High-Fidelity Garbage - Israel Story High-Fidelity Garbage - Israel Story

High-Fidelity Garbage

Zev Levi

For every episode, we spend hours in professional recording studios, recording narration. Part of our time in those studios, however, is spent recording a range of sounds we don’t use.


You see, as close as recording studios can get, it’s nearly impossible to find a completely soundproof room. Outside noises always get in. Through cracks in a wall or an air-conditioner’s pipes, through a window’s imperfect seal or walls that aren’t thick enough, there’s always a tractor or a beeping machine or a school bell.


Once in the room, those noises make it onto the recording. Now, we could move to a different studio or digitally remove unwanted noises, but both those options affect the sound of a recording and would make the narration track inconsistent. So we “hold for sound,” until a noise stops.


We don’t know how long a noise will last, so we generally don’t stop recording – it could just be a second. But those seconds add up. And in the meantime, we sit, listening intensely to the noise and waiting for its end.


While recording narration for King of the Hill, we paused for the building’s elevator to stop humming. We stood by for a neighbor’s landline phone to stop ringing. While silently waiting for a chirping bird to fly away, I found myself thinking that we were paying for high-quality equipment to record very faint, unusable sounds that we didn’t want.


At every studio, we’re told that the noise isn’t being recorded. Or that it’s not noticeable. But we listen back to the track and it’s noticeable to us.


We’re told that no-one will care. We care. These tiny noises make a difference to the quality of an episode. And I like that we don’t compromise on quality.


The cost of a high-quality show is high-fidelity garbage.


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