As video conference calls have become more normal in our lives recently, you may feel more comfortable than ever recording your podcast at home, even putting together your own little podcast room. 🏡
And you should!
There is a lot of overlap between the two activities. If you have already had to put some thoughts into where you do a video conference in your home, you have a jump start on thinking about how to set up a podcast room. 🔧
But the two are a little different, especially because expectations are usually higher for podcasts than random work meetings.
So in this blog post, we’re going to go through, step-by-step, how to make a podcast room at your home. 🧑🏫
But first, let’s take a second to think through if a home podcast area is the best choice for you.
Deciding between Podcast Room at Home vs. Renting a Studio
We get this question frequently: “Should I rent out a recording studio to do my podcast in or should a just record at home?” The answer is it depends on your specific circumstances.
Let’s go through the things you should consider. 🧑💻
You may think that the cheapest option is to record at home because after all it is free. Right? Not necessarily true!
As you’ll read in a later section, you may need to spend a chunk of money create your own studio at home: wall foam panels, a podcast mic, etc. 💵
Sometimes a studio will provide you all the podcast recording essentials as part of renting the space. So if you don’t already own your own recording equipment, you may want to consider the studio rental situation.
Check out what your local studio rental places offer. Then compare that cost to the cost of putting together your own podcast studio at home. 💲
Time is a precious resource. It really comes into play at two different parts of this decision making process. ⏰
First, there is the time at the beginning. Depending on how advanced you want to get or how much noise you have to work against in your home, it could take many of hours or days to put together a quality recording room.
Also, if you don’t already have recording equipment, then it will also take time at the beginning to research and purchase that. 🎙️
A rental studio will likely have everything all set up and ready to go. That it will take far less startup time needed.
The second part to think about in terms of time is the ongoing time spent. It is likely much faster to pop into your podcasting spot at home and do a recording session, than having to drive, bike, scooter, or take public transportation to a rental studio. 🛴
So as you think about this category as you make your decision, think about when you’ll have the most free hours on your hands– now or on an ongoing basis.
Control Over Environmental Noise
Even with a pretty good podcast space at home, it can be hard to block out some major noise. 🔊
There may really loud construction happening nearby. You may have roommates or neighbors who are loud. A barking dog can be a major noise problem. Same with a crying baby. 👶
It isn’t impossible to put together a recording setup in a home with any of the above, but you better make it the most sound proof one possible!
Unfortunately, not all public spaces are accessible. If you have a disability, there’s a chance that your local rental studio isn’t accessible. Or even it is, transportation to get there may not be. 😞
COVID-19 is of course our new reality. If you are immunocompromised or just plain don’t want the bug, you will want to check if your local rental studios have suitable measures in place to reduce risk. The good news is that recording studios don’t typically have crowds in them, but the bad news is that some of them don’t have good ventilation. 😷
If accessibility is an acute problem for you, a home podcast setup might be best.
Chances are if you are a podcaster, you probably have at least one other job. Maybe many more than one, in fact. Not to mention all the other obligations we have in our lives.
A studio might already be pretty booked up in the evenings and weekends. Or they may close at 10pm when your creative juices are just starting to flow! 🦉
The nice thing about a home studio is that you can pop in any time! No need to schedule… unless the people you live with are also podcasters… in that case, whew that’s quite the household. 😳
Overall, just make the best decision you can based on these factors and any other important ones in your life. Remember, you can always switch up if you need.
Watch a video about how we turned our meeting room into a home-made studio.
Setting Up a Podcast Room at Home
Ok, let’s assume you have decided to setup your own audio recording studio at home. Congratulations! Ready to start? Let’s go! 💪
Step 1: Choosing the Best Room
The first step is to chose a room, and more specifically, a space where you will record. Here are things you want to consider:
This is the number one biggest factor. You want a place as far away as possible from the street, from neighbors, and from household noises. Be sure to think about household noises that you probably don’t actively hear any more– washing machine, dog’s nails on a wooden floor, etc.
Electrical Outlets 🔌
Shout out to the people living in old homes! There aren’t a ton of electrical outlets, and no matter how much you’re a pro at power strips, there is the decent chance you may blow a fuse if you aren’t careful. Since you are going to be powering a bunch of different pieces of equipment as you record and edit, make sure your chosen spot can handle it in terms of electricity.
Ability to Repair/Hide 🎨
A podcast room can be super cool and look great. However, depending how shoe-string your budget is, it may not be so super cool and great looking. In fact, it might be better if it isn’t in full view of house guests or annoyed housemates. Plus, if you are renting, you need to be ready to figure out how to remove your setup and return the home to how it was when you first signed the lease. It is one thing to spackle over holes in a closet, but quite another to spackle over holes in the main wall of the den. Choose wisely and your deposit check will thank you.
Step 2: Treatment for the Podcast Room
Here we go. This is the section you’ve been waiting for. DIY, baby! 👷
There are two main things you need to do when building your recording space: sound proof it and sound treat it.
Sound proofing is keep outside noise out or at least minimized. Sound treatment is to help your audio sound the highest quality possible.
How to Sound Proof Your Podcast Room
To sound proof most effectively, start where outside noises are most likely to come from and/or the loudest. Many times this is a door or window, though sometimes it is a wall.
