A bad recording space can ruin your podcast audio.
Yes, I said, “ruin” it.
What makes a room a bad place to record? There are many things but here’s a list of the TOP 3 room issues, that I’m going to help you address in this episode:
- A large room.
- Lots of hard surfaces in the room (walls, floors, furniture, glass, windows, etc.).
- A hardwood or tile floor.
All those and more cause the sound waves your voice is producing to bounce around the room, creating echoes and residual noise that your microphone can (and will) capture.
Once I’ve stated these 3 issues so clearly, the solutions to them are pretty obvious – but I’m going to walk through my favorite ways to solve them.
Then before we finish, I’m going to cover some extra steps you can take to take serious control of your sound quality.
1. Get out of that large room
Think of it this way:
The more space there is between your mouth and the walls of your room, the more distance the sound wave has to travel.
And as sound waves travel, they get wider, like ripples in a pond.
That means by the time they hit that wall 15 feet across from you, they have a LARGER profile.
Then they bounce off the wall and head toward another.
Eventually you’ll have lots of large sound waves, bouncing from wall to wall, and into each other, causing an echoing nightmare from an audio quality perspective.
The solution is simple: Move your recording space into a smaller room.
The less square footage, the better.
2. Get rid of the hard surfaces
Of course you can’t remove walls and windows, but you can add things to the room to make them less hard.
Simple things like:
- Wall hangings, tapestries, curtains, canvas pictures, etc.
- Overstuffed furniture instead of “hard” furniture.
- Place a thin blanket over your desk surface.
Get creative here. Anything you can do to make hard surfaces soft will make your room a better recording space.
Some people go all the way and purchase acoustic foam to hang on the walls.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive stuff. You can use eggshell type foam mattress toppers if that’s all you can find.
It may not be “studio quality” foam, but it beats the hard wall you have now.
In all honesty, that’s what I’ve got hanging on my walls right now.
TRUE STORY: When I first began podcasting the only place I could set up my desk and studio was in our walk-in closet. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the best move I could have made, acoustically speaking. The hanging clothes and small space made it an ideal place to record.
3. Cover the floor
If the only thing you did to improve your podcast’s sound quality was to cover your hardwood or stone floor with an area rug, you’d be amazed at the difference it makes.
And it doesn’t have to be a hideous shag rug, just a normal area rug will do the trick.
When you do this you’re eliminating the effect of one of the most sound-reflective hard surfaces in your room.
The echo will diminish. The “room noise” will decrease.
Extra steps you can take to improve the sound quality of your podcast studio
These extra steps have to do with changes you can make to the equipment you use.
You might be thinking about the dollar signs the moment you hear that, but I’m going to give you a couple of options that don’t have to be expensive.
Change your microphone
You don’t necessarily need an expensive microphone, but you do need the right kind.
There are two basic kinds of microphones – condenser microphones and dynamic microphones.
What you want for podcasting is a dynamic microphone.
The reason is in the way they are made.
I like to think of it this way:
Every microphone picks up the sounds that surround its head.
How LARGE of an area around the head it picks up depends on what kind of microphone it is.
- A condenser microphone picks up the sounds in a LARGER area around the head.
- A dynamic microphone picks up the sounds in a SMALLER area around the head.
Take a few seconds to think that through and you might discover that your microphone is the main reason you have lots of room noise in your podcast recordings.
There are some very inexpensive dynamic microphones out there these days.
I’ll give you 2 recommendations:
- The Audio Technica, ATR 2100 – I have one of these microphones in my backpack all the time. It plugs in via USB and XLR. It’s a great mic. $69.00
- The Audio Technica, ATR2005 – This is the microphone I’ve used as my main mic since I started podcasting. It’ what I’m using right now. $79.00
Modify your microphone setup
There are some clever and very effective DIY hacks you can do to surround your microphone with sound absorbing materials.
I’ve heard of people stacking pillows around the sides and back of their microphone, with another laying across the top.
Hey, if it works – why not try it?
But the most impressive and effective one I’ve seen is a guy name Joe on YouTube who created his own little vocal booth to surround his microphone.
He used acoustic foam, a portable box from IKEA, and that’s it.
But the really cool part is that his video shows exactly how he did it, and he does a before and after recording.
The results are amazing.
You probably need to improve the sound quality of your room… or else you wouldn’t have listened to the episode this far.
What are you going to do to improve your room sound?
I’d love to hear the steps you’re taking. Maybe you’ll come up with something not mentioned here that could help others.
Thanks for listening!