COVID-19 has forced many to work from home, and for podcasters, this may be the first time they’re recording outside of their studio. Here are some tips on how to podcast from home without sacrificing sound quality or any of your show’s usual features.
Luckily for us, podcasts are easy to record from home after spending a little time setting everything up. Thanks to affordable equipment, modern computers, and incredible apps, we’re able to create podcasts a few feet from our bed (or in bed!) that sound like they were produced at a radio station.
Below are some quick tips for podcasting from home, from someone who has only ever podcasted from home.
Use Zoom for recording with others
There are countless ways to speak with people over the internet, but at the moment Zoom is the best way to record a podcast with co-hosts who are also at their respective homes. The call quality is good (Just good, not great) and many people have used it before, meaning you may not be burdening co-hosts and guests with something new.
But I also like Zoom because of a couple of features of benefit to podcasters that you won’t find elsewhere.
1) Livestreaming: With a paid subscription you can live stream your Zoom call to YouTube or Facebook. My podcasts are funded by listeners via Patreon, and one of the benefits they receive is access to our virtual recording studio as we record each episode. We pull this off by using this Zoom feature. We were previously using Google Hangouts On Air to teleconference and livestream until it was inexplicably shuttered.
During this time of self-quarantining when everyone has some extra time on their hands, offering your listeners access to your virtual recording studio would be a great way to connect with and entertain your listeners.
2) Recording panelists on separate tracks: Zoom has a built-in recording feature, and not only will it record the group call, but there’s an extra switch in the app’s settings that allows you to record each participant on their own track. This is a huge plus for podcasters who want to have backup copies of each co-host should their local recordings go haywire. It’s also great for when you have a guest on your podcast who doesn’t know how to record themselves (or who you don’t trust to record themselves)
A word of warning: VOIP apps like Zoom and Skype don’t handle crosstalk well. If multiple people are speaking at once, it’ll cut off one or more people. It’s best to have each person individually recording themselves so you can still capture the cross talk (More on that further down).
Use a Yeti Microphone
Considered one of the best microphones for podcasting, the Yeti is a reliable and flexible mic. With a turn of a knob you can use it to record one person or several.
The microphone sounds great on playback and is more than suitable for podcasting. Just don’t use the mute button… it’ll be picked up on the microphone when you go to unmute it, ironically. But speaking of muting…
Download the Shush app (Mac)
I’ve written about this little app before, and I can’t imagine my life without it. Shush lets you setup a hotkey on your keyboard to easily mute your microphone. No more suppressing a cough, sniff, or letting a dog bark get on air. With Shush, you can quickly and quietly mute yourself while recording your podcast.
I have the Shush hotkey set to the Mac’s ‘fn’ key, so I just reach for the bottom left of my keyboard whenever I need to mute myself.
Shush offers push-to-talk and push-to-silence options, but I prefer the latter. In fact, I keep myself muted whenever I’m not talking. It’s comforting to know that I don’t have to be deathly silent whenever I’m not speaking.
Download Loopback (Mac)
A software company called Rogue Amoeba has several amazing apps for podcasters, and when you’re moving to a home environment for you podcast, Loopback may be one of the most important apps to add to your setup. Loopback lets you route any app’s audio wherever you’d like.
For example, you could route audio from the Spotify app, your personal microphone, and the Chrome web browser into Zoom so that your guests can hear all three of those elements. Loopback accomplishes this by creating a digital audio input “device” that carries all three sources of audio.
There’s plenty else you could do with Loopback, like creating a virtual device that lets you take phone calls on air via Skype, even while you’re teleconferencing with your co-hosts via Zoom. The sky’s the limit! Just remember to record all of these elements. You can also record the single virtual device you’re creating.
Loopback is set it and forget it, meaning once you put together your virtual device, it’ll always be running in the background.
Download Audio Hijack (Mac)
So how do you record all of this? If you just need to record a single microphone, Quicktime is a quick and easy way to record yourself. But if you need to record you, your Zoom guests, and sound effects, I highly recommend Rogue Amobea’s Audio Hijack. The app lets you record any number of applications on your computer, and it’s an extremely sturdy piece of software.
I highly recommend recording your voice separate from the other music effects so you have extra control during editing.
Make each panelist record themselves
With everyone recording from their respective homes, you may be tempted to record the whole show in a single recording of your conferencing software, but don’t do that! Ask your panelists to record themselves so that they’ll be captured in higher quality.
Having each person record at home means you’ll need to clean each audio file before editing. Remove background noise, mouth noise, and room echo by using tools in Adobe Audition and iZotope.
Important tips for an optimal recording
The room you’re recording in at home will probably be very different than the one at your office. Keep these things in mind when choosing a spot to record in at home:
- Select a room that is carpeted and doesn’t have an echo when you speak. The room should not be cavernous. Pick something like a bedroom.
- Close all windows and doors.
- If you can hear something coming from another room (like a television or a voice), chances are it’ll pick up on your microphone. Get those outside noises turned down.
- Stay close to your microphone every time you speak, and speak directly into the microphone. This can help keep the audio levels balanced in your final product.
- Keep headphones your headphone volume on the low side while recording, so the sound doesn’t leak out of the headphones and into your microphone.
Good luck! If you need help setting any of this up, I am available for podcast consultations and editing.