Recording in Silence: The Biggest Mistake We Made When We Started Podcasting

two people with their fingers to their lips saying shhhhh
photo by prostock-studio

Monday was our podcast recording day. We set the day aside each week to either batch record several episodes or research and write the episodes for the following week. On this fateful Monday, several years ago, we were scheduled to batch record podcast episodes.

This just happened to be the day our next door neighbors had jackhammers demolishing their patio making our windows shake. It was the day the community gardeners were trimming the hedges outside our windows. It was also the day that a giant truck parked on the street in front of our house for hours idling while it pumped waste water out of the septic system. And, oh yeah, it was also trash day. Seriously, we could not have planned a noisier day for recording our podcast episodes.

So we grabbed our mobile recording gear and headed down to a quiet spot on the lake. We brought our Zoom F8N Field Recorder, Shure beta57a supercardioid, Neumann KMS-105 supercardioid. Yep- supercardioids. We had the goal of limiting the sound captured by our microphones in the recording process. 

As we started recording, I spoke to our listeners and told them the story of our morning and explained why these episodes will sound a bit different than the ones we usually record in our home studio. I told them they could hear the lapping of the waves, the squeaking of the boat dock and the laughter of the kids swimming in the lake.

Except they wouldn’t hear these things…why?

Because we were professional audio engineers. Our background in professional recording spaces for the AAA gaming industry where voice artists are in sound treated isolation booths to capture pristine sound with room tones and background noises added in after trained us to capture pristine audio. Our training and experience made us believe that we needed to record our podcast in specially treated rooms and if we could not do that then we would remove all that background noise both during recording and in the post-production process.

Once that podcast episode was published (you can listen to it here), we realized that we missed a huge opportunity to bring our listeners into the moment with us. The lack of the ambient noise around us created a sterilized listening experience and removed our listeners from sharing that moment with us.

This started our path to discovering our passion for spatial sound and immersive audio. We quickly realized we  could bring our audience deeper into our work, with previously unheard details and sounds from all around. Recording ambisonic audio and mixing with a spatial audio render gives us, the creators, the ability to place and move sounds in three dimensions, all around the listener. 

You see, our brains need ambient noise to help us feel centered in a space. Our friends at Numono wrote an incredible article explaining this, 

“Human beings are pretty spoiled when it comes to high audio quality. We are born with the best hi-fi audio system ever conceived attached to our heads. With your ears, you can go into nature and experience high-resolution spatial audio whenever you want. Most of us take it for granted, but we don’t realize how much we depend on our ears to orient ourselves in space and to identify the location of other objects or potential dangers in our environment.”

-Ruben Åeng Lead Audio Engineer at Nomono

We are now embracing and celebrating the noise that is happening all around us as we record. When we are out and about, we like taking the Nomono, which is a portable recording studio that captures voice from each of 4 Stellar Mics and ambience in 3D space. That’s 12 tracks of audio at once easily recorded on the go! Incredible!

Now it is your turn- raise the volume and record all that wonderful ambient audio!

Dolby Atmos is the industry standard for spatial sound and has developed a renderer that can be added to your current DAW and workflow.

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