Even though audio is often the least expensive technology used in a studio, it’s the only indispensable one. You can have uncomfortable chairs, bad lighting, and no cameras, but if you don’t have sound, you only have pantomime. So what are the Perigon audio tips for webcasting?
The audio portion of a webcast embodies the vast majority of information communicated, so it must be clear, natural sounding, and not create distractions. If people are listening to the attributes of the sound itself, they aren’t paying attention to your message. Knowing this, how do you promote good webcast sound quality in the studio?
Webinar Microphone Selection and Placement
We won’t focus on the details of dynamic and condenser microphones or the use of multiple mics, which are specialized topics. You do, however, want to place microphones so that the speaker’s movements don’t affect sound quality. In other words, a clip-on lavalier microphone may not serve as well as a good headset because you lose volume when a speaker turns away from it or moves in ways that change its position or makes noise. The benefit of a headset microphone is that it remains in the same position relative to the speaker’s mouth, no matter what he or she does. You also want to position a microphone so that it handles “plosive” sounds – such as the letter p. Finally, you want to be able to mute it in the event of a cough, sneeze, or other issue.
Listening During a Webinar
To listen to other (remote) presenters or to hear audio and video clips, use a headset or earbuds. If you use speakers, the sound they create will be picked up by your microphones and possibly cause an echo. If you must use open-air speakers, be prepared to mute your microphone whenever you are not speaking.
Webcasting Studio Characteristics
Studios must be quiet, so check for sources of unwanted noise. For example, is a kitchen or bathroom nearby? Coffee machines and flushing toilets are a problem. So are traffic sounds. Are there computers and phones nearby? What about slamming doors, file cabinets, and foot traffic in nearby offices or hallways? And what about the HVAC system? You want the speaker to sit as far from an outflow vent as possible – especially if it transmits a humming sound or produces noise from the rush of air.