Podcasting is one of the fastest growing sectors of the digital world. More and more fans are tuning in to listen to their favorite podcasts every week. Which also means that there are more and more competitors with better sound, higher profile guests and possibly a larger budget.
This creates a perfect environment for smaller, unknown podcasters to become greater and step up their podcasting game by learning from other’s mistakes and using the tools at their disposal. Aside from excellent content, audio quality needs to be clear and professional, so let’s take a look at a few simple ways that you can improve your audio today!
Here are 5 tricks to accomplish the best audio you can with the equipment you have.
1. The Acoustic
The first trick to accomplishing clear audio is to find a room perfect for recording. This simply means finding a quiet room with no disturbances. Avoid an empty room bigger than a bedroom with high ceilings. Every sound you make will bounce off the walls and make it harder for you to achieve great audio quality and will demand more editing during post-production. Sound deadening material can also be used to improve the acoustics of a room and reduce reverberation. These include foam pads that can be added to the walls or even a portable sound insulation booth
It’s very important to keep the area around yourself and the microphone open as to minimize echoes. A helpful tip would be to record the room tone to assess whether it would be suitable for recording. Small sounds or disturbances can include the fan in the background, the running refrigerator, or even a cellphone going off. Although minor, these sounds can have a great impact on the quality of the audio and ruin the immersion for your listeners.
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2. The Microphone
There are a plethora of microphones on the market, but it’s less complicated than you might think. It’s important not to overthink this too much, and simply decide on what you’d like to invest. A good middle of the range microphone will be more than up to the task. There are also plenty of articles and videos covering everything from entry-level microphones to studio level equipment. A good tip is to keep your head 5 – 10 inches (12 – 25 cm) away from the microphone. Pop filters are also a quick and easy way to improve your audio. They reduce plosives created when “P” or “B” sounds are said.
Something to remember when having guests on your show is that a microphone per person would give you the best sound quality. However, if you’re on a budget then ensure that everyone is fairly close to the microphone. For these cases, an omnidirectional microphone will work best. Using one microphone for more than one person will drop the quality of the sound a little bit, but this can be adjusted during post-production. Remember, the microphone will produce the base audio that you have to work with, so make sure to test the raw audio quality when making your decision!
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3. Audio File Format
With so many different file formats out there, it’s often difficult to know which one to use. Well here’s an easy explanation of the 3 best file formats you can use. The most common format is MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3), due to its small size. This will be the desired format for your completed episodes as it is widely supported by most streaming services such, as iTunes and Stitcher.
However, Mp3 files have a lot more compression than WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) and AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format). Therefore it is best to record in WAV or AIFF and complete all post-production processes before exporting your final draft as MP3 and uploading to your preferred streaming service. Less compression is preferable as the process reduces audio quality, but results in producing a much smaller file size. Lesser compressed formats will deliver the highest audio quality possible but will result in much larger file sizes.
4. Post-Production Process
Everything you’ve done up to now has been to prevent any unnecessary recording issues. But every now and then everyone has a mishap, and that is where post-production plays an important role. Editing after recording can be the difference between a great podcast and a mediocre one. Ever listened to a Podcast and heard an “umm” or “so” before every sentence? Well, this is the step where those small slips get corrected.
Editing software such as Adobe Audition and Audacity give you the ability to enhance your audio by reducing noise, removing clicks, and improving the overall volume levels. Although some editing software can be quite technical and seem daunting to the absolute beginner, there are many ways to learn, such as through YouTube tutorials or online articles. You might also consider hiring a professional editing service to produce your podcast.
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5. Preparing Your Guest
As you might have noticed, there are many variables when it comes to recording good audio quality. So implementing the before-mentioned tips will contribute to you having the best audio quality you can. Unfortunately, this is not always true for your guests. It is therefore important to brief them well in advance. Your guests might not have proper recording equipment. If they are using a phone to record, it is best to advise them to use headphones as the microphone is superior to the built-in one in most smartphones. Remember to ask them to be mindful of the microphone and not accidentally bump into it or fidget around with it. Inform them to keep the background noise to a minimum.
A few easy tips you can give them include: keeping their phone on silent mode, removing pets from the room, and asking their spouse/ children not to interrupt during the recording session. Zencaster or similar software can be used to achieve the highest quality audio. By recording your guest’s audio locally and uploading it to the cloud, you will get far superior audio than by recording the processed signal on your end. Implementing these strategies on both your side and the side of your guest can make a world of difference in getting that great audio quality you desire.
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