Podcast Setup And Gear


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Podcast Setup And Gear

Everyone’s favorite topic, and an important one here at the beginning of your podcasting journey is a podcast’s setup.

If you’re new to recording high quality audio then sit down for a crash course in podcast setups. After this episode, you’ll be able to record the kind of sound that your audience will love listening to, and keep them coming back week after week.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Podcast microphone suggestions
  • Audio recording and editing software
  • Podcast hosting providers
  • What an RSS feed is and why it’s important
  • Where we will be submitting our show for distribution

Whether you’re new to podcasting or are a seasoned veteran we’d love to hear your experience with your own podcast setup. They’re really important as you’re getting started and then, fortunately, we can kind of “set it and forget it” when it comes to our podcasting gear and setup.

Leave a comment below about your podcasting setup and what you’ve learned using it.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:04 This will arguably be a lot of folks favorite episode because here we’re going to be geeking out on gear and set up and the nuts and bolts really of how to start a podcast. This is the only time probably will talk about this because again, this is not the most important thing to get on an ongoing basis. You have to make this decision once, get the gear, get things set up, and then everything is just in place from then on so you can focus on what’s really important, which is creating interesting and compelling content for your audience and connecting with them and grow in your brand.
Speaker 1 00:42 Welcome back to the audience podcast. I’m Craig Hewitt, your host, and here we’re going to be talking first about gear. A lot of folks favorite subject and for good reason. You don’t want to have a bad sounding podcast and this is an important thing to talk about as we’re getting started is you have to have a podcast that sounds good and is pleasing to your listeners. Podcasting is more and more competitive every day and now the minimum bar of audio quality is relatively high. The, you have to have a good sounding podcast that’s interesting and is is not kind of harsh for your listeners to listen to. You have to have something that sounds good. And really the first place that that starts is with a good podcasting microphone. We get pretty opinionated about podcasting and microphones here at Costos because we have a lot of experience on the post production side as well.
Speaker 1 01:28 Cast us productions is a done for you service inside of our hosting platform that allows you to just upload the raw recording files like this. And then our team takes care of all the editing, mixing and production of your podcast after that so you don’t have to do any of this work in audacity or Hindenburg or Adobe audition. And with that we’ve seen a lot of really good sounding audio and we’ve seen a lot of really bad sounding audio and we’ve done a lot of pattern matching around what makes a good sounding podcast and what doesn’t and what makes a podcast that our audio engineers have trouble with and that ultimately people just aren’t happy with the results of. And so here’s the skinny on recording, a good sounding podcast. The microphone is the most important thing and the microphone that we recommend to almost everybody is the audio Technica ATR 2100.
Speaker 1 02:14 If you’ve done any research about podcasting, you’ll see that this is the most recommended Mike by a lot of people. Um, it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s about $65 on Amazon right now and it plugs right into your computer so you don’t need any other kind of gear or stuff to use, like an audio interface or a mixer board or anything like that. You take the USB cable from the microphone, plug it into your computer, turn it on and go. We really like this microphone because it’s also really forgiving. Another popular microphone you’ll hear recommended a lot is the blue Yeti, and this is a really, really, really high quality microphone and that’s a really good thing. And it’s a really bad thing. Sometimes the blue Yeti is an excellent microphone if you are in an environment that is really good audio quality. And this would be something like a sound booth, like a professional sound booth where recording artists would record songs or voiceovers or things like that.
Speaker 1 03:08 The blue Yeti really shines here because a really deep sound to it, but if you are in a shared working space, a coworking space or in an office where there’s other stuff going on and there’s the door open in the trash man outside the blue Yeti is going to pick up all of this sound just from the type of microphone it is, and again, we’re not going to go into all the details of of audio physics here, but just to know that if you want to get a really high quality mic, the blue Yeti is a decent option. If you are in a perfect sound environment, if you are not, do not get that mic because it will pick up a lot of the environmental noise around you and it will make the postproduction process very difficult for you or the audio editor you’re working with.
Speaker 1 03:51 If you’re a real audio file and want to go up market a little bit from the audio Technica ATR 2100 that we recommend. The next step up there that we really like is the Shure SM seven B. Again, we’ll have links to all this in the show notes for this episode. dot com slash podcast the Shure SM seven B is the workhorse of a lot of audio producers and it’s a really, really high quality Mike that has really great kind of depth of voice. You might pick up a little more quality to the recording with the Shure SM seven B than you would the audio Technica ATR 2100 but with this it is an XLR Mike, so the connection type on it is different, doesn’t plug right into your computer. You would need an audio interface between the microphone and your computer or your recording device. And so this could be something like a zoom H six which is like a portable recorder that has an XLR connection.
