Producing a podcast can feel a little overwhelming. You have to choose the right equipment, topic/theme, and guests. But more important than that is what happens when the microphones are recording and you are in the process of capturing the raw audio. Here are 10 podcast recording tips that will help you sound like you’ve been doing this for years!
These tips are simple to implement and can make a huge difference in the quality of your podcast audio.
#1 Get your mouth closer to the mic
This is one of the most simple but important podcast recording tips.
One big problem that I see with new podcast creators is that they do not place their mouth close enough to the microphone. The sound is coming from your mouth and so that is where you want the microphone pointing but the reason goes deeper than that.
By placing your mouth close to the microphone it’s able to pick up the richness of your voice much easier. It’ll sound warm and full. This is true for cheaper microphones too!
How close is the perfect distance?
Whenever I have guests on our podcast I tell them to aim for about one hand width away from the pop filter or microphone windshield. This can feel uncomfortable for new podcasters or guests that do not have a lot of podcasting experience.
In most circumstances (with cheaper microphones especially) closer is better. If the filter or windshield is rubbing the tip of your nose back off a tiny bit – the mic picks up the plosives (p’s and b’s) a little too much at really short distances.
#2 Reduce the echo
One of the things that separates good audio from bad audio is the ability to reduce echo while recording. However, don’t spend hundreds of dollars on fancy soundproof foam. There’s a way to do it for (almost) free.
Echo is when the microphone captures the sound reflecting and spilling over. It can be off the walls of the room that you are recording in and also the sound of people talking into another microphone.
Getting close to the microphone, as mentioned above, can help and keeping your recording levels low will also help.
The first thing I see people do is rush out and buy acoustic foam. This is not only expensive but doesn’t work very well unless your whole room is covered in it. Do not do this!
I’ve tried hanging heavy curtains or duvets around the microphone to stop the echo and have had relatively good success.
However, these panels from DIY Perks on YouTube are by far the best way to reduce the echo in a room. They can look good and are cheap as anything!
Check out this video:
#3 Set your levels
Each recorder has the ability to set levels during recording. Levels can be visualised on the device and normally look like a bar bouncing up and down in response to volume.
There’s really just one rule in this tip: Give yourself plenty of space to get louder in the podcast recording. I have found that during a sound check people do not talk as loud as they do during the actual recording.
If in doubt reduce the recording level so that the audio doesn’t “clip” when the person you’re recording get excited. Clipping is when the maximum recording limit is reached and the recorder just cut off the top part of the audio wave.
More podcast recording tips below!
#4 Be a good listener
This is particular important for podcasts with multiple regular hosts.
While you are recording a podcast it can be easy to jump in with your experience and comments. To be honest it is one of the toughest things and something I’m always trying to improve.
When someone is talking, give them space to talk openly and freely. You can support them by agreeing and making “yes” noises. But give them room to explore their thoughts fully.
Before you jump in with anything you want to add wait for a couple seconds. This will not only make sure the person is finished saying what they have to say but also give you a nice clean editing point.
You can always cut out silences but it is very difficult to isolate a single voice when people are talking over the top of each other.
#5 Stop moving around
The fun thing about microphones is that they pick up sounds other than what you are saying.
During recording sessions you’ll need to minimise the amount of extra movement and sounds that come from that movement. Here are a few examples of the types of sounds that feel harmless when you are doing them but cut through on a recording:
- Turning show notes or scripts – turn them and then talk.
- Rubbing your face
- Noisy jackets and clothes
- Putting a cup or glass down
Most of these are unavoidable at some stage, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just being mindful at the recording stage will help you keep that audio clean and sounding professional!
#6 Eat an apple and drink some water
This is maybe one of the most delicious podcast recording tips. Eating an apple and drinking some water will help reduce all those nasty mouth noises. Just don’t do it while you are recording!
Some of these mouth noises really affect listeners. Actually, do you know anyone that is affected by misophonia? It is described as:
Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.”https://www.webmd.com
I think that I’m inflicted and this has lead to be being affected negatively by mouth noises – not something that is great when editing a podcast.
My sensitivity to these noises (such as clicks and opening sounds) has pushed me to find a whole number of ways to remove them. Most of the time I can do it in postproduction with my favorite audio repair plug-in from iZotope: RX elements. Click here to find the latest price and newest edition.
Although it’s easier than ever to remove mouth noises in post-production – it’s better not to record them at all. All it takes is some water and an apple.
#7 Use a shock mount
Okay, this may just seem like I’m ramming products down your throat but hear me out!
A shock mount is a really great way to keep your audio sounding professional. It isolates the microphone from any sounds that travel up the microphone stand.
Before using one, I would get sounds from chair movements, stand repositionings, doors being closed in other parts of the house, and many more vibrational issues.
Remember tip #1? Keeping that microphone close to your mouth is important. In an hour long recording session, you’ll probably want to shift around a little in your seat. The shock mount will make sure you can move the microphone without ruining the sound captured by your microphone or anyone else’s.
Here’s an example of a cheap microphone shock mount. Look for a universal mount so you won’t have to change it when you upgrade your equipment.
#8 Use a pop filter, always!
A pop filter is a magic bit of equipment that can make a huge difference to the listening quality for your audience.
Pop filters are really inexpensive and are used to stop the plosives from sounds like “p” and “b”. Also, they can stop saliva getting on the microphone – which is nice.
The good news is that you can create your own from stockings and wire or anything round. In fact, this group made a pop filter completely out of paper:
#9 Work from an outline or script
Producing an awesome podcast isn’t just about the tech! Whenever I record Publish, Perish or Podcast it always prepare an outline of what I want to cover in the recording.
This tip is to make sure that you actually record everything you want to. You’ll be amazed at the amount of time I thought that I had covered everything and then, just as the mics get turned off, I think about that one topic that I should have covered.
It doesn’t matter what order you record your sections in. But consider moving the last section of your podcast to the first or second thing you record. In fact, I have a video explain why you would do that!
#10 Use headphones for everyone
This is very important and the same reason why musicians use in-ear monitors or foldback speakers while performing!
Make no mistake, this is also a performance and being able to listen to yourself is important if you and your guests are going to sound your best!
When people speak they naturally use volume and intonation in their voice. Sometimes when people get excited the volume of their voice can get a little loud for the microphones causing it to “clip”.
The opposite is also true. People can drop the volume of their voice when they are embarrassed or shy.
Being able to hear yourself as it is being picked up by the microphone allows people to self adjust their voice. the self-adjustment is something that happens naturally for beginners and is why you’d go the extra mile to provide each person with a set of headphones!
If you’d like more help in starting up your own podcast or more specific podcast recording tips, feel free to get in contact! I’d love to help you!