Know Your Podcast Recording Environment: Studio Recording vs. Recording Remote Guests
Do you plan on recording in a home studio, or will you interview guests and co-hosts remotely? The recording location will affect the type of podcast recording equipment and software you need to get professional level podcast sound quality. Understanding your recording space and having the appropriate remote recording software will make your podcast sound better.
Podcast Recording in a Home Studio
Recording a podcast in your home can save you loads of money on studio time and enable you to run a podcast on any budget without making a huge financial commitment. With a couple of tweaks to your home podcast studio, you can make your podcast recording sound better.
Create a space in your home and place podcast recording equipment in an area that will only pick up your show’s audio. This can make all of the difference when trying to get the best podcast sound quality.
Designate a Specific Space for Podcasting
Just like you would have a home office where you do all of your work at home, you should also have a space specifically for recording your podcast. Choose a quiet room where you have a lot of control over noise levels and the ability to eliminate any possible background sounds.
Ideally, you can convert an entire room into your studio so that you can leave your podcast recording equipment set up at all times. If you're constantly moving your microphone, breaking it down, and setting it up again, your audio quality will sound inconsistent. You'll have to spend even more time editing your podcast audio files.
Why Are Acoustics Important for Podcast Recording?
In the same way that some surfaces reflect light, sound is reflected by hard, flat surfaces. Your microphone can pick up these noises, especially if it's particularly sensitive. So when choosing the recording area, consider the acoustics to eliminate reverberation.
You can easily test the acoustics of a space for your podcast recording: stand in the area and snap your fingers or clap your hands. This will give you a good idea of how the surfaces in the space reflect or absorb sound by letting you hear how much your snapping or clapping echoes.
You can reduce reverberation and improve your podcast sound quality by placing your podcast setup in a carpeted room that has furniture in it. This will prevent sound from bouncing off of the floor and walls and being picked up in your recording.
Couches, curtains, and other soft surfaces will absorb sound while you record instead of reflecting it. Additionally, you can place affordable noise-canceling panels on the walls and other surfaces around your podcast recording equipment to eliminate reverberation.
How Much Room Do You Need to Record Your Podcast?
Notice how much physical space you'll need for your podcast studio. If you create your show with one or more co-hosts, create a space with enough room to accommodate other hosts, guests, and all of your podcast equipment.
If you require a more advanced podcast setup, you'll want ample room for equipment like your microphones, mic stands, audio mixer, computer, and all of the cords and cables that connect everything. You'll also want plenty of space to experiment with microphone placement, which we'll discuss later on.
Recording Remote Guests for a Podcast
If your podcast relies on remote recording to capture audio for co-hosts or guests, you’ll need to invest in quality remote recording software in addition to finding a quiet space with good acoustics. Solutions for remote recording can improve your podcast audio quality by using remote recording software with features and capabilities that make it easier to achieve professional-sounding podcast audio.
Important Remote Recording Features
Before purchasing remote podcast recording software, investigate whether or not the software has these features that will improve your podcast sound quality:
1. Live Monitoring:
Live monitoring allows you to make adjustments that improve your podcast sound quality while recording. If you can hear your recording as you go, you can adjust things like microphone positioning and gain and volume levels. This way, you can improve your podcast sound quality and decrease the amount of audio editing later on.
2. Local Recording:
Many remote recording programs depend on the internet connection. If you have a bad connection, your quality can suffer, and you might even experience a choppy recording.
With local recording, your audio records directly on your computer, so you don't have to worry about your podcast sound quality suffering due to a bad connection. Local recording also supports larger file sizes in uncompressed format, which have better sound quality than compressed audio files.
3. Double-Ender Recording:
Good remote podcast recording software, like Riverside.fm, includes double-ender recording, a feature that locally records your audio and the audio of your co-hosts or guests at the same time. Double-ender recording achieves audio consistency when it comes to elements like volume levels, and you don't have to depend on your guests recording and sending you their audio.
Related article: Double-Ender Recording for Podcast Interviews with Remote Guests
4. Exporting Podcast Audio Files:
Make sure you know the format your audio files will be recorded in when you're looking at different remote recording programs. Uncompressed audio files will give you better audio quality and more control when it comes to editing your audio.
Create a Podcast Studio With the Right Podcast Recording Equipment
Buying quality podcasting equipment is an easy way to make your podcast recording sound better. It’s just as true for experienced podcasters as it is for those who are new in the game; if you're willing to invest money in your podcast setup, you can get better quality audio. We'll discuss the most important pieces of podcast recording equipment for you to focus on and how to use them effectively to improve your podcast sound quality.
Use the Right Microphone to Record Your Podcast
If you’re willing to spend the extra bucks, getting a quality microphone will instantly make your podcast sound better. When trying to determine the best microphone to make your podcast sound quality better, compare polar patterns and connection types.
What Are Microphone Polar Patterns?
Polar patterns indicate how a microphone picks up sound signals and determine where you should place your mic to get the best audio quality possible. There are three main microphone types that use three different polar patterns to pick up sound:
This type of microphone records sound directly in front without picking up any noise from the sides or from behind. Out of the three, this type of microphone best suits recording a podcast and spoken audio. These mics work well for multiple hosts in the same space because you can position mics in a way that reduces unwanted background noise.
An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all directions. Although a good choice for recording music and instruments, these mics don’t perform as well when recording a spoken podcast, as they tend to pick up unwanted background noise. If your podcast audio picks up too much background noise, check if you're using an omnidirectional mic and consider switching to a cardioid mic to make your podcast recording sound better.
Figure-8 mics pick up sound directly in front of the microphone and directly behind it. This type of mic doesn't have a lot of practical applications for podcasting. If you're looking to upgrade your microphone to improve your podcast audio, avoid figure-8 microphones.
