have an audio interface, it’ll be a knob after you plug in your microphone. So I like to use an audio interface. Normally, when I’m not when I would have this whole, like set up for a trade show in my house. Gain on this is per channel, so there’ll be a knob gain is always going to be an outboard control. Okay, the levels so if you use a really basic audio interface, there will be a gain control. But there won’t be like a line level or anything like that. for it, so you’ll have to go into your door to adjust those things. Another thing that is good to note, if you’re doing a lot of zoom, things like this, zoom for some reason when, like, hit the test audio thing, because zoom for some reason, always puts my mic in it like one or two bars. So if I’m not paying attention, people will be like, I can’t hear you. And I don’t know why like every time I update my computer or something like that, or zoom doesn’t update, it just resets the whole thing. So be sure to check your levels elsewhere and keep your gain only at like 60%. What often podcasters increase the gain, because they’re not using their microphone the right way. So we’ll talk about that here in a second.

Unknown Speaker 41:49
Michelle, you’re in where you use? Are you using a Behringer? Is that your interface?

Michelle 41:55
No, I’m using I’m actually using a really big mixer right now. Because I have I have a four Channel Mixer in front of me it’s an Allen and he said 10. But I regularly right now I’m doing calls where I will have three or more microphones plugged in. So people can hear him since nobody can do in person stuff right now. So it’s just something that we’ve been trying to do for people that are trying to pick microphones. So one of the most common questions that beginner podcasters are usually thinking about is should I get an XLR mic or a USB mic. One of the common things I hear from podcasters is they’ll come up and say to me, I have a USB mic. And I’m like, that doesn’t tell me anything. If you want to talk about microphone type with someone, tell them if you have a condenser or a dynamic, those are the really the two things that sort of matter to talk about. That being said, most USB mics are going to be condensers. There’s a handful that are dynamics, but not very many. So the microphone connection type is important. And it does have different implications for these. So these are two basic output connections. The excellent the three pin XLR. This is the industry standard for professional broadcast professional sound. They produce an analog signal and that it requires either some sort of adapter, a mixer or an audio interface to convert that analog signal to a digital signal so you can use it with your computer. Most interfaces or USB mixers will have sufficient preamp in order to drive a well designed dynamic mic. So that’s a lot of people will talk about extra gear that you need, you really don’t need much to get started, even if you’re going to use an XLR mic. So the second input connection is a USB. It’s a digital signal so you can plug it straight into your computer. And as a generalization USB mics are more often condensers than dynamics, and they’re typically more of an entry level product. I turn my game down a little bit. Okay, so this last section is probably the most important one good mic technique will solve a lot of your problems. Unless your product manuals specifically tells you not to talk directly into your microphone. These tips are going to be really sort of universal. So first, you’re going to talk about two finger widths away from the grill. So if you can see me in the in the chat section, it kind of looks like I’m talking straight to my mic but really my chin is almost touching my pop screen. And I didn’t talk about this before but I do use a pop screen usually because I’m a little plosive or I kind of nose breathe into my microphone. Sometimes I just put a windscreen over on it if I’m not going to be seen. My PR guy does not like it when I put a windscreen over my microphone when I’m going to be seen. I imagined that So those are those are really good sort of accessories to have free microphones to make sure that you’re getting your best audio. But yeah, you want to be just like two finger widths away. And that’s really where my mouth is, like, if you can see a profile of me, I’m kind of like, I’m right up on my mic. And it does take some getting used to using a microphone like this. But once you’re used to it, it’s something that’s, that’s really easily easy to do. And you do want to talk slightly off access to your microphone, so you do not want to talk like directly down into the mic, it’s going to pick up more plosives. And it’s just not as good audio. So the other thing that we want to remember is not to move outside our polar pattern. So that’s one reason it’s important to know what the polar pattern of your microphone is. And when you get your microphone, have it plugged in, you can kind of hear what your polar pattern is. So as you move around your microphone, you’ll hear where it’s at, and where it starts to fall off. And where it starts to come back. And so it’s another thing like the mixer, just get, get it, play with it. And you’ll you’ll have, you’ll have a lot better time if you just sort of learn your own equipment, whatever that equipment is. The number one number one tip to having good microphone sound is actually headphones. So always, always, always wear headphones just you have earbuds on or anything

