PodSchool Podcast | How to record a podcast



Recording device

How do you get your dulcet tones down on tape?

If you’re right at the beginning of the podcasting journey and know nothing about how to get your idea into people’s ears, here’s a little 101 on how you record a podcast…

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Record using audio software

If you’re hosting your podcast solo, this will be the easiest option because all you need is a USB mic and your favourite editing software.

Setting up is as simple as plugging your microphone in, making sure it’s selected in audio preferences and hitting record.

The one thing you have to be careful of, however, is where you record.

If you’re setting up a home studio your recording space needs to be audio friendly.  That means avoiding rooms with reflective surfaces like tiles, windows or high ceilings.

How to record high-quality audio at home


You don’t need to spend a lot of money getting this right (a few thick curtains or couch cushions will do) but you have to put thought into the quality of sound if you want your show to be a success.

Audio programs I recommend…


This is a free program a lot of podcasters use.

If you’re just starting out and working out whether this is something you want to do long-term, this program is a great place to start.

Adobe Audition

A subscription program I use to edit all my podcasts.  It’s used by professionals but it’s not as over the top as programs like Pro Tools so you can still easily get a handle on it if you’re a beginner.

Record using Skype

This is how you’ll record if you have guests on your show or co-hosts who aren’t in the same location.

Again, you just need a computer and a microphone but you’ll be recording via Skype rather than audio editing software.

How to record a podcast with people in different locations


Traditionally you had to download additional programs to do this but Skype has recently added a recording option to its latest version.

If you want to stick with the old method you download Ecamm if you’re a Mac user or Pamela if you’ve got a PC.

Skype is great because you can see your guest but you can also use it to call people on the phone which can provide more flexibility in terms of who you can get on your show.

Just beware the audio quality of someone on the phone is lower than other methods of recording so you shouldn’t use this all the time if you can help it.

Record using Zencastr

This is a fantastic option (in theory) but you need to have a kick-arse internet connection to avoid this dropping out.

The program hooks you up to your co-host or guest via their computer and records your audio and their audio locally.  This means you end up with two high-quality files you can piece together to make it sound like you were in the same location.

The only problem is if the internet connection isn’t great the sound can drop out between you and your guest.  This won’t affect the physical recording but it can seriously impact the rhythm of conversation.

Record using a portable recording device

This is what I suggest if you’re planning to record in person with people and need to carry equipment with you.

My top recommendation for this is the Zoom H6.

It’s the device I use to record all my podcasts and it’s portable and reliable…just remember to pack additional batteries or you’ll be cursing yourself.

Record using Anchor

I was a little sceptical of this app at first because it seemed to be all about making podcast recording easier.  That sounds like a good thing but the suggestion was you could record a podcast on your phone and all that made me think was “but it’ll sound terrible!”

The top priority of any podcaster should be the quality of the content and audio and the idea of recording a podcast onto a phone just isn’t high enough quality for me.

However, it looks like this app has evolved and is providing a more accessible way to record and host your podcast, rather than just being about talking into your phone microphone.

How to keep an audience engaged when you’re presenting solo


Ultimately, if you’re recording audio with good microphones it shouldn’t matter what editing software you use.  So if you like programs that are “drag and drop” this might be for you.

The only thing to be mindful of is that sometimes these simpler programs come at the expense of editing precision.  I prefer editing in a program like Audition because of the control it gives you over the audio but really it will come down to personal preference.

If you’re a gun with drag and drop and it’s not sacrificing quality then go for it.

And that, is how you record a podcast!

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Need some help getting started or setting up your home studio?  Download my free podcasting guide.

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

Hello and welcome to the show. Today I'm going to go right back to basics. Often on this podcast I'll talk about tips that will help you when you are a few steps along in the podcasting process but often I'll get e-mails from people saying “How do you even record?” and that's a fair point. If you don't know how to do that that’s a great question to ask.
Of course I have an online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au if you are looking for a step by step guide to help you go from coming up with an idea to actually getting it into people’s ears. But I thought I'd take you through some of the ways that you can record if you are literally at the beginning of the idea phase and you've got no idea about how your voice actually gets into people’s ears.

