PodSchool Podcast | How to get the best quality podcast audio when remote recording


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How to get the best quality podcast audio when remote recording

How to record high-quality podcast audio when you’re not in the same room as someone

Remote recording your podcast gives you more flexibility and also more choice because you can chat with people even if they’re on the other side of the world. But you want to make sure this convenience isn’t coming at the expense of the audio quality of your podcast.

So how do you make sure your podcast sounds the best it possibly can when you’re recording via a remote recording website or video conferencing software?

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Buy good microphones

This will make all the difference to the audio quality no matter what method of recording you’re using.

If you’re recording via video conferencing software (Skype or Zoom) your guest will sound much better if they’re using a decent microphone.

However, it’s important to note with this method, even with the best mic in the world, your guest will always be at a lower, phone-like quality because they’re being recorded through the software.

If you want to use this method but you want the audio to sound like you’re in the same room you’ll need to record each participant locally either by changing the settings in the back end (Zoom) or by using an additional piece of software like eCamm Call Recorder (Skype).

If you’re recording via a remote recording platform like Zencastr, Squadcast, Ringr or Riverside.fm a good quality microphone for everyone speaking on the podcast is essential.

This is because when you use these platforms all the audio is recorded locally.  So, if anyone has a bad microphone you’ll end up with a high-quality recording of bad audio, which isn’t great.

When it comes to choosing a microphone, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great sound but it’s always a good idea to test the audio before you record your interview. 

You can do this by recording your briefing chat or pre-interview to make sure it’s high enough quality to use for your show.

What are the best podcast microphones?


Buy pop guards and mic stands

“Pops” are the harsh sounds that occur when you say words starting with consonants like ‘p’ or ‘b.’  These sounds often happen if you’re talking directly down the barrel of the microphone or because you’re too close to it.

A pop guard or pop filter can put distance between you and the microphone to reduce ‘pops’ in your recording.  This is a good idea because they’re really annoying to listen to and an absolute punish to edit out.

Good microphone technique will also help you reduce these sounds so it’s a good idea to practice where you need to be in front of your mic to stop the popping.

Another thing you definitely want is a mic stand for every microphone you’re using on the show.

Getting mics out of people’s hands is so important because when people are holding them it adds a whole bunch of random noise to the recording that can muddy your podcast audio quality.

How many people should you have on your podcast?


Think about where you’re going to record

Your surroundings will have a huge impact on the quality of your podcast audio quality and even the best microphone will suck if there’s wind noise or a lot of echo in the room you’re recording in.

Avoiding hard surfaces like glass and tiles and sticking to rooms with carpet and curtains can help because you want the space you’re in to absorb the sound of your voice rather than reflect it.

How to record high-quality audio at home


Watch out for overtalk

Overtalk is a wanky way of saying more than one person is talking at the same time.

It’s a big no-no in podcasting for obvious reasons – you can’t hear a damn word anyone is saying when they’re all jabbering at once.

When you’re in the same room it’s easier to manage this because you can see when someone is leaning in to speak or winding up their train of thought.

This is why using a remote recording platform with built-in video, or running a program like Skype at the same time is essential because you want to be able to see your co-host or guest.

Should you use video when remote recording your podcast?


Turn off everything else on your computer when you’re recording

There’s nothing worse than listening to an interview where someone’s email notifications are going off every two seconds, so turn everything off and ask your guest to do the same.

As a habit, I’d suggest the program you’re recording into should be the only program you have open when you’re doing your show.

That way there’s no chance something will ping halfway through the interview and your internet connection can be solely dedicated to keeping your interview or chat alive.

How to make editing easier when you’re recording a podcast


Make sure you’re somewhere with a good internet connection

You want to avoid anything that interrupts the flow of conversation and nothing is more jarring than someone’s audio breaking up mid-sentence, except perhaps, losing them completely.

A crappy internet connection isn’t your fault but when you’re in the middle of a chat and have to keep stopping and starting your guest, it’s you who ends up looking unprofessional.

Some remote recording platforms can be a bit glitchy but because audio is being recorded locally this usually doesn’t affect the final audio.  However, if you’re missing bits of someone’s conversation it will affect the flow of the chat, which isn’t ideal.

How to record a podcast with people in different locations


Make the most of your headphones

When you’re recording audio, microphones pick up things your ears would never hear so you want to make sure you’re monitoring every little detail as you’re recording so you can fix things as you go.

Maybe you can hear the air conditioner where your guest is recording or perhaps their dog is panting under their desk and it sounds weird.

These sounds can be distracting for a listener (and make editing more difficult) so you want to make sure you’re listening out for them BEFORE you get to the editing stage.

The goal, when you record, is to get the highest quality podcast audio in the moment, so you’re not stuck with something you can’t fix later, or heaven forbid that you have to re-record entirely.

