Podcast audio engineer – Tips for recording & mixing

How to make a podcast

Hi podcasters!

I want to write this post to help you with some techniques and tricks to make your podcasts sound professional.
I have been working in postproduction, film and TV for many years, and I know exactly how to deal with voices.

Since podcasts are a very current and booming format, it is important to take great care of the audio quality of the voices. This will help you have a loyal audience that enjoy with a more pleasant podcasts.

I listen to many podcasts that are hard to listen to and when this happens people stop listening. Improve your podcast recordings with these recommendations or hire a podcast audio engineer to make the job.

Why does my podcast sound bad?

The main causes of your podcasts sounding bad are:

  • Record in a room with poor acoustics
  • Use a crappy quality micro or smartphone

It is imperative for a voice to sound good to use a quality mic and a room that is at least not too small to avoid the reverb and resonances that will seep on the microphone.

If you do not have an optimal room, it is best to use microphones with a very cardioid and direct response to place your mouth very close to the microphone and record that reverb as little as possible.

Use a decent quality podcasting equipment

I don’t want to get involved with equipment themes, on my podcast editing services you have information about quality microphones and equipment if you want pro-sound. Just don’t record your podcast with bad microphones or crappy mobiles. At the end of the post, I will put a piece of low cost and simple equipment.

Try to find the best acoustic place in your room

The bigger a room the better, the very small spaces produce nasal reverberation, you can make recordings at various points in the room to hear where is the best sound and thus place the microphone there if space allows.  When possible, avoid getting too close to walls or corners to avoid sound reflections.

Rectangular or irregular rooms have better acoustics.

Optimal acoustic positions - recording podcasts
This is a starting poing. Try in your room

Carpets, rugs, and curtains help to lower the reverb in high frequencies, a sofa is preferable since it acts like a bass trap. The typical nasal reverberation or boxy voice that occurs in rooms is between 100-600hz and not very pleasant.

Many people put absorbent foams, but if you have this reverb in your room they will not do any good besides killing the natural brightness of your voice. To get rid of this nasal reverb, as well known as “boxiness voice” you need bass traps. In case you use foam absorbents, don’t put many.

Try to record in a quiet space to avoid background noise, traffic etc. It is also important to use silent computers or the noise of fans and the PSU will seep into the recording.

Avoid hitting or making noises while recording like the click, click of a pen, the chair and others, the cleaner the recording the more professional it will sound.

At night the noise decreases and it is a good time to record.

Tips and tricks for recording the podcast with your microphone

To get the radio-style sound, with that kind of deep, warm voice, you have to put the mic close to your mouth, about 20cm, don’t get too close or will cause distortion and banging with the “P”. Also, you will avoid recording the reverb of the room that I mentioned before. Test and record until you get that warm and present voice. If you notice the “p” hitting you can tilt the mike a little.

Do not overdrive the mic, it is preferable to record with a low gain. Gain saturation produces distortion, it will sound crappy. Then in the podcast edition, you can increase the volume without a problem.

Use one mic for each guest and if possible record separate tracks for each mic (not mixed). In this way, you can then edit everything much better and the recording will be much cleaner.

Choose the ideal music for the podcast

The ideal is to choose music to create identification or to get closer to the listener depending on the matter of the podcast, it is not the same to talk about something fun than if we talk about something serious, so try to match the music tracks according to the podcast. Music also creates your identity or personal brand for your podcasts.

It depends on the style, but in my experience podcasts with some music are much more entertaining. The technique consists of starting with a musical intro followed by the presentation and approximately every 5 or 10 minutes playing 1 or 2 minutes of background music, very subtle so as not to lose the intelligibility of the word, and finally goodbye narration and the outro music.

You have many music libraries to buy your tracks, ideally, they should be royalty free music so you don’t have to pay copyright. If this job is not good for you, consult your podcast audio engineer to find the ideal music tracks.

I have a small library where you can download intros and outros, and they are totally free.

If you need an intro, outro original music for your podcasts, write to me and I'll compose it for you.

Podcast audio engineer Tips

After recording and with the music already chosen, we will begin editing and mounting the podcast. These are the common steps of a podcast audio engineer edition:

1- We will clean and normalize (give the same volume to the clips) all the takes, eliminating the long spaces.

2- Remove the ahhh, mmmm, repetitions that do not contribute, that way you avoid boring the listener.

3- Once everything is located and clean, we process the voices. We will apply equalization and very subtle compression. The voice of the podcast has to sound like on the radio, warm and deep because if it sounds harsh or very bright it will cause fatigue to the listener. Keep in mind that a lot of people listens with headphones so a very bright voice will annoy. Test and modify until you like it.

There are many plugins in the market. I personally use DMG Equality and PSP Vintage warmer 2 on voices by their transparent and sweet sound.

4- Place the music tracks: intro, backgrounds every 5 or 10 minutes and the outro. And mix subtle so that they do not disturb and interfere in the word.

5- Make a render of the podcast using the correct loudness. Do not compress or limit the final render, as it is not necessary. The standard measurement for podcasters is -16LUFS maximum. You have this free loudness meter plugin Youlean Loudness Meter

6- Export your podcast in Mp3, 320kps and it will be ready to upload it to your platform.

 
Boxy podcast, you can hear the room reverb
Transparent and warm voice podcast
Listen to 16:00 - Noise and plosive "p" voice
Harsh, strongs mids voice, fatigue sound podcast

Low cost and simple equipment to record podcasts

This equipment is simple and takes little space for any situation, in addition to offering good quality.

With a computer that has multiple USB inputs, USB microphones, and the Audio Hijack software, you could record multiple guests at once.

Audio-Technica USB microphones are a very good option and not expensive.

Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Condenser microphone. Another good option.

In case you use dynamic or condenser microphones with XLR connection you can use a small interface, buy one with the number of inputs/guests you need. Some options:

Focusrite Scarlett or Clarett audio interfaces are a nice option. USB or thunderbolt, with transparent preamps.

Alternatively you can buy an external recorder like the brand Zoom Recorders, they have some models to record 4 or 6 tracks.

A Microphone boom arm is advisable to avoid vibrations and noises.

 

Software to record podcasts with independent tracks

Audio Hijack is an excellent option to record all your podcasts (only for mac) on independent tracks.
With a simple configuration you can route the number of microphones, a guess through Skype or browser, and the software will give you the recording on separate files / tracks.

Another options to record in multitrack or stereo mixed: Audacity, Adobe Audition, Logic X, Garage Band, Protools.

 

I hope these tips help you improve your podcasts. If you don’t see yourself as a podcast audio engineer and prefer a professional to edit them, contact us and we take care of processing it.

 

If you have any questions about podcast editing, leave it in the comments. 

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