In the age of digital content creation, audio quality plays a crucial role in capturing and maintaining an audience's attention. However, contrary to popular belief, recording great audio doesn't require a professional studio. With the right equipment, an ideal environment, and a little practice, you can produce studio-quality audio from the comfort of your own home.
NO BUDGET ($0):
Hardware: Assuming you already have a smartphone, the great news is, you already own a good way to record audio. If you’re recording a highlights tour per instructions from Part I, simply start recording while giving a tour around the museum. If you’re recording a podcast or audio guide points of interest and don’t need to be moving around, you can find a quiet, non echo-y room to record in for better audio quality. Your voice will have an echo if you are in a room with a lot of hard surfaces, so it is best to record in a room with carpet or a couch. Use the corded headphones that came with your phone if possible.
Software: Almost all edits to your audio can be made using free software. We know lots of podcasters with thousands of followers that still use one of these tools to edit their audio. On iPhone, you can use the Voice Memos app that came with your phone. On Android, you can use any voice recorder app in the Google Play store. We like the free ASR Voice Recorder app. Begin making your recording by tapping the big red button to start, and just leave the audio recording the entire time. If you make a mistake in the middle of a sentence, pause for a second, and simply start the sentence over again. There is no need to begin a new recording each time as it can easily be edited out later. After you’re done recording, email us the file. Don’t worry about file format. Both of those apps will save in mp3 format by default.
Alternatively, if you’re a Mac user, GarageBand comes with your computer and works great. If you’re on a PC, use Audacity. The interface of both changes from time to time, but luckily YouTube is filled with tutorials that stay up to date. Simply search on YouTube for a tutorial and you’ll be off to the races.
LOW BUDGET ($150):
Hardware: You’ll want a lapel mic like this one (~$80) and a simple recording device (also about $80). Lapel mics are incredibly versatile and record great audio. The recording device we like most is this Sony, which allows you to change the sensitivity of the mic (we suggest “Low” if you’re wearing the lapel mic), and comes with plenty of internal memory, which means you won’t even have to buy an SD card.
Software: We’d still recommend using Audacity or GarageBand, both of which are free.
Hardware: Let’s be clear — you do not need this kit to record great audio. However, we’re frequently asked how we record such great audio and wanted to share our exact set up. We spent a lot of time researching all of the options and ended up with an exceptionally good value-for-money professional kit. Here’s our set up:
Shure SM7B ($400)— this is “the” go-to mic for podcasters. This mic is ideally suited to record spoken voices and is built to be used in environments where the acoustics are less-than perfect. We bought this mic because we don’t have a soundproof studio, but we wanted sound-proof studio quality audio. This mic is the shortcut.
Cloudlifter ($150) — Using the above mic, you will definitely need this as it adds gain to the mic needed to work. Gain is a technical term that you really don’t need to know to record audio, but if you’re interested, you can learn about it here. If you’re not interested, that’s ok too. Just know that if you’re buying this mic, you should also buy this.
Boom stand ($100)— This holds your mic steady, and it’s great for positioning the mic in front of your face for recording.
Zoom H5 ($250) — This is a very versatile recording device for capturing audio from the mic. There’s a newer model out, but this one is still the industry standard and is less expensive than the new one.
Software ($100) — Hindenburg
The room in which you record can greatly affect your audio quality. Consider the size, shape, and materials within the room. Soft furnishings like rugs and curtains, and foam panels, can help absorb sound and reduce echo. Ambient noise, or background noise, can diminish your audio quality. To minimize it, close windows, turn off electronics, and select the quietest time of day for recording.
Speaking clearly and at the right pace is essential for high-quality audio. Practice articulating your words and maintaining a steady pace to ensure your audience can follow along easily. How you position yourself in relation to the microphone also greatly affects your audio quality. Avoid speaking directly into the mic to reduce plosive sounds, and maintain a consistent distance to ensure a steady volume level.
In addition to the traditional podcast option, another way to share your content is turning your audio stories into self-guided audio walking tours that listeners can experience at their own pace. Gesso's creator platform makes it easy for creators to publish and sell their audio content. Simply create an account, upload your audio files, and add a compelling title and description. You’ll be able to create a walking route that connects your audio clips and provides listeners with a path to follow as they explore.
Gesso is an audio storytelling platform for creators of all backgrounds. Create an account and publish your own audio walking tours in any city. It’s as easy as dropping pins on a map.