The more attention you pay to your podcast audio quality when you’re recording the better your show will be.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. If you're doing a podcast where you're remote recording with people who aren't in the same room. Maybe you're interviewing people on the other side of the world or your co-host might go away and you need to jump on to Skype or Zencastr or Ringr and record an episode with you and them in different locations. That is an absolutely acceptable way to record a show. In fact, Skype interviews are used on some of the biggest podcasts and you can still get a high-quality show when recording no Skype, you just need to think about a few little things. So, in this episode, I'm going to take you through some of the ways that you can improve the sound quality if you are recording your show remotely.
The one thing that's important to note is that when you're recording in Skype the quality of your guest or co-host will be lower than the quality of the audio recorded locally into your microphone. So you want to do as much as you can to make sure your guest has the best possible audio because you know you're already compromising on that audio quality.
First thing to think about is your microphone. If you're recording into your computer microphone where you can't get up close it's never going to sound good. Ideally, you want a microphone for any person on your show that allows some control over the audio that's coming out of it. That doesn't mean they have to have a high end $300 microphone; you can get some really good microphones for much less. And sometimes if you are in an absolute pickle and you've got no other option you can use your apple earbuds with the microphone. It's not something I would suggest to do every time but I have recorded some things on those before when I have had absolutely no other option and it can get you out of a pickle. But it's always best to test. Basically, you want the best audio quality you can possibly get for your show. If you can't do that then you want to make sure that the audio quality is good enough to not be distracting. If you have your guest on their earbuds and you can hear rustling and noise and it's echoey, as an audience member I'm not going to want to stick around. So the benefit of doing that show rather than waiting until another time or sending that person a microphone if you don't want them to buy one is going to be worth it. Ideally, you want to make sure everybody on your show has the highest quality mic possible. If you are interviewing guests all the time and they don't have a decent microphone and you don't have a big audience and you can't really ask them to buy a microphone then you need to make do with what you've got. But if you are worried about it I would test it and make sure that the audio isn't distracting.
The second thing to think about is where you are recording. You could have the best microphone on the market but if you're recording in an echoey space with hard tiled surfaces where the sound bounces around the room it's never ever going to sound great. So make sure you're in a good room for recording and that means soft surfaces. You could hang up curtains, put down a rug, throw around some blankets. And you also want the person on the other end of the line to be in a decent space. So if they're saying "I'm just going to record with you from my dining room where it's gigantic high ceilings and all-glass" you want to make sure they go somewhere where it's actually going to be better for the sound quality because it won't sound great if they're in a room that's massive and echoey.
The other thing to think about is over talk. When you're not in a room with somebody it's hard to measure body language and to work out whether somebody is about to say something and that can mean you often interrupt them or talk over the top of them. That can make editing really difficult and it can also be really annoying to listen to. Ideally, if you are recording on Skype you've also got the video going so you can see the person and you can use hand signals so they know you want to say something. This becomes even more important in a co-hosted situation. When you're interviewing somebody there's a back and forth that makes over talk a little bit easier. If you are a good interviewer it ends up being more "you go then I go" and a good interviewer will sit there silently until the guest has wrapped up their response. It's much easier to avoid over talk in that situation but it's much more difficult when you've got a co-host on the other line and you're trying to have a natural conversation. It's a good idea to use Skype if you're using a program like Zencastr or Ringr. Both those programs allow you to remote record people locally which means you often get much better sound but there's no video. So if you run Skype at the same time you can see each other and use hand signals to stop yourselves talking over each other.
Then just a few simple technical things like making sure you've got notifications turned off on your computer. There's nothing worse than hearing somebody's email pinging 98 times during an interview. So turn all your notifications off. And then just shut everything down on your computer except for Skype or Zencastr or the program you're using. It's just a good habit to get into because it prevents any notifications going off but also avoids your bandwidth being eaten up with other stuff. You want your entire internet connection to be focused on your audio recording. Sometimes, particularly with Zencastr, I've had it drop in and out due to the internet connection which can make it difficult to have a conversation.
And then finally, wear headphones. Naturally, that's going to be essential if you're talking to somebody remotely because you need to hear them. But if you've got headphones on and you've got them turned up nice and loud, you'll be able to hear everything as your audience will hear it. Sometimes that means your guest's dog might be panting underneath the desk and they might not have noticed it but when you listen in the headphones it sounds like somebody's having sex underneath the table. Or they could have a really loud air conditioner and wearing headphones will give allow you to pick up that they need to turn it down. When you've got your headphones on you can pick up things your ears won't hear and make sure they don't end up on the final product. It's much better to flag things when you're recording things than get to the edit and think 'I can't use this audio!'.
I know wearing headphones seems like a bit of a silly suggestion since you won't be able to hear them otherwise but your headphones really are the most important piece of equipment in your podcasting kit
Hopefully, that's helped you think about some of the ways to improve your audio when you're recording remotely via Skype. I've also got an episode of this podcast all about remote recording and how to do it properly so you can scroll back through the feed or head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and type 'remote recording' into the search bar and it'll pop right up. I'll also pop a link into the description of this episode. And if you need any further help with your podcast. Make sure you head to PodSchool.com.au where you can enrol in my online podcasting course. I would love to help you create your own show. Thank you so much for listening. I will see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!