By Harry Duran
With the incredible rise in the popularity of podcasts lately, it seems like the majority of people either have their own podcast, listen to several podcasts, or have heard their friend, neighbor, or family member mention the word ‘podcast’.
Edison Research publishes an annual report on the state of the podcast listening audience (among other metrics). In the Infinite Dial 2020 report, there were a few stats which caught a lot of folks’ attention.
75% of Americans age 12+ (approximately 212 million people) are now familiar with podcasting, up from 70% in 2019, and 37% (104 million) listen monthly, up from 32% in 2019. This continues the growth trend that The Infinite Dial® has measured since 2009.
Why is this important? According to Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research, “Podcasts now reach over 100 million Americans every month, and are attracting an increasingly diverse audience.”
Now the question is, what does this mean for you as a new or established podcaster? Now, more than ever, there are more people listening to and discovering podcasts than ever before. And as someone who has been podcasting since 2014, as Host of Podcast Junkies, I continue to stress the importance that we, as a podcasting community, do whatever we can to keep the bar high when it comes to quality. I see myself as an ambassador for the medium and I will go on record saying that every podcaster who takes pride in their show should also do everything they can to always share best practices.
That brings us to the topic of podcast audio quality. It’s one of the most important aspects of a show and something all podcasters need to take seriously. With the number of shows in the Apple Podcasts directory rapidly approaching 1 Million, gone are the days when the ‘2 dudes in a basement’ could record a show with really poor audio quality and not have their listeners notice or complain. The bar is rising quickly and thankfully the technology and gear now available has improved just as fast, which is a great thing for podcasters.
The first thing to consider is the environment in which you are recording your show. You always want to make sure you’re in a quiet room, that goes without saying. But we all know that studio-quality environments are not always available. I’ll cover some recommendations on gear, as well as a couple of things you can look at to improve the quality of the audio you are capturing.
Regarding microphones, I’ve historically been a big proponent of keeping things simple and going with tried and true companies. Very early on I was lucky enough to be connected with the team at Samson and was impressed with their early entry into the podcast market, the dynamic handheld Q2U microphone. It’s now a common staple in every new podcaster’s toolkit.
Samson’s newest entry is the highly anticipated Q9U (coming Q1 2021). Designed specifically for podcasters, broadcasters and streamers it’s a dynamic microphone and uses a cardioid polar pattern. Why that’s important is because it offers excellent off-axis rejection and helps minimize ambient noise pickup. With both XLR and USB connections it’s the perfect microphone for in-home as well as broadcast studios.
What really has me excited about the Q9U is that it does not require any external sound card. In addition, the built-in pneumatic shockmount helps isolate the capsule from mechanical noises, which is going to greatly improve the quality of the sound.
If you’re on the go, and need to quickly record intros and outros, or your podcast lends itself to remote interviews or person-on-the-street reporting, I recommend looking into the Samson Go Mic Mobile wireless system, the quality is top-notch and it’s easy to use. Both the handheld and lavalier mic configurations allow you to move around freely and the receiver easily connects to your smartphone (you can even use two mics at once). If you are at a fixed location, then something like the Samson Satellite works extremely well, as it simply connects via USB to your laptop.
One of the quickest ways to reduce external noises in a public area is to use the tool Krisp. It’s a new technology that provides noise reduction functionality, which dramatically reduces the ambient noise in a room. I’ve used it in the past on a training webinar while dialing in from an airport cafe, and the difference was noticeable.
For those that have interview-based shows, there are tools like Zoom and Skype, but we commonly recommend Squadcast to our clients. They provide a unique solution for recording remote interviews with high quality audio. Each side of the recording is captured locally as a WAV file. During the call, there is an ongoing backup of the recording to the cloud every 8 seconds, so you can rest assured that your interview is safe. Once the recording is complete both sides of the audio are made available to the host, who can then download them and proceed with editing.
For remote conversations, I use an app called Tripmode to greatly improve the quality of the internet signal. It’s a low-cost tool that does one thing well, it allows you to control which applications are using the internet. Naturally when you’re in a public Wi-Fi, you may not be aware that tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., are using the internet and that will directly affect the quality of the connection. Tripmode allows only the application you are currently using to access the internet.
All in all, what you need to keep in mind as a new or veteran podcaster is that you want to do everything possible to constantly be improving the quality of your audio. Never forget the fact that a great majority of people are listening with their earbuds, it’s as if you are speaking directly into their ear.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a highly intimate medium. As a podcaster, you have a 1:1 relationship with your listener. And that connection, week over week, month over month, year over year, if treated respectfully, will turn a casual listener, into a raving superfan — which one would you rather have?
Would you like help with an existing podcast or guidance in launching a brand new show? That’s our specialty! FullCast provides done-for-you and done-with-you packages to help with all aspects of your show, from launch, to production and marketing. Schedule your free consultation call today at http://fullcast.co/.
Harry Duran is the Host of Podcast Junkies and the Founder of FullCast. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to Podcast Junkies, weekly conversation with outstanding podcast luminaries!