106: Podcast Recording and Your Recording Environment
Welcome to Podcasting for Authors. We have covered a lot of basics about podcasting to help you get started. The first four episodes really help set the groundwork for your podcast and episode 5 gives you an overview of the tech side.
Today, we’ll be talking about the actual recording process, including your recording environment and mic technique.
As we get started talking about recording your podcast, one of the best things to do is to properly prepare for the recording session.
It’s not enough to just sit down, grab the microphone, and talk. All the things we’ve covered before will help make this a smoother process. Having notes or a script ready will help a lot. If you have a guest, prep them beforehand about what to expect.
Being prepared beforehand will not only make the recording process smoother, but it’ll also help with the post-production. You shouldn’t have to make as many edits afterwards, which can make that part much easier.
Also, double or triple check that you are recording. It is one of the worst feelings when you get to the end of the interview and realize that you never actually started recording.
A resource that can help you is using a checklist that Daniel J. Lewis created. I’ll make sure to link to this Preflight Checklist in the show notes.
One of the things that is critical when it comes to recording is knowing how to properly use your microphone.
Microphone pick up
Each microphone is a little different in how to use it, but, generally speaking, there are two ways to talk into a microphone. There are top-address microphones and there are side-address microphones. It’s important for you to find out which way is correct for your microphone.
For example, the Blue Yeti microphone is pretty popular, but there are a lot of people that use it incorrectly. It is a side-address microphone, but many people angle it down and speak into the top of it. There are two problems with this.
- The voice is not picked up as well – it sounds more distant and allows more room noise.
- With the microphone tilted, the sounds in the room bounce off the desk and straight into the microphone additionally creating an echo or reverb.
So you want to make sure to know where and how your microphone picks up sound and speak into it properly.
Other Best Practices
- Get your mouth close to the microphone – 2-3 inches. Many people are uncomfortable with this, but it’s important to get close so it can best pick up your voice while minimizing the background noises.
- Sometimes it can be helpful to angle the microphone 45* to your mouth. This allows your voice to still get where it should, but it helps reduce the popping p’s.
As I mentioned before, always wear headphones when you are recording with someone else. Never let the other person’s voice come over your computer speakers. If you do, it will bleed into your microphone and create reverb in the audio. Sometimes this can be cleaned up in post-production, but not always. And even when it can, the quality of your own voice could be sacrificed in the process.
The recording environment
When it comes to the place that you record, many people have limited options. Many times it’s their home office, an extra room in their house, or even using a bedroom or dining room for dual-use.
Depending on the room you use, the conditions may not be ideal for recording. Things to avoid are hard surfaces such as wood or tile floors, walls, and so on. The harder surfaces reflect sound back into the microphone and can potentially create reverb, or echo, in your recording.
Things that can help is having softer objects like carpet, rugs, curtains, and blankets. These help absorb the sound, greatly reducing the sounds getting back into your recording.
There are also professional sound treatments that you can use, but there’s no need to spend money if you don’t have to. If you are able to have a room with carpet and curtains, that can help. Rooms with more furniture can help, too, because the furniture creates more angles that divert and spread the sounds around.
I’m obviously not covering everything you can do to help your recording environment, but this will give you a really good start. You don’t have to have perfect audio, but these tips can help you get good audio for no-to-little cost.
It is always better to try to capture the best audio to begin with than to try to fix the audio in post-production. Any fixes that are attempted in post-production takes a change of reducing the quality of the audio.
But, like I just mentioned, I’m not advocating that you spend a bunch of money to create the perfect recording studio. Sometimes, it’s more important to start with what you have and do the best you can to make decent audio.
In the next episode, we’ll talk about some of the post-production parts of your podcast, including editing and assembling the final mp3.