On the Podcamp Ireland blog, Krishna De asks a question that I can’t resist answering: Where is the most unusual place you’ve ever podcasted from?

Well, I’m a bit of a stickler for sound, so when I’m recording my own podcast or podcasts for clients, I like to be in a quiet place, which is usually my studio. Last summer, however, the Town of Oakville decided to replace the huge pipes that carry away storm water, so the road outside my window was a mass of monster trucks and booming noises. On a few occasions, I retreated into the coat closet with my Zoom H4 and my Electrovoice mic. Within the cocoon of wool and cotton, I found silence.

Several times I’ve interviewed podcast guests in my car, when the coffee shop we’d originally chosen was a little too raucous. A car parked in a calm spot is actually an excellent place to record, with all the padding in the interior.

I’m not against ambient noise, but I think it belongs in a podcast only when it contributes to the sense of the production. Case in point: For a client’s podcast last year, I interviewed a man who uses solar energy at his home. Because I wanted listeners to feel the rural location, I captured sound from his field – crickets, wind, and the raw wildness of the place. And I recorded our interview on his front porch, which seemed to make sense.

At conferences, I often walk around grabbing wild sound. When you’re listening to a conference podcast, you expect to hear the hubbub of the exhibition hall, the laughter and clinking of glasses at the opening reception and the buzz in the hallways, as long as you can clearly understand the people who are speaking.

For me the bottom line is this: Record in the studio unless the ambient sound helps you to communicate your message. If the ambient sound is not enhancing your podcast, it’s just noise. And if you have to step into the closet, go right ahead!

So, Krishna, does this answer your question?

6 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed. A good linen closet is the podcaster’s best friend. Add pillows from your bed for extra sound absorption.

    Buy a house based on the size and convenience of your closet .. not like my last one. Which was in front of the house on a busy urban street at the bottom of the Hamilton Mountain access. No talkback between the closet and my computer across the hall. Had to station a lookout to yell “truck!” whenever an 18 wheeler was coming down the hill.

    Recommendations — small walk in closet at the BACK of the house. Suburbs, or better yet, in the country (though those birds can be noisy too). Don’t clutter your closet up with clothes .. priorities, folks, priorities ..

  2. Indeed. A good linen closet is the podcaster’s best friend. Add pillows from your bed for extra sound absorption.

    Buy a house based on the size and convenience of your closet .. not like my last one. Which was in front of the house on a busy urban street at the bottom of the Hamilton Mountain access. No talkback between the closet and my computer across the hall. Had to station a lookout to yell “truck!” whenever an 18 wheeler was coming down the hill.

    Recommendations — small walk in closet at the BACK of the house. Suburbs, or better yet, in the country (though those birds can be noisy too). Don’t clutter your closet up with clothes .. priorities, folks, priorities ..

  3. Donna – thanks for answering the question. Your own podcasts are always terrific and high quality – both in sound and content which it why they are usually on the top of my listening list.

    I am fortunate to have a quiet location, though summer time and the windows being open and children out playing does mean needing to change podcast recording schedules.

    Thanks again for answering.

  4. While it wasn’t exactly a podcast, I remember recording a ton of audio projects during University in the bathroom at the library. My friend and I would be in there for an hour or so at the time with a laptop and a microphone, fending off people trying to get int.

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