So you’ve got your podcast formula sounding clear and you’ve peaked your audience’s interest, but your voice doesn’t quite have “it”. What can you do to really polish your sound and take your podcast to the next level? Let’s take a look at some options.
- Microphone: The tone of your voice starts at the source and the microphone you use has a huge effect on your sound. Generally when you talk about podcast microphones, you’re generally in the realm of dynamic microphones. Dynamic mics are the ideal podcasting microphone for the home setup because they won’t pick up as much background noise from things like air conditioners, dogs, spouses, kids and traffic compared to condenser or ribbon microphones. Here are some mics we’d recommend for stepping up your podcast game.
- Shure SM7B – The SM7B is infamous in the broadcast world. It is a dynamic microphone, needing a lot of gain to get your voice up to a good recording level. It has a deep tone, with more detail than you’d expect from a dynamic microphone. If you go down the SM7B route, we’d recommend getting a Cloudlifter. The cloudlifter sits between your microphone and your preamp, and gives you 20dB of noise-free gain. This allows you to get your voice nice and loud without the unwanted added noise of preamp gain.
- Electro-Voice RE20 – The RE20 is a cardioid pattern dynamic microphone with a voice-tailored frequency response. This impressive microphone will give you a condenser-like sound in a dynamic package.
- RODE Procaster – The Procaster is the least expensive on our list, but it certainly doesn’t sacrifice quality. This end-address dynamic microphone sports an all-metal construction making it a durable piece you won’t need to worry about. The internal shock mount helps cut down on extraneous noise and the internal pop-filter reduces plosives that can overload the capsule causing distortion.
- The Clean – Grace M101 or M201 – The single and dual channel versions of this preamplifier are some of the cleanest sounding pres out there. This will give you a crisp, clear reproduction of your voice with not much added.
- The Warm – The Warm Audio WA-12 is a fantastic single channel preamp that will give you a warm, full-bodied tone. Great for fattening up a thinner sounding voice/microphone.
- The Versatile – The Shadow Hills Mono Gama is a single channel 500-series preamplifier that gives you a choice between 3 preamplifier tones. Choosing between Steel, Nickel and Discrete allows you to experiment with different tones at the turn of a knob. This is great for when you have guests on your show, allowing you to experiment on the spot and find the right setting for their voice.
- Compressor/Gate: A compressor and gate are two invaluable tools in your podcast arsenal. A compressor helps even out the dynamics of your voice, making the quieter parts louder and the loud parts quieter. Compression is an incredibly important process to make sure that your podcast volumes are smooth and consistent throughout your show. A gate helps cut out external/background noise by only allowing the input signal to pass through if it is above a certain volume threshold. Used correctly, this means that audio will only be heard through the microphone when you are talking directly and intentionally into it.
- The Workhorse – DBX 266xs – This single channel Compressor/gate gives you the option to smooth out your dynamics without much added tone or texture. It cost effective and will get the job done.
- The Warm – The Warm Audio WA76 will add some punch to your voice in the classic 1176 limiting amplifier format. It is very reasonably priced and can double as a great piece of gear for studio recording, mixing and mastering in the music world.
- The Compact – The Golden Age Comp 3A is a leveling amplifier based on the classic LA-3A. This will add some warm but not too warm tone to your voice and comes with a handy Limit/Compress switch to allow you to easily switch between two compression modes. All of this comes in a compact 2U half-rack unit.
- The Audio Interface: Your audio interface is the brains of the operation. It is how all audio gets in and out of your computer and understanding the key parts of one is so important, it deserved its own blog post. Check that out here: Understanding Audio Interfaces