As you’re reading this article there’s a strong chance that you listen to podcasts. Podcasting represents the fastest growing sector of media consumption in South Africa, its consumption has grown by a 50% growth in consumption over the past 12 months and has been growing rapidly as a global broadcasting platform. The world’s leading podcasters reach millions per month and are smartly monetizing their listenership to sustain their thriving businesses. With the right content and the right tools – it’s not too late for you to get into the game. As someone taking their first steps into the fast-expanding world of podcasting, the onslaught of information on equipment can be overwhelming, so we’ve simplified it for you to help you pick the right tools you need to kick start your podcasting career.
Choosing the Right Recording Space
The best podcasts always sound clear and sounds like the speaker is right up in your face. This is likely because the podcaster has chosen a suitable location to record. Avoid rooms with lots of reflective surfaces like tiles, wood and concrete as they can give you an unpleasant echo and a build-up of potentially problematic frequencies – a good way to test this is to stand in the middle of the room and clap, it will give you an understanding of the reflectiveness of your room by how much sound is reflecting back at your ears. An ideal space to record in would be a room that is ‘dead’- meaning a room with less reflective surfaces. Things such as carpets, book cases, curtains and wall tapestries all help to reduce the amount of sound that is reflected back at you.
Choosing the Right Mic – Dynamic or Condenser
There are two types of mics commonly used for podcasting: a dynamic mic and a condenser mic. Dynamic and condenser microphones sound quite different from each other so personal preference will play a big part in your choice. However, there are some technical differences worth noting: Dynamic mics (such as the RODE Pod mic) are generally less sensitive, which means it is more forgiving to sudden outbursts of volume (for all you parents and dog owners out there). Another advantage is that you can get really close to the mic and achieve that classic, intimate late night radio sound. Dynamic mics also tend to primarily pick up sound that is directed at the microphone so if you’re using a noisey space this is probably the microphone you want to go for. Condenser mics such as the RODE NT-1 are generally more sensitive with a wider frequency range, positioned far from the speakers mouth, it can result in a nice, soothing conversational tone that is pleasant to listen to, however, this also increases the likelihood of picking up external sounds from around the room – so preferably this is more suited to those in quieter spaces.
Choosing the Right Mic – USB or XLR
Another facet to choosing the mic for you is the mics connectivity. USB microphones can connect directly into your computer by simply plugging it into your USB input, then in your preferred recording software you can hit record and it will – well, record! RODE make a variety of USB microphones such as the popular RODE NT-USB Condenser mic and the RODE Podcaster Dynamic mic. While USB microphones are super quick and easy to setup and record, it gets tricky to setup multiple microphones when you have multiple guests on your podcasts due to USB input limitations, this is where the XLR microphone comes in. XLR microphones consist of a three point pin, this allows you to connect your device into any audio interface or mixer, however, this added flexibility means you need an additional piece of equipment to record your podcast. Audio interfaces such as the RODE AI-1 accommodate for one microphone into the interface with microphone and headphone volume knobs making it simple and easy-to-use , while multi-channel audio interfaces such as the RODE Rodecaster Pro allow for upto four high-quality microphone inputs, which is easily set up and can directly record onto an SD card or into your computer through a simple USB connection, making it very easy record podcasts with multiple guests. So in summation, if you’re just looking to record yourself, a USB microphone is the more practical choice, however, if you are looking to record multiple guests on your podcast an XLR microphone coupled with an audio interface allow for that flexibility.
In order to get that clean in your face dialogue that the best podcasts have you need to get nice and close to the mic, positioned about an inch away from the grill of a dynamic mic such as the RODE Pod mic will give you that classic rich, deep radio sound. However, irrespective of the mic being used, one should always be wary of plosives, plosives are a sudden burst of air from the mouth which disrupt and distort your recordings commonly evident in words that begin with a ‘b’ or ‘p’. Luckily, all RODE microphones come with a pop filter to reduce the impact of plosives. However, if you are still struggling with plosives obstructing your podcasts you could always use windshield such as the RODE WS2 – just pop it over your mic and away you go!
Recording Your Podcast
By this step, you would hopefully already have your microphone set-up. Now its time to establish how you are going to record your podcast. For most people, using their PCs is the easiest option, this is done by simply using a digital audio workstation (DAW). DAWs range from free audio software programmes such as Audacity all the way to premium digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools. To record on your computer you’ll need to connect either a USB microphone such as the Rode NT or your audio interface such as the RODE Rodecaster Pro to your computer and selecting it in your chosen DAW. Another way to record your podcast is by using an external audio recording device, these work out if you’re looking to record on location and require something more durable and robust than your laptop. Alternatively, you can just use your iPhone as a recorder by connecting an XLR microphone to it using the RODE iXLR or connect two microphones using the RODE SC6-L interview kit – these are handy tools to use if you’re recording on location rather than home. However, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you should consider the RODE Rodecaster Pro as it allows you to record your podcast directly into the SD cast on location or use it as an audio interface at home – giving you the ultimate flexibility when it comes to recording your podcast.
Adding Sound Design to Your Podcast
Adding music, sounds, pre-recorded interviews and phone calls to your podcast could help make your podcast more engaging and interesting for listeners. It is possible to do this after finishing your recording using a DAW such as Audacity or Pro Tools, these can be time-consuming and potentially challenging however, so there are some real benefits to adding your audio at the time of recording. The RODE Rodecaster Pro allows you to make phone calls, trigger audio samples, balance levels and even live stream your podcast all in one machine saving your hours of post-production editing and making your podcasting experience as swift and easy as possible even if you don’t have years of sound experience behind you!