XLR Microphones vs. USB Microphones
The difference between XLR mics and USB mics lies in how they connect to other recording equipment: USB mics can connect to any device with a USB port. Meanwhile, XLR mics use an XLR cord, and you have to use additional recording equipment in order to record with them.
With USB mics, you can get good quality, and you don't have to use any additional equipment to record. You can plug a USB mic into a computer and begin recording with your podcast recording software right away.
Though USB mics are more versatile, you should consider going with an XLR mic to improve your podcast audio quality. XLR mics produce a higher-quality recording than USB mics because of their three-prong connection. You can capture a balanced recording that blocks unwanted sound thanks to the design of XLR connection cords. This type of microphone also connects to an audio interface so you can monitor and adjust gain and volume levels.
Condenser Mics vs. Dynamic Mics
Dynamic microphones usually use cardioid polar patterns, making them great for recording podcasts. They mainly pick up sound directly in front of them and block out most sound coming from other directions.
Condenser microphones use omnidirectional polar patterns to pick up sound, which makes them more sensitive than dynamic microphones. If you're looking to cut down the amount of unwanted background noise in your recording, switching to a dynamic mic will make your podcast sound better.
Related article: Choosing a Podcast Microphone
How Microphone Technique Can Improve Your Podcast Sound Quality
Understanding how to use microphone technique properly will improve your recording quality even further. Once you have the basics down, you can achieve professional-sounding audio for your podcast in no time if you focus on these four elements:
1. Mic Level
It's easy to get poor audio quality if your mic's input levels are not set correctly: with too much gain, you can clip your recording and with too little, you can introduce a hissing sound into your audio when you're trying to adjust your gain levels.
Use your audio mixer or interface to make sure the gain levels on your mic are correct before you start recording. Do this by speaking into your mic while you adjust the gain and input. Keep experimenting and adjusting until you see peaks in the -10dB range on your meter.
How close you sit to your mic will change the sound of your recording due to the "proximity effect". Experiment with your proximity to your microphone to find the distance that works best for you.
The closer you are to your microphone, the more low-frequency signals you'll pick up. Try to find a balance between proximity and quality. Speaking close to the mic produces a warm, upfront, and full sound, but you may pick up a lot of unwanted noise coming from your mouth, including your breathing.
The more distance you put between you and your mic, the more open and roomy the audio. The further away you speak from the mic, the more you'll pick up echoes and reverberations. These effects can be extremely difficult or even impossible to remove from your audio.
Start out with your microphone's capsule about four finger-widths away from your mouth. Then rely on your ears to help you find the best sound. Aim to get your voice to sound how it would if you were having a conversation with a friend in a quiet space.
3. Mic Angle
Experimenting with your mic angle will help you figure out your mic's sensitivity level. Some mics pick up lower frequencies, some to higher, and others can record midrange frequencies. Trying both on-axis and off-axis positioning techniques will help you determine how to angle your mic to get the best quality.
On-axis recording positions the mic directly in front of your mouth. This usually results in high-frequency content and will make your voice sound bright. If your mic isn't sensitive to high frequencies, using on-axis recording can offset this and make your podcast audio sound better by improving the clarity of your recording. Be careful - using this angling technique can result in more plosives, although easily corrected with a pop filter if your mic does not have one built in.
If you experience high-frequency harshness, off-axis recording can improve your sound. To try off-axis recording, twist or turn your mic from its on-axis position so that it isn't directly in front of your mouth. Make sure your mic is slightly to the side and that you're speaking past the mic capsule instead of directly into it. This will greatly reduce the plosives and other high-frequency interference.
4. Voice Level
How loud you speak will determine the SPL, or sound pressure level, which impacts the audio quality of your recording. To get a quality, balanced recording, make sure to speak at a consistent level.
Generally, you should avoid extremes like shouting or whispering. The louder you speak, the more reverb you could pick up in your recording. Other mics in the room could pick up your voice.
If you speak loudly, prevent clipping and plosives by backing up from the mic allowing sound pressure to disperse before it reaches the microphone. If you're a quiet speaker, leaning closer to the mic can help your listeners hear you better.
Get Better Podcast Sound Quality With Equipment Upgrades
Your microphone isn’t the only recording equipment that will improve podcast sound quality. Check out these other pieces of audio equipment that also achieve better audio.
Audio Mixers and Interfaces:
If you don’t already use an audio mixer, incorporating one into your setup will give you control over EQ, panning, volume, and gain levels. For those of you who already use a basic mixer, upgrading to a more advanced model will make your podcast sound better with functionality like separate compression adjustment for multiple audio tracks recording simultaneously.
A pop filter reduces unwanted noise in your recording. It prevents unwanted pops and crackles caused by bursts of air that reach the mic when you speak. This type of filter usually clips to your mic stand and creates a physical barrier to reduce the amount of background sound that reaches the mic. Many mics have built-in pop filters, so pay attention to this feature when shopping around for a microphone.
Microphone Stand and Shock Mount:
A good stand and shock mount will greatly reduce extra noise during recording. These pieces of equipment make a huge difference so you won’t pick up unwanted sounds, like a microphone sliding across the table.
A good pair of headphones allows you to hear exactly what you sound like so you can make adjustments that improve audio quality. While shopping around for headphones, pay attention to how users rate their comfortability and also the amount of noise bleed (noise that leaks out of the side). If headphones produce too much noise bleed, your microphone may pick it up, which decreases your recording quality.
You can make your podcast recording sound better if you understand your recording environment and invest in podcast recording equipment. Knowing how microphones record and the best way to place them can make all the difference when it comes to the audio quality of your podcast. Experiment with your recording environment, recording equipment, and equipment placement to find the best way to get professional quality sound for your podcast.