As they say, it’s not about the size, it’s how you use it. Well, thats mostly true in podcasting. However, equipment does make a difference. It won’t turn you into Joe Rogan but it will make the difference between your friends and family thinking you are just starting some hobby and saying “Wow, this sounds really good.”
So, here are our top seven tips for making your podcast sound better.
1.) Get a good Mic
Now, I don’t want you to throw your hands up in the air because you think I’m going to tell you to spend money. To be fair, I am telling you to spend money but just hear me out.
There are a ton of good microphones out there. There are even more blog posts and YouTube videos about which one is better. Believe me, it’s easy to get lost in the world of db’s and output levels. Within about 12 key strokes of a google research, you are going to feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Wolf of Wall Street.
And if you aren’t careful you will actually turn into a real life Jordan Belfort.
I don’t mean you will become a drug addicted wall street stock broker. Although, I’m not here to judge. I mean, you are going to be spending money like it’s your job.
(Actual footage of co-founder Rob paying for his microphone that he doesn’t know how to use)
That being said, using the ear buds that came with your iPhone 5 isn’t going to cut it. So, a happy medium lives somewhere in-between.
Here is our pick for our favorite microphones:
2.) A good room is key!
Now that you have a microphone that doesn’t make you sound like you are recording underwater, it’s time to pick your space. You will want to choose a space that is nice and quiet.
Most people will be tempted to find a space where they can close a door and be alone. Likely because they don’t want their roommates to hear them rerecording the intro to their show 28 times and partially because the “acoustics” are better.
Newsflash: your closet was not designed by whoever engineered the Sydney Opera House (it was Jørn Utzon by the way). It was designed to store all the the things you look at when you say “I have nothing to wear.”
But seriously, you will want to avoid small rooms with hard walls. I’m sure you have been on the phone with your best friend when they walk into a public restroom and you know the moment they walk in (and I’m not talking about the sound of a flushing toilet).
Well, your listeners will hear something similar and like you, will likely be turned off by it. So, unless your podcast is based around you sitting on a toilet, pick a quite open space where the sound of your voice won’t bounce around and echo back to you.
3.) Basic sound treatment for your room will separate you from the crowd.
What? Sound treatment? Seriously?
I’m not talking about plastering that soundproof foam all over your walls. Aside from being hard to decorate, the next time your bring your date home for the first time, you will have some explaining to do. Seriously, just don’t go there.
What you can do is put up a towel or a thick blanket behind you. Even a book shelf will work. If possible, put a carpet underneath you as well. Unless you want the sound waves bouncing around the floors, walls and ceilings like your nephew on Christmas Eve, just get something up.
4.) Use a pop filter and wind shield
There are some sounds in the English language that (like the entire German language) can sound harsh and annoying to your listener. So unless you want to remind them of their great aunt Gurturde who smacks her lips and talks with her mouth full at Thanksgiving dinner, invest the $5.95 to get a filter.
Your microphone may even come with one. If not, I would suggest getting something like this:
If you really want to get fancy you could get a rig like this:
Aside from making you look like you know what you are doing, it really makes a difference in the post production of your show.
5.) Silence your device
I know, I know. These days, thats like asking someone to amputate their dominant hand. But trust me, your microphone will pick up all the bings, buzzes and beeps that your phone makes.
Airplane mode is your friend here. Not to mention that you get the added benefit of having an uninterrupted conversation with your guest. Imagine that.
Pro Tip: Remind your guest to do the same. There is nothing more annoying or distracting that a buzzing phone and Murphy (and his law) suggests that it will bing or buzz right in he middle of the best content.
Just turn it off.
6.) Create a separate track for you and your guest
NOTE: If you are doing a solo show, feel free to skip to the end.
Ok, hold on. This is getting crazy! How am I supposed to do this? I thought you guys did the editing?
We do do the editing.
This is as simple as hitting one button in your settings and it makes your final audio file even better.
Most of us use Zoom or some other similar software to record our interviews. Here is what you have to do.
Open up the settings of you of your software of choice. If you do use Zoom, follow this link). Go to wherever they hide the recording settings and find the section where they allow you to “Record a separate audio file for each participant” or something like that.
When you finish the meeting, your software will give you two audio files instead of one. This is ideal because our audio engineers will be able to make up for differences in microphone qualities, background noise and odd interruptions that happen from time to time.
Let’s just say your guest has been rambling on for nearly seven minutes and you go to interject, but they keep talking. First of all, rude! Second, the single audio file will be all jumbled up and is nearly impossible to pull each voice out. The same is true if your dog starts barking at the mail man.
When you have two audio files, it becomes much easier to isolate those interruptions or noises and either move or eliminate them.
Trust me, this is much easier than it sounds.
7.) Wear headphones
Feedback is real. And no I’m not talking about the 1 star review that your childhood nemesis left on iTunes. I’m talking about the speakers of your computer getting picked up by your fancy new microphone.
While it is possible to remove some of this in post production, sacrifices will have to be made when editing your content.
Not that kind of sacrifice. What were you thinking?
I’m talking about the kind that our audio engineers have to make when trying to remove background noise. Headphones eliminate that entirely.
In fact, this is where the ear buds from your iPhone 5 can come into play.
Alright, there you have it. Seven tips on how to make your podcast sound like you know what you are doing. If you want some more detailed tips on db levels and other fine-tuned audio settings, download our free guide here.
Otherwise, here’s to all of your success!