Are you ready to take your podcasting career to the next level? One of the most crucial aspects, when you want to step up your game, is creating a podcast studio that’ll make you sound as professional as a radio host or experienced podcaster.
With the podcasting world growing by the hour, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the quality of many homemade podcasts is outstanding. It’s more affordable than ever to get professional-sounding equipment, and the editing software available has become so advanced that beginners can start a podcast without prior experience and little knowledge.
However, setting up your podcast studio is not trivial. You’ll have to make many decisions based on your environment, budget, and editing skills. If not planned carefully, creating a podcast studio that matches your budget and ambitions can be a daunting experience.
On the other hand, having a podcast that sounds and feels professional is the only way to connect with a wider audience and be more appealing to special guests and listeners. In an ever-increasingly competitive market like the podcast studio market, a show recorded professionally is a must-have. Great content with poor audio won’t take you far, trust me on this.
Luckily, there are many, often affordable, equipment available for the podcaster who wants to create a great podcast, so today, we’ll look into how you can create the perfect space for starting a new phase of your podcasting career.
Depending on your budget, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different setups you can explore. In this article, I’ll try to include a wide range of options and ideas, from no budget at all to significant investments.
Let’s dive in!
This is step one when you start building your own podcast studio. Before buying any sort of equipment or soundproof material, you need to identify the location you’ll be recording episodes. This is because each room has specific characteristics you need to be aware of when building your podcast studio.
You’ll want to find a space you have easy access to, feel comfortable creating in, and where other people can join you and be consistently talking without interruption. You’ll also likely need to have a computer in the space with you.
For instance: is the room facing a trafficked road? Is there a lot of reverberation? Is the room so big that you can hear the echo of your voice? These are all questions you must ask yourself before sticking the first soundproof panel to the wall.
If you’re recording episodes from home and want to have a one-roof, dedicated room for your podcast studio, then choose one that’s quite isolated and ensures and quiet podcast session. It could be your wardrobe or even your bedroom, as long as you can hear your voice clearly and are not disturbed during your sessions.
Reverberation and echo are the nemeses of recording studios of all kinds. Although removing echo and reverb is possible during post-production, it’s advised to optimize your space so that the raw material already has as little reverberation as possible.
If you have a room like this in your house, then you should definitely use it for your podcasts. Many podcasters use their wardrobe to record their shows because it’s small and with soft and thick garments that mitigate the echo.
If you are video recording your interviews, you’ll have to make your space visually presentable, too: a nice and pleasant environment will make you look like a professional podcast host and attract more guests to your video show.
No matter how ideal your podcasting room is, you’ll most likely need to use some soundproof material to enhance the quality of your podcast. So let’s take a look at what you need to do to ensure an optimal recording experience.
Soundproof foam panels will help you remove unnecessary echo and sonic interference from your recordings while highlighting your voice and making it clearer. As a rule of thumb, you should cover about 30% of the room’s walls with soundproof foam panels if you want to achieve industry-standard results.
A concept that’s not clear to many is the difference between blocking external sounds and enhancing the qualities of a podcast recording studio.
Your podcast studio will probably need both. Finding the right balance between isolating the space and obtaining great audio is greatly affected by the size of the studios you work in, so you’ll probably need to make some adjustments as you go on until you get the space you aim for.
Chances are, the laptop or desktop computer you already have is powerful enough to record and mix your podcast. Your computer should also be able to easily upload your podcast to youtube, your website, or a podcast hosting service. Digital audio workstations (or DAWs) are versatile software you can use to record sounds, and although they can be personalized immensely according to your needs, at their most basic level, they don’t require much processing power.
My suggestion is if you just started hosting your podcast, use whichever computer or laptop you have at your disposal and see if its processing power is enough to sustain the recording and editing sessions.
If your mac laptop is constantly freezing or crashing, make sure it’s compatible with your DAW’s requirement and that you don’t have any other app running in the background.
Affordable or even free podcast recording software like GarageBand and Audacity can easily meet the needs of most podcasters, beginners, and intermediates alike. These programs provide all the features necessary to record, edit and enhance your podcast.
More complex workstations like Ableton, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and Cubase can do a fantastic job, especially in the editing, mixing, and mastering phases. They’re also quite expensive and will take some time to learn how to use them properly.
More sophisticated DAWs also provide a variety of plug-ins that can help you improve your raw material. If you need to clean up, process, and repair your recordings, you should definitely opt for our audio restoration plugins, which can help you target specific noises and audio imperfections and remove them professionally.
You should also familiarise yourself with tools like EQs, multiband compressors, and limiters. These plug-ins will help you make your show professional, and there are so many options available that I’m sure you’ll find plug-ins that are within your budget.
