The first step of making your podcast sound good is a good microphone, a good microphone is actually the most important thing when recording. It’s wise and important to invest some money in buying a good microphone for your podcast, microphones from your laptop or phone are not suitable for producing a good sounding podcast. Another important factor is to make sure your microphone is a directional microphone, this means that it captures sound from directly in front of it and eliminates additional sound from around the room. This helps eliminate surrounding sound from being captured in your recording. For a startup podcaster you can get yourself a USB microphone that you just plug straight to you laptop. USB microphones are reasonably price and range from R900- R1500 and usually last a long time so this is a good investment. The microphone I would recommend for a startup is the Samson C01U Pro USB Studio Condenser microphone, it sells for around R1300-R1500 (prices may vary depending where you buy it) You can get a USB microphone from a number of online stores e.g. SBR Pro Sound,Takealot, Audio Mart, Makro etc
There are various platforms to record on, they are easy to use and work well. If you have a MacBook you already have a software that comes with the laptop called Garage band. Garage band is a very good and easy software to use, just plug in your microphone and you ready to go. For those who don’t have MacBooks you can use Audacity. Audacity is a free software you can download on your laptop and its also easy to use and good for recording. Other software you can use is Logic Pro, Adobe Audition, Cubase and Pro tools but you will have to pay for these.
3. Pick a good space
The room or space you choose to record in can make a big difference. Make sure you pick a space that’s not noisy to record in( unless the environment and acoustics is meant to add to the “style” of the podcast). Before you start recording, think about the things in the room that might make noise. Good microphones can pick up on even the smallest sounds, so before you record do a test run and see what you can hear when you play back the audio and if you don’t like the sound, eliminate it. It’s best to use headphones to listen back, it’s more accurate to hearing the sounds. A cleaner recording will be easier to work with because once a sound is recorded in your podcast it’s harder to remove, so try to eliminate as much noise as possible before you do your initial recording. The acoustics of the room make a difference too, windows, hard floors, tables etc . Hard flat surfaces reflect sound and create an echo, its best to add material like a carpets, foam and cushions to eliminate some echo. You can fix a lot of things in editing but an annoying echo isn’t one of them.
NB: DON’T FORGOT ABOUT THE AIRCON! A LOT OF PEOPLE FORGOT ABOUT THIS. THE AIRCON IS A LOW SOUNDING SOUND THAT YOU DON’T NOTICE BY EAR BUT THE MICROPHONE CAN PICK IT UP AND CAUSES A LOW HUMMING SOUND IN YOUR RECORDING AND THAT COULD BE ANNOYING TO THE LISTENER. SO REMEMBER TO SWITCH OFF YOUR AIRCON.
4. Observe your recording levels
When recording your podcast monitor your mic levels. The levels mustn’t got above 0 dB or “into the red” this will cause your audio to peek, hence making it sound bad. When you see that the audio is peeking or the levels are too low, just simply adjust the levels on your microphone or in the software your recording on. You can do a test before you do your interview by recording yourself talking in a normal low voice then shouting and then laughing to see what levels work best and where does its start peeking. See diagram below for examples of different levels.
5 Record a high resolution audio file
The more you compress your file the more the sound is compromised, so make your initial recording with high quality WAV or AIFF file. I would recommend recording at a resolution of 16 bit ,44.1 kHz. With a high source resolution even if you do compress your final file into mp3 or AAC for distribution it will be coming from a high resolution initial recording so the sound won’t be compromised.
Compressing and normalizing your podcast when you done recording will help with the levels of the final product, so you don’t have your podcast interview going from high to low on some parts of the podcast. Normalizing will help keep the levels the same which makes it easier for the listener to listen and also makes your podcast sound more professional.
7. Test, Test, Test
I can not emphasize this enough, before doing your podcast episode Do a test run. Do as many test runs as you can until you are comfortable with the sound of your podcast. Record different takes, check your mic levels, move furniture around, move positions, do whatever you can to make your podcast sounding the best it can be. This will eliminate problems when its time to press record to your podcast. Remember every podcast episode is different, just because something worked out for one episode doesn’t mean it will work for the next. Do your test runs before every podcast episode.
Post Production Tips
The post production of your podcast is very crucial. Not only does it make your podcast sound professional, it gives it a unique sound, makes it stand out and gets you more listeners. Here are some factors you need to consider when doing your podcast post production:
1. Intros and Outros
An intro plays at the beginning of the podcast to indicate the start of a podcast. Outro is a track that plays at the end of the podcast indicating the end of the episode. Intros and outros gives your podcast a distinctive sound. Its like your favorite sitcom, you don’t have to be watching the TV to know a particular show is starting, you can hear by the intro or jingle that plays at the beginning of the sitcom that a particular sitcom is playing. It’s a distinctive sound, your podcast needs that too to stand out from the rest. You can hire professionals to record and fully produce your intros and outros.
2. Guest Intros
At the beginning of every podcast with a guest. Do a short intro just giving the listener an introduction about the guest, what they do, what you will be talking about etc. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t just start the conversation with the guest as soon as the podcast starts. Introductions are important, it lets your listeners know what’s coming up next and gets the listener looking forward to hearing more.
Music can be used in various ways and can add some depth to your podcast. Choosing music is totally up to you and the style you want to portray in your podcast. The music style and tone you choose is crucial, it sets the tone of your podcast. Before choosing your music here are a couple of factors you need to look into:
> The music tone. Does it go well with your podcast and what you trying to portray? The music will be essential for helping you develop an identity for your podcast.
> Copyright. Is the music you want to use royalty free? This is very important to make sure its safe to use the song.
> Is the music distracting? Remember that your listeners still have to hear you, so make sure your music is not too loud or distracting.
>Transition Music. Transition music can be used to show if your are moving from one segment to another in your podcast or if you just want to have a pause during your podcast so you don’t have one long podcast. Breaking up your podcast in segments makes it easier for a listener to listen. You can use only a couple of seconds of the song just as a transition.
And those are my tips. Happy Podcasting:-)
This article was written by Nosihle Sibisi Founder and Post Production producer at 8seven Productions (Pty) Ltd
For more info or if you looking for help with producing your podcast email at email@example.com
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