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Q:

Hi, Rob!

Durin from the Adobe Audition team. Wanted to mention that we LOVE your new Ear Training guide. It's a fantastic and clear overview of the most common issues and solutions for capturing great sound and fixing less-than-stellar recordings, and I'll be sharing it with our users.

My question: With the increased competition for listener's ears coming from almost ubiquitous podcasts, satellite, and streaming content, how do you see broadcast radio adapting over the next decade?

A:

Why did they cancel Red Road?


Q:

Durin, hi! That is great to hear. Thanks for sharing it. We've been working on that for a long time and are really pleased. /u/nprserri was a huge force behind it. We are really pleased!

Personally, I see broadcast radio continuing to be a major source of content in the coming decade! Listener habits are changing, yes, but I think streaming/podcasting will continue to be a wonderful partner to broadcast radio.

A:

Hmmm. Sadly it was too good for this world...


Q:

The overnight shifts are the hardest, but the best way is to take care of yourself physically and try to get enough sleep and exercise. Probably not the answer you were looking for...

A:

What do you like most about what you do?


Q:

Sometimes it's on adrenaline! Breaking news can really get the blood flowing...

A:

I love that I work for myself, or rather I get to work for the common unconscious. This is what makes me happy! I get to work in the land of the dreams we do not even know we are having- that is where I like to spend my time and I have a life that lets me do it. Who knows how long it will last but it is pretty cool now. I love docs because you get to enter worlds. If I were smarter or more courageous I would probably be a busker or a surfer. (but I don't have the chops!)


Q:

I went to Butler University for a BA in Recording Industry Studies and MTSU for an MFA in Recording Arts and Technologies. There are lots of programs at the university level now. Some focus on broadcast, video production, music production, management and business, etc.

Fixing things at the source is always the best, so you're on the right track. Gain structure is key, but you may also be struggling with inherent noise in your mic preamps. Filters and noise gates can only do so much and certainly affect the final product. There are also software solutions for denoising after the fact. We use iZotope RX for a lot of audio restoration tasks.

A:

what inspire you to make alive inside? how did this idea come to you? was it like one morning in the shower?


Q:

I have a music degree (percussion) from James Madison University (they have a wonderful Music Industry program). I also have a Master's in Recording Arts from Peabody University/Johns Hopkins University. My music background was super helpful in developing my ears and understanding the needs of "talent." After that, most of my learning has been on the job. I found a love of broadcast and production and have just been hungry to learn more every day. It's a fun industry!

/u/neiltee33 hit the nail on the head. Prevention is the best cure! Mic placement and a good signal chain is the best way to beat noise! Izotope RX is fantastic, and Adobe Audition also offers noise reduction capabilities.

A:

I got hired to make a website for a guy. He took me into a nursing home. It was like Dante's Inferno!

Henry was in a wheelchair, parked in the hallway. He spent every day for the last 10 years like that. We gave him some Cab Calloway and he woke up- as you may know- the clip of Henry from "Alive Inside" first went viral on Reddit! https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1h50hy/old_man_in_nursing_home_reacts_to_hearing_music/

I knew in that moment I had to make "Alive Inside"- it took me 3 years.


Q:

Not to keep following your posts around raving about random things, but I'm studying Audio Engineering and classical percussion at Belmont University in Nashville. I am however originally from VA and it's always nice to hear JMU around these parts. Working both sides of the Mic definitely helps with the perspective of working with musicians in the studio. I am really looking into working with Nashville Public Radio in the near future in whatever capacity I can achieve. I don't really have an end to this comment so here seems like a good spot.

A:

What was your favorite movie from last year and your most Anticipated movie for this year?


Q:

Good luck to you!

A:

Not sure I have a faborite but I really liked The Big Short

You?


Q:

In Mark Kermode's BBC reviews, he's always able to sit remarkably far back from the mic as well as move right up on it, and his dynamics are amazingly controlled. I can barely hear the noise floor. Is this just a matter of having a very dead room with major compression and a lot of make up gain?

A:

What was your favorite movie from last year and your most Anticipated movie for this year?


Q:

Hard to say, it's probably a combo of many things. Perhaps someone here is knowledgeable about the setup.

