Preparation - Setting up your recording session
For best results, each podcast episode should be recorded at the same location using the same microphone and microphone positioning. This will create a consistent sound for your podcast episodes from week to week.
Terminology - Quick Overview of New Terms
Since podcasting is a new technology, certain editing terms take on new meanings that you should understand before you start recording.
- A Region is a piece of audio data. An audio Region could be a voice-over, sound effect or piece of music. In most recording programs, Regions are captured from an audio file and assembled together to create a playlist.
- A track is where audio regions are assembled as playlists for playback. A track can be made up of a single region or many regions in sequence.
- A channel refers to the physical input or output of your audio interface. Channels can be assigned to any available outlet in the recording software system.
Now that you have basic understanding of recording terminology, let’s explore the recording process.
Understanding the complete recording process
To gain insight into the recording studio and how audio is recorded, you should have a basic understanding of what recording engineers call the "signal flow". Basically the signal flow is the path by which sound travels from source to destination. In creating a podcast, the source will be the human voice and the destination will be an MP3 file.
Here’s a step-by-step outline of a typical podcast signal flow.
- A person speaks to create a vocal sound from their mouth.
- The vocal sound is detected by a microphone.
- The microphone passes the signal along the microphone cable.
- The end of the cable is plugged into a mixing board or digital interface.
- The mixing board or digital interface is plugged into a computer.
- The computer records the signal using recording software.
Quick Guide for Recording Your Voice - How to record your voice
- The computer’s internal microphone
- USB microphone, plugging the microphone directly into a USB port on your computer
Professional-grade dynamic or condenser microphone.
Plug your microphone into your preferred audio interface and then plug the audio interface into your computer. If you have a sound card installed in your computer, you can most likely plug your microphone directly into the audio input jack of the sound card.
- Calling a podcast recording service.
- Portable voice recorder for mobile and location recording.
Multitrack Recording - Adding layers to your Podcast
Multitracking is the concept of a layered audio compostition. The benefit of multitracking is that it allows you to individually control and manipulate each sound within your podcast recording. By recording with multitrack software, you're laying the foundation for music, sound effects and other voices participating resulting in a fully produced sound.
To illustrate an example for you, a musician's tracks could include individual tracks for percussion, guitar, keyboard, and a vocals. Many multitrack software programs include at least 8 tracks for you to work with. These tracks could be your theme music, announcer introduction, segments, and sound effects.
Let's look at how to create a track in your recording software program. Adjust the Gain control on your audio interface and within the recording program to set the recording level of your voice. It's good practice to test your distance from the microphone to determine where you sound the clearest.
Once you have determined your best location, do a short test recording. Be sure that the recording meter never goes into the red as this may cause unwanted noise or even distortion. Attach headphones directly to your computer or audio interface for the best quality recording (sound from speakers will be picked up in your recording).
Begin recording, remembering to keep your original microphone position. If you make a mistake, you can always do a second take and fix it when editing. Record your podcast and then listen to the results. When you have finished recording, save your work.
How to record a VoIP call using Skype
Set Up Audacity
Get Audacity from audacity.sourceforge.net; Run Audacity; Go to File -> Preferences -> Digital I/O -> Recording and choose a "Digital Audio"-class device rather than an "Input" -class device (which will replace microphone input with combined microphone and speaker recording); choose to record two channels of stereo; finally, close Preferences, and choose "Wave Out Mix" as the source of signal on the main window of Audacity;
Set Up the Sound Driver
Go to Control Panel -> Sounds and Audio Devices -> Volume -> Advanced and make sure the microphone is not muted; you may also want to click on "Advanced" settings for the microphone and check "MIC Boost" to amplify your voice.
Use Audacity and Skype
During a conversation, you can start recording in Audacity at any point (big red button); Audacity allows to export recordings in WAV, MP3, and OGG formats; for MP3s, you will need to find lame_enc.dll on Google (LAME is an excellent MP3 encoder).
Summary - Key points about recording your Podcast
In this chapter, we explored the recording process and how to enhance your podcast recording by multitracking and including external files in your podcast such as guest interviews and conversations. In the next chapter, we'll teach you how to find Podsafe music and add it into your podcast recording.
Written by David Ciccarelli