Speaker 1 04:41 So you could plug the sheer microphone right into that. Or you could use something like a Scarlet focus, right, which is a preamp that the microphone would plug into and then the Scarlet focus right would plug then into your computer for you to record on your digital workstation, so that’s podcasting microphones. The easy answer is by the audio Technica ATR 2100 that’s what I’m using in this podcast and it’s the one that a lot of podcasters get started with and it certainly is good enough for you to record high quality audio. There’s a couple of accessories that go along with this as well that make your life so much easier. Again, in terms of recording good quality audio and not doing a ton of work in post production. The first and most important of which is a pop filter. A pop filter is a screen that sits between the microphone and your mouth and dampens a lot of these really harsh P and T sounds.
Speaker 1 05:31 They’re called plosives and the audio engineering world. A pop filter reduces these P and T plosives down a lot kind of physically so that you don’t have to manually edit them out in post production process. The other is a boom arm. So regardless of the type of microphone you get, you want the microphone to be up at the level of your mouth in a comfortable position while you’re talking so that you can sit in a a normal, natural comfortable posture and the microphone is right in front of your mouth. A boom arm is some this kind of articulating arm that attaches to your desk or the table that you’re podcasting at and gets the mic at the perfect position for you to record in a comfortable way. While on the topic, we’ll talk a little bit about good Mike technique. Good mic techniques means where the microphone is and what you’re doing to record good quality audio.
Speaker 1 06:21 So typically you want the microphone pretty close to you, typically about a fist with the parts and maybe like an Apple space between your mouth and the microphone. You don’t want to get too close, but you don’t want to be too far. You want to be able to turn the microphone up loud enough to where when you’re talking and you’re looking at your recording tool, you’re getting all the way through the green aspect of the kind of voice register, not into the yellow and certainly not into the red work clipping occurs, so depending on the tool you’re using to record your audio, it will have this kind of register, this volume meter you want to be talking to where your voice gets into the green a little bit into the yellow but never into the red clipping is one of the very few things you can’t solve in the postproduction process.
Speaker 1 07:04 And so adjusting the volume of the input of your microphone and the space between your mouth and the microphone and how loud you’re talking to achieve this kind of volume setting a result is what you want to do. Recording it, this ideal kind of volume gives you a lot of flexibility in the postproduction process to to alter the sound that you’ve recorded and without sacrificing any of the natural sound of your voice. In terms of recording, you really have two scenarios that you’ll probably fall in. One is recording a something by yourself or just locally, and this is a scenario like this episode where it’s just me. I’m recording in my office and I’m recording in a tool called audacity. It’s a free open source tool that works both on windows and on Mac and it’s a really powerful audio editor as well. So audacity is a good tool for recording something locally like this where it’s just me.
Speaker 1 07:56 If you have two people in different locations and you’re on a call, like a zoom call, you could record each of you in audacity locally and then kind of sync those files up later. But typically if you’re doing a remote call, you want to use a specialized podcast recording tool for remote calls. The best out there that we see these days is called squad cast squad. Cast. Dot. FM is our preferred tool for doing remote podcast interviews. It’s a very specific tool. It’s extremely high quality because they do local recordings for both you and your guests. The person or people that you’re recording with, each of you get your own channel and it’s a local recording so it’s not dependent on internet speed or latency or lack of dropout or anything like that, like a zoom call or like a Google Hangouts or like a Skype call would be.
Speaker 1 08:44 So this brings up another really important aspect of recording high quality audio is that each channel, if you have multiple people on the call need to have their own recording. So if you’re on a zoom call, a zoom is a good example. By default, zoom is a conference calling service compiles all of the participants into one channel. There is a setting in there to record separate tracks for each participant. You would want to check that on. If you’re using zoom, typically we don’t recommend zoom in most situations because it doesn’t record a really high quality audio file that compresses the file down quite a bit to get it into be a manageable file size. But for podcasting, we want the best and biggest recording quality and fidelity that we can, which is why we typically don’t recommend zoom. But if you can’t or don’t want to use a tool like squad cast, zoom is another decent option.
Speaker 1 09:35 We particularly like zoom, if you have to call someone on the phone to record a podcast with them. Again, if you called someone on the phone, you probably wouldn’t have a podcasting microphone on their end. So this is not the most ideal situation. But I know a lot of times that this is just all that you have and as podcasters we have to kind of adapt to the the cards that we’re dealt. And so you don’t calling somebody to get their part of your podcast is is something you have to do. In that case, zoom is actually a good option because there are call in numbers for zoom and somebody on a phone can call in and do it there. And the thing we recommend if somebody has to be on the phone is to ask them to be in a quiet, calm place with some kind of earbuds.
Speaker 1 10:17 And whether it’s, you know, your Apple AirPods or the ear, the wired earbuds that come with your mobile phone, those will give a better sound than just the regular built in native microphone for a mobile phone. So we touched on gear a little bit. So the audio technical Mike is the one we use. I have a pop filter, a boom arm and I’m recording this, uh, this segment since it’s just myself and audacity. Uh, if you’re going to do remote calls, make sure you have separate tracks for each participant and we like squad cast.fm for doing podcast specific remote interviews. Once you have your podcast recorded, editing becomes the next step in creating your first podcast episode. We mentioned audacity as a free open source tool. It’s a tool we really like and use a lot for both recording and some light editing. If you want to use a more premium tool, you can look at either Adobe audition or Hindenburg as really a really kind of high quality, more premium tools.
