If you want to grow your podcast audience and attract high dollar sponsors, you need high quality audio. Recording great audio takes some practice, but you can skip a lot of the trial-and-error with these podcast recording tips.
(If you haven’t started a podcast yet, we strongly recommend you read our full guide: How to Start a Podcast. It takes you through all 22 steps to building a show from scratch.)
The Best Podcast Recording Tips
No amount of editing will make terrible source audio sound great. These podcast recording tips are simple, to-the-point strategies to capture clean audio that doesn’t require much editing.
1. Record in a Small, Quiet Room
Record your episodes in the smallest and quietest room possible. This will reduce outside noise and echoes. Shut your windows and doors, turn off any machines or devices that make constant noise, and put your pets somewhere they won’t disturb you for a couple hours. Fill your recording environment with soft items (couches, pillows, carpet, etc.) that absorb sound rather than bounce it around.
2. Use the Right Equipment
You can record a podcast with your laptop’s microphone, but we don’t recommend it. You’ll need a few pieces of inexpensive gear to record professional and clear audio. Here are our recommendations.
- Microphone: Audio Technica ATR2100 ($79) – Solid depth of voice, affordable, and forgiving in imperfect environments. Connects via USB into your computer or with an XLR connector into a mixer. (If you don’t mind spending some cash, pick up the Shure SM7B, but you’ll also need an audio interface like the Scarlett Focusrite 2i2.)
- Pop filter: PEMOTech Microphone Mask ($9.99) – Dampens the sound of your plosives – those harsh P, K, and T sounds – so they aren’t so drastic. Creates a smoother, richer sound that doesn’t irritate listeners.
- Headphones: Sony MDR 7506 ($79.99) – Lightweight, comfortable, and great for studio environments. These do a great job of reducing external noises.
This is the easiest of all our podcast recording tips and it has the biggest impact on your audio quality.
3. Adopt Proper Microphone Technique
Your distance from your microphone affects your volume level. If you’re close to the microphone, your voice will sound louder. If you’re far away, your voice will sound soft. You can raise or lower your volume during editing, but it helps to keep your overall level as even as possible by keeping your mouth a consistent distance from the mic.
Leaning forward or reaching up will change the angle of your voice, which will affect the sound quality, so place your microphone at the same height as your mouth. Sit a few inches back from the microphone with your pop filter between your mouth and the mic.
4. Keep Your Body Still
You can create background noise if you move your body around too much during recording. This happens a lot if you use earbud headphones. The wire lays close to your chest which causes the microphone to rub against your shirt and collar.
Try to stay still in your chair with your feet planted. Avoid moving things around on your desk. If you print your notes on paper, move them around as silently as possible.
5. Record with Headphones (Your Guest Too)
While it’s possible to record a podcast episode without headphones, you’ll probably catch a lot of audio feedback. Have everyone wear headphones.
6. Stay Quiet While Your Guests Speaks
It’s tempting to drop in simple phrases like “yes” and “right” and “okay” while your guests speak. Those are natural parts of language that we use without realizing, but they can distract your listeners. Yes, you can remove them during editing, but that’s a lot of unnecessary work. It’s easier to train yourself to stop doing it.
7. Resolve Your Guests’ Sound Issues Early
If there’s a problem with your guests’ microphone or sound quality, fix it at the beginning of your show. It’s far easier to resolve audio issues in the beginning so you capture clean sound rather than try to fix it in editing (if it can be fixed at all) or end up re-recording.
8. Leave Audio Cues for Mistakes
(This is a simple podcast recording tip that will drastically reduce how much time you spend editing.)
Mistakes happen. They aren’t stuck in your episode forever because you aren’t performing live. Slicing out mistakes is basic podcast editing, but you need to give yourself a cue to find them.
Fortunately, this is easy. All you have to do is say something that reminds yourself to make an edit. For instance, you could say “Remove the story about the pizza restaurant. Starting again…” Or you could say “Starting again from heading #4.” Give a two second pause so there’s somewhere to cut and then keep going.
You’ll find there will be many instances where you think of a better way to say something the second time you say it. So don’t be afraid to repeat yourself in the original recording. You can always cut the bad version out later.
9. Create a Brief Noise Profile
Pause for four or five seconds at the beginning of your recording to create a noise profile. Stay absolutely silent and eliminate all environmental noise. You can use this moment of silence during editing to identify and remove any background noise.
