Choosing the Perfect Environment for Recording Your Podcast
Updated September 3, 2020 | Jon Street
We are asked all the time about ‘where is the best place to record a podcast?’
The reality is, it’s vitally important to choose the right recording environment in order to have a high quality recording that’s worth listening to. It’s really important to spend a little time & be intentional about these things to give you the results you’re looking for. While there might be some necessary variations in recording setup & environment as needs differ, the reality is there are a few transcendent necessities (whoa, college!) to consider to make your recording sound great.
While you might not think as much about it as you should, as soon as you hit record, whatever happens in the background will be forever etched in the digital DNA of your recording. Now we are experts in reducing room noise & eliminating as much distraction that is picked up in your recordings as possible. Our clients come to us & entrust us with their precious recordings with good reason. We haven’t built a reputation as a leader in the industry for no reason.
Our team is trained (like, “Hey I got a couple degrees for this”, trained) to edit, mix & master your recordings with professional quality. But even with our expertise we are sometimes limited on what we can do. No. We cannot magically remove the cell phone ringing that’s embedded in your audio while you’re unpacking that deep thought, or somehow hide the baby crying or the ambulance siren blaring just as your guest is pouring out their heart. At least, not always. Nor can we take that recorded phone call of your college professor who’s talking to you in the middle of a hurricane & make it seem like they are on a tranquil beach in Maui. The bottom line is, in order to have the best final product, you need to put a little forethought into your environment & setup before you ever press record. “We’ll fix it in post” is not always a reality.
When thinking about where to record your podcast, you have to get really practical. We know most people can’t afford to rent space in a professional recording studio. But even if you can’t shell out the cash to have a professional engineer by you as you hit record, you can still capture a high-quality recording without breaking the bank. There’s a great environment for you that you might not even know about. So what’s ideal? A closet. Come again?! That’s right, a closet. Or something similar.
A small room with lots of padding (A room with no windows is ideal) that will absorb sound waves that would typically show up in a recording as an echo or natural reverb. The main thing to look for in a recording environment is a place that will limit sound from carrying or reverberating. Now I understand that a closet isn’t the most warm place to invite your guest to record in, nor is it always practical. Actually, it might get a little too warm if you’re crammed in too tight. Honestly, if you approach a guest with that proposition, they will probably decline. So if a closet is not an option, find something similar.
A large, airy dining room with high ceilings & hard floors that will carry a lot of reverberation is not ideal because even the sound of your voice will cause unwanted background noise & echo. As much as your listener loves hearing you talk, they don’t need to hear you copying yourself through an echo. Instead, find a smaller office or spare bedroom with carpeting, drapes, bookshelves, couches, anything that will limit the amount of reverberation. It’s really that simple. Beyond that, also think of simple but practical ways to make the best environment for your recording. Let other people know not to disturb you. Turn off your phone. Put your computer/tablet notifications on snooze. Turn off your A/C. Turn off your A/C. Turn off your A/C. Get the hint?? Anything that causes a little bit of noise will be magnified when the audio levels are adjusted in the mixing process. And while some of these things can be minimized, reduced & removed in the post-production process (ie: Resonate to the rescue), the less that’s on the RAW recording, the better the outcome will be. Honestly, most of the requests we receive could be reduced or eliminated with just a few simple steps on improving the recording environment.
We realize that some people may want to jump into their podcasting venture with enthusiasm & vigor. They want to ensure that if they do it, they do it real big. More power to you! You can certainly invest a lot of money into making a quality home recording studio. And you will certainly see fruits from your labor if you do it right. Some people may want to look for others ways to reduce & dampen the sound in their room.
Some choose to purchase a portable vocal booth for their setup. Acoustic foam is another popular way to dampen the reverb/echo in your room. Or, if you want to swing for the fences, there are even full-room treatments available as well. And if you want to get real crazy you can even rent or buy a portable sound booth in any number of variations. The sky’s the limit and there are plenty of good, quality, professional options out there for people who want more for their recording environment than just the au-natural feel of home-sweet-home.
I’m sure many of us have listened to what we anticipated would be a great podcast chock full of quality content, only to hear a dud because the recording quality & environment just missed the mark. With a little bit of forethought & perhaps, investment, you can keep that from happening to you. While there is a lot to be discussed on the topic, we know a blog isn’t interactive. But our team is just a call or email away to help you work through the specifics of your recording environment. We want to be a resource for you as you look into recording your professionally-sounding podcast. And we hope to hear from you! Until then, happy podcasting!
As the Operations Manager at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team and ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon and his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida and now live in Simpsonville, KY.