Your Questions, Answered

Here you go. It’s about 16 and a half minutes total. Enjoy.


By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

32 replies on “Your Questions, Answered”

Well, I listened to the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve heard you speak.

I’m actually kind of disappointed. I was expecting a voice full of threat, accompanied by menacing theme music. In the background, I thought I’d hear the occasional “splash” of sharks in the moat around your house as they surface to shoot their lasers at intruders.

My preconceptions were dashed by cruel reality yet again.

Wow John, you’re voice sounds nothing like I imagined it would. And thanks for answering my “Airplane” questions – these are the things that keep me up at night, so now I can finally sleep.

Based on the voice in this podcast, I must conclude that John Scalzi is actually Damon Lindelof.

Followup question: Who would you like to have read the audiobooks of your work?

My dad loves Vanilla.

And I meant to ask “Who would win in a fight of zombie Tim Russert vs. zombie Edward R. Murrow.

Hey John,
It’s funny, and somewhat rude, how people totally missed your original point: nobody mentioned anything about the mic working, since you are testing it, after all.


(that means “it works” in the sound industry)

Khalil: Calling folks “rude” was uncalled for. He asked for questions and said he was testing it; surely he can click PLAY as well as we can.

I figured he wanted questions to make testing it more fun…. ;-)

Seems Kendall submitted his comment when I was starting mine (got distracted by the audio, pshaw).

Useful test: given a notebook at max system volume and max playback volume (on Windows, the first two audio sliders maxed out) it should be possible, from a nearby room with the door closed, to understand clearly what’s being said… assuming, of course, that interior doors are as flimsy in your house as they are in most of ours.

My RSS reader(Mac Mail) doesn’t like the format and tells me its not in a known feed format. Whether it is this entry or the previous one, I don’t know.

Kendall: I meant “rude” in the best intentions and interpretations of the word. In a Stephanie Tanner kind of way :) (although, I’m not AS cute, which is why I can’t pull it off sometimes!)



Not sure what kind of mic you’re using. The X-fi card is definitely the way to go. I’ve been using a USB mic recently which I like (Samson), for tracking directly into a computer. Other than that I’ve been tracking with a shotgun which seems to work pretty well (the best ones are made by Neuman, but are pricey, the Audio technica ones work fine and are what I use, but I drool with gadget envy over the Neumans), or you can’t fail with the ever trusty RE-50.

Couple things on mic technique based on listening to you, make sure you’re talking across the access of the mic, you’re getting a lot of “popped” p’s and t’s and other plosive consonants. Actually it’s so bad you’re popping on m’s and such as well.

The other thing (and I know this sounds a little contradictory) is that you sound slightly off-mic. That means you’re not close enough. The sound just seems a little thin, it might be that you have what’s called a “bass roll-off” engaged. It’s usually a small switch on the side of the mic labelled something like this ___/. Try A/Bing that. Make sure you are listening to what you are recording loud enough that your voice in your headphones is just below a distracting volume…you’ll then be able to hear when you’re drifting on and off mic, and be able to hear the p pops as well.

I’m also hearing some hissing, which could be a whole host of things from mic settings to computer settings to downgrading the file to an mp3 (which always has fairly poor sound, but the encoding can increase digital artifacts or bad micing or room tone in weird ways), …but I’m also wondering what the room is like that you’re in, the classic NPR way is to do it with a blanket over your head, but it’s not really necessary, just make sure you have a soft surface both in front of you AND behind you.

If you really want to go crazy professional on it, you can spend a lot of money on various solutions, but what I usually do when I’m building a bureau in a remote location that I’m going to be in for a bit is to just to build a small hutch kind of thing and line it with foam (audio foam is better, but cheaper foam will work fine) and put it on a table with a towel or rug on it. I’ll then either stack cushions behind me or put foam on a cheap screen to put there. You can even use those pop out sun protectors they make for windshields, they diffuse sound pretty well behind you, are cheap, and portable.


p.s. One other thing to watch are your cables, especially if you’re going from an XLR connector to a mini connector, the mini sockets and connectors go bad a lot. As a result I usually track into a Marantz PMD 660 and then move the file from the chip onto the computer and play with it there. But a couple of folks are using the Samson USB mic all the time for tracking directly into the computer and like it a lot.

Never mind the sound quality, I’m just impressed you pronounced “Madeley” right. You wouldn’t believe the bizarre pronunciations of what is a pretty straightforward surname.

I thought the sound quality was quite good. Very smooth and sufficiently loud on a Macbook Pro.

Also, if you’re going to do impressions, try John Hodgman, ’cause you sound an awful lot like him to me. Plus, everybody likes John Hodgman!

Tim Walker@23: yeah, but as JS said, it’s a question of density as much as size. Rock is a heck of a lot denser than flesh, unless Hulk-flesh is unusually dense (and it really can’t be, due to the square-cube principle).

Nicole @23 (and John, too, if you’re interested): Note that the links in my comment lead straight to the two super-strongmen’s pages at the Marvel Universe. I’m not giving my opinion, just quoting Marvel’s own figures.

This is what happens when the kid who was an “Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe”-reading geek meets the grown-up online researcher. ;)

Clearly your debating prowess shall rule supreme, and Charlie will rue the day he started this fight – that is, if he would be crazy enough to start it.

Seriously now, I enjoy your (and Charlie’s) books too much to actually risk you guys having such a confrontation. Thanks for the answer, John :)

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