Don't Sound Like an Amateur! 5 Steps to Consistant Volume for Professional, Blockbuster Recordings

One of the surest signs of an audio beginner is noticeably different volume levels within the same program. One section of the program is barely audible, while the other vibrates the speakers. Its annoying, destroys trust, and can remove your listener’s attention from where you want it – riveted to your incredibly powerful content.

In the excitement of recording your first session (or your second, or your third) its easy to overlook standardizing your recording levels. Especially if you’re using a handheld microphone, where the distance between the mic and your mouth can vary while you’re focusing on your script or your delivery.

Even pros fall victim to this.

But it doesn’t have to happen. Here are a few tips to ensure your listeners get what they deserve:

Carefully note the settings of all the on-screen sliders of your editing software – especially the audio input controls -- so that you can standardize them from session to session. Some software will reset your carefully calibrated level settings after you quit the program. So if you don't make written notes, you have to trust memory to match your previous settings. Not a good idea.

Before every recording session, be sure the audio input volume slider in your Sound Control Panel is at the same level for every session. This is listed under Control Panels in Windows XP and System Preferences in Mac OSX.

Use a headset microphone, rather than a handheld mic. Even when I’m recording in my bedroom, I pace around the room and gesture wildly. (Ooops, the cats out of that bag!) My headset mic ensures I can do this AND maintain a consistent sound level.

Use your Eyes – Many software editing packages give you visual feedback on your volume. Some have pulsating bars, some have lights that simulate the LED indicators on traditional recording equipment. Both can help you to keep your voice level within acceptable parameters.

Use Your Ears -- In addition to noting your settings, use that old reliable instrument -- your ears -- to ensure the levels of each segment you record match each of the others in volume, tone and quality. If you slip up, not to worry. Most software editors have filters with which you can adjust your audio levels after the fact.

All the Best,


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