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Should I Use a Studio to Record My Podcast?

We’ve all felt the distinct pride of embarking on a DIY home project and stepping back to admire our handiwork once the final screw is tightened and the final coat of paint has been applied.  We’ve looked on in admiration at the tenaciously risk-tolerant entrepreneur who bootstrapped a successful business from their own garage or basement. And despite having our favorite restaurants, we all know nothing beats grandma’s warm, flavorful, homemade dishes! But does this necessarily hold true for recording your very own podcast? 

The most frequently-cited barrier to using a recording studio as opposed to recording from home is…you guessed it, the money! Podcasting has initial costs in the beginning start-up phase, costs as you begin to grow and level up your gear and brand, and costs that are still incurred after you become an established, seasoned podcaster.  But these costs aren’t just meaningless dollars, pounds, rands, or euros thrown into a vast chasm of nothingness – this money spent should be seen less as mere costs, and more like what they actually are – an investment!

Local recording studios can be found in many cities, and their online presence should make it  easy for you to locate one nearby. But whilst using a recording studio offers an array of benefits, and can be a worthwhile investment in many ways, it may simply not be for everybody.  

In today’s article we ask the question: Should I Use a Studio to Record My Podcast?  And with each affirmative we offer an alternative – yup, we’ve thought this one through and we’ve got your back!

Let’s jump in with point number one…

1. No Learning Curve

This is a refreshingly reassuring source of hope for a number of podcasters – be they potential or professional. Do you have more tasks than time? Got no past experience with recording? Do the terms ‘dynamic’ and ‘condenser’ make you think of your favorite brand of yoga pants, as opposed to mic options? Are you a tech averse luddite? (okay..maybe that last one is a bit harsh, but technology isn’t everybody’s best bud!). 

If you answered yes to any of those questions – first of all, you’re super honest and self-aware! Kudos to you, podcaster friend! And second of all, a studio may really be the perfect option for you.

A professional technician will already be there on hand to make you sound your best, and even look your best if you’re investing in video recording services. These technicians are trained and knowledgeable when it comes to microphone choice, microphone placement, and will coach you on microphone etiquette. The technician will fully handle the recording process and in some cases, the editing process, again, depending on the studio services that you have chosen to invest in. It’s the closest thing you can get to a purely hands-off process, and it is liberating in the sense that all you have to do is prepare your content and show up! It frees you up to focus on making the main thing, the main thing – podcasting. Let your ideas flow, let your guest’s voice be heard…let er’ rip!

Alternative:

If you are more tech-inclined, have a grasp on the recording process, or if you simply have some time to spare, you can invest in learning how to use a simple DAW (Digital Audio Workspace).  It really can be as simple as using a free application such as Audacity, or GarageBand if you’re a macOS user.  

With these programs, the learning curve is less like the steep slope of studio sound, and more like a bunny hill that gets the job done in a comparably pleasing way.  You can find a simple, affordable USB mic, then it’s just a case of plug n’ play.

For more help in this process, check out Buzzsprout’s step-by-step guide on How to Start a Podcast

Continuing in the vein of having very little to learn when you choose to use a studio to record your podcast, you’ll also find there’s very little to prep…

2. The Space Is Ready to Rock

When you opt to record in a studio, you will walk into a padded room – the good kind, no straight jacket and orderlies necessary! Sound proofing is essential to a great quality recording.  Acoustic panelling comes in many varieties, styles, and materials – fabric wrapped panels and perforated wood all make the list.  

When you walk into a studio to record, you will be using rooms intentionally treated and designed with acoustic foams that will wrangle distracting echos and prevent any undesired reverb from taking over your pristine signal.  It sounds morbid, but walking into a dead room is one of the best things you can do to capture a quality sounding podcast.   

Alternative:

Invest in some padding and soundproof your room. Or don’t!  And just record in your bedroom! Items in the room such as your bed, pillows, and carpet will absorb sound, and bedrooms are typically smaller in size and enclosed, which cuts down on unwanted reverberation. If you have a closet, by all means, make yourself comfortable and cozy! The surrounding garments will give you some great soundproofing at closer proximity, in an even smaller space. You’ll find this to be one of the best recording spaces in your entire house.

