How To Record A Podcast

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Complete guide to record a podcast

When it comes to sharing your ideas to the world, nothing beats podcasting. And with the buffet of software and equipment options available, you have absolutely no excuse not to host one.

And here’s another thing to cross off your excuse list: we’re going to teach you how to record your very first podcast. So whether you use a Mac, Windows, iPhone or Android, we’ll get you podcasting in no time!

How to Record A Podcast on Windows/Mac

Recording a podcast on Windows or Mac is your best bet for getting professional results, not to mention flexibility and power. The key is to use high-quality equipment. Fortunately, even a modest investment will go a long way.

At the bare minimum, a mid-range USB or analog microphone is absolutely crucial and will spell a world of difference in the quality of your recordings. A headset is also essential for playback and editing. Luckily, podcasting doesn’t require gaming-level processing power, so a decent computer would suffice.

With that, let’s look at how we can start recording.

First, we’ll need to install the software (and some other thing)

You’ll have a ton of options when it comes to picking your audio editing and recording software, ranging from the cheap to the ridiculously expensive. But in the “powerful-yet-surprisingly-costs-nothing-audio-software” department, Audacity is king.

Though it may not be as intuitive at first, a little practice will get you up and running in no time. Plus, it’s free – which is probably the best incentive to learn it.

To start off, let’s install Audacity

  • Head on over to www.audacityteam.org to download and install the latest version of Audacity, depending on your operating system (Windows or Mac)
  • Audacity should be itching to go, but there’s one more thing we need to get. On its own, Audacity won’t be able to export audio files in the MP3 format (which is what we want). For that, you need the LAME MP3 encoder
  • Fortunately, the LAME MP3 encoder is free and easy to install. Just go to https://lame.buanzo.org/#lamewindl to download the LAME MP3 encoder for Windows, and https://lame.buanzo.org/#lameosx64bitdl to download the Mac version.

TIP: Be sure to download the 64-bit version of the LAME Encoder if you have Audacity version 2.3.1 installed

  • Fire up Audacity, and go to Preferences. (In Windows, it’s under the Edit menu, while on Mac, it’s under the Audacity menu)
  • Go to the Libraries section of the Preferences window, and under “LAME MP3”, click on the Locate button. Click OK in the dialog box that pops out.
  • Your LAME MP3 Encoder version should appear above the Locate button. This means everything is in order
  • Close Audacity for now as we begin to set up our recording session.

Setting It Up

Once you have Audacity primed, it’s time to do some preparations before we do our actual recording.

  • Plug in and connect your USB microphone to your computer. If you’re using an analog microphone, connect it to your audio interface, then connect the interface to your computer
  • Make sure the computer recognizes your microphone. On a Windows machine, you can go to Control Panel -> Sound settings. On a Mac, you can go to System Preferences -> Sound and check under the Input tab. If all is OK, your microphone should appear in either one of these.
  • Open Audacity and click on the drop-down box beside the Microphone icon on the upper left-hand corner of the window. Select your microphone from one of the options there.
  • Next, check that your quality settings are correct. Go back to the Preferences window, but head on to the Quality tab. Take a look at the Sampling section. For the majority of voice-only podcasts, a sampling rate of 44100 Hz at 16-bit is more than enough.

TIP: If your podcast features a lot of music, you need higher sampling rate settings.

  • Time to do a test run to see if everything is working correctly. Doing pre-recording checks like this is a good practice – you wouldn’t want to ruin a perfectly good recording by a simple mistake that could’ve been avoided in the beginning.
  • On the upper left-hand toolbox, you’ll see the Playback controls, including the Record Button (the one with the red circle). Press that one, and start saying a few lines, followed by a few seconds of silence. Once you’re done, press on the Stop Button (the square one) to stop recording

TIP: make sure to speak in a normal tone (not too loud nor too soft). Also, try working in a quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed. It would be a disaster for someone to barge in while you’re in the middle of an otherwise good recording (and potentially say something embarrassing)

  • Playback the recording with the Play Button. Does your voice sound OK or straight out of a horror movie? Does it seem like you made a call with bad cell reception? Is the quality making you cry?
  • Try adjusting the Recording Volume slider (the one beside the microphone icon) and try test recording again if there’s an improvement. Tweak until everything sounds right.

TIP: Once you’ve found the ideal recording level, use that every time to maintain consistent volume across all your recordings (assuming that you record in the same area using the same equipment)

TIP: Try using Pop Filters (little contraptions that wrap around your microphone) to reduce the inevitable “popping” sounds.