10. Mute When You Aren’t Speaking
If you’ve tried everything and honestly can’t get rid of background noise, you’ll have to eliminate it during editing. You can save yourself some work by muting your microphone when you aren’t speaking (when your co-host or guest speaks). This way you won’t pick up noise that you’ll later have to remove.
11. Use Production Elements Sparingly
Sound effects have their place. They can add life and uniqueness to your show. But they can also distract and cheapen it if you use them too much. Use sound effects only when the content calls for them. Stick to effects that match your brand (i.e., no clownish noises if you’re a serious documentary podcast).
12. Stay Hydrated
Drink at least eight ounces of water before you record. This will settle your stomach, loosen your mouth, and help your focus. It’s better to drink more water and pause to use the bathroom once or twice than suffer the effects of dehydration.
13. Watch Your Volume Level
Monitor your levels while you record. Most recording software display your volume levels as a little scale – green to red. Keep your volume in the green and yellow sections. Definitely stay out of the red or you’ll come out distorted.
14. Keep Your Recording Time Consistent
Your podcast can be any length. They can be two or three minutes like A Thousand Things to Talk About or seven or eight minutes like Seven Minute Opinions. They can also be long, like Hardcore History or Critical Role, both of which are three to five hours each episode.
What’s important, however, is that your episodes are about the same length. Your listeners want a consistent schedule they can count on. They might feel cheated if one episode is shorter than the others, or burdened if one is considerably longer.
A great way to keep your run times consistent is to use a podcast editorial calendar to plan your content.
15. Record a Separate Channel for Each Person
If you have multiple people speaking on your show, record each in their own channel. This will give you control over their individual volumes and noise profiles during editing.
You can have each person record themselves on their own computer (sometimes called a “double ender”) or use recording software with a multi-track recording feature. Here’s what that looks like in Audacity.
16. Break Your Show Into Segments
If your episodes last 45 minutes or longer, split them into segments that are easier for your listeners to consume. Work them into your podcast script. Think of them like chapters in a book or subheadings in an article. They give your show organization and prevent your listeners from feeling overwhelmed.
Segments also create logical places for you to take breaks. In fact, you can even record segments at different times. For instance, you might record one segment on Monday with a guest, and then another segment on Thursday with a different guest.
17. Record Under a Blanket
If you’re stuck in a noisy environment, an easy way to eliminate background noise is to drape a blanket over you and your microphone. It’s a crude technique, but it works. This is useful if you’re forced to record in a busy hotel, your car, or apartment building.
18. Don’t be Afraid to Take a Break
If your mouth is dry, your back aches, or your jaw muscles tire, don’t be afraid to pause for a few minutes. Those three hour (or longer) podcasts get through an entire episode without anyone pausing to use the bathroom. You can pause the recording and cut the silence out later.
Breaks are also good opportunities to discuss what’s next with your co-host or guest. You can plan your conversation, review notes, and even rehease.
19. Maximize Your Bandwidth
If you’re conducting an interview or conversation over the internet, it’s vital that you boost your connection as much as possible. This will improve the quality of the audio your recording software captures.
How do you increase your bandwidth? Well, other than upgrading with your internet provider, all you can do is plug directly into your router (instead of connecting wirelessly) and close any application that uses the web (most of them these days) that you don’t absolutely need.
Make sure to instruct your guests to sit in a place with a strong connection and plug directly into their router if possible.
20. Don’t Try to Copy Your Favorite Personality
You probably know a few podcasters with personalities that you like. While it doesn’t hurt to borrow from their styles, be careful not to imitate them completely. For one, your guests will notice and call you out. For another, you won’t do it as well as the originator.
21. Be Yourself and Have Fun
This is the most important piece of advice on our list of podcast recording tips!
If you plan to host a podcast for the foreseeable future, it’s best to be yourself and try to have fun with it. If you pretend to be someone who uses different words, accents, or rhythm, you’ll probably come off sounding inauthentic and silly.
And if the work is a chore for you, your audience will recognize it and abandon your show. If you don’t enjoy it, why would they?
What are Your Podcast Recording Tips?
We hope you enjoyed our podcast recording tips. If you incorporate each one into your workflow, you’ll produce polished episodes that don’t require much editing.
Do you have any podcast recording tips? Leave them in the comments and we’ll incorporate them into our article.