It could be the mic's pattern (it might be set in a hyper cardioid pattern with some reach), low noise floor, quiet room... and perhaps there was some post-production done to lower the noise floor.

A:

Dear Reddit,

I'm going to dinner now and will come back one last time to answer any last questions! Thanks for all the support today.


Q:

The answer is - it depends... And it depends on the location and what you're surrounded by. The problems with the shotgun mic are the handling noise with all shotguns and that you have to point them exactly at the sound source to get a good recording. The pistol grip will help, but not as much as using a different microphone. If you're in an environment where there aren't too many reflections you can use an omni-directional mic (like the RE50) which has low handling noise and doesn't need to be pointed exactly at the sound source, but it does need to be close. The best thing to do is put mics on stands and use two of them - then handling noise isn't a problem.

A:

Hi Brian, when you wrote your songs, what where the bands that inspired you?


Q:

First, kudos for recording yourself. Always record your questions! They can be really useful for setting context... and as a listener it puts me in the conversation when I hear the reporter in the same space as the interviewee.

A shotgun in a pistol grip (with proper wind protection) is a totally valid approach! Unless it is super windy, you can use a shotgun. Here's an example of how you can position your hands and your interviewee:

https://twitter.com/RobByers1/status/827228109032263680

Some folks will say that shotguns need to be used at a distance. That's preferred, especially when using high-end mics. But the lower-end mics we use in radio exhibit some properties that make it ok to use them closer (and you should use the lower end mics closer!).

Don't forget to use your high pass filter to combat proximity effect!

A:

Townes Van Zandt Muddy Waters Guy Clark Hendrix Dylan Beatles Steve Earle Jerry Garcia John Prime Clapton and Townes Van Zandt


Q:

That's a really good video of using a shotgun in that situation.

A:

Do you have any directorial advice?


Q:

Thanks! /u/nprserri made it!

A:

Yes.

Act. Write. Shovel dirt. Read. Doubt. Watch films more than once.

Don't cross the line. Unless it is cool.


Q:

Drop the pistol grip maybe? It puts your hand at the wrong angle, at least when interviewing.

A:

What was it like touring the festival circuit? How did you get there?


Q:

I can see why you'd say that, but I wouldn't drop it... then you'll have issues with mic handling noise. Shots are really sensitive to handling noise.

http://training.npr.org/audio/the-ear-training-guide-for-audio-producers/#handling

A:

OMG, the Festival circuit is so much fun! Really- I can't wait to do it again!


Q:

What advice would you give to current and previous NPR interns that want to come back and work in audio at NPR? What's the best way to get your foot in the door?

A:

Do you have any advice on set control?


Q:

Reach out to the folks that make those decisions and ask curious questions. Ask what they are looking for... and then deliver that! These folks are busy, so respect their time, and be patient for a response.

Be well-rounded, present yourself professionally, and offer solutions to problems!

A:

Not really, I am a doc filmmaker.

With docs- no babies or pets.

or crazy people. Well, you can't avoid crazy people- so no advice.


Q:
  1. What instruments do you play (if any)?
  2. What type of music do you guys listen to? Favorite decade in music?
  3. Which flavor in Neapolitan ice cream is your favorite?
A:

Anything to help with the fact that I always feel like a nuisance asking for favours or calling in chits? Anything like this happen to you when you first started?


Q:
  1. Drums and other percussion. LOVE playing jazz.
  2. I'm a big jazz head (late 50s and 60s, also much more modern stuff. No thanks to the 70s and 80s!)
  3. CHOCOLATE! (I may have just had to fact check which flavors are in Neapolitan....)
A:

You must serve people! You gotta remember your project does not matter. How you are helping the other is what allows you to ask people to help you!!!


Q:

Thanks for answering although asking a professional his fav pair of cans was always going to come back with high quality prices :D I'll check out your suggestions thank you!

A:

After I said it I looked up the movie and you are gong to be alright i think. That movie was made so long ago. Not that many people can know of it.


Q:

You are welcome! The SE215 is right at $100... and the 7506s can often be had for as low as $80-90. Good luck in your search.

A:

I agree. I even like the idea that I'm doing a nod to it!

But I do appreciate your analysis


Q:

What's the hardest part of the job? Also what's the most enjoyable part of the Job?

