If you’re a guest (interviewee) on a podcast and want to improve your sound quality during interviews but you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a professional podcast room setup, this article is for you.
Acoustically treating (“soundproofing”) your room can have a tremendous impact on your sound quality, sometimes even more so than your microphone, but you don’t need an entire room covered in acoustic panels to get a great room sound.
In this blog, I’m going to give you some practical advice to help make the most of what you have available at your home or office and get the best room sound possible for podcast interviews.
First, let’s start with the basics…
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What Is a Recording Environment and Why Is It Important?
Recording Environment (i.e. acoustic environment, i.e. room sound) has to do with where you’re recording and how it affects your sound. Is it noisy in the background? Can you hear the wind gushing into the mic? How much reverb (i.e. room noise, i.e. reverberation / often called “echo”) is diminishing your vocal clarity?
Almost nothing affects the quality of your sound more than the environment you’re recording in. You can have the best microphone and equipment but if you record in the wrong environment, there is very little that can be done to remedy it.
Here’s the audible difference between good and bad environments (NB! listen with earphones):
The above audio was recorded with all variables being consistent, except for the environment – same microphone, a similar distance from the mic, same software, no editing or mixing. What you’re hearing is an accurate A/B/C difference in the recording environment alone.
As you can hear, a bad podcast room setup (i.e. recording environment) can make a huge difference to your sound. It takes away the clarity of your words. The noisier your room is, the less clear you become, and this is a massive headache for both the host and the listener.
For podcasts and radio, any background noise (i.e. reverb, “echo”, room noise, slapback, other sounds besides your voice) is always a bad thing. When doing a podcast interview, the two big no-no’s are:
a) Room noise – the natural reverb or “echo” that occurs in that room/space
b) Background noise – other things/people nearby causing sounds that get picked up by your microphone.
You want to minimize these two things at all costs. Always find a quiet inside area with as little background noise as possible and lots of sound-absorbent objects. Let’s go into some more detail regarding how to avoid these two elements and thus create a better podcast room setup.
Good vs. Bad Aspects of a Podcast Room Setup
Let’s talk about how you can find/create a good recording environment with things you may have available around the house or office.
In the table below are good vs. bad aspects of a room when recording audio:
|Carpeted room. The thicker the carpet, the better.||Tiled or concrete floors.|
|Walls with lots of thick curtains & ornaments. As absorbent and uneven as possible.||Walls with even surfaces, lots of windows, or tiled walls.|
|High, angled roof, thatch roof, wooden ceiling.||Low, flat, concrete roof.|
|Lots of soft furniture (i.e. beds, couches), hanging sheets, hanging clothes. High density foam. Things that absorb sound. Wooden objects can also be somewhat sound-absorbent.||An empty room.|
|Isolated room or building, away from cars, noisy pets, kids, birds, airplanes, crowds, etc.||A busy office, a busy home, being close to a highway or main road, in a crowded area, other people in the room with you.|
|No electronics or things that may cause a persistent noise.||Electronics that cause constant background noise i.e. fan, air con, blow heater, fridge, microwave, buzzy light bulb, fish tank, etc.|
|A solid chair with no moving parts.||Chairs with wheels or that tend to squeak|
What Does It All Mean?
Absurdly, the best and easiest place in your house for recording great audio is inside a closet filled with hanging clothes. Why is a closet good for audio recording? There are tons of absorbent material all around you – not just the clothes but also the wood that the closet is made of, which is also absorbent. There are obvious cons to this though, such as discomfort and the loss of your dignity (haha). Looking visually professional is also another factor to consider since most podcast interviews involve some kind of aspect of video. (I explain in another blog “How To Improve Your Video Quality“). For this reason, sitting in a closet is obviously not ideal unless there will definitely be no video involved.
The worst place in your house or office is the kitchen or bathroom. That’s because there are lots of tiles, smooth surfaces, and potentially noisy objects. If some or most of the factors in the “Good” column above describes a place somewhere in your house, then use that. Additionally, try and point your microphone towards the area of the room with the most sound absorption.
Buying Acoustic Treatment (Soundproofing)
I should mention that I’m not against professional acoustic treatment for your room whatsoever. If you have the budget, spending money on some good acoustic treatment can really go a long way to minimize room noise. If you don’t have a lot of the abovementioned elements in the “Good” column freely available, then you might need to consider spending some money.
Your podcast room setup is one of the biggest contributing factors to your sound quality during a podcast interview. Simply understanding what makes a good vs. a bad recording environment can save you hundreds of dollars that you might have otherwise spent on professional materials for acoustic treatment.
IF YOU WANT MORE ADVICE LIKE THIS, CHECK OUT OUR ULTIMATE PODCAST SETUP GUIDE FOR GUESTS:
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