The Importance of Audio Quality & Tips to Enhance your Podcast | Episode 34

Audio quality – it’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s a non-negotiable factor in creating a professional and engaging podcast and it can make a difference in its success. Great audio quality impacts that important first impression, the overall listening experience as well as audience retention and engagement. In this episode, we’ll cover some of the reasons it’s important and I share 5 easy tips to enhance the audio quality of your show.



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Podcasting Tips & Tricks is a show designed to share quick, actionable tips and tricks for launching and growing a successful podcast and is aimed at both new and seasoned podcasters. We’ll cover a range of topics from launching your podcast, editing, publishing, hosting, equipment, systems and processes, marketing, monetising, industry news and lots more.

Podcast awareness and listenership are growing year-on-year so it’s no surprise that it is still growing in 2024. And now is a great time for small business owners and entrepreneurs to launch a podcast to raise brand awareness and position their expertise whilst building authority and trust.

I’m Lyndal Harris, Podcast Consultant and founder of Podcast VA where my team and I simplify the podcasting journey. We offer a variety of done-for-support services, online and in-person training, as well as strategy sessions and health checks. At Podcast VA, we have launched hundreds of podcasts for both Australian and international clients, who collectively captivate millions of listeners worldwide. And quite a number of these shows have hit number 1 in the charts!



The Importance of Audio Quality & Tips to Enhance your Podcast

Welcome back to another episode of Podcasting Tips and Tricks.
I am your host, Lyndall Harris, and this show is brought to you by Podcast VA, where we help simplify the podcasting journey.
Today, we’re looking at a topic that can make or break your podcast, audio quality.
It’s not just a nice to have, it is a must-have when it comes to your show.
We’re going to cover a few reasons why audio quality is important, and then I’m going to give you five tips for achieving great quality audio for your podcast.

[0:48] There are many reasons to ensure your podcast has high-quality audio.
First impressions count. If you’re delivering content with great audio quality, you appear more professional and it helps build that intimate relationship with your audience.
I remember reading somewhere and I can’t think where it was to reference it, but a study at a university where scientists presented their research or their findings to a group of people.
And when they presented it with good quality audio, the message was understood and believed.
They then took that same content and reduced the audio quality to something that was less than great.
And their research lost credibility.

[1:36] The same content with different audio quality.
So remember, your audio quality of your podcast will show your professionalism and also your credibility.
Having a podcast with high-quality audio creates positive listening experience and the audience will appreciate listening to your content more, but it shows that you have actually thought about that experience and are mindful of it.
And in turn that will help with the retention and engagement of your listeners and this is huge for podcasters because we don’t want them to just listen to the episode that they’re currently listening to we want them to come back for future ones we want them to hit that follow or subscribe button.

[2:18] Imagine coming across a show that seems like the perfect podcast that piques your interest.
The content is exactly what you’re looking for, but then you turn it on and the audio quality is less than great.
I’m sure you’ve come across shows like that. I know I have. And many times I’ll just hit stop or I’ll hit skip.
I guess it’d be like sitting down to a TV show that is grainy or blurry.
And I’m turning that off. I’m going to go and find something else to watch.
And your audience will do the same thing. They will go and find another podcast to listen to or watch. It’s that simple.
I’m going to put my hand up and say quite clearly, I am not an audio or a sound engineer, but I do know that sometimes we can do small things that will make a big difference to the quality of our audio.
And so I’m going to give you five tips on how to improve the quality of your show.

[3:17] Firstly, get the best quality recording.
Yes, there are lots of things that we can do in the editing stage, but there’s also a lot of things that we can’t fix in the editing stage.
So start by getting the very best quality recording that you can.
Think about the room or the setting where you’re recording.
Is it echoey? Could you throw Throw down some blankets or cushions to help treat that space.
Are there any ambient background noises that you can minimize?
A tip here too is if you’re recording in a different environment from the usual, but it’s great content, record a little intro for that episode and mention it.
So for example, I’m recording this episode from a conference that I’m attending.
So you’ll hear a difference in the audio quality, but the content is great and I still wanted to share it with you. So please excuse the reduced audio quality, something like that, that just explains to them why it’s not the same as it usually is.

