One of the things I love about podcasting is its accessibility. A great example of this is that you can record them pretty much anywhere. There’s no need for a fancy recording studio and to have everyone in the same room either.
Remote recording is where it’s at. The majority of the podcasts I make are recorded using this method and in this post, I’m going to outline how you can get the best results from doing it.
What is remote recording?
Simply put, this is where a recording is made between people who are not in the same physical location at the time of the recording. Instead, they meet in a virtual recording studio, online. One person will be in charge of the virtual studio and be responsible for pressing the record button.
Once the recording is complete, the person in charge of the virtual studio will be able to download the audio. From there it can be edited, ready for releasing as a podcast episode.
What equipment do you need?
While you don’t need to spend a fortune creating a home studio to record your podcast, there are a few bits of equipment which you will need to get started.
Firstly, you’re going to need something that will capture sound. And the best option for doing that is with a microphone.
Now, microphones come in all sorts of different guises, with some better than others. But, the best microphone is the one you’ve got or the one you can afford to buy. Remember, no matter what you have, there’ll always be a better one out there. Always. Mic envy is a very real thing and you shouldn’t feel bad about having it. Nor should you feel like you have to upgrade just for the sake of it.
There are many different types of microphones you can use. I’m not going to name all of them, but here are some of the most common ones.
Traditional microphones will look like the ones you see musicians using when singing. They can be wireless but these are usually more expensive.
To make things complicated, there are two types of wire connections – XLR and USB. If you’re looking to keep costs down, a USB microphone will be the best option as it will connect directly to your computer. XLR connections require a separate device, known as an audio interface, to plug your wire into. There is then a second wire that connects the audio interface to your laptop.
A wired headset which includes both microphone and headphones (think call centre advisor or gamer). Generally speaking, these connect using a USB cable but some may use a 3.5mm jack like that old pair of headphones have.
A third option is your mobile phone. It isn’t my first choice but it will do the job if needed.
One option I don’t recommend is your laptop or computer’s built-in microphone. While they work well for things like Zoom calls, they’re not the best quality and often pick up far too much background noise. This makes the audio very difficult to listen to and therefore provides a poor experience for your audience.
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to wear a pair of headphones whilst recording your podcast. Not only will it allow you to hear what is being recorded clearly, it will also reduce the amount of feedback on the recording.
Your microphone will pick up absolutely everything, including the sound of the person on the other end of the conversation. We call this mic bleed and you can reduce the possibility of it happening by wearing headphones.
Believe me, your editor will thank you for it.
How do I record the audio?
Once you have your microphone and headphones, you need something which will record what you and your guests have to say.
Now there are a few options for you to consider here and I definitely have my favourites. But for the sake of this article, I’ll name the ones which I’ve used myself.
Each of these (and there are others) take the technical side of the recording process out of your hands. Other than pressing the red ‘record’ and stop buttons, you can sit back and concentrate on the conversation itself.
Most remote recording platforms will record your audio inside your browser and upload it to the internet as you go. It will then be available for you to download at the end of the recording.
You’ll notice I’ve not named Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams in the list above. It’s not that I have anything against these platforms, there are simply better options for recording podcasts available.
The likes of Zencastr and Riverside have been created with recording audio as their priority. Zoom was made with video calls in mind. You’ll get a much better quality of audio from purpose built podcasting platforms.
How to get the best from your recording
Record in a quiet room
It might sound obvious but a quiet room is always better than a noisy one. Or at least it is when recording a podcast.
A small room with lots of soft furnishings will be best but if you don’t have access to one, adding some cushions and blankets to the area around your microphone will help reduce any echo.
Closing the door and any windows will lessen the chances of you being interrupted by a friend, dog or the morning birdsong. Put your phone on silent (remember to turn the vibrate function off too!) and remove anything else which may make an unwanted noise from the room.
Send your guest a checklist in advance
To make things as smooth as possible, I send my guests an email that explains everything I need them to do before we record the podcast together.
I include information on the platform we’re using, how to access it and what to expect when there. I also ask them to use an external microphone if they have one and tell them to wear headphones.
The email will also explain the recording process and anything that I’ll need them to do – close all other tabs, turn off notifications and not leave the recording platform until their audio has uploaded.
Check your equipment
It’s the most obvious thing to do but many of us will forget to do it. Before starting your recording, check that all your equipment works as it’s supposed to. Check all the cables are plugged in correctly and that the power supply is turned on. It’s also advisable to perform a test. The classic “Mic check. One, two,” that is heard at music concerts isn’t done just for fun, you know.
Check your settings
No matter how many times you’ve successfully recorded your podcast, don’t assume that everything will be the way you left it last.
Always check the settings on both your laptop and your recording software. Make sure the microphone you wish to use is selected as the input and your chosen headphones are showing as the output device.
The recording software may also have options for echo cancellation and other settings that you should check are set correctly too.
Perform a test recording
Before you start to record your podcast properly, perform a test recording. The easiest way to do this is to record yourself asking your guests to describe the weather where they are or, my favourite, what they ate for breakfast.
Download and listen back to the recording and check everyone sounds good. If something doesn’t sound right you’ve got the chance to fix it before recording, which is much better than finding out after you’ve finished that someone’s microphone wasn’t recording correctly.
Give your guests a reminder of what to expect
Just before hitting record I always give a final reminder about turning off notifications, how to mute their microphone and to only leave the recording once their audio has uploaded fully.
This is your final chance to make sure that you and your guests have done everything possible to get a great recording.
If you follow all of this advice, you’ll be able to make a great podcast using remote recording.
And if all this sounds a bit technical, I can provide hands-on support to help you make a professional podcast that your audience will love. I know editing and post-production takes up a lot of time, so if you’d rather concentrate on making the content, you can hire me to do all the bits you don’t want to do. Get in touch with me here to find out how I can help.