So you’re ready to stop procrastinating and start broadcasting, eh? You’ve got a tremendous idea, charisma, and everything else needed to start an epic podcast.
That is, except for a recording studio. You need somewhere to actually record your insightful musings in high definition.
And you’re in the right place, dear reader. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to build a studio like a seasoned professional.
By the end, you’ll be ready to build a studio to capture your voice in crisp, clear definition and accelerate your creative efforts. Let’s get started.
1. Get the Right Equipment
Invest in quality gear that will give you the highest sound quality when recording and editing.
At a minimum, you’ll need a microphone, audio interface, and recording software. Many podcasters use a boom arm, pop filter, and shock mount to reduce external noise and keep their microphone in place.
If you have the budget, you may also want to consider purchasing a mixer and audio effects processor to enhance your sound further.
Here’s the equipment I recommended:
- Microphone: Shure SM7B
- Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Recording Software: Audacity or Adobe Premiere
- Mixer: Mackie ProFX12
- Shock Mount: Rode SM6
- Pop Filter: Nady MPF-6
- Boom Arm: Heil Sound PL2T
- Audio Effects Processor: Behringer X32 Rack
PS: Can’t afford a dedicated mic? Read my guide on recording a podcast on your iPhone.
2. Find a Quiet Location
When recording podcasts, you want a quiet space with minimal external noise. Finding a truly noise-proof location can be difficult, depending on where you live, but there’s no need to fear if you’re somewhere busy.
Try and find a place that is physically isolated from external noise, or you can use soundproofing materials such as acoustic foam or blankets to minimize outside noise. You can also strategically place furniture to reduce echo or sound reflections.
If you’re really serious about eliminating noise, you can:
- Paint the walls with sound absorbent materials
- Add acoustic foam or soundproof curtains
- Employ the use of sound-blocking furniture
- Place sound-absorbing rugs on the floor
- Invest in a heavy, sound-dampening door
But you don’t need to go that far. Just try to reduce noise as much as reasonably possible while investing in a mic that can focus on noise from specific sources.
Consider the Closet
If all else fails, you can always record in a closet. Closets (and the clothes inside) have excellent sound-dampening qualities, and you won’t have to worry about any furniture getting in the way.
And if you make this choice, you’ll be in good company. Here’s Ira Glass making great use of his own:
Just make sure there’s enough room for your mic and other gear. As you can see, you can probably manage it as Ira did.
3. Keep It Clean
Your recording space should be as clean as possible both before and during your recording session. You don’t want any audio artifacts in your audio due to dust, dirt, and other debris getting in your equipment.
Whilst recording and editing, make sure to keep the space as dust and debris-free as possible. Vacuum the area, change the air filters, and use antistatic wipes to maintain and clean your equipment.
If you don’t, you risk getting pops and clicks in your audio due to dust getting stuck in the microphone or elsewhere.
4. Get the Right Tools for Editing
After you’ve recorded and saved your audio, you’ll need to edit and make it sound as perfect as possible. You can do this with a digital audio workstation (DAW) such as Logic Pro X or Audition.
DAWs give you a comprehensive set of tools to edit your audio and can be used to fix volume levels, add sound effects, and make other post-production adjustments.
And don’t forget about sound effects and music. Make sure you have the right rights-free licenses for all of your music and sound effects.
Why I Recommend Audition
Audition has all of the features of a professional-grade DAW while remaining easy to use for beginners. It offers efficient audio editing, powerful sound design tools, and batch processing features to speed up post-production.
And with its suite of mastering tools, you can ensure your show sounds as clean and professional as possible.
5. Always Test and Troubleshoot
Make sure to perform regular tests and inspections of your podcast studio. Check that your microphone and other equipment are working properly. Make sure your recordings sound clear. Pay attention to small details such as background noise and sound effects.
Make sure to always troubleshoot any issues and replace any faulty equipment. And if you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional audio engineer.
Troubleshooting Your Podcast Studio
Ensure that all of your cables and connections are properly secured and in working condition. Check for any signs of corrosion or damage. If a piece of equipment isn’t working, try plugging it into a different outlet.
Also, use different tracks when recording multiple people. This will minimize the chance of overlap and allow for easier editing.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of how to check the quality of your setup.
6. Optional: Set Up a Mix-Down Room
Once you’ve recorded, edited, and mastered your audio, it’s time to make it ready for streaming. This is where a mix-down room comes in.
A mix-down room is a small area dedicated solely to broadcasting and mixing your podcast audio. It should be soundproofed and equipped with a sound mixer, sound effects and music software, and audio monitors.
Having this separate space will give you one more place to tweak your audio before broadcasting and make sure that everything you produce is of the highest possible quality.
You don’t need a dedicated mix-down room, but if you’re serious about maximizing your output quality, it’ll eventually become must-have.
7. Start Broadcasting
That’s it—your setup’s ready for broadcasting magic. While I’ve guided you towards a professional setup, I want to remind you not to let perfect be the enemy of good.
Your recording studio doesn’t need to be perfect, especially starting out. Get a decent setup and work your way up.
Just remember to always keep your space clean and soundproofed, and don’t skimp on audio equipment. The better your gear, the better your audio quality will be.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect—It Just Needs to Work
As said above, your podcast studio doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to produce a great show. It just needs the fundamentals—producing a good sound, not catching background noise, make editing easy, and so on.
In short, a podcast studio needs to be comfortable, clean, quiet, and well-equipped; from there, it’s up to you to make the magic happen. So don’t be afraid to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
Your podcast studio is a work in progress. Keep perfecting it as you go, and you’ll eventually get the sound you want.
And, of course, you’ll need to distribute your podcast once you’ve got it going. When that time comes, check out my guide on podcast distribution to maximize your reach.
With that, I bid you farewell! Comment with any questions, as always.