How Does Your Podcast Sound?June 23, 2023
Prioritizing Great Sound
When it comes to creating a podcast, most people focus mainly on selecting topics, choosing a name, and developing an exciting concept – both of which are important and crucial parts of the podcast.
However, audio quality and sound conceptualization often end up being overlooked, despite the fact that the podcast itself is an audio-based product.
Great sound quality and a well thought-out audio concept for your podcast is crucial for several reasons:
- High-quality sound enhances the overall listening experience for your audience. When the audio is clear, balanced, and free from distracting background noise, listeners can fully engage with your content and enjoy the podcast without any unnecessary distractions. Crisp and intelligible audio ensures that your content is easily comprehensible, fostering better communication and engagement.
- Excellent sound gives your podcast a professional and competitive edge. It shows that you have invested time and effort into creating a polished product, which can help you build credibility and establish a strong brand identity.
- A podcast with great sounding music and sound design is more likely to hold the attention of listeners. If the audio is unpleasant or boring to listen to, listeners may become disinterested and abandon the episode or even the entire podcast. On the other hand, high-quality audio keeps listeners engaged, encourages them to stay tuned, and increases the likelihood of them returning for future episodes.
Overall, prioritizing great sound quality in your podcast not only enhances the listener experience but also helps you establish a professional brand, effectively communicate your message, increase listener retention and engagement, gain a competitive edge, and ensure accessibility for a broader audience.
For those without prior experience in working with audio, achieving great sound quality and creating an engaging auditory experience may seem like a daunting and technically difficult task. But don’t worry! We’re here to provide you with a clear overview to help you navigate this aspect of podcast production.
By understanding the importance of sound quality and taking the necessary steps to enhance it, you can elevate the overall quality of your podcast.
Let’s dive into the key considerations for achieving great sound in your podcast.
“Investing in good recording equipment is the foundation for high-quality audio.”
Investing in good recording equipment is the foundation for high-quality audio. USB microphones are popular and user-friendly, but for professional-grade sound, opt for an XLR microphone paired with an audio interface.
A pair of good headphones is an equally important tool, to keep an attentive ear on the audio while recording.
When recording, aim for an input level around -12 dB. Depending on the person speaking, the volume level of a voice can be very dynamic, and the last thing you want is to gain the channel too much, resulting in the audio clipping and making the recording sound poor (Or rather useless to be frank).
Vice versa, gaining the channel too low during the recording will result in you possibly encountering problems with static noise or hum, when having to gain the recording exceedingly in the post-production phase.
Similarly, having a proper microphone technique is crucial for achieving clear and crisp audio. Position the microphone at a clenched fist’s distance from your mouth, and make sure that you are sitting or standing comfortably, to maintain the optimal placement for capturing your voice effectively.
Select a quiet room with minimal background noise for recording your podcast. To improve acoustics in the room, you can install sound regulating materials like foam panels or fabric on the walls to reduce echo and reverberation. A good ol’ carpet on the floor works wonders for getting rid of any unwanted reverb in the recording.
To make sure that you have the best possible starting point for the editing process, record each voice on separate channels in your preferred software. This way you will encounter less conflicts during the cutting process, and since every voice is different, it needs unique effects processing.
In conclusion, assuring a great sounding podcast starts with assuring a great sounding recording.
The quality of the output depends on the quality of the input.
“There are loads of different plugins on the market to use when editing a podcast, but in reality it doesn’t need to be that complex in order to accomplish a great sounding product.”
Processing & Mixing
When recording is finished, it’s time to focus on the processing of the audio files. There are loads of different plugins on the market to use when editing a podcast, but in reality it doesn’t need to be that complex in order to accomplish a great sounding product.
With a simple Equalizer you can filter out any unwanted frequencies, and reduce any muddiness of excessive bass in the recording, ensuring that voices are clear and free from harshness.
With a Compressor you can even out the volume levels of the different voices of your podcast, and help maintain consistent audio levels.
If you experience having any background noise or sound artifacts that are not removable by cutting the audio file without also affecting the voice recording, utilizing dedicated Audio Cleanup Tools can help you out. Izotope RX is a great example, and they have several specialized tools available for handling anything from unwanted (and unintentional) mouth/throat sounds, to plosive sounds and harsh high frequencies.
Adding a slight touch of Reverb to the voices, can help create a sense of space and add some spatial awareness to the audio. This does depend a lot on what kind of expression you’re going for, since the absence of reverb can also be an effective way of making the voice more intense, and like it’s speaking more directly to the listener.
