Asking why the sound quality of your podcast matters is like asking why a restaurant needs to serve good edible food. If the content is good, listeners will put up with lesser quality. But, only for so long. High quality means more listeners in the long run. If your sound sucks, people will stop listening no matter how good your content is.
If someone is willing to download and listen to your show, you need to do everything you can to provide the best listening experience. Otherwise, your listener will, justifiably, stop listening. The first impression of your podcast is crucial. It’s important to your show, to your brand, and ultimately it shows that you care about your listeners. Poor sound quality destroys the immersive nature of podcasts.
To succeed in providing that superior podcast experience you will need to either learn podcast mixing on your own or find a mixing engineer that can provide audio production services like the following.
One of the first things that a professional podcast mixing engineer provides you is a podcast episode that is easy to listen to in all environments. Podcast listeners are going to most often listen to your show in competitive noise environments like the car, public transportation, crowded city streets, or at the gym and you want them to be able to hear you clearly. You need an engineer who will create a superior digital experience by balancing all of your audio tracks, background music, and more into an episode that is easy to listen to.
If you choose us as your podcast producer, our entire editing and engineering team are all qualified professional mix engineers who have been expertly trained to use the same tools and techniques that you hear in your favorite podcasts from NPR. We use Pro Tools as our digital audio workstation, Izotope RX to remove background noise and other unpleasant distracting sounds, EQ, compression, and limiting plugins from the best companies in the industry, and professional metering to achieve broadcast standard levels of loudness prescribed by Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
So you want to know what we do exactly? Take a moment to review the sections below.
There are many tools in your digital audio workstation software you can use to achieve the highest quality mix for your podcast. The first step our audio engineers take in mixing a track is to use equalization (EQ plugins). For the human voice, there are a few standard EQ settings on the frequency spectrum that will improve the sound of the audio signal.
First, it can be helpful to use a high pass filter to remove any undesirable low frequencies. You definitely don’t want too much bass. The filter works by only allowing frequencies above a certain set frequency to pass through the filter. This setting is particularly useful in removing microphone pops that generally occur below 100 Hz.
Next, you can increase the warmth in someone’s voice by boosting around 150 Hz. Depending on the voice, there are also some mid range frequencies that can muddy the sound and you will want to lower those.
If you have concerns over nasality, lowering the frequency range around 2 kHz will help. Finally, if you need to improve clarity, you can boost around 5 kHz to increase the diction of a human voice. More clarity is generally a good thing when listening in competitive noise environments.
There are some other useful tools that relate to EQ. The low pass filter (the opposite of a high pass filter) can be used if you have lots of noise in the high frequencies (above 8 kHz).
After you have improved the sound by tweaking the EQ, it is a good idea to improve your gain structure by controlling the dynamic range of your tracks using dynamics processing tools like the de-esser, compressor, and limiters.
A compressor does what its name implies. It will compress the loudest and softest points in your track when the volume passes a certain threshold in order to reduce the overall dynamic range and give you more control when balancing. You can then increase the volume of the compressed track, allowing the softest points to be heard as well as the loudest points.
A de-esser is a combination of EQ and compression and does what its name implies as well. It lowers the harsh “S” frequency in any audio by using a compressor that is focused on those higher frequencies. This is very helpful because too much of the “S” frequency can give your listeners headaches.
Finally, we use limiters that are similar in function to a compressor. A limiter allows you to increase the overall volume of a track while applying a loudness ceiling that your audio will not be allowed to go past.
You want your podcast to sound good like all of the other professional podcasts out there. That is where podcast mastering comes in. During the final step in the podcast production process, a mastering engineer uses tools like buss compression, limiters, and more to complete loudness normalization and bring your final product to the broadcast standards of loudness used by Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Your episode should be at a level of -18 integrated LUFS and be at relatively the same loudness throughout your episode with little variance. This will make your episode much easier to listen to in noisy environments without the listener having to turn up the overall volume repeatedly. If you’ve ever tried to listen to classical music in a car, you will know what this sounds like. Turning up the volume when things are soft and then quickly turning it down again when things get loud. Podcast mastering prevents this.
Ever heard a hissing sound in your podcast recordings? What about that annoying echo from your high ceilings in your recording space? You don’t want that in your final product. Podcast audio engineers employ professional-grade audio plugins to reduce background noise, extra room reverb, and mouth noises from your recording during the post-production process, ensuring that your listener has a pleasant experience. Many podcast production businesses skip this critical step of considering the audience and leave unwanted noise in your final product. Our noise reduction process uses the best audio technology to make sure that environmental noise that can’t be prevented by using a dynamic microphone or can’t be physically edited out of the audio will be removed.