Tacking up the heaviest blankets you can find over windows and doors is always a free option. However it isn’t very sustainable.
For windows, you can buy soundproof curtains. You can also make a window plug that you can take in and out based on when you need it. 🪟
The idea of a window plug is that you make it a size where you can stick it in a window frame area and it will stay. Then you can remove it when you are done recording. The plug needs to be made out of sound absorbing material (not to be confused with heat absorbing material that people make window plugs out of in very cold winters).
For doors, you can screw in some hooks over the top of them, then get sound proofing blankets that have holes built into them. This way you can easy put up the sound proofing blankets when you are recording, and then take them down when you are not. 🚪
This method also works for windows and walls.
If you are in a position to make permanent or semi-permanent changes to your space, sound-absorbing foam is your best bet, especially for walls. Many times the foam comes with some kind of adhesive materials for you to use. 🏠
How to Sound Treat Your Podcast Room
If you only sound proof your podcast room and don’t sound treat it, your podcast may not sound as professional as it should. The audio may sound a little muffled or just a little off.
There are three basic sound treatments: acoustic panels, bass traps, and diffusion panels.
Acoustic panels are basically the sound absorbing foam panels we talked about earlier. In the section above we talked about them in terms of absorbing outside sounds before they could enter the room, but acoustic panels also play a key role in absorbing sounds within the room. Without them, your audio may sound echo-y. 🙀
Bass traps are similar to acoutic panels, but they are made to capture low frequency sounds and are often most effective in the corners of rooms. 🪤
Diffusion panels, like their name implies, diffuse sounds rather than absorbing them. They help keep the audio sounding natural, while still reducing echoes, audio bleeding, etc. ↔️
Overall, when constructing your home studio, take one step at a time and then test it. You may have to do less constructing than you imaged. Or you may have to do more than you thought.
Step 3: Equipment Needed for Your Podcast Room
The room setup is important, but equally important is the equipment you fill it with. In this section we are going to go over the basic pieces of equipment you need in your podcast room.
We won’t get into specific microphones here because we have another blog post listing the 8 best podcast microphones. But just so you have an idea on cost, the min is about $40 and max is about $400.
In general, you want to get at least one good recording mic, and two if you plan on interviewing guests. Be mindful how the microphone needs to be powered and what all it may need to be plugged into.
If it is a USB microphone, it will likely connect and record straight to your computer as well as get its electricity from your computer (though there are different types of USB cords so double check).
If it is an XLR microphone, that means it needs an XLR cable. The XLR cable then usually connects to a mixer, recording to the mixer and pulling energy from it (we’ll cover mixers in the next section). You want to have at least one XLR cable per microphone and you want to take care of XLR cables- wrap them up nicely, avoid crushing them underfoot, etc.
Also, consider microphone attachments like a windscreen (it helps reduce the recording of mouth noises).
A podcast mixer usually looks like a little, thick box about the size of your hand. You plug microphones into it with XLR cables. It records the audio, usually onto a data card. It also has a display interface so you can set and monitor the microphones’ input. A mixer is a great option if you want professional sounding audio, especially if you have multiple active microphones.
Microphone Stand 🏗️
Most podcast microphones come with a little stand built in. The microphone stands we are talking about here are the ones with very long arms and multiple hinges to make it possible to put your mic exactly where you or your guest want it.
Besides helping produce great audio, microphone stands often create a better visual too. If you are doing a video podcast, you are going to look a lot more natural if you use a stand like this.
For in-depth information on specific headphones check out this blog post on podcast headphones we wrote. Just to give you a general picture on cost the min is about $30 and the max about $500. Here we are just going to cover the basic things you need to keep in mind.
If you are going to wear headphones as you record, make sure that the audio coming through them doesn’t leak into your microphone. Closed back headphones, headphones that essentially seal around your ears, are good for this. However, these also block out a lot of the sound around you so you may not hear things you need to hear.
Sometimes podcast host’s wear headphones while they record so they can hear what the microphone is picking up. Sometimes they wear them because they are doing a remote interview and need to hear the guest. Other times in super fancy shows, they may wear headphones or a some type of ear piece to listen for cues from an off-screen producer.
The bottom line is decide what you need your headphones for in terms of recording. They may be different than the ones you want to wear when you edit.
Speaking of editing… let’s talk about the last item on our list, computers and software!
Computer and Software 🖥️
If your microphone only records through a USB, you are going to need a computer in the actual recording space with your. However, this may not be the same computer that you edit on. While it is nice to edit in a quiet spot like your podcast room, some times you have to edit elsewhere.
At the very least you want a decent laptop that can connect well with your microphone, handle the amount of audio data being generated plus the data of the music you want to use, while also running a decent audio editing software.
On the other end of the spectrum, you could get a desktop that can store and work with a ton of audio, music, and video data as well as run powerful editing software and interface.
There are some free, basic audio editing software out there like Audacity, but there are no free computers out there that we know of! So be sure to do your research first!
Make a podcasting space in your home is definitely doable. 😃
It can be super professional, semi-pro, or maybe just throwing some blankets up on the walls. 💁
The goals is to control the audio environment as much as possible and get the best quality equipment as you can. 😎
Then get to doing what you love- making podcasts! 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
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