Face it, some days you just can’t get out of the office.
These days of cell phones and BlackBerries make it easier to stay connected, but sometimes more difficult to set up that face-to-face interview. And if we’re out to get good audio for our multimedia reports, it helps to be able to set up your microphone in a quiet, almost studio-like environment and get a pristine voice from an expert source to drive your slideshow or video.
But really, how often does that happen? I’m a believer that even as we move into a multimedia world, we have to be able to get the job done on deadline. We can’t ignore being aggressive reporters or sacrifice the opportunities we’ve always seized in the newspaper business because we need “clean” audio.
Our friends at NPR don’t let that stop them. How often do you hear an NPR phone interview, which sounds crisp and clean? Just because we don’t have radio studios or cool recording consoles doesn’t mean we can’t come close.
We need what our broadcast friends have: post-production assistance. Need to record and down-and-dirty phone interview? Clean it up in Audacity, or some other audio editing software. The link asks the question and offers several explanations that will also teach the value of dynamic compression and other things you never thought you’d have to know.
Here’s the thumbnail version, ready for an info-box:
- Phone conversations exist on the frequency curve between 300 and 3,100 Hz. Remember those numbers (I have them on a sticky note on the front of my computer screen at work). To minimize hum, static and other nasty signals coming across the phone line, just narrow your sound to that frequency, Kenneth.
- Unless you like playing around with equalizers and other fun audio stuff, the easiest way I’ve found to do this is with the “pass” filters. Under the “effects” menu, you’ll find a “low pass” filter and a “high pass” filter. This is how is was explained to me, and I’ll see if I can relay it as a reporter with ink-stained fingernails. These filters do exactly what they say - the “low pass” lets the low sounds pass through and filters out the higher end (the larger number). Set that to 3100 to limit anything higher. The high pass lets the high pitches pass: set that to 300 to cut out all the lower ends.
- Then you can do normalize or compress the audio (you should compress the final product so all the volumes sound the same) and your phone interview will sound better.