We've had a lot of fun doing the Singles Going Steady Podcast. One of the more surprising things I've run into is how many people who have told me "I want to do a podcast!" Here is where I’d like to share with you, briefly, some tips on the technical aspects of producing a podcast. As you may or may not know, I have decades of audio experience, owning my own recording studio, selling gear, and doing live sound. So let me share a few things you will need to create a useable podcast.
First, you’ll need microphones, as many as people talking on your podcast. Adrienne and I use AKG 414’s. These are fairly expensive studio-grade microphones. They are large diaphragm, powered mics. This means the diaphragm, or area inside the mic that picks up sound, is large and can pick up frequencies from low to high. A powered mic uses a +48v “phantom power.” This is provided by your mic preamp. The mic will not work without this so-called phantom power. The mics we use have three pin locking XLR cables out, like a stage or studio mic.
You’ll need to shop around for a mic, there are many great choices from brands such as Shure and Audio-Technica as well as AKG. There are also podcast-ready mics that have a USB connection only. All I can say is that you get what you pay for with microphones, as the more money you spend the better you will sound. Check Craigslist for deals on used gear as well. Remember, however, an expensive microphone tends to pick up unwanted room noises, so you’ll need a quiet place to record your podcasts. We record Singles Going Steady in an almost studio-like media room, and in a living room. On one podcast you may hear a lawn mower in the background!. Keep aware of things like outdoor noises, HVAC, etc. You can record just about anywhere if you are careful.
Next, you’ll need what they call a USB interface. This will convert your mic signals to USB and send them to your computer. You can get a two-channel USB interface for less than $99. We use the Behringer UMC404HD, with enough channels for 4 mics, headphone signal out, and MIDAS designed preamps (MIDAS is a fancy audio company). The interface has XLR and USB inputs, and phantom power. The preamps sound good - the headphone amp is a bit noisy, but the whole unit is around $150. We can have up to four mics at once if we have guests. We plug the mics into this interface, USB it to the computer, and from the interface run a little separate headphone mixer. It’s a Behringer HA400 - run the headphone out from the interface to this box, and then you can control 4 separate headphone mixes. It’s a $25 item and again a bit noisy, but the headphone mix doesn’t get recorded.
So, then you’ll need headphones to hear yourself and others when recording. We use the AKG K72 headphones, closed back (which means they cover your ears) and sound great for about $50 each. Remember, if you use open-backed headphones, some sound will escape from them perhaps causing feedback and/or phasing issues on your vocal mic.
I almost forgot, you will need a small desktop mic stand, try to get one that is solid and won’t transfer vibrations, and a ‘Pop’ filter. This is a $10 item - A screen you talk into before your voice hits the mic. They are very effective in removing overloaded ‘P’ sounds and will help you to sound much better. You can attach the pop filter to the mic stand and you’ll be all set. You will need XLR or USB cables to hook your mics to the interface, and you’ll need a short ¼-in. Guitar cable to connect the headphone box to the interface.
Now you have signal ready to go to your computer. You will need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) program to record the audio. There are many choices and you’ll have to do your homework here, but I recommend the program REAPER, a multi track recording software that is almost free. It can be as easy or difficult to use as you make it. On Singles Going Steady, we usually have 3 stereo tracks, one for my voice (Stephen), one for Adrienne’s voice, and one for backing tracks (whatever songs we are discussing). You can edit, automate volume, add limiting and expanders, etc. etc. Once you have your tracks the way you want, you “Render” them onto a .wav file (a final mix) and then they will be converted to .mp3 for a podcast. We use Audacity (A different DAW program) for editing and .mp3 conversion.
A final note as I haven’t told you all of my secrets. Google is your friend. Do your research on gear and software. Look for used gear if you are on a budget. Once you have gear use Google for tips on how to improve your sound. Put the time and energy in, and you will get a great podcast of your own.
Just don’t make it about singles.
Any questions? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org