So, you’ve got your hands on some new equipment and want to get started with recording. Maybe you’ve started to record and realized on the playback that you can faintly hear cars in the background or the sound of the AC unit buzzing.
Why do you need quality audio anyways?
Quality audio is a must in the podcasting industry because it adds credibility to your show and subtly tells your listeners, “Hey. I know what I’m doing.”
As you start on your podcast journey, keep these tips in mind so you get the best audio recording the first time. We advise all of our hosts to follow the guidelines below because these make post-production editing so much easier and you can spend less time stringing clips together. We totally understand that not every space is ideal for recording audio so we’ve sprinkled in some tips for how to optimize your space into a DIY studio as well.
General best practices
- Keep your mouth distance away from the microphone about 5-6 inches. This makes it so fewer mouthy sounds are picked up in the recording and the words sound more crisp.
- Avoid fiddling with your mic or other noisy objects while you record as this will cause noisy artifacts to show up in recording, which are hard to remove if they happen while someone is speaking. If you need to adjust the mic, pause the conversation and do it while no one is speaking so it will be easy to cut out of the track in post-production.
- Don’t turn your head away from the mic. Keep your mouth aimed at the mic to avoid audio dropouts. If you have to turn your head to see your guest or a script, try to move your whole body to revolve around the mic in a way that keeps your mouth aimed at it. This may take a few recording sessions to develop this habit. If you are recording a guest, help them get accustomed to this before recording begins so you can avoid the issue altogether.
- Always remember your memory card if you’re using audio equipment like the Rodecaster. It’s not a good feeling to record an episode only to realize later on that it was never actually recorded because someone forgot the memory card.
- This goes without saying but remember to press the record button on your Rodecaster (or equivalent) before starting. It’s heartbreaking to work so hard on an episode and have nothing to show for it because of a simple mistake like forgetting to hit the right button.
- Record in a quiet place away from noisy appliances/air systems.
- Try to use a chair that isn’t squeaky or else you will hear the squeaks in the audio recording.
- Close windows to avoid outdoor sounds.
- Speak as you normally would.
- Don’t whisper (unless relevant to the conversation or script).
- Don’t shout.
- Make sure to enunciate so your words can be heard clearly.
- If you hear reverberation or echo in the room where you record, there are a few things you can do to prevent sound from bouncing off the walls:
- Hang up acoustic foam.
- Hang up blankets on the walls and over windows to absorb noise.
- Record in a carpeted room, preferably one that has furniture to reduce sound bounce.
- Recording in a small space like a closet is a good way to reduce room echo/reverberation.
- Make sure you’re hydrated before recording to avoid excess mouthy noises. Keep a drink nearby to sip on just in case your mouth gets dry from talking.
- Double check that all wires are plugged in all the way to avoid excessive background noise.
Recording with guests
- If you’re going to have guests, especially over Zoom, consider sending them this list to ensure their side sounds good as well.
- Ask guests to record in a quieter place (if they can’t be there in person), avoiding background noise, squeaky chairs, or too much reverberation, and avoid fiddling with the mic or other objects that will create background noise while you record. The goal is to get seamless audio that is easy to edit post-recording.
- If you are introducing your guest, do it at the beginning of the episode and keep the introduction short so as to keep the attention span of your audience.
- Ask your guests to silence their phones during the interview.
- You may want to check if your guest has a good internet connection, as a bad connection can cause their audio to constantly cut out, making it difficult to edit and splice together. You may also want to notify your guest that you’ll need them to repeat things during the interview if a bad internet connection is the case.
- Try not to speak over each other. This is not easy to edit and is equally as difficult to listen to because the audience listens out of context. In the moment you might feel the need to interrupt or to chime in, but this isn’t clear to the listener and can be distracting.
Good luck and happy recording!