Aside from using high quality equipment for podcasting, there are some other things to consider when working to achieve the best audio quality possible. The last thing that you want in a podcast is low quality audio, after all, it's all about the audio! Since you don't have anything to fall back on, such as video, having the best audio is important! For some tips on how to get the best sounding audio, keep on reading!
Generally speaking, high quality audio means that:
- Each speaker is completely audible when talking
- Each microphone is picking up an accurate vocal recording that doesn't sound tinny or muffled
- Audio is free from distortion (crackling, clipping, interference, handling, or wind noise)
- Audio has a low level of noise, meaning underlying hissing or other background noise
- Volume levels are consistent throughout
- Vocals are free from excessive echo or reverb
Take Some Time for Post-Production
There are several tools in most recording and editing software that you can utilize to deal with any issues in your audio. The following tools are a few ways you can get passed any issues that arise to produce the best sounding audio possible:
- Amplify: If the volume of your audio is pretty low or you notice that your audio file looks flat, you can amplify your audio.
- Equalization: You may want to add a little equalization to boost lower frequencies and reduce higher frequencies to adjust the quality and character of the sound.
- Compressor: Applying compression to your audio will bring the loudest parts and the quietest parts of your audio closer together. This can help you achieve a more consistent volume level.
- Noise Reduction: Applying the noise reduction process to your audio will help you remove any of that constant background noise in your audio.
Check Your Levels
Check your levels before recording and if need be, adjust your input level for your microphone and, if applicable, your guest’s level. You want your level to live at about halfway up on your meter, but you NEVER want your level to go into the red. If you are concerned that you might hit the red, then just turn your levels down a bit to avoid distortion in your audio. It's better to be on the safe side and amplify your audio in post-production.
Be Careful with Your Mic
Try to keep your mouth at the same distance from the microphone throughout the recording to keep the volume consistent. Avoid tapping and bumping your mic as well. It's also important to remain mindful of how clearly and loudly you are speaking into the mic.
Record a High-Resolution Audio File
Make your initial recording with a high-quality WAV or AIFF file. The ideal resolution is 24 bit, 48 kHz. This way, even if your recording goes through a data compression codec (like MP3 or AAC) for distribution, it will be starting from the best audio quality possible.
Make a Test Recording
You should make a test recording before actually recording to be sure that everything sounds just right. This is your opportunity to check the levels, clarity, background noise, and so on. A test recording should help you avoid the need for tons of editing and re-recording, so really take the time to make a test recording and make adjustments as needed. It is especially important to make a test recording if you have any guests on your podcast because you don't want to realize halfway through that there has been an issue. There's nothing fun about letting your guest(s) know that you need to re-record or spend a ton of time dealing with an issue in the middle of recording. So, ensure that the levels are right and that your guest(s) have the right mic technique beforehand.
Pick the Right Recording Space
Record in the smallest and quietest room possible to reduce echo and outside noise. Carpet, pillows, blankets, and so on help reduce reverb if you notice a lot of reverb in your recording. Don’t forget to shut all the windows and doors to reduce background noise as well.
Create a Noise Profile
Record 5 or 10 seconds of silence at the beginning of your recording. If there is any constant humming or background noise, you can use the noise profile in post-production to edit out those background sounds that are in your noise profile.
Minimize shuffling things and moving around while recording. Those things contribute to background noise, so you can work to reduce background noise if you are mindful of your movement while recording.
You should always use headphones to avoid audio feedback. Also, headphones are really helpful in monitoring your audio.
Fix Sound Quality Issues ASAP
Whether you are recording with a guest or solo, always fix sound quality issues when they arise. Fixing issues as soon as possible will save you a lot of time later, whether that be time spent re-recording or editing. If you are recording with a guest, politely let them know that there is an issue and work through it. Whether the issue is related to what they are doing (mic technique, enunciation, volume level, etc.) or not, it's best to let them know from the beginning so that the issue can be resolved promptly. The last thing that you want is to record a whole podcast with sound quality issues and then have audio you either have to salvage or completely throw out if it isn't salvageable.
Having the highest quality audio possible should be your biggest priority. While there are a lot of factors that go into having the best podcast audio possible, with some careful monitoring, you should be able to achieve some great audio. Just remember, although there are many things that go into making a successful podcast, everything comes back to your podcast idea and podcast audio, so take the time to perfect your audio before diving into other challenges. Happy podcasting!
For information on high quality podcast equipment, check out our Podcast Equipment Guide for Beginners and our Podcast Equipment Guide for Professionals. For any other podcast information, check out our Podcast page!
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