The first way is by recording directly into your computer. This is usually the best option if it is just going to be you that's talking because you don't need to worry about moving your computer around anywhere and it's probably just the simplest way to go. You just a USB mic into your computer and record directly into audio editing software like Adobe Audition, which cost some money each month, or the free program called Audacity

The next way is if you are going to have other guests or callers or people that aren't going to be in the same room with you on your show. Again you just need your computer and a microphone but the way you’ll record will be different. Usually the easiest way is with Skype. Traditionally that has been via a program called Ecamm if you’re a Mac user and Pamela if you use a PC. These programs then record the Skype video and audio that you can edit later. Just recently though Skype finally came along to the party and created their own recording software. I have yet to use it but apparently it comes with the latest version. This is how you would record whether you’re talking to someone on Skype, it’s also the way you’d record if you were calling someone for your show. If you are calling them on the phone you’re not going to have a telephone line tapped through your wooden desk like you would have in a radio station. So Skype is usually the easiest way to do that. You just get some call credit and call people and then record using either Ecamm, Pamela or Skype’s inbuilt recorder.

Another website that got started up a little while ago that I've used that can work brilliantly but can also be a bit glitchy from time to time depending on your internet connection is Zencastr. Again I’ll pop links to all of these sites in the show notes page. Just head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and type “record” in the search bar there. So Zencastr is a fantastic website that basically links you and your guest up remotely so you control everything at your end. You just press record and they can see when the conversation is being recorded so it's not like they are being recorded and they don't know. Then at the end of that session it actually records your audio where you are and your guests audio where they are and then it sends you two separate audio files in a drop box that you just match up at the end so it sounds like you are in the same room. It's brilliant when it works but I have often just gone with Skype because I found that pretty foolproof but I have people that swear by Zencastr and really when it works it is the perfect solution because it does allow you to have that high quality audio at both ends and makes it sound not like you're talking to somebody on Skype but like you're talking to somebody in the same room so that can be a great way to do it as well.

The third option is to have a portable recording device. I suggest this when you are doing a show that requires you to move around a lot and go and interview people. I think it's the best way to do that because you don't want to lug your computer around and risk it running out of juice or not being able to be plugged in somewhere. Or heaven forbid you don't have enough memory or the computer crashes. I've recorded podcasts before on audio software and 45 minutes in the entire episode has died. I did that once and I never used software again. A lot of people use software without any problem at all but I am a get it on to a hard drive lady. I use the zoom H6 which is an awesome little device that allows you to plug in up to four microphones and it's super portable. With my show You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, I go out and I sit down with people one on one to do the interviews. I don't do any of the interviews over Skype or remotely. I can just pop everything into a carry case and take it with me and every single time when I bring out all my gear my guests say “wow, this is really prodfessional.”

The last thing I'll bring up is something that's only just recently come out and that is Anchor. They are also a podcasting platform so you can host your show there as well. I have yet to use this but I'm seeing it around more and more. It's an application or a Web site that allows you to actually record in the app, on desktop or on mobile so you can plug in whatever microphone you want. Originally when it first came out there was this idea of recording podcasts onto your phone to try and make it really easy and I thought “Oh God the last thing we need is a way that makes crappy sounding podcasts.” You know I like the idea of being able to take things everywhere but for me audio quality is the most important thing if you want to compete and have a lasting show because there's a lot of good stuff out there and if you're just talking into your phone in a windy park you're never going to compete with the big guns. The application that they use to edit by the looks of things is sort of a bit drag and drop. I prefer to use a program like audition but with anything as long as you are recording high quality audio (and that’s mostly to do with microphones which I’ll cover next week), it doesn’t matter what you record into. It just depends on what you prefer to work in. Audition is a much better program than Audacity but the sound quality isn't going to be any worse at the end if what you have laid down in the first instance through a great microphone is high quality. So really your audio program comes down to your personal preference. Anchor seems to be spending a lot to get their program out there and drag and drop is good when you’re just starting out. So that could be an option for you to check out to it's free for hosting so you can actually host your podcast there.

I hope that helped you understand what it takes to record a podcast and get it into a little audio file. That means you can send it to your podcast host and have people listening on the other end. If you want even more in-depth help with your podcast you can head to PodSchool.com.au and check out my online podcasting course. And if you have any questions you want answered on the show you are always more than welcome to e-mail me. Just head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and click on the contact page. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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