Podcast microphone next to laptop

How to Record a Podcast in 5 Easy Steps [2022]

Recording your first podcast episode can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren't familiar with the technology.

Fortunately, you don't need much experience, equipment, or money to record top-notch episodes.

This guide breaks down the key parts of recording a podcast so you'll know everything you need to get started!

To start your podcast off right, make sure to sign up with a podcast hosting service and follow these five steps before recording!

Step #1 Write a podcast outline

Your episode outline can be anything from jotting down a few bullet points to a word-for-word script and anything in between.

Writing an outline for your episode helps you:

  • communicate effectively,
  • fight the tendency to ramble, and
  • keep the attention of listeners.

This one step can make a profound difference in the quality of your episode and doesn't need to take more than 15 minutes.

If you work with a co-host, you can share the outline with them so you're both on the same page.

Step #2 Pick a place to record

The right recording location plays a big part in your podcast's audio quality. The best way to get high-quality sound is to prevent issues from the beginning.

Voices bounce off of hard, flat surfaces (like walls) and can make your recording sound echo-y and reverberant.

Try to pick a space with lots of soft surfaces that can absorb sound like:

  • a closet full of clothes,
  • a 10x10 or 10x12 carpeted room, or
  • a home recording studio with foam panels.

Whatever space you pick, try to find one with lots of furniture and padding, carpet, rugs, and minimal background noise.

Step #3 Choose your recording method

There are several different recording setups to choose from depending on your situation. Choose from one of these five the one that best suits your situation.

Podcast recording software

Using podcast recording software is an easy way to record your podcast audio, especially if you record solo or in the same room with someone.

Just plug your microphone in, select your input and output in your audio settings, and start recording.

Some of our favorite recording software is:

USB microphone setup

If you don't have a mic yet, we suggest a USB mic like the Audio Technica ATR2100x you can pick up on Amazon.

Just plug the mic directly into your computer's USB port.

Then, select the mic as your input and output in the audio settings of your podcast recording software.

XLR microphone setup

XLR mics are best if you plan to record with multiple guests or on the go with a portable recorder.

This podcast microphone requires an audio interface since computers don't have XLR hookups.

Plug your XLR cable into your audio interface and connect that to your computer's USB port.

Then, select your output and input in your audio software settings.

Video conferencing tools

Platforms like Zoom let you record long-distance phone calls with a guest.

Other free video conferencing tools are:

These call recording tools depend on a strong internet connection, so the sound can cut in and out sometimes.

Zoom also compresses your audio, so you lose some quality in the process.

Before you set up your remote interview using Zoom, make sure you and your guest have a strong internet connection.

And if your connection isn't strong, turn off your video and record only audio.

Remote recording platform

Remote recording platforms are similar to video conferencing tools except that they allow guests to record locally for studio quality audio.

Local recordings capture high-quality audio because guests record themselves directly to the software.

These tools record studio-quality audio even without a great internet connection, and upload to the cloud so you never lose your recordings.

Here are our favorite remote recording platforms for Mac and PC

These platforms export each guest's audio as WAV files and are a solid option for podcasters who record a lot of remote interviews.

Record a double-ender

A double-ender is where both parties record their audio locally instead of relying on the internet.

This method is an excellent option if you and your guest are up for it, but we don't recommend it for beginners.

To do a double-ender, you and your guest need a:

Afterward, each guest sends their file to the editor to put it together as a seamless episode.

Portable recording device

Using a voice recorder like the Zoom Podtrak P4 or Zoom H6 is a convenient way to record on the go.

Portable field recorders record up to four separate tracks onto an SD card using XLR microphones.

Other benefits of portable records are:

  • they connect to your smartphone to record calls,
  • they double as a USB interface, and
  • they let you adjust the volume of each guest.

After recording your interview, you can upload your audio files to podcast editing software for post-production.

Note: We don't suggest using Skype to record audio because it combines all tracks into one, compressed MP4 file.

Step #4 Optimize your mic technique

You want to end up with a recording free of plosives or clipping. Keep these mic technique tips in mind to minimize issues in post-production.

Be mindful of your proximity to the mic

Staying close to your mic results in a full and more resonant recording.

If you have a higher-pitched voice, stay closer to the mic so it can pick up your lower frequencies.

If your voice is naturally lower, move back a little so the mic will brighten it up.

If you're a dynamic speaker, try to stay mindful of your voice levels throughout the recording so you can adjust.

To do this, make sure to back off your mic when you speak loudly to disperse sound pressure.

If you speak softly, position yourself closer to the mic.

Know your mic's sensitivities

Every mic has a different sound based on its sensitivity to certain frequencies.

Mics that are more sensitive to high frequencies sound brighter, and mics with sensitivity to low frequencies are darker.

Changing the position or axis of your mic changes how dark or light it sounds.

If you feel your mic is too bright, try moving it off-axis just to the left or right of you so you don't speak directly into it.

Move the mic on-axis and speak directly into it to brighten up your recording.

Step #5 Export your audio file

We suggest exporting your final recording as an MP3.

The MP3 format is the podcast industry standard and has a good balance of high-quality audio and reasonable file size.

This format is also the most common one you'll see on platforms like Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes).

From here, you can upload your files to your favorite editing software and begin piecing your episode together!

Final thoughts

Recording a podcast doesn't need to be a complex process and you can get quality audio without a fancy setup.

A little effort on the front-end of your recording can save you time in post-production and go a long way toward improving the quality of your episodes.

Feel free to check out our How to Start a Podcast guide for tutorials and how-tos on the basics of launching your podcast!

Alban Brooke

Alban Brooke

Alban Brooke is the Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout and the co-host of Buzzcast. Have any questions about this guide? Reach out on Twitter.

FAQ

How can I record a podcast at home?

You can record the best podcast audio at home using:

  1. podcast recording and editing software,
  2. video conferencing software,
  3. portable field recorder,
  4. remote podcast recording software, or
  5. a double-ender.

Can I record a podcast on my iPhone?

You can record a podcast on your smartphone, but it requires getting some specific gear, and the sound quality probably won't be as good as it would using a computer, field recorder, or podcast software.

What equipment is needed to create a podcast?

The podcast equipment you need depends on how many people you plan to record and your budget. For most podcasters, all you need to get started is a:

  • podcast microphone,
  • pair of headphones,
  • computer,
  • pop filter, and
  • recording software.

What platform can I use to record a podcast?

Our favorite podcast recording platforms are: