29 February 2024

Check Your Audio Levels

Are you a sound mixer for major motion picture or recording studio?  Do you have a podcast?  Are you part of the A/V department?  Do you run a YouTube Channel?  If you deal with sound, this will be very valuable, yet very obvious information for you.

Movies and Television

I understand "dynamic range" or "dynamic sound".  For those who are not familiar with the term, "dynamic range/sound" is some fancy jargon sound mixers came up with to justify unnecessary loud sounds.  Basically, jump scares.  Usually the awards for best sound go to the loudest sound, and not awarded to actual sound design.  Oh, this one is loud...give them a statue.

Fine, I will let you have dynamic sound, as it usually helps with story telling.  At least the good sound mixers, not necessarily the 'winner for best sound, know how to use it appropriately.  A good sound of a crash or explosion really sells the scene.

Music in movies are another thing.  We are not talking about the score, we are talking about songs.  Why is it that every time a song is played, whether the scene calls for a car radio or some upbeat track for a montage, the song is turned up to eleven?  There is no need for this.  The song usually sucks anyway.

Dialog should be king when it comes to sound.  After all, that is what usually moves the story along.  Why mask the all important dialog with 'sound design' or an annoying song?

Do not tell me that "they mix it for the theatre".  Bullshit.  The jump scare of  'this summer's song' is just as starling as it is at home.  Besides, your movie will only have a 3-6 month window in the theaters, but can live forever in home entertainment. Start mixing sound for the home viewing, at least as an alternate version.  Also, people watch stuff at home these days, get over it.


Look...uh, I mean listen.  No one gives a fuck about your shitty intro and outro.  In the back of your head, you already know this.  This is why you crank up that shitty intro/outro.  Here is a secret:  Everyone skips your intro, because we watch and listen for your content.  Turn that shit down, at least to the same level as the rest of your content.  

I get it, you have ads, I understand you want to get paid.  Fine, I am all for your getting compensation for your work. Just have your ads at the same level as the rest of your content.  Hey, a better listener experience means you will have more listeners...that means more money for you.

Speaking of content.  If you have guests, mic them up properly and/or check their levels.  If they are calling in, check their levels.  I guarantee you that what they have to say is way more interesting than the host.  All speakers should have the same level.

Again, this is obvious.  But, try to keep your voice at a good level.  Whispering and yelling into the mic is fucking annoying.  A vast majority listen to podcasts in a private setting, with headphones during a workout, in a car, at a desk.  There is no need you whisper, we chose to be here to listen to you...you have our attention.  There is no need to yell to 'make a point'.  Again, we are here for you.

Pro tip:  Listen to other podcasts, perhaps something of similar genre, yours should be set at around the same level.  Better yet, set your levels at about a 7.  That way your listener has a little play room to adjust based on their ears and/or equipment.  

Do you know how annoying it is to be listening to a podcast that is set to a 7, then yours comes up and it is at a 3?  Then, your adds are at a 10.  Come on!  You do realise that most people listen to your podcast are on the go or doing something else.  Audio is your only form of communicating your idea, it should be pleasant to your listener.


Same shit.  Your intro sucks, your outro sucks.  Some of you 'not so professional' YouTubers need to invest in a better microphone.  We are not covering visuals here, but some of you need a better camera and/or better lighting.  I covered simple things like the importance of holding the camera still, maybe check that out.  Again, a simple tip is to experience your product and compare to others.  You know what is good out there, take some inspiration from them.

Oh, one more thing for you podcasters and YouTubers.  Make sure your audio is utilizes both speakers.  It does not have to be full on Dolby surround sound, just needs to not have it blasting in one ear/channel.  Worst is when some of the audio is in stereo, or mono with both speakers going, then all of a sudden it cuts out of one ear.  Just fix it.

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