Recording audio is one of my favorite things to do. I can go into the studio, focus and just do my thing. During my undergrad years, I studied Electronic Media and Film and classes included announcing techniques, which of course was my absolute favorite part of the program. We learned many things: how to use inflection, be conversational and so on, even down to drinking hot water with honey when you are sick. What we didn’t focus a lot on though was things we can do beforehand, including what you can eat/drink to enhance your vocals and things to avoid. So, I wanted to figure this out not only for myself but for all of you that are also curious about the effects of food and beverages on audio recording.
Kegan and I took a week and tested out some different foods and drinks that are said to help or hinder your audio. I chose the items based on general information researched online.
Normal Morning: I had only drank my hot coffee with almond milk creamer and Kegan had a protein shake. Our audio was fine, not awful and not great.
Banana: Oh, no. Just no. After eating the banana our mouths, for lack of any better way to describe it, just felt gross. Our saliva build up was intense and we just couldn’t keep our mouths dry. Listening to the audio, you can hear us constantly swallowing and trying to clear out our mouths and throats to make our words clearer and it was nearly impossible. Eating a banana is absolutely one of the worst things you can do before recording audio.
Carbonated Water: We drank Natural Strawberry Peach Sparkling Water, which was delicious. Our audio sounds fine, but keep in mind we only recorded a few paragraphs at a time. The entire time I was recording, all I wanted to do was burp. There were so many bubbles built up from the carbonation that while reading, I only focused on the bubbles. Kegan and I both agree that the roofs of our mouths felt a little weird. Kegan said after recording “my tongue feels slow, not necessarily numb, but like it just woke up. So it wasn’t as crisp.”
Chocolate: We ate Sprouts 65% Dark Chocolate. Kegan could barely start his recording without stopping to note how horrible it felt to try recording. It made our mouths feel gross, the fluid that was in our mouths was sticky, and we couldn’t speak comfortably. Obviously this created a lack of crisp and clear audio.
Chocolate, followed by Water: We drank water after eating chocolate to see if it would help move the chocolate and get that sticky feeling out of our mouths. I didn’t feel any difference drinking just plain water after eating chocolate. I still felt like my mouth was gross and sticky. Kegan felt worse, that it made him numb up a little.
Chocolate, followed by Lemon Water: During the research process I read that lemon water should clear your throat and mouth of any foods you have recently eaten, that the acid from the lemon helps. So, we of course had to test this out. After eating the chocolate we drank some lemon water to help clear our mouths and throats of the chocolate. While it helped move things around a little, it didn’t make a significant difference. With that being said, I don’t think lemon water alone would make any significant impact either.
Room Temperature Water: The water didn’t make a difference in our audio. It didn’t create any extra saliva nor did it make anything more crisp. If you feel it absolutely necessary to have something to drink before recording, this would be a good choice as it has no effect on your vocals.
Dairy: We ate cheddar cheese. At the time of the recording we didn’t feel like anything was different, felt just about the same as the test with room temperature water. After listening to our recording however, it is apparent that the cheese created some interesting build up in our mouths. It didn’t necessarily sound like increased saliva, but definitely was not a clear recording.
Green Apple: Kegan and I both felt more confident in our vocals after eating the apple and that alone makes the audio better. But going back and listening to the audio you can tell there is not a lot of saliva sounds, which if you edit audio you know is one of the absolute worst sounds to continue to hear over and over again. The green apple made the audio sound clearer and more crisp and makes editing easier as well.
Hot Black Coffee: We drank whatever black coffee Starbucks was brewing. The black coffee didn’t hinder our audio at all. It didn’t create any extra saliva in our mouths and the words were still crisp and clear. Kegan felt like it made him pronounce T’s a little sharper. The caffeine definitely helped Kegan seem a little more excited than normal, so if anything, there’s the one benefit of coffee!
Hot Water w/ Lemon and Honey: It is said to enhance your vocals but we didn’t notice any enhancement in our vocals whatsoever. If anything it had more of a negative affect. I felt like I had more phlegm in my throat after drinking this and Kegan felt a little numb and that his throat didn’t allow him to vocalise as easy.
Potato Chips: We ate Lay’s Potato chips and our mouths felt disgusting from all of the salt. I had read some articles that said the grease from the chips would help your audio, and now that has been proven to be false. My tongue felt heavy and hurt from the salt so I felt like I wasn’t speaking as well as I could have been. However, it did not create any noticeable added saliva sounds to our audio.
After doing these absolutely fun experiments, we have determined this: Green apples can absolutely enhance your vocals. They help make your audio more crisp and clear and limits the amount of saliva in your mouth. The next best option is plain black coffee. I drink coffee every morning so for me it was normal and didn’t create any extra saliva. For Kegan, however, we aren’t sure whether it actually helped him enunciate or if the caffeine kick is what made his audio better. Either way, black coffee is definitely an okay drink to have before/while recording as it does not have a negative effect on your vocals.
Everything else we tested, potato chips, hot water with lemon and honey, and dairy I would lean away from as it did not provide any benefit in the audio quality and had a slight negative effect. Carbonated beverages, chocolate and bananas I would 100% steer clear of prior to recording. These three things have a clear negative effect on your audio.
Keep these things in mind when having to record after eating. Typically though, if you wait 2-3 hours after eating/drinking anything, aside from alcohol of course, your vocals should be fine and your audio should be clear.
However, note that I work with audio on a daily basis and could possibly be one of the most picky people you will ever come across in regards to acceptable audio recordings. So to me, I noticed the difference, but to an untrained ear it won’t be as noticeable. Although, just the fact that a lot of these experiments made our mouths feel gross is reason enough to avoid them prior to recording. You always want to feel your best as that alone is evident in an audio recording.
I have included the audio for the best and worst of the experiments, a green apple and a banana. To an untrained ear they both sound like acceptable audio but, if you take a look at the images of the audio files you will be able to see a clear difference between the two.
Have any food or drink tricks that you use before recording audio? Or have anything you want us to test out? Let us know in the comments below!