Troubleshooting Basic Recording Issues

Troubleshooting Basic Recording Issues

When you're first starting your recording project and you find yourself with an onslaught of technical troubles, it can be tempting to quit altogether. After all, who wants to sit on the phone with tech support all day, especially when so many recording questions stem from the same six problems? Learning how to fix simpler technical issues yourself can make the recording experience a lot more enjoyable.

Here are some of the most common problems home recording studios face – and some solutions to those problems.

General Tech Troubleshooting Problems

Anyone who has worked in tech support before knows that people can solve most problems simply by doing basic tech troubleshooting. The best part? You don't have to be a tech genius to do these things, and they can solve a lot of problems that seem like significant fixes.

  1. Check your internet connection. A bad internet connection can wreak havoc on your sound and the quality of your recording. If initial sound tests seem off, check your internet connection and ensure you have a strong connection.
  2. Make sure to shut down your computer at least once per week. Think of your computer as an extension of your family (especially when you use it for your job). When your computer is “tired”, it doesn't perform as well. Shutting down (or even restarting) your computer at least once per week cuts down on processes running in the background and ensures your computer is running smoothly. 
  3. Check the cords on your microphone – are they in good condition? Sometimes, a bad sound is as simple as a bad cord. Replace cables and cords as they begin to show signs of wear and tear. The last thing you want is to mess up your recording schedule because of a frayed auxiliary cord. 
  4. Is your recording area soundproof enough? The human ear is amazing at filtering out filler sound. However, a condenser microphone's job is to pick up on delicate sounds – which means that if your recording area is not soundproof enough, outside sounds you normally don’t hear could come through in the recording and potentially compromise the integrity of your recording.
  5. Do you have too many programs running in the background? If you're in the "million tabs" club, you're not alone. But when it comes to recording time, be sure to close out of every application you have open. Even the most technologically advanced computers appreciate the extra processing space and can positively impact the recording outcome.

 If you've done these basic troubleshooting steps and are still having trouble, there are some other issue-specific steps you can take.

Sound Distortion

Sound distortion is a common problem among new recorders, and luckily, there's a pretty easy fix. Most often, sound distortion is caused by too much sound intake. Check your mic settings and play around with the audio interface. If your gain is too high, lower it. What is likely happening is your microphone is picking up on too much audio in your environment, causing distortion.

Movement Noise

Many of us have been on video calls with friends and family and heard the rustle of their headphones over the call's audio. This can happen during studio recording sessions, too, and it is why audio professionals often tape mics in place. If you find you're getting movement noise while recording, you might need to upgrade your recording microphone to avoid rustling movements.

Another issue that content creators can run into is air movement noise. While more prevalent outside, it is still possible for wind noise to show up in indoor recordings. To stifle the noise of the wind, make sure you:

  • Avoid recording near a vent or air conditioning unit
  • Insulate nearby doors and windows well
  • Avoid recording in high-traffic areas where people may open doors or walk by as you are recording

Plosives & S-sounds Are Too Loud

P's, B's, and S's can sound obnoxious on a recording when they are too loud. Unfortunately, they are some of the most common sounds in the English language (a Germanic language). Most plosive issues are caused by being positioned too close to the microphone. However, if you find your recordings have a lot of plosives, you might also check the microphone's angle. Everyone uses their lips differently to speak, so the correct position for one person might be the wrong position for someone else. Try recording with the microphone at different angles and see which angle works best for you.

If neither of these is the culprit, it might mean some post-recording work for you. Not to worry. De-essing tools help take harsh s-sounds out of your recordings.

Too Much Bass

Deep voices can be soothing and highly dramatic, making them excellent for theatrics. Unfortunately, it can be hard to capture the range of a bassy voice on a microphone, so if you're recording and notice too much bass, there are solutions – though they aren't as easy fixes as some of the other problems. 

The most effective way to deal with this is to play around with the equalizer after your record. If you can, isolate your voice from other sound tracks and play with the equalizer to find a frequency that works with your voice.

Too Much Breath

Talking a whole bunch can leave a person out of breath. Unfortunately, even when you don't realize you're gasping for breath while recording, your microphone does. If you notice your microphone picks up on your breathing too much, here are some excellent options:

  • Move the microphone away from your face. In general, this will solve a lot of pre-recording problems.
  • Play with the position of the microphone.
  • Practice breathing techniques. Any former choir kid will tell you this is an excellent way to sound your best.
  • Get a pop filter. A pop filter will not only help with your breathing noises, but it will also filter out p's and b's well. 

Most of all, if you find yourself facing issues after your first recording – don't panic. It happens to the best of us: from the most seasoned to the newest in the recording industry. With a bit of patience, you'll be able to fix (almost) any recording issue as it comes up. 

Need more help with your Babbl microphone recording? We've got you covered. Drop us a line, and we'd be happy to help.

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