Podcast Audio Myths: Mics, Equipment, And A Podcast Editor's Role In Audio Quality

Hey everyone,

Today, I want to address some common myths and misconceptions about podcast equipment and audio quality that are floating around online.

Myth #1: XLR mics are superior to USB mics. Contrary to popular belief, the type of connector on a microphone doesn't directly affect sound quality. The real difference lies in the preamps. Preamps in USB mics are generally cheaper and less refined than those in an interface. While USB mics might not be ideal for music recording, they are perfectly competent for podcasting. The key is to choose reputable brands over cheap, no-name options, regardless of whether they are XLR or USB.

Myth #2: Spending more on equipment guarantees better audio. Many podcasters mistakenly believe that high-end equipment used by professional shows is the secret to their sound quality. Upgrading from a Samson Q2U to a Shure SM7B, for instance, won't transform your voice or compensate for poor room acoustics. It might help to some extent, but it's not a cure-all.

Myth #3: Professional editing can fix everything. As an editor, it's frustrating when clients expect us to turn poor recordings into studio-quality audio. An editor's capabilities are limited once the recording is done.

Now, let's look at the reality. Improving your audio begins at the recording stage. If you're the one hitting the record button, congratulations, you're the recording engineer, and the onus is on you to ensure high-quality recordings, not just for yourself but also for your guests. While this might seem daunting, there are resources to help, like my video guide and pre-show checklists available through my mailing list (check the description for links).

When it comes to guests, focus on what you can control to improve your recordings. First, learn to maximize your current equipment. Buying a new mic might be tempting, but the actual improvement for listeners is often minimal. Most podcasters make the mistake of positioning themselves too far from their mics. For dynamic mics, stay within 2-4 inches, and for condensers, 4-8 inches. The farther you are, the more gain you need, which can amplify room acoustics. Here's a demonstration: I'll start an inch and a half from my mic, then move to 6 inches, and finally a foot away. Notice how the sound changes?

Next, tackle room acoustics. If you're investing in audio quality, this is where to start. No matter your equipment, recording in a reverberant space won't yield great results. While post-production plugins can reduce reverb, they often compromise the good audio too. I recommend quality acoustic treatment products from companies like GIK Acoustics and Audimute. Foam is a cheaper alternative, but ensure it's at least 2 inches thick and use various thicknesses for a broad frequency range. Remember, you don't want your space to sound too dead.

In summary, the best improvements come from utilizing your existing equipment effectively and addressing your recording space's acoustics. High-quality audio starts with the recording process; post-production can only do so much. I hope you've found this video helpful, and I look forward to our next chat.