  • Save a sample file by going to File -> Export -> Export as MP3. Select the default quality (Standard, or at least 128 kbps), name the file, and press OK. Skip the label tags for now and click OK again
  • Open and listen to the MP3 file to make sure everything sounds fantastic. If yes, you’re now ready to record for real.

TIP BOX: Mono or Stereo?

A common question for new podcasters is if they should record their shows in stereo or mono. The truth is, both work fine for podcasting. You need to decide which one to go to depending on your situation, goal and/or preferences.

Stereo produces a bolder sound and is an absolute requirement if you have two or more recording devices (two microphones, for example). But it does result in significantly bigger file sizes.

Mono doesn’t sound as bold, but for voice recordings, can be easily compensated. The good thing, though, is the smaller file size, which can make it easier for your listeners to download your shows.

Recording Time

Once everything is properly tested, we’re now ready to do the actual recording. To ensure a smooth flow, make sure everything is in order – your script or outline, most especially.

  • Create a new project in Audacity and save it by clicking on File -> Save Project

TIP: It’s good practice to name your projects with a format, such as  “[ShowName]_[Date]_[EpisodeNumber+Name].” This makes it easier to organize and find projects should you need to later on. Naming your MP3 files this way works great, too, by the way.

  • Before recording your actual lines, it’s a good idea to record a few seconds of silence first. This is called a Room Tone and will become useful later on for masking and cutting off unwanted sounds or noises.
  • Make sure the room you’re in is entirely silent and then hit the Record Button. Waitfor around 5-10 seconds before clicking the Stop Button.
  • Rename this track by clicking on the Track Name box and choosing “Name…” Give it a useful name like “RoomTone.”
  • We don’t need this just yet, so click on the Mute button on the left side of the track to temporarily set it aside.
  • Create a new track that will contain your actual recording. To do this, go to the Tracks->Add New menu, and select either a new mono or stereo track.

TIP: make sure to Mute all the other audio tracks, so they don’t get accidentally played while you are recording

  • Now click on the Record Button and start firing away. Once you’re done, click the Stop Button.

TIP: keep an eye on the Recording Meter while you are recording to make sure you’re voice volume doesn’t sound like a boombox. If you find the green bar filling up the entire thing, you might be talking too loudly. Reduce your recording volume or try speaking further away from the microphone.

  • Playback the recording you just made. Take note of any issues or problems you might hear (things like accidental swear words, unwanted noise, etc.). Don’t worry – we’ll fix those later.

TIP: if the recording quality is particularly bad or full of mistakes, you might want to just repeat the whole thing. It’s going to be faster in the long run, not to mention the output’s going to be way better.

  • It’s a good practice to name your tracks, especially if you’re going to have lots of them. You’ll thank yourself later on if you ever need to find the right track among hundreds.
  • Repeat the above steps if you need to record additional segments.

Editing

Once you’re done with the rough recording, we now need to clean up, improve and assemble your tracks into the final podcast your audience will hear. Saving and ExportingOnce you’re done with the rough recording, we now need to clean up, improve and assemble your tracks into the final podcast your audience will hear.

Editing is a very vast topic, and there are endless ways you can fiddle around with your recording. That being said, we’re going to touch on some of the more common editing tasks you’ll be doing on a fairly regular basis

TIP: It’s always a good idea to save backups of your project file. That way, if some of your edits go horribly wrong, you’ll still have a copy to go back to instead of rage-flipping your desk.

Cutting out unwanted words

If you accidentally blurt out something you’re not supposed to, here’s a quick way to fix that (if only it’s this easy in real life)

  • Click on the Selection Tool
  • Drag to select the section of the track you want to remove. Click the Play Button to make sure this is what you want to remove
  • Click on the Silence Audio Selection Button. Voila! Offensive audio removed.
  • To make the transition better, overlap that section of audio with some chunk off the RoomTone track you created earlier. You can select a part of the RoomTone track, copy it, then paste it in the same time segment where the audio was removed.

Removing background noise

For small noises or static that somehow got in your recording, you can try to remedy that with a few simple steps

  • Double click on the RoomTone track to select it.
  • Go to Effects->Noise Reduction menu, and then click on the Get Noise Profile Button. This will become the basis for your ideal background sound.
  • Select the entire track by double-clicking on it, then go to the Noise Reduction menu again
  • Try the default values first, then click OK.
  • Have a listen. Is the noise gone? If not, try playing around with the settings in the Noise Reduction menu and try again.

Assembling it all

Here, we get your motley crew of individual tracks and join them into the final sequence you want your audience to hear

  • Click on the Time Shift Tool
  • You can now move the tracks around and align them with other tracks
  • You can zoom in or out as need using the Zoom Tool  or the View->Zoom menu
  • Listen to the results and tweak as needed. Repeat until the stars align, the birds start singing, and you’re thrilled with the outcome.

