The 3 most important factors of a good sounding podcast

My podcast didn’t sound good at first. Now it does. So let me share the 3 most important factors to consider for a better sounding podcast:

1. the microphones you use

My first mistake in podcasting was buying two Shure SM48s. They cost ca. 50 €. I bought mics from the brand Shure because it’s one of the most famous microphone brands. I bought the SM48 because it was cheap(er). The other option I had in mind was the Shure SM58 which cost ca. 100 € a piece. I finally bought two SM58s and I should’ve gone with that option right from the start.

The SM58 is the classic among dynamic microphones. It is used for the great podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show” and on stage by comedian Jerry Seinfeld and musicians Jason Isbell, Bruce Springsteen, Henry Rollins, Patti Smith and Sheryl Crow.

The SM58 sounds clearer and transports your voice more how it really is compared to the SM48. The 48 sounds more dull and hollow. So, I definitely recommend the SM58 over the SM48. There are of course other options that you can research but this is what I can say from my experience. From what I’ve heard, the Shure beta 58 (ca. 150 €) and the Shure SM7b (ca. 400 €), used by a lot of top podcasters, are also very good.

-> Invest a little more money in good microphones

A Shure SM58.

2. EQ and Compressor

After you recorded your podcast you edit it. Equalizer (EQ) and Compressor are the most important effects to improve voice recordings. For audio editing I use the program Cubase which takes some time to fully understand. Once you do understand it, it’s fantastic and you can do everything with it that you need to edit your podcast episodes (and much more).

When you record an interview podcast you usually interview people that are not used to speak into a mic. So often they are too far away from the mic, too close but still not speaking loud enough or both. Some have a quiet voice and laugh very loudly. That and more can make an audio recording sound very uneven.

A Compressor makes quiet sounds louder and loud sounds more quiet, so this effect evens out your audio recording. An EQ has the same goal as a Compressor but with different, more subtle means: you can adjust the various frequencies more to the point with an EQ.

-> Learn how to use EQ and Compressor after you learned the bare minimum of audio editing

The EQ settings that I use for recordings of my own voice. It’s a standard EQ plugin that Cubase offers. Nothing fancy.

3. how you speak into the microphone

Speaking into a microphone is harder than you think. You want to sound natural in an unnatural speaking situation, so you have to get used to it first. Get used to it by trying different techniques: Turn the recording volume up and speak louder but at a longer distance from the mic. Turn the recording volume down, speak closer to the mic but more quietly. And pay attention how the podcast professionals speak on youtube. Also watch youtube tutorials on how to speak into a microphone.

Here are 2 very good short videos on that topic which will spare you a lot of trial & error:

-> Learn how to properly speak into a mic.

recording with Andreas Ullrich for Ep. 7 of my podcast

Additional tip #1: Turn on your mic a minute before you start recording, put on your headphones and hear yourself speaking into the mic. That way you hear your own voice and by the time you start recording a few minutes later, you feel comfortable with your own voice. That way you can ease more smoothly into the recording process.

Additional tip #2: On my podcast at the end of Ep. 4 with Christian Rechholz we talk about techniques for a better sounding voice.


Do you like podcasts? If so, please consider checking out my podcast The.Connecting.Dots.Podcast on your favorite podcast player:

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