The last section of our second pillar, and what will be the end of our production section of podcasting, will be broken down into a few posts, so that we can concentrate on some specific recording methods, and determine which ones work best for your podcast. How you record your podcast will depend a lot upon the items we have previously discussed, and some future topics, such as editing.
Your microphone choice and recording location may determine what recording method you choose. How many people you plan to record with at one time, will also play a part, as well as where all these people will be located. If you’re recording remote guests, your setup will be a lot different than if you’re recording in person. In these next few posts we will touch upon some hardware and software options, and outline which setup will work best for your podcast recording scenario.
The three recording options we will discuss further are; recording via a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), think Zoom, although Zoom sucks for podcasting, or via a handheld mixer/recorder. Each setup has pros and cons, and each setup is suited for a particular recording scenario. More on this in the coming weeks.
Podcast Recording Tips for Flawless Sound
Below are some helpful tips to definitely keep in mind when you are recording, be it the first time or the twentieth. You’ll want to utilize them as best you can, so that your podcast can sound the best it can, and not have your listeners holding their ears and cringing away from their speakers or headphones.
Before you even begin to record your first episode, you are going to want to test all your equipment. You will want to have an idea of how you sound, in the room that you’re in. To this, headphones are A MUST. How the hell else are you going to hear how you sound? Too many people just plug their damn mic’s in and hit record. This is your time to play, and learn, with your setup. Please, I beg of you, if you have listened to nothing else, hear me now, do not go into recording your first episode without first putting on headphones and then learning your equipment and doing some trial runs.
Just like an actor, singer, or person giving a speech, your voice is important. It is an instrument. Don’t be afraid to warm it up. Feel free to use vocal exercises. Loosen the muscles in your face and neck by performing head rolls, lip buzzing (like doing raspberries when you were a kid), and yawning. You can hum, and make nonsense noises, anything that relaxes your facial muscles and vocal chords.
We are not talking about the level on your computer chair here. The level we are speaking about is the gain of your microphone. It all depends, but a good rule of thumb is to start with your gain at about 60% of its max and then dial it up or down from there. If you’ve learned anything about podcasting thus far, hopefully, you’re using a dynamic microphone. Dynamic mic’s will require quite a bit of gain, while condenser microphones require less gain. Look at your level, you will want to make sure your signal is not in the red when you record. If so, you may hear some distortion. If your signal is barely in the green, your voice will sound quiet. A good rule of thumb for starters is that your level peaks at about 75%. To save on editing time, be aware of your recording levels.
We know, you are probably thinking, “Um, isn’t breathing automatic?” Sure is, but in this case, you are going to want to be aware of your breathing. Remember the testing we just suggested? Go back and listen. Can you hear your breathing? The suggestions are varied so try whichever methods work for you. Sometimes breathing through your nose can create a higher frequency whistle, sometimes mouth breathers breathe heavier, and sometimes you are simply talking too fast and not getting enough air so you gasp. Be aware, and adjust accordingly.
Noise of Clothing and Materials
While you are listening to your test recording, you can also take note of any excess noise. Is your chair squeaky? Are you wearing clanky bracelets? Are you shuffling too many papers? Did you decide to wear that cellophane jumpsuit, and now all you can hear is the crinkle of your movements? This is another “be aware” situation. Try to eliminate excess noise in your recording space, if at all possible.
You tried out your equipment and you listened back to it, and then you eliminated all the “extras”, but this is not the one and only time you should test. As a habit you should do a quick test of your equipment each time you record. This will aid you in finding any issues and correcting them before it’s too late, or you add to your post-production and editing workload after you record. Best to do it now, and make your post-production easier.
Outlines and Notes
You want to sound natural, but you will also want to have a little guidance in the direction of your conversation. Outlines and show prep can keep you on track with the progression of the conversation as well as keeping time for the length of your episode. This does not have to be super detailed, perhaps a list of questions or bullet points is all you will need, especially when conducting an interview. While recording, you may also want to jot down the timecode of a few mishaps, or certain parts of the show that you want to cut during editing.
Make sure to have water available to everyone in the session. You’re talking, your mouth is going to dry out. What you will want to avoid is liquids that will change your vocal tone, breathing pattern, or make your saliva thick. Also, avoid anything with bubbles. Bubbles make you burp, it’s a fact, look it up.
If you find you are ready to move forward sooner, or you simply can’t wait for next week’s podcast, you can always find out more information in The Four Pillars of Podcasting. Use this book to help you review what has already been discussed, or to look at more information, links and tips in your podcasting journey.
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