The Podcast Polishing Checklist


This guide is a general help sheet and check list for recording. It’s designed to be applied to any equipment and assumes you have access to the manual for your specific pieces of kit.

Environment Check

⦁ Is the place you want to record in noisy? ? If so go somewhere quiet or attempt to remove or reduce the noise.

⦁ Is there a way to reduce noise? Turn off fans, shut doors and windows, make other people aware you need quiet. Keep your mic away from noisy laptops, fridges and air conditioning.

⦁ Are you in an echoey or bad (square) shaped room? Listen to the room you are in, does it ring when you clap? Is there anything you can do to change the room? Adding soft furnishings, wall hangings, close curtains etc to absorb the echo.

Equipment check

⦁ Microphone
⦁ Headphones
⦁ Recording Device eg. Computer, audio Interface, handheld recorder, phone
⦁ Relevant cables and connectors

Process check

⦁ Set up equipment hardware – connect and turn on.

⦁ Load recording Device/Software – choose a recording medium of high quality standard  eq. WAV/AIFF (Usually found in a menu in audio settings of most recording software) Recommend 48KHz 24bit.

⦁ Sound Check – Check your input is correctly set for your microphone in your software eg. Skype. Also make sure that the correct microphone is set as the recording deivce, and not the on board default mic.

⦁ Check input level meters and listen for distortion whilst talking through the mic.

⦁ Tip: To allow for any sudden loud sounds, set your meter to be averaging around -18dB or about 70% of meter. (check the recording device user manual for clarification as models vary).

⦁ Test – Do a test recording for a few seconds, listen back. Rinse and repeat the following until you have found the happy place.

⦁ Is it too loud? Distortion? Fuzz? – if so turn it down a bit and repeat test.

⦁ Is it too Quiet? Do you have to turn up your monitor speakers /headphones to hear it and when you do, do you hear noise? – if so turn up your mic input level and repeat test.

Mic Placement and Technique

⦁ Is the microphone facing the right way? ie towards you? Usually the side with the Logo is the business end so speak into that side.

⦁ For a good sound and to avoid capsule overload speak into the mic from around 6-12” (Use your hand as a guide, put your thumb to your mouth and stick your pinky up towards the capsule, this is a good rule of thumb, literally.

⦁ If you want the Barry White sound go closer and it will add more bass but will risk distortion if you are too loud, swings and roundabouts. Note: some mics such as the SM7 are ideal for that radio broadcast close up sound and can withstand it so go for it with that.

⦁ If you are prone to laughing loudly or making unusually loud sounds then draw away from the mic so as not to distort the capsule.

⦁ Buy or make a pop filter, this helps reduce plosives (pees and bees) if you still haven’t got one you can try speaking into the mic from an angle off axis from the capsule.

⦁ Whilst recording remember to stay hydrated, I mean I would recommend it also when not recording but it helps to have a moist palate so stop those annoying mouth sounds, clicks and lip smacks, they seem to also be accentuated by condenser microphones too so watch out! Avoid coffee and sugary drinks too.

⦁ Avoid wearing jingly-jangly things like bracelets or necklaces that might crash against stuff and make noise.

⦁ Try not to tap feet or fidget, just be aware that is might come through on the recording, you can hear in your headphones how sensitive your mic is, Listen! If you need a fidget charm then find something like a squishy ball that isn’t going to intrude.

Exporting/Converting/Rendering notes (Read this before you record too)

⦁ Leave about 5-10 seconds of “silence”, no talking, just backgroud noise, on either the start or end of the recording (It’s for a noise reduction profile).

⦁ Export files so they are peaking around 70 percent of the available medium (assuming you can see a waveform here). Or if you have a good recording level as mentioned in the process check list leave it as is.

⦁ Export only in Lossless formats and don’t change the bit depth or sampling frequency until the mastering process (Lossless formats are WAV, AIFF etc)

Idiot Check

⦁ Is everything turned on? – haven’t we’ve all wondered how to turn on an Apple mac at some point?

⦁ Plugged in? – follow the path that the sound/signal takes

⦁ Make sure no sound is coming through any speakers – you will hear a doubling effect/echo on the recording

⦁ External noise? – Get rid of it

⦁ Check recording before going for a whole take – the best idiot check of them all

And Finally

If you really are stuck then I’m here to help, and if you think I’ve missed something I’d love to hear from you!

Get in touch with me here…

One thought on “The Podcast Polishing Checklist

  1. Great stuff sir. Came here from Reddit.

    Another tip I might recommend is to write your own steps down for processes that you do repeatedly in a word doc or a white board, especially when first getting started, such as Editing before Compressing, what preset you normally use for your EQ, what level you Normalize your music to, etc.

    This will help maintain your sound from episode to episode consistent, especially as you’re learning the ropes.

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