[4:18] The second tip is your equipment. Now you’ll have heard before choosing a microphone that is suitable for your recording space is so, so important.
Knowing the format of your show, are you going to be sitting down at a computer and recording or are you going to be out and recording people on the street, for example, where you’ve got background noise that’s quite different.
Some of the most popular recommendations are not suitable for everybody.
I often see people recommending the Blue Yeti mic for podcasting, which is something that I probably wouldn’t recommend.
And I know the Blue Yeti is a fantastic microphone, so I’m not suggesting that it’s not, but it is definitely not suitable for a lot of people’s environments because it is a very sensitive microphone that will pick up a bird chirping five suburbs away.
And so if you don’t use it properly, you don’t get the best audio quality.
So really just thinking about that space and doing a little bit of research to make sure you buy the one that’s suitable for your space and how you’re going to be recording.

[5:26] Another thing that I see and I hear so often is that people have a microphone.
They’ve purchased a microphone and they’ve got it connected now they either haven’t chosen the right microphone from the input in the program that they are using or it’s simply not sitting close enough to them interestingly enough if I move my microphone away and talk to you like this you can hear a difference in the quality of the audio if I bring it back and place it about from from your pinky to your thumb or slightly closer, but about that’s a good rule of thumb.
You’re going to get a much better recording. So please, when you get a microphone, make sure that you’re placing it really close to you, even if it looks a little funny in the screen.
That is how you’re going to get the best quality recording.

[6:20] Also, you might need to get a pop filter to ensure there’s not a lot of explosives.
Those hard B’s and P’s that come up, they do happen in episodes, but if it’s happening all of the time when you’re talking, then you might need a pop filter. but just be mindful of that placement because it can make a huge difference to the quality of the audio.
And lastly, on the equipment side of things, are you using headphones?
Because that can make a big difference as well, particularly if you are recording interviews or you have a co-host and there’s multiple people on the recording.
I have an equipment and software recommendations document that might be helpful if you haven’t chosen your equipment yet, you can find that at forward slash equipment underscore software.
And that’ll take you through some of the different choices with various bits of equipment and software.

[7:12] The third tip is record on separate tracks.
Now, if you are recording interviews, if you have a co-host, recording on separate tracks means that each person will have their own individual track and it makes it so much easier to edit.
For example, if I’m talking to somebody and I have the dog barking next door, if that’s on a separate track, I can remove that sound quite easily in the editing process.
But if it’s all on one track, it can be impossible to remove that dog barking in the background.

[7:48] So not only is it useful for the noise reduction.
It can also be helpful to level the volume if you’ve got multiple people talking.
And it can also be easier to edit if there’s people talking over each other because you can fix those up quite easily.
And as I said, sometimes with the editing, if it’s all on one track, it can be quite difficult to fix.
You can record separate tracks on most of the recording platforms.
So Zoom, Squadcast, Riverside, Zencaster, they’ll all offer separate tracks, but they also might have a condensed track as well.
So just check your settings so that you’re getting a separate track for each person.

[8:28] Tip number four is being mindful when you are co-hosting or interviewing someone that you could be agreeing or acknowledging what someone is saying by saying, yep, yep, all the time.
And And that can actually be really difficult to listen to.
Some interaction is okay and it actually sounds quite natural, but you don’t want to have too much of it.
And that’s an interview technique that you really should learn if it is something that you do.

[9:00] Now, I have to say, this is something that I was guilty of when I first started podcasting.
I was often over agreeing saying, yep, while someone else was talking or answering a question.
But once I became aware of it, I found it easy to turn that around and stop doing it because I do find it really jarring to listen to interviews when that is happening.
Now, one of the benefits of recording a video, whether you’re actually using the video in the publishing or not.
But when you’ve got the video camera on, you can use body language instead of using the yep, yep.
So you can be nodding your head that shows that.
And it is quite a different technique to learn if that’s not natural for you, because sometimes I feel like I do want to talk. I talk all the time.
So I do want to do those agreeing, acknowledging, yep, yep, yep.
But if you’re really mindful of it, you use the body language that you can get over a video, it will sound better if you can minimize that and it’ll help with your podcasting, your interviewing and your speaking skills as well.
So if you find that you’re always agreeing and acknowledging with someone, a guest or a co-host, really make a conscious effort to minimize those sounds because it will make a big difference to the listening experience of that episode.

