For those of you with a slightly more advanced set-up (i.e. a mixer and a condenser mic, perhaps), sound checks are a must before you record. When I bought my first mixer, I was totally perplexed by the multiple buttons and knobs and what they did… I just played with them until the levels sounded right. It took me a while before I discovered how wrong that was… for you newbies, here’s a tip:
On most mixers, you have two knobs or sliders that control the levels on the channel… the gain, and the fader. In almost all circumstances, you should set the fader to zero or U (depending on the brand of mixer… it’s usually smack in the middle) and adjust the sound levels with the gain. Why? The fader at zero or U is optimized for that channel…in other words, your mic will sound a LOT better if you keep it there. Many new podcasters will treat the gain and the fader to serve the same function. In some ways they do, but if you value a better sounding signal, keep the fader firmly on zero, and use the gain for the leveling… you’ll notice the difference!