When people first get started with podcasting, production quality is the least of their concerns.
They assume only big guys like NPR and Joe Rogan can afford the tools and podcast equipment needed to deliver a high-quality listen.
The truth is, anyone can learn how to produce a podcast that sounds amazing. It just takes a little practice and experience.
How to Produce a Podcast That Sounds Amazing: 7 Tips
Podcasting is extremely fluid. Everyone’s voice, guests, space, and equipment are different. This means everyone’s podcast requires slightly different tweaking to get right.
Understanding how to produce a podcast that sounds great, however, can really set us apart and help us sound “professional” even when we’re working in a garage.
1. Set Up a Dedicated Space
There’s no way around it: Anyone who wants to produce a high-quality podcast needs a dedicated space.
Now, I’m not saying you have to invest a ton of money into a studio rental or renovating your basement. However, I do suggest spending a couple hundred bucks soundproofing and setting up your space.
Here are a few tips:
- Start with a small space to “contain” the sound.
- Cover hardwood floors, ceilings, and walls with rugs or blankets.
- Pick up some cheap foam acoustic panels.
- Cover windows and doors with thick curtains.
- If you’ve got some hanging around, prop some old mattresses against the walls.
Keep in mind that every tiny sound like dogs barking outside and rolling chair wheels will make itself very noticeable in a finished recording so ideally, we want to eliminate those.
2. Play Around with Microphone Placement
Great. You have mics. If you are going to produce a great podcast, you need to make sure they are set up properly.
When setting up my space, I like to choose a pretty large table ideally in an oval or circle shape. Every host or guest should have a dedicated mic. Furthermore, every mic should be placed far enough apart so they don’t pick up another person’s voice.
Perfect mic placement looks different for everyone. Blurting out hard b’s and p’s can sound like huge gusts of wind in a final recording. A pop filter can help with that too.
Also, I never position the mic directly in front of my mouth. Instead, I place it just to the side or at a slight angle. However, angling the mic TOO much can also screw up the clarity.
Play around with different mic placements and the sound of your own voice (as well as that of your co-hosts) to figure out what works best.
3. Stick with a High-Quality Recording
I always start with a high-resolution recording of about 24-bit, 48 kHz. Why? Well, compression happens. Every time I upload the recording to a new platform and every time someone downloads it to listen later, it loses a tiny bit of quality.
Plus, I know when distributing my podcast to various places, I’ll have to compress the file by changing the type or size to fit the specs on different platforms. Starting with a high-quality file is key to minimizing the damage before it happens.
If you’re going to produce a podcast, make sure you do all that you can to make it sound professional.
4. Practice the Script
What we want to say in our heads and what actually comes out are two different things. Trust me. Even if I’ve written a word-for-word script, I’ll want to practice it a few times to make sure my words sound clear and concise.
This is especially important for any podcasters with regional accents. When we distribute to a national or international audience, we want our content to be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, unless you’re from certain parts of the Midwest where your accent is the norm for radio and broadcasting, you’ll want to practice.
Plus, practicing my script helps the words just flow out of my mouth and makes for a much higher-quality recording overall.
5. Record Any Call-in Guests Separately
While Skype and Google Hangouts are tempting for bringing on remote guests in real-time, these voice services don’t always offer the best sound quality. If we want to learn how to produce a podcast that sounds professional, it’s best to have remote guests record high-quality WAV files.
Even quick WhatsApp voice messages in MP4 format are better than recording together because I can adjust their levels and whatnot later.
6. Make Some Adjustments as Needed
Ideally, I want to keep my voice at a medium to loud level so my words show up clearly on the recording. I also make sure to leave myself plenty of time to edit my work post-recording. I look for dead air, volume discrepancies, and anything else that could mess with the production quality.
7. Run Plenty of Tests
If we want time to edit and tweak our production quality, we need to first run some tests. I like to run through the script by myself or with guests and play it back – like a dry run. This way, I can keep an eye on my laughs, background noise, or volume changes for the real recording.
Figuring Out How to Produce a Podcast Takes Experience
Look, we can’t expect to get everything right the first (or even second or third) time. If I’m running a brand-new show or incorporating new podcast equipment, it’s inevitable something will go wrong. That’s just how it goes. With a little practice and patience, anyone can figure out how to produce a podcast that sounds 100% professional.