As podcasts continue to rise in popularity, we also see the rise in new shows being released. If you are among the individuals that have decided to create a new show (a popular hobby during the pandemic), there’s a lot of information to sift through in order to educate yourself.
Recording your first podcast can be a bit of a daunting task, especially if you’re not experienced in the audio space. We compiled a list of podcast recording tips, tricks, and advice that will hopefully help you in your journey!
Before you jump into the physical act of recording, you need to do some preparation. Sit down and figure out what and how you want to record before you’re in front of the microphone.
We’ve seen countless podcasters go into a recording with the mindset of “I’ll just wing it and talk about whatever comes up naturally”. In theory, this may work, but once you’re sitting in front of that microphone and the excitement and nerves come up, you’ll be glad you prepared.
We’re not saying to fully script yourself. If you have an interview podcast, have your interview questions ready. If it’s a relaxed discussion between you and a guest or friend, prepare overarching themes that you want to cover.
If the conversation takes a natural shift, you may not end up covering everything you prepared for, but that initial planning helps to ensure the recording flows as smoothly as possible (and also gives you some peace of mind).
Additional Resources: Discover a list of popular podcast formats to consider for your own show.
Next, let’s look at some of the equipment you’ll need. Whenever we’re asked how to record a podcast and the equipment needed for it, this is the list of essential items we mention. You can definitely add more equipment to your roster such as mixers, but they’re not a necessity depending on your level of experience and the type of equipment you’re using.
The first essential piece of equipment is a microphone. There are plenty of mics out there for you to explore and review. There are two types of microphones that podcasters use: USB and XLR.
A USB microphone simply plugs into your computer and allows you to record your audio from there. This is definitely the easier approach to recording a podcast. They’re simple to set up, use, and require no additional equipment (other than your computer). USB mics still produce great sound so if you’re not looking to become a pro-podcaster, stick with a USB mic. But make sure to do your research! Not all microphones will deliver great results.
XLR microphones tend to be higher in quality but can be complex to set up and use. These are typically best suited for more advanced or professional podcasters. The cables for XLR mics are different, meaning you can’t just plug it into your computer. You’ll need to purchase a separate recording device to capture the audio. Overall, if you’re new to podcasting or if it’s more of a side hobby for you, we recommend starting with a USB mic.
Blue is a popular brand for podcast microphones with their Yeti growing in popularity. Another great brand is RODE. We’ve purchased both their XLR and USB mics and absolutely love them. If you decide to move forward with an XLR mic, brands like RODE provide full audio kits that include all the equipment you’d need to record with them!
Remember it’s also not just the type of microphone you buy but also how you use it. In our full guide on starting a podcast, we cover some tips on your microphone setup.
The next essential item is headphones. There are plenty of reasons why you should be wearing headphones when you record a podcast. One is that it allows you to hear yourself as you speak through the microphone. You’ll be able to tell if you’re popping on certain words (for example, when most people say a word that starts with the letter P, you’ll hear the audio pop a bit and distort the word).
You’ll also be able to tell if you’re moving in and out of your mic’s range. When some people sit they tend to rock back and forth. Others move around a lot when they get excited or passionate about a topic. This isn’t ideal for recording and leads to inconsistent audio quality. Wearing headphones allows you to actually hear the difference in quality as you move, and since you’re plugged in, your range of motion is also limited.
When wearing headphones you can adjust your levels based on how you sound in the mic. If your microphone is turned up too high or too low and you record a full podcast that way, it makes editing much more time consuming later on.
We recommend using over the ear, noise cancelling headphones. Overall, we find it more comfortable to have over the ear versus in the ear headphones. You’ll want a pair that can plug into your device. They can have the option for bluetooth but make sure they also come with a cord. And lastly, if you have guests on your podcast and are recording with them in person, you’ll need a headphone splitter so you can plug multiple pairs of headphones in at once.
There are a number of options that you have when it comes to actually recording your podcast. The optimal solution will depend on the structure of your show, whether you have guests or multiple hosts, whether you’re recording in person, and more.
The first option is a remote recording software. Due to the pandemic, we saw many of these platforms rise in popularity. A remote recording software is a platform that you can sign up for that will record your audio via your web browser. These are great options if you have guests or multiple hosts on your show and you need to record together remotely.