A:

Well I have the advantage of starting this in my forties, I have tried to get my sixteen year old daughter to read the Art of Communication to try and get her to quiet her mind and take some time away from her iPhone and being connected. Just left Sundance and spent stayed with a legit hip hop star and he and his wife are working on TM. You work really hard and then you start to wonder why, divorce, stress etc... and you look around out how messed up everyone is so you try and find something that makes sense....


Q:

I love hearing my work on the air and knowing I was part of the team that made it happen. It's really rewarding. (And everything you hear on air has a team behind it!)

Hardest part? The flexibility needed to do the job well. As an audio engineer in the broadcast world you could be asked to record an opera one day... then mix a live radio call-in show the next. Similar in many ways... but flexing very different muscles. It's fun!

A:

Yeah man, it's really interesting journey this thing called life. And the twist of it all is the truth of it is nothing like what "they" say it is! 40 is a great time to master this stuff, actually it's about the time most people do.


Q:

Any chance you could do a series on optimizing the production workflow? Thanks!

A:

We've got a post on our website npr.org/training about figuring out workflow... it might help you.

It's here: http://training.npr.org/audio/be-prepared-how-a-production-workflow-can-help-you-avert-disaster/


Q:

It seems like no matter where I go or where I listen to NPR (different stations, podcasts, etc) ALL stations have the same sound. I can pick out an NPR station just rolling through the dial. Is there some NPR standard for audio producing that causes this phenomenon?

A:

You might find this article helpful... it explains the "NPR sound". If the programming you are listening to originates from NPR the article applies (content produced at the stations may have different approaches).

http://current.org/2015/06/a-top-audio-engineer-explains-nprs-signature-sound/


Q:

Were you all assigned bizarre names when you got the job or does NPR save those for on air talent?

A:

When I got in public radio I was told I wasn't awesome enough, so I had to keep my boring name.


Q:

Hello. I am a senior in high school interested mainly in working with other's artists music through mixing and mastering their stuff. I have found it very difficult to know which concepts matter most or what all i should do to get there in my future career. 1. Do you believe that music theory knowledge is needed at all? 2. Is it even necessary to go to a university to study sound engineering or should i just intern somewhere after i graduate to learn the essential skills? Hopefully this is pretty understood by your stand point. Any advice would be very much appreciated!

A:

I've met successful engineers who have studied at the university level, who have taken vocational courses, and who have interned and learned on the job. There are many routes to get there! Personally I went to 7 years of university-level training, and am glad I did, because I received education in a wide variety of disciplines. I also think music training has really helped me (and I bet many other engineers would agree with that). But again, I've met some very successful engineers who learned in an apprentice role and they are really good at their gigs. I think it comes down to what you are comfortable with and what you want to learn!


Q:

Do you add noise to, or otherwise filter the audio streams from callers to distinguish the voice from in-studio voices?

A:

Depending on the show, callers and guests to radio programs may connect via any number of ways. The most common in radio are ISDN (high quality data lines via telephone companies), Voice over IP services, and the phone. These all differ in quality and will have various artifacts, problems, and advantages. ISDN and VoIP can sound as good as a studio recording... or they can sound very bad, depending on the quality of the connection, bandwidth available, etc. It's a case-by-case basis. Phone calls usually processed with equalization and compression to make them more intelligible. But I can't think of a reason for callers to be filtered so that they sound "different" from the studio voices — they are treated so they sound more intelligible.


Q:

Thanks for doing this AMA! I'm currently a very small music producer. I don't think I'm going to get anywhere with that, but I do really enjoy messing around with it and am thinking about doing this as my profession. My question is what do you think is the best way to get into the industry? Thanks!! :)

A:

Go for it! I suggest talking to as many people as you can, be curious about their jobs, and be respectful and thankful for the time they spend with you.


Q:

1) How will the new presidential administration's proposed decrease in NPR's funding affect you?

2) Where do you see yourself down the line with this career path? Is there a good amount of upward/lateral mobility, or even the chance to transfer these skills outside of radio?

A:

I've really loved this career path. I've done some really fun things, recorded amazing musicians, produced some quality work, travelled, held management positions, and feel pretty knowledgeable about the tech and operations side of the broadcast industry. I think my experiences are definitely transferable outside of radio — the post-production industry comes to mind first, doing sound in various ways for movies or tv.