Nottingham, UK (January 14, 2021)—Hypnotherapist Christopher Fitton started the Sleep Cove podcast on a shoestring and ended up with one of the most successful health-focused podcasts to date. But instead of sinking money into building numbers through paid marketing, he has continually reinvested in the quality of his production.
“[Audio quality] is absolutely important, because everyone is listening to your words intently,” Fitton explains. “The therapy is taking you into a deep, relaxed state, and if you’re away from the mic and it’s really echo-y, or you’ve got a lot of hiss, these are all distractions which are going to take you away from the therapy. It’s absolutely paramount that the audio production in this is the best.”
Through Sleep Cove, which attracts 2 million listeners every month via word of mouth and search engine results, Fitton guides listeners through hypnosis and meditation with the sound of his voice and the aid of subtle backing tracks to help them relax and de-stress. He also uses techniques such as reading bedtime stories—classic novels like Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and Little Women—to lull listeners to sleep.
After starting the podcast with a Samson C01U Pro USB condenser microphone and Garage Band, Fitton soon upgraded to a Rode NT-USB mic and continued experimenting from there. His current setup is a Shure SM7B microphone plugged into a Triton Audio FetHead in-line mic preamp, feeding to a Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB interface, on to a dbx 286s Channel Strip with De-esser and then into Apple Logic Pro. Fitton measures comments and feedback from his audience against his own ears when tweaking his gear and editing techniques.
“The only negative feedback I’ve had on the audio production side is that sometimes it’s been too quiet in some episodes, and that’s from me pushing the gain up and then trying to balance it out to make sure it’s not noisy or fuzzy,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of podcasts out there, [with] some people doing similar things [like] hypnosis, and you can tell that audio production is not good. [There are] a lot of people you can tell are sitting back from the mic, and you’ve got all the echos and whatnot.”
Fitton is always on the hunt for new gadgets and techniques to help him get the cleanest sound possible for Sleep Cove. The multi-use room he records in is lined with dampening materials, and the effort includes trying to reduce reflections from his 42” Samsung ultrawide computer monitor. “To try to not get echoes off [the monitor], I put some towels over the edges. I’ve got towels and flags on the wall in different parts of the room to try and take the echoes down, but because I think I’m so close to the mic when I [record], rather than speaking to someone in a conversation podcast, I think it takes a lot of the refraction and echoes down.”
An admitted perfectionist, Fitton spends a good deal of time removing subtle background noises and hiss when they pop up. “It’s very time consuming, but I think probably from the numbers maybe it shows—and the lack of complaints I’ve had.” Fitton says that on early episodes, sometimes the background music was too loud compared to the voice, or vice versa. “Then it’s for me trying to learn—pushing the gain up, pushing the background volume down to a level which people like.”
Looking ahead, Fitton is continuing to invest in the sound quality of Sleep Cove; he’ll soon move his gear into a portable sound booth in his garage in his latest pursuit of perfection. “I could have had an easier life and just stuck with the Rode mic; I think I’d still be doing very good episodes, but I was just driven. I want to make the audio quality better.”
Sleep Cove • https://www.sleepcove.com/