How to Get the Best Sounding Podcast Audio
Want to hear all my secrets for getting the best-sounding podcast audio? It all starts with a decent-quality microphone! However, if you buy any ol’ microphone, set it up on your desk, and start recording, you might find that your podcast sound quality is…a little less than ideal.
How to get the best-sounding podcast audio
If you really want your podcast to have amazing sound quality, then you’ll also need to do some work on podcast mic setup and positioning. Otherwise, you could end up with muffled-sounding audio and tons of background noise.
So, today, let’s nerd out on the best ways to get a great-sounding podcast! We’ll talk about which mic you should use and all the steps I walk my clients through to get the best-sounding podcast audio possible.
Which mic should you buy?
Choosing a microphone is one of THE most important purchasing decisions you’ll make when starting your podcast. Different mics will give you a different end result. And which one you choose makes a HUGE difference in the finished product and audio quality of your podcast.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a bazillion dollars to get a decent mic! And just because you see every other podcaster using a mic doesn’t mean that you have to buy the same thing. (Please…for the love of everything podcasting, do not use a Yeti! LOL)
The Shure MV7 is the best mic for beginner and experienced podcasters alike. It’s somewhat of an investment up front, but it’s well worth it in the long run. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then my second pick is the Samson Q2.
Choose a dynamic microphone
One of the reasons these mics are so great is because they’re dynamic microphones. All dynamic microphones have a uni-directional sound pick-up pattern. Basically what that means is that they only pick up sound from one specific pattern or area of the mic.
That one-directional pattern is called a cardioid pattern, so you might also hear dynamic mics referred to as cardioid microphones.
These mics are designed to pick up most of their sound from the front of the microphone and reject sound from the sides and rear. In other words, they’re the perfect choice for a podcaster who plans to sit in front of a mic and talk directly into it while they record!
Oh, and one last tip: always choose a USB mic. That makes for easy setup when you’re recording with a laptop!
Where to record
Before I get into how to set up your mic for recording, let’s talk about where to set up your mic for recording. Ideally, you’ll be able to record in a quiet space to minimize any interruptions or background noise. The last thing you want to hear in your finished podcast is your dog’s barks or your neighbor’s lawn mower!
Smaller rooms with carpet or rugs, curtains, and plenty of furniture are great places to record, because they naturally absorb sound. Wide open spaces with wood floors aren’t the best choice. In a pinch, you could even record in a walk-in closet! (Hey, it’s a small room with plenty of sound insulation!) Fun fact: Mel Robbins recorded the first episode of her podcast in a closet – you can see it here!
If you want to step things up a bit, invest in some acoustic foam panels to hang on the walls. This will insulate the room from outside sounds, as well as absorb any potential sound reflections or echoes caused by your voice. There are so many different kinds of panels you can use, from plain old foam panels to sound-absorbing art!
Podcast mic setup
You could have an AH-mazing mic and beautiful recording space. But if you want to get GREAT sound quality, a little know-how on how to set things up will massively affect the way your microphone picks up sound.
Position the microphone so that the front (where the logo or indicator is) points directly at your mouth at a 45-degree angle. Then, attach a pop filter a few inches in front of the mic. This will minimize any plosives (aka “P” and “B” sounds) while you’re recording.
Podcast mic stands
While your mic will be fine on a table, the best thing to do is get it out of the way! Mics pick up every single little movement and sound from the recording table. So if you accidentally hit the mic with your hands or set your notes down nearby…that sound will probably show up on your recording.
You can use a shock mount and boom arm to mount the mic and suspend it out of the way. It will help reduce vibrations and handling noise as you move around during recording. And, bonus, it looks pretty cool!
Podcast mic positioning
Getting your mic in the best position for recording takes a bit of trial and error. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding the right podcast mic positioning for you:
- Put it at eye level. Mount the mic right about at eye level, or slightly below. That way, you’ll be able to speak directly into the microphone without getting uncomfortable or craning your head in a weird direction.
- Tilt it at a 45 degree angle toward your mouth. This can help minimize plosive sounds while still capturing great levels of sound.
- Move in nice and close. The distance from your mouth to the mic makes a big difference! Take advantage of the proximity effect. The closer you are to the mic, the richer and warmer your voice will sound.
- Experiment with distance. Start out four to six inches away from the mic and adjust from there. Getting closer to the mic can sound better. But be careful of getting too close. Your plosives might start to pop more and more. They can be a pain to edit and annoying for listeners (especially if they’re listening through headphones or AirPods!)
- Test and adjust. Record test takes with the mic in different positions. Listen back to decide which placement you like best! If you’re using Riverside (one of my faves!) to record, they have a “run test recording” feature so you can check everything out before recording.
- Mark your ideal position. This makes it so much easier to find your favorite mic placement and maintain consistent audio quality throughout recordings.
Always wear headphones!
Make it a habit to wear headphones while recording to monitor your audio in real-time. They’ll help you catch any issues with background noise or mistakes during recording! Plus, they help you get better quality audio and prevent feedback between your mic and computer speakers.
There you have it! My best ways to get a great-sounding podcast.
If you want your podcast to sound amazing, it’s all about buying a decent-quality microphone and paying attention to your setup. Doing a little prep work on the front end pays off big time at recording time!
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