Jessica Kupferman 46:22
I do I do I normally have the big Bose pinkies. But they these flattened my air. Yeah, yeah, these are even noise cancelling earbuds but they were like 10 bucks, but they say it doesn’t

Michelle 46:36
matter. As long as you can hear yourself. And that is the most critical piece I’ve had. I’ve had people tell me they’re like, I don’t want to hear myself. It’s like get over it. Because you’re not going to know if you’re off your mic. Unless you can hear yourself when you’re off your mic. And your audio engineer cannot fix that in post I think just has a video about that. Didn’t you do an animated video with your audio engineer yelling at you? Yeah. Yeah, that’s one other little question. What what are you plugged into at that point? So your headphones that plug into either your mixer or your interface. If you have a USB microphone plugged straight into a USB mic, you can plug them into your computer. It depends on how you have it set up in your gear change in your preferences for a computer, right. But yeah, make sure you can hear yourself, not just the people you’re talking to or the person you’re talking to make sure you can hear yourself. Otherwise, you can say something really brilliant, but no one will ever hear it

Jessica Kupferman 47:41
happens to be all the time in fact, I

Michelle 47:43
know I know. Okay, so really important stuff. Sit up straight, our voiceover person will tell you you’re going to get better. Overall breath control in sound quality. Another good thing to do if you’re in the same room with me you would hear that I don’t talk very loud into my microphone. So imagine I had a host or co host across from me I’m not talking to that person I’m talking to my microphone so you don’t have to yell or project or anything like that and you’re gonna have much better audio if you start to just like keep it reined in. Jess, I’m sure your producers like listen to her.

Jessica Kupferman 48:30
Now Yeah, I am what I am What can I say? I don’t mean to do it. But I think just because I get all excited then I start Yeah, no,

Michelle 48:39
I know. But it helps a ton if you wear the headphones because then you hear yourself do it. And if you know you’ve screwed up you can just be like, Hey, I’m gonna rerecord that because you know you’re editing in post. redo it right then and there. No pickup audio needed. Right.

Jessica Kupferman 48:52
So the headphones are vital the headphones and then making sure that the monitors up so that I can hear myself. Yeah. Yeah, being. Yeah,

Michelle 48:59
yeah, it’s super, super critical. One thing I love to tell people so back in the day when we had in person things, and this will apply again, someday, I’m hopeful. Get your guests in a really heavy chair. And maybe do this to yourself too. If you’re learning to use a microphone, I use the pop filter and tell them to either put their nose on their chin on it, so they don’t get off their mic. And then I put them in a heavy chair so they can’t get away from the microphone. Because the first few like podcast clients I ever worked with, they would just like, try to like slither out of their chair to get away from the mic. They were so freaked out by it. And within no time just getting people comfortable with hearing themselves. They stop and even a guest who’s only used a microphone once ever in their whole life. If you put headphones on them, they will be self aware enough to not get off their mic so that helps them a lot and just one of my biggest tips always As practice, practice, practice, if you haven’t started your podcast yet, practice, call your grandma here, this is my favorite. Call your grandma or your mom or whoever, and just interview them, record it. Listen back to your recordings, you know, give yourself some honest feedback. You’ll have those audio recordings for yourself for your family. And then you get time to practice your podcasting skills, your microphone technique, your recording chops, whatever it is that you’re trying to practice in that session. Get that stuff out of the way, before you put an episode out. I know a lot of people like just start Go for it. On every podcast I’ve had, with the exception of one that I’ve done, have all been for businesses trying to do marketing. And if you were trying to convince someone to buy your product, or trust your brand, you are not going to do that by putting out a really crappy podcast. That sounds bad. Just full stop right there. That’s like starting an Instagram account, and posting a bunch of pictures that are out of focus. Not Not a good, not a good look on anybody. So just practice and you’ll be more comfortable when I would work with podcasts, they would have a minimum of four hours behind the mic time of practice sessions. And those were usually 30 minute sessions. And then we would record a pilot, and then we would listen back to the pilot and most of the time, we would trash the pilot and rerecord the violence. So just get some practice under your belt. It’ll make you more confident and it’ll feel it’ll make you feel better to about launching your podcast.

Jessica Kupferman 51:44
Merce had to go. That’s okay. Okay, yeah, you got I didn’t used. I didn’t have time for questions. But this slide has been very helpful. I had sorry.

