Summer is here. Three whole days of not rubbish weather, none of which are days you have off work. #SummerInUK
But with the warmer weather, the lighter evenings and the long ice cold drinks come a few challenges for podcasters.
So over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at how you can prepare and deal with these particular summer issues.
This week I’m starting with dealing with all those summer noises!
Certainly in my part of England (which is almost Wales too. Have I mentioned I’ve moved house and can not only see Wales from the dining room window but can walk to Wales in less than an hour’s bimble?) Anyway in my part of England summer is cracking on and we’ve been enjoying some beautiful weather.
What I’ve been enjoying less is the noises summer brings with it. Or at least I enjoy them less when I’m trying to record my podcast.
Over the last few days I’ve been battling against
The loudest birds in history - I think they may be nesting nearby and I’m typically an early riser and early podcast recorder so you get me at my most energetic. But obviously with the lighter mornings the birds are also getting up early too. It’s all those worms they need to catch.
Aircon - No not in my house, in my office. I’m not that much of a show off.
People are just outside more in the sunshine. You’ve got people enjoying picnics, BBQs drinks in the garden. And of course the constant lawn mowing which ALWAYS starts 20 seconds after you press record and get talking.
Music. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to this but there really is something about the sun that makes you crank up the volume on music in the car or just generally outside. But that does not make for a fun podcast recording,
Tractors - I suppose these are just large lawn mowers but it was a surprise when I heard this and saw the tractor driving by the edge of my back garden. Not sure why I was surprised living next door to a farm…
Road noise - Ok so traffic and road noise is around most of the year so why is this a summer problem? If you live in a touristy area and let’s be honest most of the UK is a touristy area in 2021, you’ll get more traffic as people rock up to visit for either a holiday or day trips.
And unless you have air conditioning this all becomes much more of a problem because you’ll want your windows open which just allows all that noise to come inside your recording space.
So what can be done?
It’s actually quite hard to make somewhere soundproof. And lots of people get soundproofing and sound treating your space mixed up.
Sound proofing is all about stopping sounds coming in (or out) of your space. Sound (or acoustic) treatment is all about making the sound of the room work for you - be that deaden echoes (which is what we want to do) or making the acoustics really boomy (think performance spaces!).
To make a room soundproof you need to plug the gaps. But this isn’t easy, no matter what DIY expert you are. And it’s rarely 100% - there were times when I was in a fully professional radio station on air and people standing close by outside the door to the studio would be chatting away and I could hear them.
Shut Your Windows!
I make no apologies for starting with the most obvious and basic solution. Shut your windows and turn off the air con when you are recording.
If you’ve got double glazing it will make a big difference. And if you can, shut the windows in rooms close to the room you’re recording in too. It just adds to the noise blocking or plugging.
Sound travels really well through the air so anything you can do to put a barrier between you and the sound will be beneficial.
And yes, the good news is that this does mean the podcast studio AKA blanket/duvet den is here to save the day!
But you need to make sure you don’t have any big gaps for noises to come in and ruin your recording.
And also this means it gets hot very quickly, which is utterly not fun. Believe me.
Another option is to get inside your wardrobe. Yes I am asking you to travel to Narnia. Well, sort of. Your wardrobe, assuming it’s big enough for you to get in, is actually a good place to record because it’s got all your clothes in to absorb the echoes AND if you can safely shut the doors it’s a better blocker of noise than a blanket on its own.
But yes it is still hot and you’ll probably need a light so you can see what’s going on.
Change where you record
Again, really obvious but if your recording space is next to a bird's nest, busy road or a beer garden or somewhere else really noisy - move. Go somewhere quieter.
Change the time you record
I know it’s not always easy to change a routine, especially if your podcast involves guests or you have to look after members of your family as well as do your podcast, but you may be able to fix some of the noise issues by changing the time you record. So if you’re next to a busy road try recording out of peak driving hours. If you’re neighbours love nothing more than mowing the lawn try recording in the evening or early morning.
And you’re probably best avoiding sunny Saturdays for a while unless you’re going for a garden party vibe on your podcast.
Embrace the summer sounds
Having said that, why not just embrace the sounds of summer and go outside to record.
Who didn’t love it at school when the teacher decided it was time to take the lesson outside? That’s what I’m doing now. I’m in my back garden recording this section of the episode.
There’s a few reasons why this is an absolute treat - first it’s a bit of fun and we all need a bit of summer fun.
Next, whilst your podcast is global I’m willing to bet most of your listeners are domestic so it shows them you’re like them - going through the heatwave at the same time as them. You’re having a shared experience which helps improve that relationship we’re trying to build through the podcast.
Lastly - some battles are worth fighting, others are not. If you’re not going to win in the battle of the summer noise then you might as well join in and make some outdoor noise too!
Just be aware before you go out and record that you have thought about safety surrounding that recording and you are not recording on private property without permission.
Make sure you are clear to hear
Whilst we would ALL love to have a fully kitted out sexy podcast studio in our homes (or maybe that’s just me) it’s not always practical to do so.
And I’m pretty sure most of your listeners are aware of that. The most important thing to remember is can your listeners hear and understand what you are saying? Is your audio clear enough to hear in a car? Or outside next to a noisy beer garden!
Pass that test and you will be well on your way to winning.
You can help lose some of the room and background noise by getting closer to your microphone when you record. By giving your microphone more of you it will pick up less of what’s going on around you.
You can also do some sound clean up in the edit. You can get hold of tools for some editing software that does noise reduction. It’s saved me from uncontrollable air conditioning more than once.
BUT as the saying goes ``put rubbish in get rubbish out.” Sometimes these tools will change the way your voice sounds so it’s not something to rely on massively.
Summer noises - they are annoying, there are solutions