4 quick tips to get you in tune with starting a podcast

10 Oct 2016

Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock

So you want to start a podcast but you don’t know where to start? Then listen up and tune into these 4 tips that should transport you directly into people’s ears.

Last August, we at Siliconrepublic.com advised you on how to get your podcast heard on many of the most popular platforms, but what if you don’t even know where to start with making one?

After all, it can be quite daunting to have a basic concept and turn it into a fully fledged show with a multitude of software, let alone having guests.

Future Human

But there are a few places to start and, thankfully, many of them are free.

What microphone should I get?

We’re surrounded by affordable microphones these days, whether it is your laptop or even your mobile phone, but any podcaster out there will tell you availability does not equal quality.

While some of the bigger podcasters can get away with it for an odd episode here or there, anyone listening to your podcast for the first time will not put up with having to listen to poor audio quality.

If you are looking to do it as professionally as possible, make sure to avoid USB-powered microphones, as the quality just doesn’t match up to other ones out there.

The better option is to go with an analogue microphone and audio mixer to get the optimum sound quality.

Some potential options out there include the Electro Voice RE-20 Cardioid microphone and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 mixer that will jointly set you back a couple of hundred euro, so be prepared for that.

Pdcast dog

As this dog knows, having a good microphone and headphones could make or break your podcast. Image: zoomar/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

What software should I get for recording?

There are plenty of expensive recording software options out there for those who are cash rich, but given that you’ll have to shell out for expensive equipment, you don’t need to spend big on software.

One of the most familiar free audio editing software options is Audacity. It offers all the basics for free, including sound levels and mixing, but is a little trickier when doing the more complicated stuff.

One of the better free pieces of software is Reaper, as it comes with a simpler user interface.

Even those with little knowledge on how it works can get to grips with it by watching a few tutorial videos available on YouTube.

Another option for Mac users is GarageBand, which is typically used for those recording their own music tracks, but performs just as well with podcasts.

Certainly one to try first, given that it is on Macs by default.

What headphones should I buy?

Good headphones are equally as important to the creation of a podcast as a microphone is, and your free iPhone headphones are definitely not going to cut it.

Just like the choice in microphones, the best audio quality in headphones is going to come through a pair connected via a headphone amp.

A good headphone amp is definitely a must if you plan on creating a round table podcast of up to four people, but there are a multitude of adapters on online marketplaces for relatively cheap prices.

As for the headphones themselves, one recommended option is a pair of Beyerdynamic DT150 headphones that will set you back somewhere in the region of under €150.

Very popular with podcasters, these headphones should be more than adequate for picking up rogue sounds, for when one of your guests is sniffing a little too hard.

Podcast studio 2006

Podcasting hasn’t changed that much in 10 years. Studio in 2006. Image: Kin Mun Lee/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The proof is in the soundproofing

Your workspace will play a crucial role in determining the quality of your podcast.

If you plan on going solo, you might want to choose your room carefully and check the acoustics before realising you have your equipment in an echo chamber.

Just by looking at professional recording studios, you can see they are covered from head-to-toe in soundproofing material to help prevent any unwanted noise being picked up by the microphone.

Acoustic foam

Acoustic foam. Image: lurri Davydov/Shutterstock

While you might not want to spend that amount of money, you can do it on a budget with material bought online.

Sites like eBay are full of listings for acoustic foam that can be placed on your walls to lessen the effects of noise. Perhaps the best place to put them is on the walls above and below the microphone.

Another option for the more creative types is to build a foam panel that surrounds the microphone.

Of course, this is no perfect option when it comes to setting up a podcast studio as different podcasts will have different demands, but these should give you a good idea of where to start.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic