podcast audio

6 Rules for Perfect Podcast Audio

Podcasting is a highly fulfilling experience; there’s a breadth of interesting topics, stories and personalities to share with the world through the virtue of audio recording. In the excitement of all this, it’s easy to skip the consideration of the audience’s listening experience, and therefore the quality of your podcast production. Your podcast audio forms the integral part of the listening experience.

While you’re speaking, someone is listening to what you have to say – make sure that it’s worth their while by making your podcast audio the best it can be. The following 6 tips are crucial for any new or established podcast series to have it sounding top-class.

Invest in high quality equipment

The first step in creating any podcast is sorting out your podcast audio recording equipment, i.e. microphones, headphones, mixing consoles and any software you’re using – because what use is great conversation and storytelling if no one can hear it properly?

Making the sound quality better and clearer is an obvious incentive for your audience to keep listening. You may have killer content and topics being discussed, but people aren’t likely to sit and listen through feedback, background noise or if they have to strain to hear you.

Invest in decent microphones, powered by XLR cables for the best sounding audio and ensure that this is all accounted for before you begin talking.

Consider an online recording studio

If you’re recording remotely, you should think about the application of specialist podcast recording software. While many may find that platforms like Skype or Zoom are just fine, you are likely to experience internet dips, lag and crossover talk that produces indiscernible bits of audio.

This is because by recording through the internet you have to deal with the ensuing connectivity issues. But platforms like Riverside.fm – designed for podcasts – record interviews locally, meaning audio is recorded directly onto your computer and not over the internet, then uploaded to a server. It means you get the best possible podcast audio quality (48 kHz 16-bit format) without the dodgy internet drop outs. 

This is a game changer for podcast audio, giving you studio-quality audio and video at your disposal. But beware, platforms like this do cost, which is why it’s something to consider based on your budget, time and goals.

Treat your podcast recording room

You can have the best podcast audio equipment and setup in the world, but if you record everything in a poor quality room, your series isn’t going to sound anywhere near as good as it can. 

Treating your room for reverb and echo is key. This includes everything from utilising ‘acoustic blankets’ to popping your mic into a simple cat bed. Obviously as touched on, you’ll want to eliminate unwanted background noise as much as possible too. 

The main takeaway: if you get your environment on-point, even the lowest budget podcast setup can sound professional.

Record in high-resolution audio

You should record your podcast audio with a view to it being on streaming platforms, hosting sites and as available for download. This means recording high quality, clear audio for playback through a number of mediums.

You should – at the very least – record a 24-bit / 48 kHz WAV or AIFF file. Anything less is difficult to edit and privy to sounding poor depending on the medium through which it’s being played back.

You should not record an M4A, AAC, or MP3 file. They restrict the high-frequency range, cutting off airy frequencies that help podcast audio sound and feel natural. They also add compression which can compound over time with processing. 

Experiment with mic placement and input levels

You should experiment with speaking diagonally into your microphone, rather than straight on the capsule. When you speak at a 45-degree angle, bursts of air don’t go directly into the diaphragm, avoiding the “plosive” sounds (Bs and Ps) which can make for harsh sounding podcast audio.

You’ll also need to be careful with your input levels, testing whether your microphone or recording interface’s input level is too high. There’s really no reason to set input levels too “hot”; you can always make things louder later on. 

Test the levels before you start with a laugh or emphatic phrase to make sure it never peaks above 0 dBFS, or it redlines. If you’re worried that it might, just turn it down and be conservative from the start.

Test, test, test!

Our final tip is the most important: trial your entire podcast audio setup at length before recording any episode. You should have recorded and listened back to a decent portion of audio, testing for how your microphones sound – including whether the levels are right at the source and in your headphones –, if your recording environment works well, whether your practical set up involving mixing interfaces and software is viable, and ultimately that the audio file you have at the end is of decent (platform-ready) quality. 

Need help with podcast production? Digital Bulls is a full-service podcast agency – producing, promoting and distributing podcasts for clients world-wide. Visit our website to learn more about our service packages, the importance of podcasts as a business tool, and what we can do for the growth of your brand.

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