Are you thinking about starting your own podcast? Here are some tips from a podcast audio engineer and sound mixer to get you started on your journey
We will cover pre-production tips before you even begin talking on the microphone, to what equipment to buy and then how to properly get your podcast audio sounding its best and where to upload it.
Choose A Conversation Topic
The first thing to consider in Podcasting 101, is what your podcast topic should be about. Pick a theme for your overall podcast and break that overall theme into subcategories or stories that you can give your listener each episode. Making a podcast on women empowerment? Maybe each episode can be about a perspective of a different woman on various topics or current events.
Try to have several episodes of content paid out ahead of time. It’s common for someone to flake and not show up to a schedules podcast episode, so you should have backup topics or plans to save the day. Maybe you have a friend you’ve been meaning to talk to, you can fill in for the person who didn’t show up.
Okay, so you have your topic for today’s episode, and luckily, your guest is eager and ready to start. Now you just need to keep the podcast running smoothly without getting too off track. It can help you have bullet points written out with points that you think will be important for your audience to hear.
If the conversation ever slows down or gets too off-topic (and believe me, it will) then you always have your bullet point cheat sheet to refer back to. You may or may not want to share these sub-topics with your guest, so they can do some of their own research ahead of time to ensure a deeper conversation for your listeners to learn about.
Podcast Recording Equipment
There are podcast equipment packages out there with microphones, effect boards, and sound mixers that will record your audio for you. Typically, these come with 1 or 2 microphones that you will plug into an audio interface or even directly into your computer. Podcast microphones are typically dynamic microphones, which can handle loud volumes and a bit more wear and tear compared to their condenser microphone counterparts.
The microphone should be close to your face and pointed directly at your mouth. Your face doesn’t have to be pointed at the microphone, so feel free to look around slightly, as long as the microphone stays facing your mouth. Some podcasts we mix here at Sounds Like Soma have guests that move too far back or completely face the wrong direction of the microphone. This means that they will not be heard as clearly in the final mix down. There are always way to adjust these problems, but stopping them from happening in the first place is your best.
Podcast Recording Software
Free audio recording programs exist like GarageBand (Mac only) and Audacity for you to use. These beginner applications usually have the bare minimum of plugins to get you started with some basic vocal cleanup. But for now, you should just focus on getting the best recording possible from the start and getting it into a digital program to save it. I have even mixed a podcast that was recorded utilizing the free voice memo app on an iPhone. More advanced recording programs worth mentioning are Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools.
Whether you record yourself or at a professional studio, you will usually want a professional audio engineer to do the final vocal leveling and mixing. They have the trained ears to know how to properly balance the overall sound correctly and make it as loud as it needs to be so your listener doesn’t have to repeatedly adjust the volume knob.
Podcast Vocal Mixing
For those of you who want to tackle mixing podcast vocals on your own, here are a few tips to get started. For your podcast vocal chain, you typically want to start with an EQ with a high-pass filter that cuts out the low-end rumble. Then a gate, which will remove all the quiet background noise during the parts where that microphone is not talking. Then third, a compressor to level out the vocal (this make the loud parts quieter and the quiet parts louder).
There are more advanced techniques like side chain compression, vocal saturation and peak limiting to a particular LUF level that you may want to try too, but only after you’ve become familiar with the other effects mentioned. This is why we always suggest having a professional look over the final podcast mix and master before your big release.
Optional Editing and Vocal Condensing
Some podcasts keep it real and keep the discussion live, including ever umm, and awkward pause. Others who are looking for a more professional feel will highly condense and perfect their podcast episodes. A 3-hour podcast may be sized down into a 45-minute perfect episode, hitting every intended point. With this level of editing, you can always re-arrange your topics after the fact or remove a topic altogether if it feels unnecessary.
Host your podcasts
If you want to keep your releases simple, you can release your episodes for free using SoundCloud or Bandcamp. These no frills services let you upload audio and send links to friends, or let you embed the files on your website.
Typically, people want their podcasts to be hosted on Spotify and Apple Music. In this case, I have had clients use services like Spreaker.com
I typically take a step back from this decision and let the client decide how they want to upload podcasts on these platforms, but as I do more research, I will update this blog to include more recommendations and further details on how to properly host your podcast series.
Podcasting is still a rapidly growing media with millions of daily listeners. Once you start gaining a larger following and have a solid brand built, you get into things like monetization or brand deals with artists and famous guests.
Sounds Like Soma is made of a high quality audio engineering team who are experts when it comes to podcast recording and editing. Learn more about podcasting services we offer to help you from start to finish with your show.
Want to talk more about podcasting? If you would like an expert to record, mix, or master your audio, reach out to us to get started with podcasting or any other creative needs you may have. We would love to hear what you’re working on!
Written by Zachary Hanni on February 7th 2023