Podcasting is a fun and exciting way for people to share opinions and advice through the power of audio series. Over the years, it has gained popularity throughout the world. In fact, according to statistics released by Nielsen, half of U.S. households listen to at least one podcast.
One major factor that makes podcasts so enjoyable is pristine audio. As a podcaster, transforming your thoughts into words using clear audio is achievable. All you need to do is know how to set up a podcast studio.
In this article, we will take you through the process of setting up the perfect podcast studio, from picking the right space to purchasing the appropriate equipment. Furthermore, you will learn a few tips to make the setup process a success.
How to Set up a Podcast Studio
Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank to create the perfect podcast studio. Maybe one day, you can spend thousands of dollars on developing a state-of-the-art studio, but for now, you can do so with a small budget. Here’s how:
Choose the Right Space
Before you set up your podcast studio, you need to decide on the best space. Your podcasting space can make or break the sound quality of your podcast.
Now, most people think the best spaces are empty, quiet places. Well, if you are one of those people, you got the quiet part right.
However, an empty space is not the best place to record, as an empty space can cause a lot of echo and reverb. So, you should opt for an area that has a lot of items in it.
You don’t necessarily need to build a recording area from scratch. In fact, most people, especially those just starting out, use any room they can find — some even use their closets.
With that said, when deciding on which room to use, select one with soft surfaces like curtains, rugs, and carpets. Using a room with hard surfaces will only lead to echoes, which will distract the listener during the podcast.
Ensure you select a room far away from external noise. These include street noise, noise from neighboring rooms, and others.
One of the best rooms is the basement, as it usually isn’t next to other rooms. However, keep in mind that you need a room with soft surfaces.
Soundproof Your Podcast Studio
After choosing an appropriate location, you need to soundproof your studio. The more time you take to improve your surroundings, the better your audio quality will be, and the less time you will use trying to erase imperfections later on.
The most common material for the job is soundproof foam panels. Many podcasters use this material, which helps absorb echo and reverb. By doing so, sound does not bounce around the room but into your mic.
You can find these panels on online stores, including Amazon. Attach the panels to hard surfaces such as walls, cabinets, or ceilings, and they’ll do the rest.
If you cannot afford foam panels or simply don’t want them, you can use blankets or pillows. They are fantastic alternatives, and you most likely have them at home already. Hang the blankets over hard surfaces, and drop the pillows around the room.
Despite their effects on echo and reverb, soundproof foam panels, blankets, and pillows cannot totally block out background noise, which is why selecting the right space is essential to your podcasting.
Now comes the fun part — getting your equipment in order. You do not need to get every single item on this list. The amount you need is up to you. Here are some of the most important equipment you need.
First and foremost, you need a computer. A computer will run the software you will use to record and edit your podcast. Also, you need it to upload episodes and write show notes. Furthermore, you need a computer to attach items like a microphone or a mixer.
Make sure you use a computer with a fast processing speed and large storage because the files you will be recording might be considerable.
The next thing you need is a microphone. A microphone is essential because it determines the overall sound quality of your podcast. Yes, you can use your laptop microphone, but the sound quality will be poor.
You have three options for microphones: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphones.
Most podcasters use dynamic microphones for home studios because they are less sensitive to ambient noise and are more affordable. Also, they are sturdier and limit distortion, even at high volumes.
Alternatively, condenser microphones pick up more ambient noise and cost more. However, they provide top-notch sound quality (better than dynamic microphones)
Besides the three types of microphones, there are also two types of connectors: USB and XLR microphones. With a USB microphone, you simply connect it directly to your computer. However, you need to plug an XLR microphone into a mixer connected to your computer.
If you have more than one host or plan to have several guests, an XLR microphone is a better option. However, if it’s just you, a USB microphone will be fine. Keep in mind that your USB microphones can be limited to the number of USB ports on your computer.
Headphones are an essential addition to your studio. With headphones, you can listen to what your microphone hears instead of listening to your voice as you record.
If you can hear yourself as your mic does, you can adjust your volume and tone as you record. Remember that the better you make your recordings, the less work you have to do editing them.
The two types of headphones are closed-back and open-back headphones. Closed-back headphones provide more isolation but lower sound quality.
However, most podcasters prefer it because they have less sound leakage. Open-back headphones provide better sound quality but less isolation.
