Welcome to the game of podcasting.
This constantly growing medium provides the playing field for modern thought leadership. The ability of podcasts to authoritatively deliver information lies mostly in the quality of the production. If it sounds great, people are more likely to believe it.
The priority, then, is avoiding the small but significant audio pitfalls that all recording journeys contain. There is a shortcut to your destination of quality podcasting that bypasses a stop at a professional recording studio. By paying attention to the surroundings, equipment and the final editing you can ensure a smooth transmission of information, even if the episode was recorded right next to your boss’s desk.
So it’s time to grab your pickaxe and set off on your audio production journey. Start by taking these five steps from our treasure map, which helps you turn your workplace into a gold mine of a record studio.
- Start from the square one
If your office has the kind of hustle and bustle that would not be out of place at a Wall Street stock market premises, settling into a quiet space removed from all the chitter and chatter is the first thing to address. As even common sense would suggest, a calm and peaceful space provides the substrate for the fruits of quality audio to grow.
However, you can’t go choosing just any cleaner’s cupboard. The recording room should be large enough so that sounds aren’t reflected from the walls back to the microphone, but small enough to avoid excess reverberation. Additionally, the decoration plays a role in the overall sound. Most wooden and thick fabric materials improve the warmth (intimacy) of the acoustics. At your office space, the best audio juice can be squeezed from a medium-sized, square room with a large rug and large wooden furniture like bookshelves on the walls.
- Take out the noisemakers
Editing out a number of unwanted noises from a multi-minute audio file can be a pain. Most importantly, though, it’s time wasted. That is why you might want to look for a room without too many hard surfaces, sharp corners and squeaky chairs. Even though it seems unnecessary in theory, removing them from the equation eliminates any unwanted clonks, whacks, booms, bangs, clicks, cracks, creaks, crunches, jingles, jangles, knocks, pings, plonks, rattles, rings, rumbles, scrapes, screeches, ticks and twangs that office furniture is more than capable of producing. Something as simple as laying a cup of coffee down on a hard table with enough force can bleed to the microphone in a nasty manner.
As a matter of fact, the coffee machines and cooling fans that reside in your recording space should be turned off or, even worse for all you coffee lovers, taken away during the recording process, so make sure to drink your daily hot beverage before starting your session. In addition to stripping the recording room from potentially noisy surfaces and appliances, wearing jewelry or inconvenient clothing like heavy leather jackets can also interfere with your recording and are best left outside the room.
- Choose the most convenient equipment
Even though you are serious about podcasting from your newly established office studio, the most serious recording equipment will not be needed. Successful voice recordings can be done with anything from standard microphones to smartphones and even dictaphones.
Conducting interviews with one or more people calls for multiple microphones. Handing over a single mic back and forth as if doing a post-performance interview at the Olympics will most likely disrupt the flow of the conversation and create more unwanted noises. Similarly, sharing a microphone works in theory only if each interviewee speaks to it at the exact same angle (this would be to keep a cohesive level of volume for each talker). In this type of set up, maintaining a consistent volume level free-hand requires physical and mental concentration skills of a Buddhist monk. For those, who haven’t done the required Tibetan training, table microphone stands are a godsend.
Smartphones and dictaphones are similarly capable of producing quality audio. When cooking up a tasty podcast episode, they are at their best when sprinkled in small amounts, such as excerpts of content later to be edited into the episode. Sometimes the phone is a logical choice for recording, for example, when conducting a remote phone call interview for a case study from a customer abroad.
- Defuse the ear bombs
Whichever tools you end up using, recording with them requires a wee bit of attention as their placement and volume levels can make a crucial difference. For example, pronouncing the letter “P” creates a gust of air that tends to pop up undesirably loud in the recording. They are called plosives and they are well named for their sound resembles tiny explosions of air. Defuse these potential ear bombs by using a pop filter and checking beforehand that the overall volume level is not peaking.
- Use equalization
After finishing the recording it’s time to listen to your raw, uncut diamond of an episode.
Things that might spring to mind when listening to the fresh file are: Was the air-conditioning a bit too loud? Did the mumbling from the next room leak in too much? Or why did Steve from the HR department have to burst into the room mid-session? Okay, the last example might actually call for a retake, but minor annoyances can be whisked away with equalization.
The purpose of equalization in podcast context is to filter out frequencies that eminently compete for space with the speech. Carving out frequencies and noises that are out of the range of human speaking voice facilitates the intimacy and warmth, which imitates the sound of a conversation happening next to you. Other factors under scrutiny in equalization are breathing noises and the hissing “s” sounds, which have a tendency to get saturated when speaking into a microphone.
Investing to quality in podcasting is a sound choice
Podcasts are treasured for their convenience. In fact, hints have begun to surface that good quality, which in audio’s context equals perfect ease of listening and a sense of naturalness, supports positive judgment and reaction to the content delivered. Conversely, lousy tunes and bumpy volume levels have the exact opposite effect as poor audio quality can diminish credibility.
Therein lies the essence of the importance of audio quality in podcasts. It provides an intimate venue for listening as well as a smooth passage of branded information. The job of maintaining them to the point where the listeners perceive themselves as almost a part of the conversation falls to the shoulders of the production.
Consequently for any brand, marketer or entrepreneur, paying attention and investing in quality podcasting is a sound choice.
Thinking about starting a podcast? Or are you already on the air? Our Podcast Production Pack offers help for both beginner and advanced podcasters. We’ll give you direction on format, content, setup and sound quality to guide you through your podcasting adventures from start to finish.
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