Mic Bleed in Podcasts: Why It Happens and How to Edit It Out

Hey, everybody. I often see this question arise, especially when someone records in person for the first time after only having experience with remote recording: How do we handle mic bleed? Many times, this is unexpected for those who've only recorded remotely, leaving them wondering, "How can I fix this?" In reality, it's not something you can entirely eliminate. That's just how microphones work; they capture all sounds within a space. If you have two microphones in one room and two voices are speaking, both mics will pick up both voices.

Although it's impossible to completely get rid of mic bleed, there are steps you can take to minimize it. One option is to use dynamic microphones. Another tip is to position your guest in a way that their voice aligns with the microphone's null space. However, some mic bleed is still bound to occur. Mic bleed is best handled when editing your podcast. And this isn't something the basic "how to edit a podcast" videos teach you.

Let's consider a specific example I recently worked with: a husband-wife co-hosting team. They took all the recommended precautions—using dynamic mics and facing each other. Ideally, this should reduce mic bleed. However, on listening to their audio, the presence of mic bleed was undeniable. Beyond the primary voices, the mics would pick up other subtle sounds, like rustling or breathing.

When addressing mic bleed, there are two main strategies to consider. The first is using a noise gate. Many opt for this method because it seems straightforward. A noise gate can help reduce the background noise from mic bleed. However, it may lead to unnatural, choppy dialogue by cutting off the beginnings or ends of words. For those considering gates, the Sonible Smart:Gate is a worthy option. It's one of the best at retaining natural sound, but even it's not foolproof against mic bleed.

My preferred approach? Manual editing. I go through the recording and cut out parts where someone isn't speaking. Initially, I focus on removing the major chunks and later refine the edit. This method can be surprisingly efficient. By eliminating extraneous noise, we provide listeners with a clearer, more enjoyable experience. I do this on all audio I receive, even if it doesn't have mic bleed because it quickly removes all the ambient noises the other person might make when they are not speaking.

If you found this guide beneficial, you might enjoy some of our other videos about podcast editing on our YouTube channel. Thanks for joining, and I'll catch up with you next time.