How To Get Started in Podcasting

or every engrossing show on your favorite podcasting app, there are another 60 bordering on torturous. But don’t let that discourage you. Your podcast will be different. That’s because you understand one very basic principle: You have to be interesting. And to do that, you have to know what you want to talk about, why you want to talk about it, and how you want to talk about it.

This is important for more than just style it also determines how you record. A show built around banter between cohosts puts a burden on studio equipment. A scripted show with one host requires tight editing, emphasizing software. We cover it all here.


Assembling Your Studio

Microphones: All mics do the same thing: translate the vibrations of your voice into electric signals. Condenser and dynamic microphones do this in two different ways, delivering distinct results. Condensers are less sturdy but more sensitive and require less amplification great for a home studio. Dynamic microphones are more durable and known to have a warmer sound, providing more of a traditional “radio voice.” How your mic connects to your computer is also important.

No matter the type, the best mics use only an XLR cable, an analog connector that provides the highest fidelity. These mics require pre-amplification and won’t connect directly to your computer. USB mics usually have pre-amplification on board and plug directly into the computer, but their sound quality is slightly worse.

Connecting to your computer: Unless you’re using only a single USB mic, you need a device that can route all your gear to your computer. There are various options, but a USB interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 has multiple XLR inputs and provides pre-amplification.

A mixing board like the Mackie ProFX8 gives you a lot of control over your sound during live recording, and accommodates more sophisticated set-ups, but requires significantly more tech-savvy to use.

Acoustic hacks: The goal while recording is to keep any sounds from bouncing off hard surfaces walls, tables, your bowling-trophy collection, and into the mic. A few tricks can help:

Gear for guests: Guests’ audio should sound as good as yours. Here are your set-up options, from best to worst.

  • The Proper Set Up: They sit in your studio with their own mic, recording their own audio track.
  • The Shared Set Up: They sit in your studio, sharing your mic. Be careful not to talk over each other.
  • The Double Ender: They talk to you over the phone, but have their own on-site microphone, and send you their recording when the interview is over.
  • The Skyper: You call them on Skype, and use ecamm Call Recorder for Skype to record audio from the call.

Get started here with a great range of quality microphones

Recording Your Show

Recording levels: Recording too loudly loses detail the same way too much light washes out a photograph. Recording too quietly does the opposite: When you crank up the volume to compensate, you’ll hear unwanted noises. So be sure to check those peak and loudness meters. Here’s a small primer:

peak meter is the most common metering system. It measures the audio signal in decibels relative to full scale (dbFs). zero is the maximum (which is why all the numbers are negative). standard practice is to record between minus 15 and minus 12 dbFs.

The loudness meter is an emerging standard, designed to better account for how your ear works: at the same volume, deeper sounds hurt your ears less than high pitched sounds. use the short term reading on the meter and aim for minus 24 LUFS (loudness units relative to full scale).


P-Pops, sibilants, and other excessive vibrations: Some letter sounds, like p and b bursts called plosives and exaggerated s sounds called sibilants, can’t be taken out of a mix very easily. So get gear to limit vibration. A shock mount suspends the mic on shock-absorbing springs, and a hoop-style pop filter kills bursts of air from your mouth before they get recorded.

Background noise: Ambient sounds, like that souped-up Harley down the street, can distract from your recording and be challenging to edit out. It’s best to record at night when there is less noise pollution. Unplug appliances. If you have to pick one, continuous sounds are less noticeable than intermittent sounds and easier to remove.

Recording outside: If you want to record outside the studio, you’ll need a good portable recorder. They can be pricey, but are a sound investment: many, like the Zoom H6 can be used as a USB interface. Portable recorders can also backup your main studio set-up.

Editing the Sound

The digital audio workstation: All of your editings will take place inside a digital audio work­station. DAWs allow you to bring in audio tracks, clean up their sound, and chop and rearrange them into a cohe­sive show. Depend­ing on which one you use, their capabilities can be signifi­cantly more ­expansive.

Posting Your Podcast

Select a host: Virtually every podcast is disseminated through iTunes, but it’s really just a pointer telling the audience’s computers where to go to download podcast files. It’s up to you to figure out where to keep them. You’ve got three options:

Measuring metrics: Podcasting has one metric that matters more than all others: downloads. That sounds simple, but because of the way computers download audio files, it’s not necessarily straightforward. You want to get your numbers from a reliable source.

Get started here with a great range of quality microphones

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