Podcasting Setup GuideA guide for our special guests!
Getting Setup for Recording
Microphone: Please connect your external microphone in advance and test it by recording a small bit of speaking and then playing it back through headphones. If there is a buzz or hum, you’ll need to adjust your settings. If you are looking to have a nice (but inexpensive) microphone handy (you are not required to purchase this, but if you podcast very often, it’s nice to have), we recommend this one (and it also arrives with closed-back headphones): Samson Kit on Amazon.
Distance to Microphone: Position it so that you are speaking directly into it, roughly 5-6 inches from your mouth.
Setting: External noise is gonna happen, but we’d like to lessen it as much as possible. Barking dogs, other people speaking, phones ringing, will lessen the quality of the podcast. So… please choose the quietest room in your house/office for recording. If the room has a ceiling fan that makes noise… turn it off. Listen for things that buzz or hum and remove them (fluorescent lights can cause buzzing as well).
You’ll also want as much “soft” stuff in your recording room as possible. Rugs/carpet are good, curtains (closed to cover the glass) are good, pillows and sofas and anything made of cloth is good. Hard surfaces are bad… they reflect sound and can give an echo sound to your voice that’s less than desirable. So, where possible, hang or drape blankets over some of the hard surfaces to dampen reflections…. put pillows around you, etc. TIP: spread a towel or other soft cloth under your microphones and across your desk to absorb sound.
You may also want to have a cup of your favorite beverage nearby during the conversation. You’ll want something soft to set your cup on… otherwise we get sounds from it. Sipping will need to be as silent as possible.
Conversations: A podcast is all about talking, so our conversations are the content of the podcast. However, it’s not exactly like sitting at the coffee shop or pub together chatting. While we want you to be as natural as possible, and to not deliver speeches but instead to converse… it’s also helpful to not talk on top of each other. On recordings, two people talking at once is not nearly as easy to handle as when we are physically present with each other.
Zoom: The primary purpose of the Zoom session is to allow us to see and hear each other “live” (yes, please use a webcam) — to facilitate a more natural conversation. While we will record the Zoom session, the audio quality is not great… so it’s there only as an emergency backup. No one else will see the video cams. The recordings you make locally (and then upload to Dropbox) will be the ones the public hears. (See “Setup for Local Recording” below). You will receive an email ahead of the recording time that has a URL to click to join the meeting.
Headphones: We all need to be using headphones during the recording. That’s so we can hear each other talking. The best kind of headphones are the bigger CLOSED-back headphones. Please DO NOT use open-backed headphones (like my beloved Grado set) or earbuds (like the ones that come with iPhones or iPods), since they “leak” sound and your microphone will pick it up… creating an echo sort of noise on the recording. If you are looking to purchase a set, these are suggestions: Option 1 | Option 2
SETUP FOR LOCAL RECORDING
While Zoom allows us to converse live… we each record a LOCAL high-quality audio file on our own computers. Then, after the recording session ends, those files are saved and shared with our audio editor via Dropbox.
Ahead of the recording:
1. Setup your computer/laptop, the microphone and have your closed headphones ready and connected. Be sure your external microphone (not the internal microphone) is chosen (on a Mac: System Prefs > Sound > Input… choose your mic).
2. Open Quicktime (it’s already installed on any Macintosh), or Audacity (a free download if you use Windows) and keep it open during the recording session. You’ll be prompted when it is time to click the “record” button. After the session is over, you’ll save it and send it to us (see step 3 below for instructions).
On Macs, open Quicktime Player (it’s in your Applications folder). Use the screenshot below to set it up properly.
If you are on Windows, please download and install the free Audacity app ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/ ). You’ll want to configure it to record an audio file to your computer’s drive (AIFF is best). After the session is over, you’ll save it and send it to us (see step 3 below for instructions). We will then edit all these tracks together to form the podcast. Why? Cause the quality of the audio is much, much better than the compressed audio from the Zoom call. We can also edit out non-pertinent stuff or goof-ups (they happen!).
3. Have a Dropbox account. A free one is fine. After we record a session, you’ll drop the audio file that you saved into your dropbox folder and grab the file’s sharable URL (right-click on the file and choose “Share Dropbox Link”). That’ll copy the shareable URL to your clipboard. You’ll email that link to us. Later you can delete the file (like a month later).
Summary of things to prepare
- External USB Microphone
- Headphones (closed-back)
- Quicktime Player (Mac) or Audacity (Windows)
- Quiet room with large towel for your desk’s top and noisy things turned off