The Reason Your Podcast Sounds Bad.
Updated: Jan 4
Podcasting is a fantastic way to build the audience that YOU want to reach. However, if you’re putting out poor audio and lazy episodes, no one will want to listen to your show! Studies have shown that the higher the quality of audio the more the audience will trust you and what you have to say about your subject.
That being said, I’m here to help with some general tips on getting the best audio possible!
It’s not as simple as “get this microphone, and you’ll have good audio”, if it were, everyone would have great sounding podcasts. There are a lot of factors that go into getting fantastic quality audio. Although you definitely don’t need the top of the line gear, there are a few cheap options that will go a LONG way in providing the first steps to improving your sound.
Let’s start with the most important step, the one thing that will get you 90% of the way there.
You might be thinking that I’ll mention a few microphones that will cut down on noise around you, and while that does help in removing unwanted noise, it is far from the first thing to consider.
When thinking about recording, you want to first think about the space that you’re recording in. You want there to be as little ‘hard’ surfaces as possible in your recording space. That’s because your voice will bounce off those surfaces and make their way back into your microphone slightly after you’re actually speaking, resulting in reverb. This is most obvious in a room such as your bathroom, or a gymnasium, where it is almost exclusively hard surfaces.
For more tips on improving your sound, check out this article.
You can get very good audio, by simply putting up some sound dampening panels on your walls. You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon. You’ll need to think a little bit about where you’re placing them as well, your biggest problem areas are going to be the corners of the room, that’s where there can be a lot of frequency build up and you’ll get a lot of resonant frequencies!
The next thing you’ll need to worry about when recording is, of course, your microphone! If you’ve been looking into starting a podcast than you may know the difference between a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone (Dynamic vs Condenser), but if you don’t, the very basic difference between the two is that a dynamic has a more direct polar pattern, so it’s better at deflecting noises that are not directly in front of it, while a condenser picks up a higher range of frequencies, therefore it’s not as good at deflecting unwanted noises.
There’s a lot I couldn't cover here when talking about proper recording techniques.
If you’re wondering how to pick the right microphone for you and your space, check out this article!
For more in depth information about how loud you should be recording, check out this article!
If you’re looking to record guests remotely and want to get fantastic audio from both sides, check this article out!
After you’ve recorded some killer audio, you want to think about how you want your final product to sound!
For most people, the less work they can do at this stage the better, and you can achieve that by recording great audio in the first place. If you record bad audio, there’s only so much you can do to improve it, after all, if you polish a turd, it’s still a turd.
If you’re someone who needs to edit the podcast, this section is for you. Here are a couple quick and easy editing/mixing tips that will dramatically improve your audio!
First you want to make sure that you are correctly pacing your conversation, or solo show. Sometimes, someone who is starting out editing audio, will miss the trees for the forest, meaning they will chop up every single mistake not realizing they are destroying the pacing of the show!
Editing can become extremely laborious if you’re doing it in real time, in order to speed up the process and not spend hours upon hours cutting out unnecessary words/noises, you’ll want to utilize a faster playback speed. It may take some time to get used to, but it’s absolutely worth doing if you don’t want a headache after listening to the same episode for 6 hours.
Another great way to save time is by binding your most used actions to convenient keyboard shortcuts. If you’re using ripple delete in Adobe Audition for example for every single cut, then you may want to think about changing that action to one single key instead of 3 separate keys!
Equalization is important in bringing up the good parts of a voice and attenuating or bringing down the resonant or unwanted parts of the voice. However if you don’t feel comfortable fully EQing each track, simply applying a low pass and high pass filter will help improve things. A high pass filter lets all the higher frequencies through, cutting all the lower frequencies, and vice versa for the low pass. This cuts out the unwanted ranges, where there is no useful information in the voice, and is just distracting.
Some noise reduction will go a long way if your audio has a lot of unwanted noises like hissing, or white noise. A compressor will help to remove some of the dynamic volume that can happen with anyone who is very loud one moment and very quiet the next.
Adding a hard limiter will help to ensure that your audio is never going to digitally clip, which basically means that your audio will exceed 0db cutting off any information available, making your audio sound distorted.
Here is an article going deeper into each one of these topics.
For a more in depth look at post production in general you can check out this article!
And there you have it, some general tips on how to improve the quality of your audio! Of course, this is just talking about one aspect of your podcast, if you’d like more articles going over more of the administrative parts of running a podcast check out these articles here!
I hope I was able to help you get up and running with a GREAT sounding show, have fun and happy podcasting!
If you made it this far, consider reaching out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about great and creative ways to improve your podcast, or if you would like some help with your entire podcasting process, including launching your show, consultations, editing, or just a more personal conversation!