Hey team! Sean here - welcoming you to episode three of Podcasting 101, from Google Podcasts and PRX. We’re gonna talk all about how to record your new show. For me - it’s quite possibly the most important part of this whole process.
Ok - I’ve got a lot of options in front of me.
Here are some true facts - The best mic is the one you have. After that, it comes down to your preference - it’s the mic you think sounds best. Then, you’ll figure out how to make it work while you’re recording.
At the bare minimum, you can always record on your phone. (Plays on phone) “You can always record on your phone.” That’ll work, but if you want to level up, you’ll want a proper mic.
So, say you’re recording at home. You could use a USB mic that plugs directly into the computer - or - if you have two or more voices to record - like co-hosts or interview guests - it’s nice to have a mixer. That way you can plug multiple mics into the computer at the same time.
Or, say you want to go record someone while they’re out in the world doing their thing - then you’ll want a portable recorder with an external mic.
There are two pretty common types of mics people use when they’re out in the field: omni directional mics, which catch everything - and shotgun mics, which are more focused wherever you point them - better for distance or isolating sound.
And if you’re in a studio - which really does sound great - it’ll probably be cardioid mics with a heart-shaped pickup pattern. Awwww!
When you're recording, keep an eye on the recording level. Most recorders have a meter measuring decibels or dBs - and a safe range is between -12 and -6 dB.
0 dB is the absolute top. Audio at this level will sound crunchy and bad bad bad.
On top of recording level, you gotta think about where you’re recording. You want to be recording in as quiet a place as possible.
So you might need to turn off an air conditioner in the background, wait out a siren, or close a window. If you're interviewing someone at their home, soft surfaces like couches are better than hard ones like kitchen tables. Alright - and not for nothing - here are two of my favorite tips: the inside of a car can serve as a sweet impromptu studio -- and -- my personal favorite -- you can even record in a closet full of clothes or under a blanket - I feel so safe here.
If you’re out in the field, it’s not necessarily gonna be quiet but that’s ok. You can capture the sounds of the space by using your mic like a camera lens. Get close-up, mid-range, and wide “shots” - think about the specific sounds that will help bring your listener into the scene.
And what about those interviews where your guest is nowhere near you? - you’re video chatting or maybe you still have like an old school red rotary telephone from like the Jurassic era? Have them record themselves - teach them what you know - and get great audio. They can send you the file afterwards!
Oh - and pro-tip - wherever you are, get thirty seconds of what we call ‘room tone’ - the sound of the environment - even if it’s just you and your guest in the studio - you’ll need this for mixing later.
We even did it for these videos.
Ok - that’s almost it - here are my final top three takeaways for you:
One - Wear headphones! You’ve got to hear what’s going into your recorder.
Two - keep your mic close - think of like the difference between talking into a phone here and here
And three - watch your recording level - too loud or too quiet and your audio could be useless. Oh, and don’t forget to hit record! So many do. So many tragedies. So so many...
We’ve linked to more info on mics and recording equipment in the description of this video.
Now, go out there, give it a go! Practice makes perfect.
And once you’re feeling ready, you can focus on what you’re recording.
Check out the next episode of ‘Podcasting 101’ where Luvvie will be taking you through expert interview technique. She’s awesome - it’s awesome - go check it out!