It's episode 11 of season 8, and we're looking at those most annoying of creatures – faults in our setup! It happens, every now and again: you make a recording and there's some kind of buzz or whine in the background. Or, perhaps there's no sound at all – it's just not recording. How do you figure out what's gone wrong?
In this episode, Matthew and I go through how we troubleshoot faults. How do we think about diagnosing them, and what process do we follow to find them? We'll cover faulty or broken equipment, background noise and problems caused by power cables. If you want to figure out how to find your faults, this is the episode for you.
This episode is sponsored by Podbean. Podbean is one of the longest running podcast hosts on the market, and offers a range of packages, from free up to enterprise level. They also provide tools for podcasters, whether you host with them or not, from a sponsorship marketplace to their Patron system, tailored towards podcast monetisation. Check them out here for the full story: Podbean.
So, identifying faults. What happens if your kit is broken? Where do you start?
Well if you think about one of the most simple setups – you’ve got a USB microphone plugged into your computer. You have three components – the computer, the cable and the microphone itself.
The aim here is to rule out each different part until you find the problem.
So the first thing would be to try another cable – so if you have another USB cable there that you can try then it would be no harm to rule out that problem.
The other thing is to try the same cable and a microphone in a different computer – but hopefully this doesn’t fix the issue as the computer would be the most expensive to replace!
The other thing to consider is what you’re recording into on the computer – is that annoying hissing noise only happening when you use perhaps Skype or Adobe Audition? It could be an issue with software that’s causing the problem.
“It’s very much just a process of elimination. Try and find out what’s going wrong – it will be somewhere so it’s just a case of isolating it and changing it.”
Of course with this process you essentially need to have a duplicate version of everything to detect what’s wrong.
So that the solution if it’s a broken component, but what about other things that come in? The hissings and crackles and background noises that you don’t hear until it’s already in the recording.
This could come down to your levels, but in most recorders nowadays you’ll get an LED light flashing if you’re audio is peaking.
When you’re recording just into a recorder and not a computer it’s not very easy to monitor your levels. It’s good to be diligent, listen out for it and watch out for the LED lights so you don’t peak too much.
The other one for the crackling issue is to do with power and cable crossing.
It’s worthwhile going through all your cables and seeing where they’re going, especially the ones that are going into your power sockets – and make sure they aren’t going anywhere near a recording cable. Likewise if you’re too close to an extension cable then you might have an issue, so worthwhile separating them out.
So there’s actually not that much to it. It’s a process of elimination to make sure there’s no bit of kit that’s broken, checking your background noise and checking that your cables aren’t crossing over.
Before we get any further we wanted to have another quick mention about some Podbean features.
I’m totally addicted to my Amazon Echo at home, it’s so easy to put something on – including podcasts and audiobooks. All you have to do is say “Alexa, play the Daily Tech News Update on TuneIn” and it’ll just play.
Podbean now allows your shows to get onto Alexa really easily, and their top tiers of shows get on there automatically as long as you have the Podbean skill installed onto your Echo. Simple.
But equally you can link it up to your Podbean account so you can listen to people you follow and list that on Alexa. It’s a really easy way to get yourself onto Alexa and reach another new group of people. You can find more about that at our link here.
Also on this episode we had a listener comment sent in.
“Hello, it’s Johnathan from Education and Innovation. We have just published episode 6 of our podcast.
Our audience is drawn from English speaking countries and comprises of careers experts, concerned parents and young people who are exploring the job market and preparing for interviews.
Every week we email 25,000 schools worldwide and post information on social media channels. Every podcast involves an interview with an employer – each of whom can link to it in a variety of ways.
Each episode comprises of news, a feature on the future of work and an interview with an employer or recruiter. We build relationships built on the quality of the podcast and use that to further sales and business development opportunities.”
That came off the back of our request that asked people to send in a bit of information about their podcast, so thank you very much Johnathan for sending that in.
Finally in this episode we discussed a new podcast project that we’re working on. It’s called Hostile Worlds.
Hostile Worlds is a show about all the places that you’re dying to see but all the places that you’d die if you saw. All these fascinating and dangerous places throughout the universe.
It’s entirely factual (as much as possible) and is a hybrid between a drama and documentary podcast.
At this moment we’re looking to launch with three episodes, and we hope to do that by September 7.
One of the useful things we found when doing a show like this was to do test reads. It helps highlight issues in your dialogue that you might not have noticed just by reading it in your head.
If you want to hear more about that then head over to Hostile Worlds and keep a look-out in mid-September for the launch of the show!
Just again to say thank you to Podbean for sponsoring this episode of Podcraft.
We’d love to get a 90 second case study voicemail about your show, so feel free to send those in and we’ll be sure to include them in Podcraft!