Saving and Exporting

The last step is exporting all your hard work into an MP3 file so you can publish it later.

  • Click on File -> Export -> Export as MP3
  • Choose the appropriate settings as before (Standard, or at least 128 kbps) and click OK
  • Audacity will now give you an opportunity to tag your MP3 file. Make sure to fill out all the fields with the relevant information.

Upload and Publish

Once you have your MP3 file ready, you need to upload it to your chosen podcast hosting service, such as Libsyn or Podbean. We’ll leave it to them to instruct you to how to upload your podcast to their service.

With the podcast out in the open, the last thing you need to do is to let people other than your granny know of your brilliant work. You do this by listing your podcast in directories, such as iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher, to get the word out.

Congratulations! You’ve recorded your first podcast. Treat yourself to a pint or a cup – you’ve earned it.

How to Record A Podcast on iPhone or Android

While recording a podcast on your computer is the preferred way, doing it while on the go has its perks. You can record an episode anytime and anywhere, all with just the phone in your pocket.

The necessary steps of recording a podcast on your mobile phone are mostly the same as that with doing it on your computer. The main difference is in the equipment and software used.

As with anything else, investing in good gear makes a huge impact. A decent external microphone is a must, as it will really make your audio quality soar.

From there, it’s a matter of picking the right app to record and upload your podcast. We’ll run you through on how to record using two of the most widely used podcasting apps – Podbean and Anchor (both are available for iOS and Android)

Recording with the Podbean app

Podbean is one of the better-known podcasting hosting services, but did you know they also offer a mobile app? Aside from listening to podcasts hosted on their service, you can record and host your own as well – which can be all conveniently done inside the app.

Being an overnight podcast sensation has never been easier. Here’s how to do it:

  • Download and open the Podbean app.
  • You’ll be greeted with a home screen of podcast choices you can listen to. For podcasters like you, however, you’ll want to direct your attention to that red Record Button on the lower right. Go ahead and give it a tap.
  • You’ll be taken to the Record screen, where all the magic happens. Just hook up your external microphone and tap the red Record Button and start talking. Tap it again when you’re done.
  • Podbean offers some nifty little extras like sound effects and background music you can use to feel like a party DJ. Simply tap to use.
  • After recording, play it back to see if you’re OK with it. You can use the Edit button to cut off any unwanted portion of the audio (although it’s nowhere near as powerful as a real audio editing software)
  • Tap on the Save button to save your recording. You’ll be taken to the My Drafts screen, which contains all of your Podbean audio.
  • Finally, to upload your podcast, tap on the red Upload Icon. This will allow you to name and describe your episode. When ready, tap on the Publish button.
  • And there you have it – your podcast is hosted and available for the public to enjoy.

Using the Anchor app

A relative newcomer in the podcast scene, Anchor nevertheless won the hearts and ears of many. It’s probably because it’s intuitive, easy to use, powerful and limitless – all at the low price of zero dollars. Yup, it’s 100% free.

For novice phone podcasters, this would be the perfect way to break into the industry. And here’s how to start:

  • Download and open the Anchor app. A welcome screen will then pop up basically asking, “What are you doing here?” Of course, tap on the “I want to make a new podcast” option
  • You’ll be taken to the Episode Builder screen. Tap on the purple Tools button (the one with the “+” sign) on the lower part of the screen, then tap on the Record Button to start recording.
  • Once you’re done, tap on the Stop Button to end the recording.
  • You can now Play the audio to see if it’s OK with you, and even spice it up with some background music if you so wish.
  • You can also remove unwanted parts by using the Trim button, which is ridiculously easy and intuitive to use.
  • Tap on the Save Button on the lower right to save your recording and add it to the current episode

TIP: In Anchor, each recording you do is called a segment, which is then grouped together in an episode. Playing an entire episode is playing all the segments within it in sequence. This makes it very easy to record and organize your podcast in sections.

  • You can continue recording and adding more segments into the episode, or re-arrange them if you need to.
  • Play the entire episode by tapping on Preview Episode to hear how it would actually sound once uploaded.
  • Once everything is in order, tap on the Publish button on the upper right corner. Give your recording a proper title and description, and then tap on Publish this episode!
  •  If you haven’t yet, Anchor will guide you through creating your podcast show. After that, congratulations, your episode is ready for the world.

Conclusion

            Recording a great sounding podcast isn’t rocket science – far from it. With the right equipment, solid dedication and engaging content, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next big podcast hit.             Happy recording, podcast padawan!

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