Updated: Jul 13
Podcast editing isn't cheap, but I'd like to think it's a worthwhile investment. So if you're looking to get the most for your money, there's some things you can do to make the whole process easier and ensure you get the best result.
Setting up your recording:
Your recording environment.
Find a quiet space with no echoes: look for low ceilings, carpet and lots of soft furnishings. If your whole house is made of marble or you live in a cathedral, grab the doona off the bed and throw it over yourself like one of those old-timey photographers.
Be careful of ambient noise. Look out for:
Fridges and air conditioners turning on and off.
Nervous tics like fidgeting, clicky pens, or tapping on the table (you may need to politely ask your guest to sit on their hands or sit back from the table).
If your microphone (or the box it came in) says 'dynamic', your mouth should be about 5-10cm (the width of three fingers) away. If it says 'condenser', pop it about 30-50cm away- you'll need to be more mindful of sounds in the room if that's the case as they're more sensitive.
Any further than those distances and your microphone starts to pick up more of the sounds in the room (i.e. the fridge, the air conditioner, your co-host) than is desirable. And do not share a microphone. Two cheap microphones placed well are far preferable to one expensive microphone shared between two people.
It may feel weird wearing headphones when you're having a conversation with someone in the same room. But, put simply, you need to know if there's problems with the recording as it happens, and you can't do that if you're not listening to what's being recorded. Best thing to do is to put headphones on your guest as well and make them feel like they're on the radio!
Set up your device according to these requirements for the best results (in order of importance):
Record each microphone to a separate track. Check your device settings on how to do this.
If your device gives you the option, record in "WAV" format.
Set sample rate to '48000', 'bit depth' to 24 bit.
If you're unsure about settings, give us a call and we'll be happy to talk you through it.
The 'gain' or 'input level' knob on your microphone or device adjusts the amount of volume being recorded, and it's up to you as a podcaster to make sure this is correct. Watch the sound level meters to check gain loudness (don't trust your ears!), and use the 'gain' knob to adjust it. Check your manual, but as a rule of thumb if, while you're talking, the meters are bouncing around at -12dB-ish (usually at the top of the 'green' section) that is an appropriate level.
Finally, do a test recording and listen back to make sure you're happy with it before you launch into recording your episode. You'll find sounds you never knew about!
Relax and have fun recording your podcast!
If you're recording remotely (talking to your guest over the internet), there's a couple of extra things to think about:
Use appropriate recording software
Zoom is fine for the occasional remote recording, but if you're recording remotely regularly, consider switching to a dedicated platform like SquadCast, Cleanfeed, or Zencastr. These offer benefits like higher quality, dedicated features geared at podcasting, and local recording, meaning if your call gets cut off or drops out, then you don't lose your recording.
When using Zoom
Zoom has a couple of hidden features that help you get better remote recordings for a podcast. Please do this before you start recording.
Open a new meeting (just with yourself), and:
Enable 'original sound' to get uncompressed sound quality. Disable echo cancellation, and use high-fidelity music mode.
Enable 'separate audio files for each participant' under Recording > Local Recording > Record a separate audio file for each participant.
Both the host and the guest(s) should use headphones so there's no echoes or feedback in your recording, and if you have an external microphone (a proper podcasting microphone, a gaming headset, your AirPods, etc), that is always preferable to the inbuilt one on your laptop.
While you're recording:
If you make a mistake, pause and start again from the beginning of the sentence. You can also talk to me while you record so you don't have to make notes:
"Chris, cut that last bit, I'll do it again..."
Submitting your files:
Transfer your files off your device and back them up. I backup your files as well, but more backups are always better! I recommend the "321 rule":
3 different backups
2 different formats (physical and cloud, for example)
1 of those is offsite (in case your house burns down!)
The audio file for each speaker/track
Any edit notes with timestamps (e.g. "at [01:34], take out the bit where I say chicken Twisties are better than cheese Twisties, as that's incorrect...")
A script if necessary (for a narrative podcast)
Any other audio you'd like included (make sure you have the rights to use it!)
Give us a call or email firstname.lastname@example.org