Have you started podcasting and are wondering why your podcast doesn’t sound like the popular podcasts on iTunes? These tips will help.
#1 – Record Great Sounding Audio
We’re starting with the most important one first, because if you do not do this, the rest won’t be much use. You really need a solid foundation. Record great sounding audio.
You may be thinking, thanks captain obvious! But for many people, it’s not so obvious. They may be new to podcasting and have no experience with audio (Maybe this is you!?)
We’ll sometimes get inquiries from people who recorded their podcast using an iPhone and are asking for it to be turned into professional broadcast quality. Unfortunately, that won’t happen.
Audio engineers are not magicians, there are only so many things that can be done. So whether it’s background noise, echo, distortion, or any other issue with your audio, it’s always going to sound better if you fix it at the source, as opposed to bringing it to an editor after the fact and expecting them to fix it.
You need a great sounding product from the start, and then your editor can enhance it and bring out the very best sound possible.
Getting this great recording is a little outside what this article will cover, but suffice it to say, a decent microphone and a quiet room are a great start.
#2 – East Guest Gets A Microphone
This is mostly applicable for podcasts where multiple guests are sitting in the same room. Unless each guest has their own microphone, you’re going to be challenged to get a quality sound. Putting one microphone in the center of the room, whether it’s a portable recorder or a mic connected to your computer, simply won’t provide broadcast-quality audio. You’re going to get a lot of noise and echo, and it simply doesn’t sound as nice as if you’re talking into a mic closely.
So if you have multiple people speaking in one room and you want the best audio quality, you need to look into a setup where each person has a mic. Acoustic treatment is important as well (even if it’s some old blankets) as multiple microphones in an echoey room are not good either, but it’s a step in the right direction.
#3 – Wear Headphones for Remote Interviews
This applies to podcasts where a host is in one location, interviewing a guest in another location, using something like Skype.
When you do these interviews without wearing headphones it causes all kinds of problems. When your guest is speaking, now your microphone picks them up and creates a delay. Software tries to stop this but it doesn’t always succeed, and it’s not perfect. There are other issues that arise then such as if both people speak at once, it will jumble the audio, one of the others will have a dropout, etc.
There’s no need to get too in-depth on the problems that arise from not using headphones, but please follow this simple piece of advice and ensure both people are wearing headphones when doing remote interviews. It’s too easy NOT to do and will make a world of a difference if you’re not using them now.
#4 – Your Recording Platform Can Degrade Audio
This one, again, relates to doing remote recordings with the host in one location and guest in another. Be aware of what platform you’re using.
Services like Skype and Zoom really degrade the audio quality, so even if you use a good microphone, you may find the end result is bad. Zoom recordings generally affect both the host and guest due to the nature of how it works, where as Skype will mostly affect the guest.
So, what can you do?
Well, some people do what’s called a double-ender. This is where the host records their audio on their computer, and the guest records their audio on their computer. The two recordings are then stitched together in editing. This is ok, but sometimes the audio doesn’t sync perfectly and then causes all sorts of headaches.
The most ideal solution is to use an online solution like Cleanfeed, Zencastr, or Ringr. These give you the benefits of a double-ender but without any synchronization issues. These platforms are all designed with quality audio in mind, and will let you get the full potential of both you and your guest’s audio, provided that you’re both using a decent microphone and wearing headphones.
What’s Your Weakest Link?
Podcast audio will only be as good as the weakest link in the chain. If you have a great microphone but are recording on a platform that provides poor quality audio, you will get poor quality audio. Conversely, if you choose a quality recording platform but use your computer’s built-in microphone, your audio will still be poor.
Quality audio requires proper attention at every single step. A good microphone, headphones, proper recording, and possibly even acoustic treatment depending on where you record. Being aware of loud computer fans, pets, and other causes of noise is important as well.
Questions? We’re here to help with any podcast questions you may have!