Thanks to sound engineer Amanda Rose Smith for her permission to republish this information that she originally posted on Facebook.
1. Don’t give your post person *your* deadline! Give them their own deadline, and pad in time from yours, preferably 48hrs. Things happen. People get sick. Also, there are turn around times. When I get a 7/15 deadline, what that means to me is 11:59 7/15. If YOUR deadline is 7/15, that poses a problem.
2. DON’T ACT OFF MIC! I know there are some coaches telling people to look away from the mic when you yell, or step back. They are WRONG. Both those things pose serious audio problems. You must learn to create a reasonable yelling approximation ON mic. While we’re on the subject, recording off axis in general, for other issues like plosives and sibilance, is ALSO WRONG. Those things are not helped by that and are actually usually exacerbated instead.
3. You should be 10-12 inches from your mic. Pop screen should be a minimum 2 inches away from the mic; you should be 8 inches from that. THIS will help with clicking, plosives, and sibilance — NOT being off mic.
4. It is not an editor’s job to change the character of your read. Most will shorten or lengthen pauses that seem out of character, but if you’re leaving wide gaps all over, those will likely stay in. This is just one reason why punch and roll is so important.
5. If you aren’t listening with headphones (everyone should be, but I know some people don’t), be very sure of your system and mic placement. If your book is full of plosives because your positioning is wrong, no one is going to fix that. An editor’s job is to support the overall performance of the book, NOT TO CHANGE IT.
6. An editor expects to spend a maximum of 3:1 on your punch recorded book. If you have so many issues that more than that is required for a great performance, they’ll start prioritizing, and smaller issues may not get fixed. This is not unreasonable. They need to make a living wage. If you’ve worked with several people and always find things aren’t to your standard, either the audio coming in isn’t high enough quality, or there’s an issue with hiring practices. The 3:1 ratio counts going over the edits you make and the admin involved in noting pickups and such.
7. NEVER think “we’ll fix it in post”. Post is for things you don’t even know need fixing, not things you don’t feel like fixing.
8. If you’re sending in a book to be mastered, SEND RAW. NO PROCESSING UNLESS APPROVED. This includes those of you on Studio One or Reaper especially. ALL channel plug ins on the input must be removed. If your mastering engineer can’t make the book sound better without your template, you shouldn’t be working with them to begin with. Channel strips are for auditions and some publishers ONLY (since some pubs require some slight tweaking before sending).
9. Be clear in communication ALWAYS. If you’re asking for mastering, or editing, or proofing, be completely sure what that includes. If your post person sends a sheet detailing that (I do), READ IT.
10. I can’t think of a #10 but the list bothers my neurotic sensibilities without one so here we are.
Other resources on this topic:
- The NPR tutorial Do you have the ears of an audio producer? and the accompanying webinar linked on the page have good examples of problematic clips.
- NPR also created The ear training guide for audio producers.
- Other examples of recording issues are in the ACX Reference Sample Pack.