Podcast recording is very similar to recording a voice over. But there are things that make podcast recordings unique. A common podcast setup involves multiple people being recording in the same room, interview style, with a host and one or more guests. Recording more than one person in a room introduces some challenges to the setup, and it’s important to consider mic selection, the way the mics are mounted, and how to best isolate each person to avoid bleed (bleed is when a mic picks up the sound of someone else in the room).
Microphone Selection: Condenser or Dynamic?
For voice recording in the studio, tried and true condenser mics from Neumann, Sennheiser, AKG and many other manufacturers are the standard go-to choices. But in the world of podcasts, why is it that dynamic mics are so prevelant? This is a good question, because If you know a bit about mics, you know that condenser mics pick up far more detail than dynamic mics. Condenser mics are well suited for recording dialog. Additionally, dynamic mics need a decent amount of level to move the diaphragm for good quality recording. These characteristics are why recording engineers typically select condenser mics over dynamic mics in a controlled, quiet environment like a recording booth. So what makes dynamic mics common for podcast recording? A few things: dynamic mics are rugged and durable, and can take a lot of rough handling without a problem. They are much more affordable than standard studio condenser mics. And since dynamic mics are less sensitive, they won’t pick up extraneous sounds as much as a condenser mic. So in a typical non-studio podcast recording environment like an office conference room (or someone’s bedroom) the dynamic mic will not pick up background noises as much. And because the dynamic mic is less sensitive, when recording two or more people in the same room, a properly positioned close mic’d dynamic will pickup very little of the other voice(s) in the room. This is a huge benefit for mixing: knowing that each track is pretty isolated means you don’t need to go crazy muting the tracks of people when they are not speaking. The minor amount of bleed means the tracks can be left unmuted when mixing, making for a much quicker mix.
CMD’s Microphone Recommendations
For a dynamic mic we recommend the EV RE20. We compared the RE20 with the Shure SM-7B (which has become one of the most commonly used dynamic mics for podcasts), and hands down the RE20 sounded better and was less prone to plosives than the SM-7B.
For a condenser mic choice, if you’re recording more than one person in the room, to minimize bleed go with the Sennheiser 416 or some other shotgun or small diaphragm mic that is suited for voice. A large diaphragm mic, while sounding nice and big, will pick up excessive bleed from the other people in the room.
When using a dynamic mic, close miking is critical. You need a strong audio level for the dynamic mic to sound good. So be sure to get the mic placed close (within 6” or less). To avoid plosives and provide good sight lines, angle the mic up from below, but not on too steep of an angle because dynamic mics pick up from the front end. Angle the mic at about 30 degrees from parallel to the desk.
Since podcast recording is typically done at a desk or around a table, table-top mic stands are commonly used. These are low profile and work just fine, although they have one major downside: they pickup noises from the desk very easily. Some people like to “talk with their hands” and will strike the table for emphasis. This is a real problem when using table-top stands. You can minimize this problem with a few ideas: you can use a special mic clip that has a shock mount, which will isolate the mic from the table by having it hang from elastic supports built into the clip. Or you can mount the mics on standard floor-mount boom stands. Alternatively, you can use flexible boom arms to suspend the mics. Since boom arms typically clamp on to the edge of the desk the mics should be shock mounted to avoid picking up desk noises. The flexible arms are great for people that like to shift their positions while they talk (disc jockey style) - they can easily move the arms forward and back to keep the mic close. The downside to these mounts is the diminished sight line when people are sitting across from each other, as well as the fact that the boom arms in front of faces are a problem for video recording.
So we hope this article is helpful when you are recording a podcast with multiple people and multiple mics. If you need to record your podcast and are looking for a professional podcast recording studio in New York CIty, email our producers at email@example.com.