Related read: How To Create A Home Podcast Recording Studio

Let’s keep this momentum going!  When it comes to using a recording studio, there’s little to learn, little to prep, and little to buy…

3. You Don’t Need All That Gear

You don’t have the same type of upfront investment needed when capturing your podcast in  a professional studio setting. The need for microphones, mic stands, pop filters, XLR cables, audio interfaces, computers, DAWs, and editing software is practically phased out! You can just show up and do what you do best. 

Any studio worth its salt will have all these essential pieces of gear (and more) available to you.  And, of course, you don’t have to touch it, know what it does, or even know what it’s called!  It’s the ultimate solution for those in the podcasting community who don’t have the necessary gear, or haven’t yet learned how to use it, or even if you don’t have the space to store it – this would be the best option for you.

Alternative:

Take the plunge and redirect your investment funds. Instead of booking studio time, go ahead and purchase some basic podcast gear.  You can actually acquire viable equipment for your personal home studio without breaking the bank, and with a bit of study time, and a YouTube tutorial or two, you’ll soon know your XLR from your DAW! For a helpful breakdown of gear along with pricing, check out my article for We Edit Podcasts called How Much Does Podcasting Really Cost? (Breaking Down The Expenses).

Point number four is slightly different. Let’s talk boundaries…

4. Healthy Boundaries

Studios are great because they are somewhere else! You can get into the zone when you walk through the doors. You know you’re in a professional place of business, an auditory world where creativity is the currency of the realm. Many podcasters find it helpful to be able to go into a new environment tailored to the task, as it helps them to step up and do their best work.  You can also impress your guests by arranging to meet them in studio! There’s a charm and novelty associated with the experience, and it will all contribute to you creating the best possible content for your listeners.  

Going off site (read: getting out of the house!) allows you to create a healthy delineation between home: your place of rest, privacy, and where you recharge your creative reserves, and the studio: your place of work, meeting guests, and expending creative energy. This can be great for work life balance, and even for mental health, especially for those introverted podcasters who need a clearly defined, safe space to regroup and re-energize.

Alternative

Recent global events resulted in an exodus of sorts; we watched as many people left traditional office spaces, and instead, transitioned to remote working setups. One of the reported dangers of this is that instead of feeling like you’re working from home, you may end up feeling like you’re living at work!  It’s important to avoid this unhealthy blurring of lines as a podcaster.

If you choose not to use a studio and opt to record from home, instead of marking a delineation between general locations, try marking this important boundary between rooms in your home.  Give the space where you record your podcast it’s own specific immutable purpose. For instance, you could decide that your home office is where you wear your creative podcasting hat, it’s where you flex your hosting skill and go into “work-mode”, it’s where you make your podcasting magic happen.  But once you leave that room, you’re off duty and free to simply be “mom”, or “roommate”, or sing karaoke in your underwear whilst eating peanut butter from the jar!  Hey, we don’t judge!  As long as you employ healthy compartmentalisation, and ascribe an almost sacrosanct level of respect to these places and what they facilitate.  

And finally…

5. The Best Quality Is Assured

One thing that cannot be denied is the quality you can achieve by using a professional set-up with qualified technicians at the helm. Simply put, by recording in a studio, you are guaranteed to produce a standard of quality that would be otherwise unattainable. Don’t read this as a slight to those who choose not to record in a studio; home studios and do-it-yourself operations have seen startling success in the podcasting world. But the trained ear, specialization of the engineers, and the industry standard gear only end up proving the age old adage true: you get what you pay for.

In Conclusion

There is no purely right or wrong approach, there’s no learning curve too steep, or piece of gear too esoteric and unattainable, or soundproofing too pricey for which suitable substitutions cannot be found.  But if you’re strapped for time, lack experience and knowledge when it comes to recording, and can afford the financial investment, recording studios may just be the right fit for you and your podcast!

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David Hutchinson

David Hutchinson

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