Whether it was the pandemic that drove you to the decision to remotely record your podcast, or it was the convenience and cost-efficiency of recording from home, here is everything you need to know about recording your podcast remotely.
You will need to start with your setup, whatever recording software you choose to use or how good your editing skills are, getting your equipment and surroundings right from the start will have a massive impact on the quality of the final episode.
Microphone: If you want your audio quality to sound pleasing to your listeners, you should invest in a microphone. Using the built-in microphones on laptops or devices does not produce the standard required for a professional podcast.
Using a USB microphone can really improve the sound of your audio and are very easy to setup. If your budget allows, opting for an XLR mic will give you the best sound quality.
Add a pop filter to your microphone too. This noise protection filter helps to avoid recording harsh “S” sounds and exploding “P” plosives. If you cannot get a pop filter, you can try to tilt the microphone to a 45-degree angle and speak into it slightly off-centre. This naturally decreases the number of harsh sounds the microphone picks up.
If you are having guest(s) on your podcast, they may not have access to a microphone setup if they are not frequently appearing on podcasts. If this is the case, you can improve the quality of their audio by using features such as “noise cancellation” that a lot of recording platforms or editing software offer.
Be sure to do a sound check before you start recording to make sure you are happy with your guests’ sound quality. It is much better to fix any issues before recording than to try to rectify them during the editing stage. You could find yourself in a situation where you need tore-record the whole episode if the audio isn’t good enough.
If it is an option, you could post recording equipment to your guest to use for the recording which they can then return afterward.
Headphones: Both you and your guest(s) need to wear headphones while recording. They prevent your microphone from picking up feedback. They also allow you to hear the quality of the recording more clearly, such as if there is background noise or if someone is too close to their microphone. You can adjust it during the recording rather than trying to fix it in the editing stage.
There is no need to invest in a new pair of headphones. You can use whatever headphones/earphones/earbuds you already have, as their quality does not have as big an impact on the overall outcome of the recording as the quality of your mic does.
Recording Technique: Using a microphone can seem intuitive but there is a technique to it! You would be surprised how easy it is to make small mistakes that can adversely affect the listening quality. Nobody wants to listen to muffled, plosive sounds or hyper-sibilant “S” sounds.
Make sure you and your guest both know your microphones. Learn which direction the microphone receives sound and speak directly into the right part of the microphone. You should also be aware of the position of your mouth. Aim to position your mouth 2” - 4” away from the microphone. Have a warm drink to help avoid getting a dry throat when speaking.
If your guest isn’t too familiar with podcast recording, it can be a good idea to give them some tips on recording with a microphone beforehand, to avoid anybody sounding muffled, difficult to understand, or unprofessional. It will help them feel more comfortable and will make the podcast sound better.
Location: While you don’t need a sound-proof room in your home to record your podcast, there are steps you can take to reduce echoes and background noise to make your sound quality the best it can be.
Choose a quiet room in your house where you will not be disturbed. Stay away from noisy appliances like fridges and, where possible, turn off any equipment like fans that can be picked up by your microphone. If the room has carpet, or soft furnishings like couches or curtains, even better as it dampens echoes.
A good test to see what background noises are present is to start recording and sit silently for a few seconds. Play the recording back and listen for the sounds that have been picked up.
There are also noise-canceling apps available that you can try, such as Krisp and Solicall that run in the background eliminating background noise in real-time.
When it comes to recording your podcast remotely, choosing the right platform is crucial, especially if you are having guests.
Check out our Top 10 Podcast Recording Platforms here to see which ones are the best for remote recordings.
Things to look out for when you are choosing your recording platform is Double Ender –Recording.
Double Ender Recording is when the platform records audio(and video files) locally on each participant’s device rather than over the internet. This is the best option for remote recordings to get the best audio quality. Recording locally onto your devices means that the audio files will not be affected by internet stability issues (such as lags, patchy audio or drop outs) during the recording. The audio file will hear exactly what your microphone hears, not what the web-based platform hears.
One of the biggest challenges on platforms that do not use double-ender recording, such as Zoom, is the need for a strong internet connection to avoid any audio quality issues. It is far easier if you are not dependent on your or your guests’ internet connection. It also makes the editing stage a lot easier when each speaker has a separate file/track for their audio.
It is possible to set up double-ender recording for remote recordings with software that isn’t web-based, but it is more difficult. Your guest will need recording software, like Audacity, downloaded to their computer, you both will need to set up your recordings separately, mark the beginning of the recording with a clap, share the files afterwards (which can be a pain due to the file sizes) and then stitch together in the editing stage. We find that for remote recordings, choosing a web-based platform with double-ender recording is far easier. All files are available on the platform with the start and end of the recordings synced already.
Another useful thing to look for when choosing your recording platform for remote recording is that the files are uploaded to a cloud afterwards as it has the least risk of losing any files. Continuous uploads are the best option as they are uploading to the cloud in real-time as the recording is underway, meaning that with a good WIFI connection, the files are usually 100% uploaded to the cloud within seconds after the recording ends.
Really great options for this are Riverside.fm and Squadcast.
If you are going to record video along with your audio, you will need to make sure this is supported by your recording platform.
Find out which platforms support video recording in our Top 10 Podcast Recording Platforms review.
Even if your podcast is audio only, recording video anyway is a good idea. Seeing each other’s facial expressions and body language allows for a more natural flow to the conversation.
You can also use snippets from the video for content for marketing your podcast, as it is great for engaging with your audience.
If you are interested in creating a video podcast, check out our Launching a video podcast for your business guide.
You always want your guest(s) as comfortable as possible. When recording remotely, sometimes this can be more of a challenge than being physically present with them in the same room. Chat to them before the podcast recording. You could schedule a call with them beforehand to talk them through the process and address any concerns or questions they may have. Before you start the recording, be sure to have some small talk with them before hitting the record button to help them relax.
It is a good idea to send your guests a checklist with everything they will need to know prior to the recording.
Let them know:
· How to access the recording platform.
· If they need to use a specific browser (some platforms such as Riverside.fm are only compatible with Chrome).
· How to set up their mic as the correct input for the recording platform.
· Remind them to wear headphones.
· If you are recording video, make sure they are aware of this, so they are not caught off guard when you start recording. It means they are happy with their appearance and their background.
· If you would like them to download any noise reduction apps.
· Suggest making sure they have enough storage on their computer if the files are going to be stored locally with double-ender recording.
· Send them a copy of the questions you intend to ask or the topics you want to explore. This is not for them to script their answers beforehand, it will put them at ease if they are new to podcasting and they will likely give you better responses if they have some ideas in their mind instead of trying to think on the spot.
· Let them know that things can always be edited afterward if they are worried about stumbling over their words or saying something they might regret.
When you are editing remote recordings, you want to make sure that the speakers sound like they were together during the recording.
It will be a lot easier if you and your guest(s) have separate audio tracks. It allows you to easily make changes to one person’s audio without adjusting the other(s) and mute inactive tracks.
You want to make sure everyone’s sound is at the same level. Dynamic processing helps to maintain a consistent volume level throughout your podcast. It can be extremely frustrating for your audience if the volume of the episode is constantly changing. Tonal balancing can help bring clarity to the dialogue as well as create continuity between two different sounding voices.
Find out our Top 10 Podcast and Audio Editing Software here.
With these considerations, recording your podcast remotely with your guests can be achieved with studio-quality results.
You can always find a professional or a podcast production agency to manage all of this for you.