When selecting headphones, you need to consider a few factors: your comfort (you will be wearing them for hours), sound isolation, frequency response, and whether the headphones are wired or wireless.
While any headphones will work, you should get ones that cover your ears instead of earbuds because they are not as effective.
You don’t necessarily need a headphone amp, but if you are going to have multiple hosts, you need one. Using a headphone amp, you can plug in multiple headphones, and each user can control their headphones’ volume.
Many modern-day computers don’t have an audio-in port, which is why you might need an audio interface. You can use an audio interface to connect mics and other equipment.
Furthermore, if you buy an XLR microphone, you definitely need an audio interface. The audio interface will digitalize the analog input of the mic.
A mixer works the same way an audio interface does. However, it helps to improve audio quality and allows you to perform multi-channel recording. With multi-channel recording, you can adjust the audio of individual inputs.
A mixer is perfect for when you have a guest or co-host who sounds louder than others. You can use the mixer to alter the volume of each input so everyone’s recording sounds the same throughout the episode.
Ensure you always have several extension cables lying around. Also, be sure to purchase high-quality cables because low-quality ones can affect your sound quality.
Recording and Editing Software
In most cases, you can use a single software to record and edit your episodes. Using this software, you can record and edit your audio to remove mistakes, unnecessary sounds, and long silences. You can even add music and effects.
Several digital audio workstations (DAW) can help suit your needs — all you have to do is pick the one you can operate.
If you are new to podcasting, you can start with programs like Garageband and Audacity. They are easy to understand and use. However, if you’ve been podcasting for a while, you should be able to handle more advanced programs like Adobe Audition or Hindenburg Journalist Pro.
Reflection filters are a fantastic alternative to acoustic foam tiles. It is an absorption panel with a semi-circle shape that you attach to your mic and go around it.
Pop Filter or Windscreen
Good microphones pick up all sounds, including popping sounds we make like Ps, Ks, Ts, and others. Using a pop filter or windscreen can reduce these sounds, thereby reducing distortion. Pop filters also improve audio by preventing spit from hitting your microphone.
Fortunately, pop filters are inexpensive, effective, and easy to use. All you have to do is clip them onto your microphone.
Mic Stand or Boom Mount
A mic stand or boom mount helps free up space on your desk. You might even appreciate that your studio will look more professional.
Using either of these gears, you can vertically align your mic, which helps to improve the way your voice sounds. Moreover, it will reduce the chances of your mic picking up sounds like vibrations and knocks, or even you hitting it all together.
Desk and Chair
You’ll most likely spend most of your time recording and editing in your studio, which is why you need to stay as comfortable as possible for as long as you can. This means you need a sturdy desk big enough to hold your computer, microphone, and other gear.
Also, consider the chair you will be using. You will be sitting on it for a long time, so it’s best to use one that is comfortable.
While you can repurpose furniture you have at home for your recording session, you should try and purchase a high-quality chair that will be easy on your back.
You can use a shock mount to protect your microphone from vibrations, which means when there is external vibration, the shock mount will reduce the noise interference and disturbance.
Ear Training Software
Ear training software may seem a bit extreme, but it’s actually quite helpful. The software will train your ears to discern sounds and boost your skills as a sound engineer, thereby giving you the ability to better your audio quality.
Tips for Setting up a Podcast Studio
- You don’t have to make your studio big or complex. Having a bigger space or using the most expensive equipment is not the only way to produce high-quality sounds. You can do so with a small and simple studio.
- Focus on what you need and not the price of the items. You can find high-quality equipment at a low price or low-quality equipment at a high price, which is why you should not let price determine your purchase.
- Ensure you do as much research as possible to determine what you need in a podcast studio before buying anything.
As you can see, the steps on how to set up a podcast studio are not so hard to follow. All you need to do is find the right space, soundproof it, and then install your equipment.
Following this article, you should be able to tell what makes a good studio space, how to soundproof it when the time comes, and all the equipment you require (both essential and non-essential)
Making your studio simple on a tight budget is fine because you can still produce optimal sound. Moreover, you can expand in the future as your podcast begins to gain traction.
Hopefully, this article has shown you all you need to become the master of your home studio. Good luck as you start your journey to becoming a podcaster.