Speaker 1 11:14 Both of them are paid, whereas audacity is a free and open source tool. From there we move onto the subject of an RSS feed and distribution into into podcasting directories, so your podcast really doesn’t exist without an RSS feed and what is an RSS feed? This is something that mystifies a lot of podcasters and we’ll cover it as as quickly and concisely as we do here because you do need to understand what it is because it is really the heart of your podcast. A podcast doesn’t exist without a feed and a feed is really composed of two kind of big groups. One is the meta information. This is the show information as a whole, so the title of your podcast and the description and the cover image that’s used and the categories it’s in and things like that. This tells a lot of the big picture information about your podcast.
Speaker 1 11:59 From there, each time you publish a new episode, it’s added as what’s called an item in your podcast and these are the individual episodes. So within an item is something like the title of the episode and the description of the episode, the media file that’s associated with it, and these get appended to your podcast feed. Typically with the most recent episode kind of at the top, and that’s how podcasting works. So you might say, okay, how do I make my RSS feed into Apple podcasts formerly called iTunes? And so the truth is that Apple podcasts and Spotify and Stitcher and Google podcasts and all these directories are really just aggregators of RSS feeds. And so you can think of your RSS feed as the place where your podcast really lives. And then a place like Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, Stitcher, all these directories are really just reflections of your RSS feed.
Speaker 1 12:51 So when somebody says, I want to upload my podcast Apple podcast, what they’re really trying to say is they want to upload their podcast to the place where their RSS feed lives. In a lot of cases, this is either your website, so with us we have a WordPress plugin called seriously simple podcasting. This allows you to base and manage your podcast content from your WordPress site. And in this case, people’s podcast. RSS feed is based from their WordPress site, but also with Casto as you can choose to not use WordPress and have your RSS feed. And all of your content creation based in the casitas platform, and then your RSS feed is, is created and you manage it there. But either way, wherever your RSS feed is created, that’s where you publish your podcast content to. And then once you’ve submitted your podcast to those various directories like Apple podcasts and Spotify and Stitcher, every time you publish an episode or you change information about your show as a whole, those directories reflect that change and show the new image that you updated or the new episode you published.
Speaker 1 13:52 So once you’ve submitted your podcast to places like Apple podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher, if you want to change something about your podcast, change it where every RSS feed originates and those directories will see that change in your RSS feed and then reflect that change in their listing for your show. We have a lot of tutorials around specifically how to submit your podcast to these directories. If you go to dot com slash blog you can search for them there and we’ll include some links in the show notes for this episode as well to all of the popular podcasting directories. Okay. So we’ve covered, uh, some gear, the microphone and set up how to record and edit your podcast and then what an RSS feed is and how to submit that to the various podcasting directories. I’ll touch on the directories one more time because I kind of touched lightly on them before, but a podcasting directory is really the place where people will find your show.
Speaker 1 14:44 So it is important to submit your podcast to all of the appropriate podcasting directories so that your audience doesn’t have to go out of their way to listen to your podcast. Do you want to put your podcast to where your audience already is so they can listen to your show kind of naturally and organically in the channel and the medium that they already listened to the rest of their shows. So we’ll include a full list of all the major podcasting directories in the show notes for this episode. But here’s a quick rundown on the most popular ones that you want to make sure your podcast is in. The first is Apple podcasts. It still is the King of podcasting. The next is Spotify. It’s the up and comer these days and is challenging a lot of things that Apple is doing with their podcasting and then comes Stitcher and Google podcasts.
Speaker 1 15:25 And from there a lot of syndication happens to third party apps. So you might say, Oh Craig, I listened to my podcast and overcast, overcast really takes information from Apple podcasts and crawls it and then ingest that information itself and lets you search and subscribe to podcasts from their mobile app. And so pocket casts and Castro and overcast downcast. A lot of tools like this that are mobile podcast catchers. A lot of tools like this that are just mobile podcast apps, we call them pod catchers, really get a lot of their information from Apple podcasts. So that’s really the place you need to be 100% for sure. Things like Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcasts are also really important. There’s some ancillary podcasting directories that depending on where you live and what your topic is about are also really important. And again, we’ll include those in the show notes for this episode.
Speaker 1 16:13 Go to cast those.com/podcast to get that full list. Okay, so we’ve covered a lot in this episode, a lot of really nitty gritty tactical information about gear and set up and editing and recording RSS feeds and podcasting directories. Again, all this is really important stuff that you just need to figure out one time. Hopefully we’ve given you a really simple and concise framework for how to do all of that here. If there’s a lot more information about all of this stuff on our blog, if you want to go to dot com slash blog search for our how to start a podcast post, and it runs through all of this and a lot of detail, we have a lot of videos there as well. But suffice it to say, this is information that we need to figure out and get done once at the beginning, and then from there we’re going to focus all of our efforts on an ongoing basis with this show, with the audience podcast on creating awesome content and on connecting with our audience and growing our listenership.

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