At Quill, we use remote recording software since we have our clients, our clients’ guests, and our producer on recordings to manage audio levels and set up the microphones.
Currently, we use RiversideFM. RiversideFM has both an audio and video option and we’ve found that it records the best quality audio for what we’re looking for. Although it does come at a cost. Some other popular remote recording software that vary in price include Squadcast, Cleanfeed, and Zencastr.
Additional Resource: Check out our full list of the top 6 remote recording software.
The next option is using your computer. This works best for anyone who is recording with just themselves or if you are in person with your guest/co-host(s).
There are multiple ways that you can record using your computer. Any app that can capture audio could actually work. But we recommend using one that can record your podcast in a .wav format. .Wav is a raw audio file format and is the easiest to edit your podcast in after it’s been recorded. Many audio editing software can also act as recording software. One that we like and use often is Adobe Audition. Again, it’s more pricey, but if you also decide to use it for editing then it’s definitely worth the cost!
We love using Adobe and other similar recording software because they show you your audio levels as you’re recording, giving you insights into when you’re peaking (when your audio is way too high and it starts to sound distorted) or when you’re too quiet.
Another option is to use your smartphone! You’ll most likely need to download a recording app in order to get the best audio quality. Many of the remote recording software that we discussed above offer an Android or Apple app that you can download and use for recording.
This option is best for an individual who doesn’t have a computer that they can use. If you do have a computer, we recommend using that over a smartphone since it’s much easier to maneuver and set up for.
The last option is to use a studio. We understand that this isn’t possible for many people at the moment due to the pandemic. It’s also a much more pricey option since you’ll typically need to rent the studio space by the hour, which can quickly get expensive.
One bonus with a studio is that they sometimes come with a producer who will help you set everything up and manage your audio when you record.
We really only recommend using a studio if you’re a pro-podcaster or if your podcast has been acquired by a media house who has a studio for you to use.
You also want to be thinking about the space that you’re recording in. If you’re at home or in an office, you need to find the best room to record in.
The first thing to consider is that you don’t want someone else working or moving around in the background. You basically want to find the quietest space possible. If you’re in the kitchen with your partner cooking behind you, it won’t produce the best audio. If possible, avoid rooms with windows since outside noise often seeps into audio through windows. The ideal recording space will also produce as little echo as possible. This usually means a smaller room with low ceilings since noise won’t bounce off the walls as much.
If you don’t have any of these options in your home, you can also take a look at your closets to see if any of them are big enough for you to camp out in for the duration of your recording. We know it’s odd and probably not the most comfortable but it really does work.
If you want, you can also purchase sound absorbing foam to line your walls with in whichever room you choose. This will help to minimize any echo and make your audio sound much cleaner. It’ll also prevent anyone in your home from hearing you!
The last thing you’ll want to do before officially pressing record is conduct some testing to ensure that your audio is meeting the quality standards you’re striving for.
If you’re using a remote recording software, you’ll want to test your WiFi since many of them run off of your internet. If you or your guest have a poor internet connection, you may experience some audio glitches throughout the recording due to the internet cutting in and out.
Many recording software will tell you the minimum speed necessary to record and will also flag if you or your guest have a poor internet connection. Sometimes it just takes restarting your modem or router to get everything working again!
Test your mic and your guest’s mic and audio before you record. Start speaking into the microphone and look at your audio levels, hear how you sound, and make any necessary adjustments.
When you’re testing your guest’s audio, ask them questions to get them talking. Ask them how their day is going, if they have any plans for the weekend, or anything to make it feel like a natural discussion.
And now, you’re ready to record! We hope you’ve learned how to record a podcast through our tips, tricks, and pieces of advice. Once you’ve recorded your first episode, you can move forward into the editing stages of your show, also known as the post-production process.
If you want tips for editing your podcast check out our guide on how to start a podcast and look into other resources that can help you! Using an agency or hiring a freelancer can also be a great way to save you time and stress if you’re unfamiliar with podcast editing.
Quill Inc. is your branded podcast marketing and production agency. From working with brands such as RBC, CIBC, TD, Axway, The Globe and Mail, and many more, Quill’s goal is to facilitate connections between brands and trusted resources to better inspire, educate, engage, and of course, entertain audiences everywhere.
If you’re looking for expert help for producing and growing your podcast, get in touch with us here.
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