How to Improve Audio Quality on Remote Podcast Interviews

Remote interviews have become increasingly popular in the podcasting world, but achieving high-quality audio can be a challenge. In this article, we'll discuss some tips and tricks to help you improve the audio quality of your remote interviews, regardless of the platform you're using.

The Importance of Headphones

Interestingly, headphones play a more significant role in the overall quality of a remote interview than the microphone. This is because echo cancellation can wreak havoc on the audio. To prevent echo and enhance audio quality, ensure both you and your interviewee wear headphones during the call.

Microphone Selection and Setup

Provided that the person is using headphones, a well-positioned and properly set up microphone will outperform a laptop mic. Nevertheless, with post-production adjustments, a laptop mic can produce acceptable audio quality, making it a suitable option if a dedicated microphone is unavailable.

Mic Positioning and Set Up

To get the most out of a mic, it is important to position it well. The distance between your mouth and the microphone is a crucial factor in achieving good sound quality. As a general rule, dynamic microphones are better suited for closer placement, while condenser microphones can be placed a bit further away. Dynamic mics are more directional and less sensitive than condensers, meaning they can reject more background noise and unwanted sounds.For a dynamic microphone, you'll want to be positioned fairly close to it – around 2-4 inches away. For a condenser mic, you can afford to be a bit further away – around 6-8 inches. If you don't have a pop filter or windscreen, simply position the microphone slightly to the side of your mouth, rather than directly in front of it. This will allow the air to pass by the mic without hitting it directly, reducing the likelihood of pops and plosives.

Adjust Microphone Gain

It's essential to adjust the microphone gain correctly to avoid distortion or low audio levels. Test your microphone and your guest's microphone to find the optimal gain setting, ensuring that the audio is clear and free of distortion. If your guest is unfamiliar with adjusting gain, guide them through the process to achieve the best possible audio quality. Most USB mics have a gain adjustment on the mic itself. If it doesn't, you might need to walk the guest through how to adjust it. Find out what mic they are using and download the manual if you are unsure how to adjust the gain.

Earbuds with Integrated Microphones

Wired earbuds featuring an integrated microphone, such as Apple's EarPods or other smartphone-included headphone/mic combos, can be effective if used correctly. To prevent mic rustle caused by cable friction against clothing, hair, or jewelry, the user should hold the cable a couple of inches away from their body.

Bluetooth Mics and AirPods

Bluetooth mics and AirPods should be considered a last resort when no better alternatives are available, as they are susceptible to interference and produce low-quality audio. While convenient for casual conversations, they are not ideal for professional podcast recordings.

Recording Your Guest's Audio

Generally, it's advisable not to request that your guest record their portion of the conversation unless you're certain they have the necessary equipment and know-how. The goal is to make the process as simple as possible for the guest, ensuring they feel comfortable and focused on the conversation.

Choosing the Right Platform

Zoom may not be the optimal choice for remote interviews since it prioritizes file size over audio quality. Although many people opt for Zoom due to its familiarity, podcast-centric apps like Riverside, Squadcast, Zencastr, and StreamYard are equally user-friendly and deliver superior audio and video quality.

These platforms don't require downloads, and the setup is straightforward enough for anyone to follow. In comparison to Zoom, podcast first platforms provide higher quality audio and video files recorded locally, ensuring that internet connection issues don't affect the actual recordings. As these platforms are designed for podcasting, their primary focus is on quality.

Use an Ethernet Connection

Regardless of your chosen platform, using an Ethernet connection whenever possible guarantees a more stable internet connection and improved audio quality. Wired connections offer reduced latency and increased reliability compared to Wi-Fi connections, helping to prevent audio glitches and dropouts during recording.

Test Your Setup Before Recording

Before you begin recording your remote interview, it's crucial to test your audio setup. Schedule a brief call with your guest to ensure their microphone, headphones, and internet connection are all working correctly. This will also give you an opportunity to address any potential issues before the actual interview, saving time and preventing stress. Nothing gets things off to a rockier start than spending 20 minutes troubleshooting an issue before the conversation starts.

Minimize Background Noise

Both you and your guest should strive to minimize background noise during the recording. This can be achieved by recording in a quiet space with limited distractions, closing windows to reduce external noise, and turning off noisy appliances or devices. Remove pets from the space and ask everyone to turn off notifications.

Post-Production Enhancements

While it's crucial to capture the best possible audio during the recording process, post-production can further improve your remote interview's audio quality. Tools like noise reduction, equalization, and compression can enhance your recording and give it a professional polish. Investing time in learning and applying these techniques will significantly improve the final product.

Stay Flexible and Adapt

It's important to stay flexible and adapt to any unexpected issues that may arise during your remote interview. If you encounter technical difficulties or connection problems, stay calm and work through them patiently. Remember that the primary goal is to create an enjoyable and informative podcast for your audience, and being adaptable will help you achieve this.

By following these additional tips and applying the suggestions mentioned earlier, you'll be well on your way to improving the audio quality of your remote podcast interviews. This will lead to a more enjoyable listening experience for your audience, helping you grow your podcast and reach new listeners.

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