Michelle 51:53
Yeah. So um, this is we’ve covered a ton today. I think there’ll be a replay somebody came in late. It looks like I like to tell people that a microphone is a tool for good audio, and you have to have the right tool for the job. a screwdriver is a great tool and less what you need is a hammer. So get the right kind of microphone and use it in the right way and you won’t have to worry about your audio. So thanks for sticking around this long. I’ve got a landing page on Heil, sound calm. It’s it slash microphones one on one. There’s slides from this presentation. There’s a version of this talk if you have friends you want to share this with obviously there’s a lot less of the in between in the talking that we got to do. You know,

Jessica Kupferman 52:45
yeah, it’ll go up on the it’s going up in the Super Squad as a lesson. Cool. And we’ll let all the members know that it’s there. So thank you so much for for doing I had one person write me a question. She had an a question about an adapter. She won. Hold on. Let me just I want to make sure that I read it too precisely as she said it to me, so I don’t I think she won a pr 40 fabulous. Now of course my email wouldn’t load. Oh, I think she wants to know if there is a USB adapter. Let me double check here. Sorry. We don’t want that though. Right. It’s micro USB.

Michelle 53:27
There are USB adapters out there. I’ve not found one that works universally well. So that’s a little tricky. I would just get an audio interface. It’s going to have more functionality. You can get really basic ones. The the Focusrite third generation Solo is a great little interface if it’s just one person recording PreSonus makes some good interfaces. Yeah, I would go for the interface at a minimum.

Jessica Kupferman 54:00
Okay, here’s your question. You ready? Yeah. What is the best adapter option for those who need to connect via USB? I want a pr 40 during pod fest Yay. But due to lifestyle I’m a stay at home mom of kindergartner triplets. Y’all need an option then help me jump in someone’s closet with my laptop for recording is opposing as opposed to having a whole mixing board setup. Also kids are expensive. My podcast and my podcast investment this corner was the super smart. Thanks, Susie. Thank you. I really appreciate it. Yeah, so Um, so yeah, I mean, you haven’t found one that you liked necessarily. But what what can she do that may not be USB?

Michelle 54:42
You know what I would do? I wouldn’t do I would not mess with that. But what I would do is I would say so if she records in our pot in our closet. Hmm, I would. So when when we set up LC with microphones, I remember her telling me she had like some space limitations, right? Yeah,

Jessica Kupferman 54:59
she Did at the time? Yes.

Michelle 55:01
And so one thing you can do is like this boom arm that I’m using, you can you can do a setup that we make something called a wall mount. It’s kind of cool. I

Jessica Kupferman 55:14
should, yeah, I don’t.

Michelle 55:15
And it, you can actually, like, screwed into the wall, put your boom arm in it. And then when you’re not using it, just like swing it out of the way. So what I would do is I would just set up all my stuff, like where I’m going to use it.

Jessica Kupferman 55:33
Great idea.

Michelle 55:34
You could even mount your audio interface on one of those like, like our PlayStation four has a wall mount, you could use something like that and just put next to it. That’s the good stuff doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. I think I would get something like an audio interface before I would get one of those USB adapter things because it would really suck if you recorded something awesome. And it didn’t really work.

Jessica Kupferman 55:57
Yeah. And you couldn’t hear it. That’s true. Yeah, because I love the idea of a wall mount because I don’t have the kind of desk where you can clamp on a boom arm. JOHN gave me one of the ones that are like have a super heavy bass because I also talk with my hands and they end up banging it a lot. So I know I’m the worst, I’m the worst podcaster. But if I could mount an arm and then have it come down and then push it away, that is brilliant. Thank you so much for that.

Michelle 56:24
Yeah, because I I tend to like when I have my my regular normal setup, I have my computer, and I have my boom, arm off to the side. And I just swing it up and over my computer. And then when I it’s time for me to use it, I just swing it back down. And that’s really it. So it doesn’t have to be, you know, super fancy, you know, I mean all this.