Getting a professional microphone is crucial. No plug-in is powerful enough to improve poorly recorded conversation. Luckily, options abound when it comes to buying a new microphone for podcasting, so all you need to know is to get one that’ll work well with your environment and the rest of the equipment you have at your disposal.
For more info check out our previous post on Best Budget Podcast Microphones.
Generally, and as long as they have a phantom power option, you can either go for USB microphones, which are incredibly easy to set up and use or opt for condenser microphones, which require an XLR mic cable and interface to connect with your PC.
However, condenser microphones are generally considered to provide better quality content.
Regardless of the type of connection, I think you can get amazing USB microphones and XLR mic for a little over $100. For example, the Blue Yeti is an affordable and versatile USB microphone that’s considered by many as the industry standard for production.
Audio interfaces are useful to most podcasters for a couple of reasons. First of all, they allow recording more than one person, allowing you to connect multiple condenser microphones, each recording a single speaker.
We reviewed the 9 Best Beginner Audio Interfaces in our blog, so have a read!
Secondly, they have control knobs that allow adjusting sounds on the go, which means you can easily make adjustments to your settings without having to go over the multiple channels on your DAW.
The market of interfaces offers a plethora of options for podcasters, depending on the number of channels and the editing/mixing options provided. As a rule of thumb, you’ll probably need between two and four inputs for your podcast, and it should have a VU meter that’ll allow you to monitor the volume of your recordings in real-time. Apart from that, any options would do the job.
Almost as important as microphones, headphones help you evaluate the quality of your recordings and do a good job during post-production and editing sessions. Studio headphones prioritize clarity, meaning they won’t emphasize any frequencies in order to make the audio more appealing. Instead, they reproduce the raw material precisely as it sounds, giving you the possibility to make the necessary adjustments based on the actual properties of the file.
Once again, you can get the Best Podcast Headphones without breaking the bank. As an example, I always recommend the Sony MDR-7506. For a little over $100, you get professional headphones that reproduce sounds accurately and have been used in the radio and movie industries for three decades.
Whatever you do, don’t mix your podcast with your Beats, or you’ll compromise your podcasts!
A mixer lets you adjust the audio settings of each separate channel and further improve the audio quality of your podcast episodes. Although not as fundamental as an audio interface, a good mixer will allow you to experiment more with your podcast and provide you with more flexibility during the editing phases.
If you’re a beginner, I’d suggest you start with the audio interface only and upgrade to a mixer and interface setup when you find your audio editing options limiting.
To get a better idea of what mixers are and how it all works, you can check out one of our articles where we compare one of the most popular mixers on the market right now – RODECaster Pro vs GoXLR vs PodTrak P8.
Finally, let’s talk about a set of additional items that will make you look and sound like a professional podcast host. Here is some other equipment that’ll help you record your podcasts easily and efficiently.
A boom arm is a great option if you want to keep your desk free and minimize the impact of vibrations. Furthermore, it looks extremely professional, so if you’re video recording your podcasts, you should definitely consider getting one.
A mic stand is placed on the desk and prevents vibrations and bumps from being recorded. It has to be sturdy, customizable, and needs to be compatible with your microphone of choice.
Although less pretty than a boom arm, mic stands still can do a good job and will help you get your podcast done. Make sure you buy one that feels sturdy and will hold your microphone nicely while absorbing as many vibrations as possible.
This filter prevents plosive sounds from being recorded by the microphone. The more sensitive the microphone is, the more likely it is it’ll capture plosive sounds caused by consonants such as b, t, and p, so a simple pop filter will greatly improve the audio quality of your podcast.
Many podcasters tend to neglect this small, additional piece of equipment, but trust me: your podcast will benefit significantly from having a filter placed right in front of your microphone.
There are a couple of reasons why you should have a pair of professional studio monitors in your podcast studio, even if you already have studio headphones:
Just like studio headphones, studio monitors reproduce your recordings with the clarity and transparency necessary to mix and master audio.
If your space is smaller than 40sqm, all you need is a pair of studio monitors of 25W. If the space is bigger, make sure you get studio monitors that’ll compensate for the audio dispersion.
Check out our previous article on Best Budget Studio Monitors.
That’s all, folks! Here’s everything the brand new podcaster needs to set up your podcast studio and start delivering professional-quality audio to your listeners right away.
Let me highlight the fact that the most crucial element of your setup is your microphone, followed by the sound quality of your room. Once you have a good-quality microphone, figure out the best production setup for the room you chose, and make sure to avoid unwanted echo and reverberation.
If you have a good USB mic, you can start making podcasts today and build your own podcast studio gradually as you go along. The more content you create, the more you’ll improve your studio and learn the tricks to make your recordings magnificent.
Good luck, and stay creative!