Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips is the first half of our Top 10 Pro Podcasting Tips guide. This is a part of our Podcast Launch and Podcast Starter packages.

Without further ado, here are our “Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips”. The cornerstone to any audio presentation is quality sound, and it isn’t expensive if you purchase the right gear at the beginning (in our “Step 3-The Gear” breakdown). Equipment isn’t the only thing that contributes to a great sounding Podcast.

We will discuss:

  1. Recording at home or with portable equipment
  2. Microphone placement
  3. Recording Levels
  4. File resolution
  5. Importance of pre-production

1. Find a quiet room with plenty of space around you for recording

Over the years I have known many colleagues (voice-over artists, voice actors and musicians) that say they have an awesome setup for recording. Often their setups are crammed in a closet (bedroom, hallway, basement, the cubby under the stairs, old fruit cellars. etc.) and sharing that space with all kinds of stuff. They think that these small spaces are perfect vocal isolation booths. They aren’t!

Hard and flat surfaces reflect sound much like a mirror reflects light. That echoey effect is called reverb or early reflections. Since that “awesome” space is so small, you’ll be jammed up against at least one wall and a door in a closet. Others will scatter random blankets around a small room meant to act as “room treatment”. That is not a great solution. For any benefit you might see, you’re probably adding more issues like weird resonant buildups caused by the cover’s material, or its billowing proximity to the microphone.

Stay out of your closet!

Set up on a carpeted space, near bookcases, but away from walls and windows. This arrangement, paired with speaking close to a cardioid mic, will give you better results than cuddling up against your coats. You will also be more comfortable and be breathing better quality air and not feel closed in. The vocal booths in recording studios are designed specifically for this use. You will not get that sound in a small closet. Ever.

When setting up your space, make sure you can keep the room itself quiet. Microphones can pick up everything in the background, like a dog walking across the floor, your computer fan, the refrigerator – you know the sounds. Using headphones – especially noise cancelling headphones will allow you to monitor any audio you’re recording. Find a place to set up far away from any noise you can’t manually power off (such as a computer fan).

Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips Pro Tip:

Listen to your room with the microphone on and be as quiet as you can be. What do you hear in the “silence”? It’s also good to do a test recording of the silence once you are set up and the room is quiet. You can listen for noises that could be removed (turning off that fan), and it is a piece of reference audio. There are special plugins that can use that information to remove background noise.

Turn off your furnace, air conditioners, appliances, fans, or anything else that makes a background noise. When turning the page of a script or flip to the next section of a document on your tablet or computer, don’t speak. It is easier to remove these sounds later wen you edit.

2. Experiment with Microphone Placement

Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips - Microphone Placement

Plosives are the burst of air that exits the mouth when we make hard “P” and “B” sounds. They are like giant gusts of wind to a microphone. A pop filter is the best solution. You can purchase them very inexpensively. Make your own by stretching a pair of nylon stockings over a wire coat hanger, or a small needlepoint hoop that you can purchase at a craft store. Sometimes pop filters are impractical, or they can muffle the sound to an undesirable degree. 

You can also experiment with speaking off-axis into your microphone, rather than straight on the capsule. When you speak at a 45-degree angle to the mic, bursts of air don’t go directly into the diaphragm. This results in fewer plosives.


Play with the angle with your headphones on and do the “Peter Piper” tongue twister while you experiment with the angles. Record and listen. If the angle is too extreme, you’ll discover a null in the pickup pattern of directional microphones. Find the angle where your voice sounds natural – the same as if you were to speak directly into the mic, but without the plosives. Do yourself a favor and make notes on settings, gear placements, and environments deliver the best results. Take pictures!

3. Be conservative with your input levels

You control the input level for your microphone, so let’s get it where it needs to be. High-quality digital recording is inexpensive and easy to use. That’s why you are here, right? There is no need for high input levels (“Too Hot”). When we used to record on analog audio tape, it was critical to walk the fine line of levels that are too hot, or “clip”.  Recording tape is a bunch of magnetic particles, where the highest concentration gave the best quality sound. The digital realm does not require this step at all. This means that volumes can be increased and decreased (within reason) without affecting the quality of the audio.

Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips Pro Tip:

Keep the needle out of the red! Clipping is the blinky red light, or when someone screams and blows the levels, solid red. You can always make things louder later during editing or post-production.

To find a good mic level, speak at a normal-to-loud speaking voice, and set the fader to about 70% of the volume. Say the “Peter Piper” again, then, test the levels with a hearty laugh or emphatic phrase (Big people yell Drew Rocks! Is a good one 😊). Ensure the level never peaks above 0 dBFS, or goes “into the red.” If in doubt, turn it down a little more to be safe.

When working with someone remotely, ask them to count to 4 from a whisper to as loud as they can (or want). Also ask them for a hearty fake laugh. This allows you to listen to the room and the environment and gauge the best volume setting for them.

4. Record a high-resolution audio file

Remember the discussion about magnetic audio tape? As with the magnetic oxide on the tape, the density of ones and zeroes that are used to record your audio is important. The minimum resolution you should record is a 24-bit / 48 kHz WAV or AIFF file. Most software will default to 44.1 kHz to save hard drive space, but 48 kHz is the broadcast standard. If you REALLY need to know the difference, my friend Google could tell you or you can send me an email and I can.

WAV and AIFF files are what is called uncompressed formats. They record everything possible at that sample rate. We will ultimately take that high-resolution file and export it to a format that is compressed – meaning that little “extraneous” bits of data are removed to make the format smaller and easier for devise to handle and stream. Typically, these are M4A, AAC, or MP3 files. They restrict the high-frequency range, cutting off airy frequencies that help performances sound and feel natural. They also add compression artifacts from lossy encoding, and these artifacts can compound over time with processing. So, recording a high-quality WAV or AIFF file is the way to go.

Top 5 Pro Podcasting Tips PRO TIP:

If your recording device can capture a 32-bit recording, use it. With the higher the bitrate you are capturing mor audio information and is like an added safety net against distortion.

5. Pre-production, pre-production, pre-production

We have addressed many of the practical bits of the podcast game, now for the secret ingredient, pre-production. You can have the best mic and recording gear in the world, but without something to work from, your podcast will be a sloppy mess. I know, I am a BIG fan of improv and shooting from the hip. In fact, I have been over-confident in my abilities and created more work than was necessary in many of my projects over the years. As a creative person, I find working with details boring.

My friend, it isn’t when you realize that a little bit of work now saves you hours of hair-pulling frustration later! Luckily, podcasting is not a live medium and you can practice!

Save Tons of Time

Editing a script is much easier than editing audio. You have the advantage of laying all your ideas out in an easy to follow format. It adds efficiency to creating show notes, transcripts, blog posts, and more. When you have your script ready, rehearse your podcast, record, and edit it. You don’t have to write and record word-for-word, either. I like to work from an outline because it works best for my style – there are may ways to achieve this organization, and I am happy to work with you to develop scripting that is personalized to you and your podcast format.

An outline is especially beneficial when you are working with guests. They appreciate an outline so they know what to expect and will be more comfortable. This assures them that you know what you are doing, they will be more relaxed, and your show will sound much better for it.

On the topic of scripting, audiences like when you give them an overview of the episode and they can expect, and a summary of the takeaways from the show. I also like to give them a way to contact me, what’s coming up in future episodes and any other calls to action.

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