Jessica Kupferman 56:48
So, Cheryl, Leah, do you guys have any questions? At this time? Okay. I’m

Unknown Speaker 56:55
just gonna say I really appreciate this information. I’m definitely going to go to your website, I do actually have one question as to whether or not you have any type of video and mic combination, video and mic combination. In other words, you know, any kind of way to record video and audio in one are you strictly

Michelle 57:17
Oh, um, so I record a lot of video stuff. And I actually record my audio stuff separately. And we started doing that probably a couple years ago. And we did that because we would a lot of times, when you edit video, it’s easier to like, jump over to some B roll stuff. Especially if you’ve got something that you’re like, Oh, this kind of didn’t work out. I need to like put this audio in here. But it doesn’t go with what like the face is doing. Right, that’s the sort of hard thing about about video is like the mouth is moving. Right. So that’s a good way to sort of cheat that is to use B roll footage. And then you can just, you know, run your audio straight through even if it doesn’t match, you know, you did one take that was good. The second take of this was better but and you can sort of splice it together without having like those awkward segments. So yeah, I actually record it separately. And so when we do video stuff for Heil sound, I have like a zoom h6. And we record all our audio into that. And our camera audio, we actually use as just like, how to map the audio onto the video. So you map up the sound waves. This is some really deep level, video editing stuff we’re getting into. We map map is interesting for clap. So that’s a good way to to get, you know, a good sound spike that you can track to between the two. And then you can cut out the camera audio, which won’t be as good. So yeah, I just go for the cleaner audio, obviously, that’s a very important aspect to our video stuff is that the audio be, you know, top notch. So it kind of depends on your priorities to you know, like some people that’s not quite as important, but I work for Heil sound. So I would get crucified if I put out videos with bad audio, or even Yeah, so so audio, right?

Jessica Kupferman 59:22
He was like they would be vitally important. In fact,

Unknown Speaker 59:24
yeah, yeah.

Michelle 59:25
The first podcast I did, I sent it to like, I sent it to some of our very prominent podcasters that we’ve worked with over the years. And I was like, Hey, I would love to get you to listen to this before I publish this, like episode one. And I think it was Cliff ravenscraft that came back and went, that’s your first podcast episode ever. I was like, Yeah.

Jessica Kupferman 59:46
Is it bad?

Michelle 59:47
He was like, No, this is like, the most professional first podcast episode I’ve ever heard. And I went, Oh, perfect. I was like, I’m Heil sound. I can’t put out something that’s like, you know, go garbage and expect that to be okay. So yeah,

Jessica Kupferman 1:00:05
well, you could, but you should.

Michelle 1:00:07
I should not they would not help me.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:10
Yeah, right.

Michelle 1:00:11
Yeah, exactly.

Jessica Kupferman 1:00:14
Well, thank you so much. I have learned so much today. And I can’t tell you I mean, even just that one hour of knowing just about the polarization, and, you know, I was wondering what you know, for the longest time, I had my mic like this. And, and I wasn’t recording with video. And then finally, john was like, turn on your screen. And I was like, to the right end.

Yeah.

I mean, that is huge amount of information. So thank you so much for everything.

Michelle 1:00:40
That microphone actually came with a piece of paper around it that told you to talk into the end of it, too.

Jessica Kupferman 1:00:45
I’m sure it does. I’m sure it did. Thank you for that. Michelle. I’m sure.

Michelle 1:00:53
I did a discount code for you guys. That’s good through the Yes. So she pod 15 to get 15% off if you if you want to get anything the hell sound store. It’s just your website, though. So you can’t like use this at b&h?

Jessica Kupferman 1:01:08
No, that’s very generous. Thank you so much. I’ll send another email with the recording. And I’ll send the discount code. So if they just want to jump right into getting a mic. They can. Yeah, this was so much at the end of the month. Wait end of the month, including back do you guys do Black Friday?

Michelle 1:01:24
We don’t really? Okay. No, I think I feel like there’s no such thing as Black Friday anymore. It’s like the November around and I got like 50 emails or like, it’s

Jessica Kupferman 1:01:33
been two months.

Michelle 1:01:35
I’m like, what’s totally, it’s over? It’s actually it is the whole year should have been on sale true

Jessica Kupferman 1:01:42
as well. But I was just gonna say I’ll just put something in there. Like they don’t really do Black Friday sale. So anytime this month would be great. You know, just so they don’t wait around for that week. Yeah, exactly. That’s what I would do. I would totally wait for Black Friday. So yeah. Thank you so much. Thank you guys so much for coming. Thank you to everyone. Let me know if you have any questions. You can certainly post in the squad. Michelle, if you’d like to be in the squad so you can answer any questions. I’d love to add you if that’s okay. Yes. Okay, great. Okay, well, then I’ll take care of that later this afternoon. Thank you guys so much again. And we will see you next time and thanks.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:19
Thank thank thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:22
Bye

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