The Fundamentals of Podcast Recording: Capturing Audio for Your Podcast

September 29, 2021 4 min read

So, you’ve purchased a USB mic and you’re ready to get started recording your podcast. 

While USB microphones can make setting up as simple as plugging into your computer or smartphone, you’ll still need to master some basic fundamentals of recording to capture the best possible audio for your podcast recording sessions, as well as learn how to edit audio. 

The first step is to familiarize yourself with some basic microphone technique. It can be a delicate balancing act to learn how to record voice, but with a few basics, you’ll be well on your way. 

First of all, it’s important to understand how to use the “gain” control on your microphone or recording device. Many people often confuse “gain” and volume. Understandable. They are related, but not the same thing. 

“Volume” refers to the loudness of a sound. “Gain” usually refers to how sensitive a microphone or another piece of audio equipment is in how it reacts to a sound. Turning up the gain on your device will make your voice appear louder, because you’re increasing the sensitivity of the microphone.

If the gain is too low, your recording signal will be too low and you won’t capture a good recording of your voice. If the gain is too high, you run the risk of capture distortion, also known as “clipping” in your audio. 

How close you are to the microphone will also impact how your voice sounds on recording. Too far away, you won’t get a clear signal. While you can also turn audio up while you are editing, remember that in doing so, you’re turningeverythingup. The microphone doesn’t just capture your voice, it captures everything around, including unwanted background noise which can become a major nuisance if you have to increase the overall volume of your recorded audio. 

Getting too close to the microphone can cause the microphone to overreact vocal “plosives.” Plosives are the “P”s and “T”s in our speech. Vocal sounds like these are like little explosions from our mouths that can cause pops and distortions in your recordings. 

If you plan to record a lot of vocals using a sensitive condenser microphone, like most USB microphones, it’s worth investing in a pop filter. A pop filter provides a barrier, usually made of fine mesh fabric or metal, between your mouth and the microphone. This allows your voice to pass through, but stops some of the bursts of air that can cause distortions while recording. Our MovoPF-6 pop filter is a great, affordable option to help improve your recording setup for vocals.

While 6 inches from the front of your microphone might be a good place to start when dialing in your recording settings, there’s no formula for how close you should be to your microphone, or what your gain levels should be. Trial and error is really the best way to find the sweet spot for recording your voice. 

Testing your microphone with headphones on will give you a clearer sense of how you sound. All of Movo’s UM series microphones feature a headphone-out jack, so that you can listen to yourself in real time, also known as “monitoring.”

Don’t try to test your microphone while plugged into speakers, or playing your signal out loud. This can cause feedback, which happens when the signal passes continuously from the speaker to the microphone and back again, creating a feedback loop. You might remember this annoying high pitched squeal from every movie where a character acts awkward in front of a microphone. Feedback can be very unpleasant at best, and damaging to your hearing at worst. 

So with the basic microphone technique down, you’ll need a program into which to record your audio.  There are lots of great free programs available to get started with.  For Mac users, GarageBand is a very user-friendly option.  Audacity is another great free option. Anchor is a popular platform forpodcast editing that has the added benefit of allowing you to upload your podcast directly to streaming platforms. 

Getting a handle on using a digital audio workstation can be a bit of a learning curve. Youtube is a great resource where tons of producers share their insights and expertise. We recommend checking out some online tutorials to dive deep into how to edit audio. 

Here are a few tips to get you started: 

  • If you’re not hearing audio from your microphone, make sure that you’ve selected your USB microphone as your “input” on both your computer’s audio settings and your recording programs settings. If you are using the microphone’s headphone output, you’ll also want to select it as the audio “output.”
  • If you make a mistake or misspeak while recording your podcast, but want to keep the take rolling, clap in front of the microphone. This loud noise will create a large “transient” or peak in the audio that will be visible in the sound wave on your recording program, making it easy to identify areas for fixes while you are learning how to edit audio.
  • Record a short section of audio and listen back to what you captured. This will help you identify any errors before you’ve recorded an entire episode or interview. 

When you first start audio recording andpodcast editing, it can seem like a major undertaking to understand how to use the hardware and software. Don’t get discouraged, try to have fun. There are so many resources available to help anyone who is learninghow to edit audio. Remember, you can always reach out to us at Movo with questions about using our products to create your podcast.

If you’re interested in diving deeper, check out our Youtube podcast how-to series.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.