[10:22] And tip number five is editing. There are so many different ways to edit your shows and different platforms that you can use to edit your shows now.
Not only do you want to be mindful of content editing, so removing your filler words, your ums and ahs if you’ve got too many of them, but also the content to make it a better listening experience.
There are also some technical steps in the editing process that will will make sure that the quality of the sound is as good as you can get it.
So these might not be relevant for everybody, but at a bare minimum, I think you should be looking at noise reduction.
So if you’ve got a fan or an air conditioner, or it’s a little bit staticky when you’re recording, use some noise reduction techniques in your editing to minimize that. So it’s a nice, clear, crisp sound.
And a tip there is if you do have a background noise that you can’t get rid of, Record a segment of that for five to 10 seconds because then you can use that in the editing process.

[11:23] Leveling the tracks, ensuring that if you’ve got a guest, that the guest and the host are at the same volume.
And podcast loudness, the podcast loudness level will ensure that your podcast sounds great on all devices and across all platforms.
So it sets it at a standard sort of level for podcasts and anywhere between minus 20 to minus 16 LUFS for podcasts is suitable.
So once you work out which volume level you’re going to use, just stick with that level across the board.
There are programs available that can help make some of these editing steps a little easier.
I often recommend to people who are DIYing their editing to have a look at a program called Auphonic.

[12:07] Auphonic is a great AI tool which really polishes the audio after you’ve edited in a program like Audacity or GarageBand. You can bring it into Auphonic.
It will do some of those techniques like your noise reduction, your leveling, setting that loudness.
You can also add your ID3 tags and it now creates show notes and transcripts and you can integrate it with a whole lot of other software and podcast platforms as well.
So I’ll pop the link into the show notes for Auphonic if you are self-editing and you want to find something that might up that editing game a little bit for you.
Now as I said earlier I’m not an audio engineer and I don’t really edit that many shows anymore as I have a team that do that but I think that some of these techniques you should at least know that your episodes might require them to sound better.

[13:00] And of course, if the techie side of things is too much, you can always outsource the editing, which is something that we do for our clients at Podcast VA.
But there are plenty of people that you can use to outsource this particular part of the process if it’s something that you really don’t want to get into.

[13:17] So funny, I am quite fussy with my audio quality.
I often listen to podcasts while I’m driving. And if a show comes on with bad quality, particularly at the beginning, 99% of the time, I will hit skip and go and listen to the next show.
Unless it’s content that I really need to listen to and I can’t get somewhere else, I might persevere with it.
But most of the time I’m just going to hit skip and move on.
A big bugbear of mine is like the leveling of the audio or when the intro music plays too loud or it’s not softened behind the speaking.
And also just setting that loudness I think is important too, because if I’m listening to multiple shows while while I’m on a long drive, for example, they’re all roughly the same volume.
And that’s the luffs between minus 16 and minus 20 that we were talking about, because it means that I’m not going to need to change the volume on the device that I’m listening through because roughly they’re all going to be the same.

[14:13] That’s it for today’s episode on the importance of good quality audio.
And remember in podcasting, your audio quality really is as important as the content that you you are sharing.
I would love if you have any tips or techniques that you would like to share that you do for your show to ensure that you get great audio quality.
Feel free to either send me a message on social media or jump into the Australian Podcasters Collaborative Facebook group and start a conversation in there about what you do to ensure that you get good audio quality for your podcasts.

[14:48] Until next time, happy podcasting and I’ll see you in the next episode.


Lyndal Harris

About the author

Lyndal Harris, Founder of Podcast VA offers podcast editing and production support services making podcasting easier for everyone. We’ll look after the techy stuff for you… All you need to do is record your episode and we’ll do the rest. Ready to start?