Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to record the best possible sound upfront. The better the original recording, the better the final product. Yes, a recording can always be fine-tuned during the editing process but, if the original recording is terrible, no amount of editing is going to make it sound great. Plus, if your original recording is rocking, you’ll save a heap of time in post-editing (winning!).
Here’s 11 tips for creating a rocking recording:
1. SMALLER IS BETTER
Record in the smallest and quietest room possible to reduce echo and outside noise. Don’t forget to shut all the windows and doors. (I’ve even had some clients tell me they record in their wardrobes!)
2. CHECK FOR REVERB
Run a test recording to check for reverb. Reverb is an echo-like sound, which is similar to – but not as extreme as – the sound you might get if you were to record in your bathroom or an empty room, where the sound bounces off bare walls and floors, rather than being absorbed. This can make your recording sound ‘tinny’ at best or echoey at worst, rather than the nice, rich, full sound you hear on professional podcasts.
If the room has lots of bare walls or floors without carpet, consider lining some of the walls and floors with blankets or towels to stop reverb. It also can help if you put pillows behind your microphone.
Hot tip: Here’s a little trick I use when I’m recording short snippets (like intros and outros) and don’t want to go to the hassle of lining my walls and floors: I place a blanket over my head, laptop and microphone and record like this. The blanket absorbs the sound, preventing any echo. You could also set up a ‘cubby’ with chairs and a blanket over the top which you sit under if you wanted to be more comfortable or were recording for longer periods. This will do the same job.
3. CHECK VOLUME LEVELS
Adjust your volume level and, if applicable, your guest’s volume level to allow enough ‘head room’ for post-editing.
4. MICROPHONE DISTANCE
Try to keep your mouth at the same distance from the microphone throughout the recording. The closer you are to the microphone, the louder your voice recording and vice versa. If you’re moving around all the time, the volume of your voice recording is going to change, creating uneven sound quality.
5. SIT STILL
Minimise shuffling and moving around to reduce background noise. Be especially careful if you’re just using your iPhone earbuds to record. The little microphone on this guy has a tendency to move around on your collar as you speak and can create shuffling sounds that are hard to edit out afterwards.
6. CREATE A NOISE PROFILE
This sounds fancy but all it really is 2 or 3 seconds of silence at the start of your recording. If there is any humming or background buzzing, you can use the noise profile in post-editing to edit out background sounds.
7. HEADPHONES – ALWAYS!
To prevent audio feedback, use headphones and ask your guest to use headphones, too.
8. KEEP QUIET WHILE YOUR GUEST IS TALKING
While it’s tempting to want to pipe in with “yes” and “hmmmm” and “no” to encourage and support your guest while they’re talking, these little sounds can become annoying for your listeners during playback. If you have accidentally dropped a few of these sounds, you can edit them out during post editing but that can be time-consuming. Your best bet is to stay very quiet while your guest is talking and only jump in when it’s time to ask the next question.
9. FIX SOUND QUALITY ISSUES AT THE START!
If there’s an issue with your guest’s sound quality or microphone, let them know immediately and work together to resolve the issue. There’s nothing worse than finishing a rocking interview only to wish you’d spoken up at the start and corrected poor sound quality (I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way).
If you’re needing extra support with the recording and editing process of your podcast, check out the Audacity for Podcasters video series.