What makes podcast production so accessible is the ability to produce your show wherever you are. There is a high probability that you will be recording your show somewhere in your home. With the right set up, you will be able to record high quality material in a space within your own comfort zone. Here are ways you can set up your ideal recording station.
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Audio Recording Stations
Finding the best recording station is essential to producing the best product you are capable of making. You should search for areas with the best natural sound quality but also at providing personal comfort. The benefits of recording your audio in the same area maintains consistency throughout your show.
Consider that different areas of your living space have different sound qualities. For instance, your bathroom might have good acoustics but there might be an echo. Your closet might block out whatever is happening in your living area but it might feel cramped. It’s understandable that you might want to test the sound quality of different areas. We highly suggest testing audio quality before producing your episodes.
Work with What You Have
I, Sofia J. Serrato, the writer of this article, am a big advocate of working with the material you have. A benefit of this is getting a chance to practice with what you are familiar with rather than investing in equipment that you don’t know how to use. Just because you have the most high end products that does not mean you will make high quality material. Plus, you become more creative with limited resources.
In terms of just audio recording, I would use my phone’s microphone or the microphone on my earbuds. I would cover the microphone with a sock to decrease my chances of interference. This includes breathing sounds, wet mouth sounds and some hard ‘P’ and ‘S’ sounds.
Considering that I live with family and am surrounded by noisy neighbors, I either record in a bathroom or in my bedroom underneath blankets. Both areas have their pros and cons. The bathroom had amazing acoustics but, even with the sock over the microphone, I would still pick up an echo. There’s only so much time that can be spent talking to my phone in a shared bathroom before needing to leave.
I honestly prefer recording audio in my bedroom underneath some blankets. First off, it was in the privacy of my own bedroom. If I use my voice effectively, I can get good to great sound quality. The only flaws relate to a matter of personal comfort. Even on the coldest of days, there’s only so much time I can spend under a blanket before overheating. Breaks to cool off and get fresh air where necessary. Despite the blankets blocking out a majority of the outside world, never underestimate how loud the outside world can be. In my case it was screaming neighborhood kids or constantly barking dogs. Unless you have your own isolated recording studio, there’s nothing you can do about the outside world’s noises.
Audio Equipment to Consider
Once you practice with existing materials, consider the option to research and invest in the incorporation of better equipment.
If you are considering only buying a microphone, we recommend a USB Condenser Mic.
Interviews can be conducted with one condenser mic if seated at the same station. Any distance further will require another mic. Great for controlled recording environments, offices or any effective area in your house.
For a full microphone set up, we recommend the Electro-Voice RE320 Variable-D Dynamic Microphone Kit.
These types of kits are more stationary but come with a variety of accessories. This particular kit includes cables, adapters, Mic stands and shock mounts.
If you plan on using this kit for interviews you will need one set for each person talking. Dynamic mics are great for cancelling out noise around you. They only picking up sound within a few inches of the mic. They can be used for outdoor activities, like sporting events.
Video Recording Stations
If you are video recording your show, try to stylize your station to the best of your ability. We suggest making it easy to set up and take down in case your station needs to move. A visually appealing station will satisfy viewers but it should also appeal to your own visual standards.
When decorating your recording area, do it out of your personal comfort. Your comfort level will show through whatever your camera records. Decorate with your personal aesthetic in mind. What are things that are visually appealing to you? What visual elements reflect who you are the best?
If your show has a specific brand identity, consider decorating it to your brands aesthetic. What visually represents your show the best? If possible, incorporate your personal aesthetic as well as your show’s aesthetic. That way you can visually represent both you and your show.
Work with What You Have
I never disregard the effective potential of my smartphone camera or my laptop’s webcam. If I use my phone I always make sure it is filming in landscape format. This will make your videos more professional looking and cinematic. It also makes it easier for editing videos catered to certain social media posts. I do not film in the portrait format unless it’s for quick, casual social media story updates.
For backgrounds, I use pieces of fabric that reflect who I am while covering my plain wall. I typically use blankets and use heavy duty tacks to attach them to the wall. You can use banners, posters or décor from around your house. If you position the camera right, you can exclude any unappealing elements out of frame. Be considerate of how you want to represent yourself and what viewers will see.
The Power of Lighting
Lighting is an excellent way to heighten the quality of your videos. You can achieve effective lighting naturally or more professionally depending on your resources.
Work with What You Have
I do not live in a place with enough room for a dedicated recording stations. I always have to move to different areas. Awareness of my natural surroundings is essential in my case. Natural lighting through a window is always an accessible lighting source. The only thing I have to consider is when I film and whether I can diffuse the natural light. My window shades are my go to for controlling light intensity.
With whatever unnatural light source I had, I would make sure to diffuse it with parchment paper or some thin clothing material. Every once in a while I would have to take the diffusers off to avoid overheating.
Testing out lighting is a matter of trial of error. Similar to audio recording, testing out lights should be done before the producing a show.
Lighting Equipment to Consider
To avoid the obstacle of lighting with everyday items, we highly recommend investing in a professional light and diffuser. LED lighting is more adjustable in brightness compared to bulb lighting. Consider buying two or more lights to help cancel out the shadows your camera might pick up.
Our first recommendation is the Neewer 3 Piece Bi-Color 660 LED Video Light and Stand Kit.
This comes with dimmable lights and comes with an AC Adapter. This kit is suitable for videography but photography as well.
Our second recommendation is the LED Video Lighting Kit with Wireless Remote.
As stated in the product title, this kit comes with it’s own wireless remote for easier access to control settings. You can control the lights brightness, temperature, color and channel settings.
Simple Remote Podcasting Setup
Whether you are using a basic set up or a more advanced one, make sure you have a checklist of your essentials. Keeping it on hand will ensure better organization. It also avoids second guessing what you need for setting-up every single session.
As your show goes on you will be able to tweak your recording station. Make your station reasonable within your means, whether it be with basic or top of the line equipment. Make your station is reflective of yourself and your brand. The genuineness of who you are and what your brand is will increase the quality of your show. With every gradual tweak comes an improvement in personal and product quality.
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