Key areas to focus on when podcasting without a studio for better overall podcast quality are:
- Noises mitigation – schedule, environment
- Basic soundproofing – choosing the best room, permanent actions, ad hoc actions
- Equipment – good setup will solve some problems
- Vocal quality, great content, value for the audience
When you don’t even have a homemade studio to work on your podcasting recording you will be faced with sound quality issues. However, you can still take a number of actions to mitigate the negative impact. In this article, we will focus on key areas to focus on, when podcasting without a studio to deliver a good product to your users and increase listenership.
1. Manage schedule and surroundings
- Observe what is your neighbors‘ schedule. People usually behave according to repeatable patterns. Observe when is the quietest time for you to record when your neighbors are out working, children are in school and the level of noise is acceptable.
- Observe when there is heavy traffic in your area. Cars and public transportation will generate a lot of background noise. Check when the traffic is low and record at this time.
- Do you have playgrounds or other places when children play and make noises when they are after school? This timeline probably changes during the summer holidays.
2. Choose the best room available
- A general principle would be to chose the biggest room available, possibly with a high ceiling.
- A room with thick brick walls will better shield you from outside noises. Heavy and dense materials reflect large portions of sound waves.
- A room with softer walls made of drywall or walls with wood paneling will reflect fewer noises. Light materials reflect smaller portions of sound waves.
- Room with corners hidden by tall furniture will sound better. Corner left in the open will generate strong reverbs. Most impactful reverb is generated by trihedral corners, where 3 hard surfaces meet like wall-wall-ceiling so the presence of tall furniture can be helpful.
- A lot of flat, hard reflective surfaces will bounce sound back and create reverberations. Avoid rooms with an abundance of glass furniture and large unobstructed windows.
3. Are you able to do permanent noise-proofing activities?
- Seal cracks in window frames or around it with window caulk. Simple window & door caulk will work fine.
- Use door and window frame isolation. Simply put the soundproofing seal around the frame.
- Isolate electrical outlets. Seal them with foam gaskets. They are very cheap and easy to install.
- Have thick, long window curtains. You need them thick as the windows can transmit a lot of outside noises. Long, floor reaching curtains are preferred to seal at least the bottom gap and isolate more effectively.
- Put a nice thick carpet to isolate from noises coming from below and to absorb some of the noises you will generate.
- If your computer has a loud fan consider a replacement for a quiet unit.
If you are looking for more practical solutions to soundproof a home recording studio read: Silent home podcast studio – detailed and easy soundproofing guide
4. Do basic soundproofing and acoustical treatment for the duration of the recording
- Close all the windows and close the drapes.
- Close all the doors in your location. Create isolated pockets to stop sound from leaking. You probably won’t be able to do it on all the sides of your recording room but even shielding from one noisy area is an improvement.
- Turn of mechanical devices generating audible noises but also potentially generating electromagnetic interferences – turn off A/C, don’t do the laundry during the recording.
- Work on cooled down device. You don’t want a fan to start working loudly while you are recording.
- Use blankets, pillows, bed covers to do basic soundproofing. Cover corners of the room, windows without curtains installed, doors with glass panels, heavy furniture with a lot of glass creating reverbs.
5. Use correct equipment to boost audio quality
- Use a dynamic high-quality microphone (check our detailed guide on microphones). Dynamic microphones work much better in imperfect environments. They will record less noise and deliver higher quality products. Very sensitive large diaphragm microphones will work here to your disadvantage. Our recommendation here is fantastic Shure SM7B.
- Mount your mic on a stand to remove vibrations.
- Use a filter to improve audio quality. Many microphones nowadays come already pre-packaged with some type of filters. Dynamic mics often come in with foam filters. If you work with diaphragm mics you need to have a pop filter.
- Use acoustic shielding. This can be easily achieved when you have a lightweight and simple portable sound booth. It is very easy to set up when needed and to hide when you have finished recording.
- Have a good quality audio interface (check our detailed guide on interfaces). Choose one with a preamp already onboard like Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen. To complement and boost your signal you may also need a solid mic activator. There are many options available on the market but we recommend Cloudlifter CL-1.
- Have a good quality set of cables which will transmit better audio quality from your mic to your digital audio workstation. We find Mogami Gold Studio to work best at reasonable pricing.
For detailed solutions go and visit our guide: Best Podcasting Gear – detailed guide & recommendations.
6. Improve the quality of your voice
Make sure you sound as best as possible even if you can’t expect that from your room.
Overall vocal tips we can quality into 3 broad categories:
- Style – voice style, enunciation, convey emotions.
- Think about your voice – apply a narration style suitable for your podcast’s theme which will be engaging, nice to listen too and capturing the attention
- Experiment with enunciation – most people sound on recording better when they modify their voice to some degree.
- Communicate emotions and feelings through your podcast – you probably won’t need a whole range of emotions to express but you should be able to communicate a few crucial for your podcast.
- Technique – standing, breathing, pacing, pauses, elimination of filers & inflection
- Stand while you are recording and practice breathing – make sure you don’t run out of the air during long sentences and avoid deep and loud gasps.
- Slow down your narration and make pauses in important moments to capture and focus your audience attention.
- Boost your confidence by reviewing the script before recording.
- Eliminate stutter, fillers and vocal inflection – at the beginning, it will be annoying but with conscious work, you can quickly and easily eliminate those mistakes.
- Maintenance – voice protection, hydration, warm-up
- Protect your voice – especially 24 hours before recording. Avoid beverages and substances impacting vocal cords, avoid screaming, speaking loudly in public and partying all night.
- Warm-up your vocals – make sure your entire podcast sounds the same. Re-record the beginning if you had recorded without a proper warm-up.
We have a very detailed article on this topic going in depth on how you can work on making your voice sound best. If you are interested please visit 13 vocal tips for Podcasters to sound better.
7. Focus on value for your audience
- Make sure that the podcast content you are producing delivers extreme value to your audience. Introduce this value proposition in the show name, episode title and at the intro to each episode. Tell your audience what you are trying to deliver. This will help to create a bond and establish you as a reputable source in your particular topic also will set an expectation for your listener.
- Make sure you are improving lives, solving problems and providing valuable help. Serve your audience and your listeners will stick with your show. Whatever the topic you have for your show think always what is the best way to deliver value in the timespan of your episode.
- Make a promise. Tell your listeners what will you deliver in each episode. This will commit you into making the best episode you can. Make sure you are actually delivering and at the end sum up the episode, gently confirming that the promised has been met and value delivered.
If you want to know more about planning and delivering value within an episode visit: 9 key tips on how to plan podcast episodes.
8. Focus on delivering better and better content
- Introduce rituals. Elements that will communicate that each episode is a part of a bigger show and that valuable continuation will come. Make your audience attached to your brand. Have rituals at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of each of your podcast episodes.
- Make the content engaging and have an optimized structure of the episode.
- Begin with a clear thesis and introduction to an episode. Start with interesting promise and thesis which you are going to develop during your episode. Don’t keep them guessing about what this episode will be.
- Close out the episode with the promise of more value and content in the future. Describe briefly what will you cover in the next episode. Make your audience interested and actually awaiting your next podcast episode with a bit of impatience.
If you are interested in learning about content planning we recommend our article on Podcast content planning – build long term value
When you are podcasting without a studio there are multiple ways you can make sure your episode is of good quality. Don’t be discouraged about elements you can’t control as with this article we have shown that there is an abundance of elements that constitute a good podcast quality.
Focus on each of the components you can control. Read our multiple in-depth guides which will help you to improve podcast quality and get more listeners.
Very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together.
Great info, especially useful now, when getting to the studio might be impossible.