Get a Better Initial Podcast RecordingNovember 21st, 2016
The best way to save yourself time in post-production is by getting a great initial, usable recording.
It’s easy to focus most of your attention on your content, but if you don't get a great initial recording, you're going to spend hours and hours editing and mixing and still not have as good of a final episode as if you recorded it well the first time.
Usually, the most fun part of podcasting is creating and releasing the actual episodes - no one wants to spend hours upon hours trying to fix the audio quality of their recording.
The following five tips focus on just that - getting a quality, usable recording to eliminate a lot of the corrective work you'd have to do in post.
1. Use a Decent Microphone
Please don’t use the built-in microphone on your computer. We all have to start somewhere, and it’s definitely better to start your podcast even if you are just using your computer microphone, but if at all possible use an external mic.
Here's and entry level option if you’re going to purchase a mic on a budget.
Budget Option Two: Audio-Technica ATR2100
When I talk to anyone starting a podcast and looking for a mic, this is the one I recommend.
Why it’s awesome:
- They’re versatile. This mic has both a USB and an XLR connector, so it grows with you as your setup grows. This means you can record directly to your computer, or if you at some point use an external recorder you can run it using an XLR connector.
- Great quality. They really do sound good. Are other mics running at $300 plus going to sound better? Yes. But you’re going to get a great sounding recording at a fraction of the cost. Even if you do upgrade in the future, you’ll have this one as a backup for that mic, or to record multiple people at once.
- It has an on-off switch. That’s fun.
- This is a dynamic mic and therefore doesn’t require an external power source. Plus 1 for ease of use.
- It’s a great price for the quality. These run around $79 USD anywhere online such as here on Amazon and I’ve seen them as low as $28 USD (generally around $30 to $50 USD) on eBay.
Higher Price Points:
There's plenty of other great mics out there at higher price points, but if you're above the $80 value for your mic mentioned above, chances are, your mic isn't the weakest link in your quality chain.
2. Don't Clip the Recording
Just as important, if not more important, is to make sure you don't clip your recordings by recording at too high of a gain/level. You can have a $600 mic, but if you clip the whole recording, no one's going to care how great the mic is.
A couple of tips to prevent clipping:
Ere on the side of caution - it's better for your recording to be a little quieter than you would have liked (that's easily fixed with compression and noise reduction) than to have it clipping throughout.
People speak louder as they get into the topic - especially if it's something they're passionate about. So although you might have checked levels at the beginning of the session, be aware that without proper headroom on your levels, your guest, Jerry, might start talking about politics, or you might tell another hilarious joke and then it's clip central for your recording.
3. Wear Headphones when recording with a Guest
If your recording convos with a guest be sure to wear some type of earbuds or headphones to prevent the audio bleeding into the recording on your end.
Especially with remote recording such as Skype. Skype as a fluctuating time delay between the two speakers, this will cause a weird echo happening between the speaker on one computer and the voice on the other computer - this is virtually impossible to fix in post-production.
4. Use a Pop Filter
Pop filters prevent plosives, the popping ‘p’ sound, and sibilance, the hissing ‘s’ sound that can happen when a speaker is too close to the mic or a voice that accentuates those sounds.
These can be a pain to fix in post, so an easy set-and-forget way to fix this is to use a pop filter whenever you record. I’ve used a few different ones, but the best are the ones with two layers of mesh.
5. Record Each Speaker to a Separate Track
This does take a bit more work and coordination, especially if doing it over Skype, but the benefits are significant.
Individual recordings allow you to process and edit/mix each speaker separately to whatever needs to be done. You'll have the control you need to fix any mistakes and improve as needed versus blanket effects over everyone trying to fix a single issue from one of the speakers.
In Person Recording
If you’re recording in person, record each speaker to their own track on whatever device or software you’re using.
If recording over Skype, have each person record themselves to their own computer, and then send the file to you. You easily line it up by remembering to clap at the beginning of the recording and lining up the tracks from that point.
Get out there and make some recordings
Hopefully, you’re already doing some of the above suggestions. If not, I guarantee if you follow the above points you’re going to save yourself a lot of time in mixing/editing and have a much better end result.
But above all, if you haven't started your podcast yet, don't let equipment or technique limitations stop you from podcasting. It's a learning process and you'll only get better with practice.