Podcasts are great for connecting with your audience and providing additional content for your business. They are easy to get started with even the smallest of budgets and minimal equipment. Having said that, good quality audio is still crucial. It can make a real difference to the listener’s experience. Badly edited, low quality sound can distract from your message and turn most people off. If you’re new to it, these podcast audio tips are for you! Here’s how to produce a great podcast that will entice your listeners to stick around til the end…
Consider your environment
It doesn’t matter how great your podcast microphone is if you’re recording in an unsuitable environment. First and foremost, think about the noises that may affect your recording. Is there heavy traffic outside of your building? Birdsong? Perhaps you’re in a noisy office? Or maybe next to a particularly loud computer? All of these can easily ruin an otherwise great recording. To test it, put your headphones on before you record and listen out for what the mic picks up before you start talking into it.
Once you have made sure your room is quiet enough, the next step is to test the sound when you record it. Does it sound reverberant or is there any echo on your voice? Many large, rectangular office spaces are highly reflective, meaning they could add unwanted echo into your recording. For this reason, you should also avoid placing your microphone too close to hard and flat surfaces. Bookcases, carpets, blankets and other, softer materials will minimise unwanted reflections.
Make the most of your equipment
If you want to get serious about making your own podcasts, you may feel that your laptop microphone won’t quite cut it. Fear not, you don’t need to spend a fortune on decent quality audio equipment. There are plenty of USB microphones available that are inexpensive and will drastically improve your sound.
If you have a microphone already, there are ways to make the most of even a budget option. For example, if you’re too close to the mic, you may sound muffled. This happens because of something called the ‘proximity effect’. It means that the closer you get, the more bass frequencies your sound will bring out from the mic. You may also notice some air from plosive sounds. Try using a pop shield or slightly angling the mic and moving a little bit away from it, so you’re not quite as up front. Avoid moving it too far away though, as this could result in a tinny and unclear recording. Use these podcast audio tips, record a few different takes and play around with mic placement until you find that sweet spot.
Record high quality audio
Next, we get on to the nitty gritty technicalities of recording audio. You’ve probably already heard of mp3, which is a type of audio format. Usually, this is a compressed, smaller file that is easier to share and distribute. However, to get that great initial quality, you should record your file in WAV or AIFF format, which are uncompressed, lossless audio formats. Similar to moving image, audio can also be recorded at different resolutions. We recommend opting for 24bit, 48kHz. All of these options should be available in your recording software and a quick YouTube tutorial will usually explain where to find them. With these settings, you will immediately get great quality source material that will make the editing and distribution process much smoother.
Once you are ready to record, it’s also important to set the sound levels right. The last thing you want is a distorted recording, as it will significantly lower the quality of your podcast. Set your levels somewhere between -14dB (decibels) and -10dB at the loudest passages. How can you do this? To test your audio in your recording software, try to get as loud as you might become in conversation, for example, when you’re laughing. Ensure your signal level doesn’t go above those markers and you should be good to go. This way, you will avoid distorting the signal and you can always make the podcast recording louder later on.
Record remote guests separately
If you are chatting to someone on your podcast via Zoom or Skype, ask them to record their own audio to a better standard and avoid using a laptop microphone. You can then merge the two in editing. This will ensure your podcast audio quality is consistent throughout. It can get very annoying to hear the contrast between high quality sound and reverberant, distorted recording, for example.
Focus on your delivery
Your delivery is something to think about both while you’re recording and during audio post-production. Rehearse your podcast beforehand and make sure you’re familiar with your talking points to avoid filler sounds like ‘uhm’, ‘erm’ etc. Equally though, you may wish to consider editing them out, but be mindful that too many edits will also become very noticeable. Almost like jump cuts in a video. Practicing beforehand will guarantee the smoothest delivery and save time in post-production.
Are you starting a podcast?
We hope you found our podcast audio tips helpful! If you need further advice on starting a podcast, best equipment and detailed tips on audio, chat to us today. As a full-service marketing agency, we can help with anything from podcast promotion, graphic design to editing and mixing for a truly great-sounding podcast.