Using subtle Panning can help separate different voices, and make it easier for the listener to distinguish them.
Additionally, Normalizing the audio to a standard level to ensure compatibility across different listening devices and platforms, is key to making sure your podcast is on the same loudness level as other podcasts available out there.
“Selecting the right musical content can significantly impact the overall experience and make your podcast more memorable and immersive.”
Music has the power to enhance the atmosphere, set the tone, and engage your podcast audience on a deeper level. Selecting the right musical content can significantly impact the overall experience and make your podcast more memorable and immersive. It can help evoke specific emotions and enhance storytelling.
The style and timing of the music used is of course very dependent on the type of podcast, and there is no universal formula that will work on every single podcast produced. However, there are a couple of things you can ask yourself in order to understand how to utilize music in your production.
- How would you describe the identity of your podcast? Consider the overall tone and theme of your podcast. Is it upbeat and energetic, or calm and introspective? Define the emotions and atmosphere you want to convey through your music selection.
- Which is your target audience? Even if your podcast doesn’t have a specifically narrow audience, try making a couple of stereotypical profiles on the listeners you are targeting, and what genres or styles might resonate with them. Brainstorming on this subject might unearth some great ideas, but you should always be cautious about overdoing the music profiling, as it might seem contrived if done overtly.
- What moods are you trying to project? Matching the mood of the music with the content you’re discussing can help magnify and underline the emotions, creating a powerful and immersive experience for your listeners. Adjusting the tempo and intensity of the music to complement the pace of your podcast can enhance the overall flow and energy, creating a subconscious and seamless way of guiding your audience through the narrative and keeping them engaged.
“When listeners encounter the familiar sounds, whether it’s an intro jingle, the voice of a host, or specific sound effects, they instinctively connect it with the podcast.”
Establishing an audio identity
Establishing an audio identity for your podcast is a powerful way of establishing a distinct presence amidst the multitude of podcast content available. It is also a great way of utilizing the benefits of music, while also making sure that your podcast stands out from the crowd. But an audio identity encompasses more than music alone — it encompasses sound effects, voiceovers, and overall sonic impression.
By developing an audio identity, podcasters can elevate brand recognition, and leave an indelible mark in the listeners’ memory. When listeners encounter the familiar sounds, whether it’s an intro jingle, the voice of a host, or specific sound effects, they instinctively connect it with the podcast. This auditory recognition builds brand loyalty, amplifies brand awareness, and helps the podcast establish a distinctive position in the minds of listeners.
Here’s some advice on how to establish an audio identity for your podcast:
- Define Your Podcast’s Brand: Before diving into the creation of an audio identity, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your podcast’s brand and theme. Consider the overarching message, target audience, and the emotions you want to evoke through your content. This foundation will inform the direction of your audio identity.
- Identify Key Elements: Identify the key audio elements that will represent your podcast. These elements could include an intro jingle, background music, sound effects, transitions, or even a distinct voice. Think about the role each element will play in conveying the desired atmosphere and enhancing your podcast’s identity.
- Research and Gather Inspiration: Listen to various podcasts and explore other media sources to gather inspiration. Pay attention to how successful podcasts use sound elements to create a cohesive and memorable experience. Take note of the techniques, styles, and techniques that resonate with you and align with your podcast’s brand.
- Consider Voice and Vocal Style: If you’re the host or have recurring narrators or guests, think about the vocal style that aligns with your podcast’s brand. Consider the tone, pacing, and overall delivery of the spoken content.
- Create a sound package (Or hire someone to do it for you): Develop an intro that captures the essence of your podcast. It can be in the form of a jingle, a specific sound design, or even a voice phrase. The intro should be short, catchy, and instantly recognizable. Consider incorporating elements like your podcast’s name or a brief tagline to strengthen brand recognition. The intro of a podcast can be formed in a lot of different ways, and even change accordingly for each episode or season. Most importantly though, is to maintain recognisable elements, to strengthen listener connection.
Developing transitions and sound effects can enhance the flow of your podcast episodes. Transitions can be used to indicate shifts between segments or topics, while sound effects can add emphasis, humor, or atmosphere. Use these elements consistently to create a cohesive audio experience that resonates with your listeners, and make sure that all the sounds share the same overall tone and style.
Consistency is key to establishing an audio identity. Use the same intro, transitions, sound effects, and voice style throughout your podcast. This consistency will help listeners recognize and connect with your podcast, fostering a stronger sense of familiarity and brand association.