How to record remote podcasts
Here are some handy things to keep in mind when recording remote podcasts, to ensure you create a quality product. Recording podcasts remotely comes with its own set of challenges. For example, you don’t have as much control over the sound quality as you would when you’re recording in-person and the editing process is different too.
You can find more information in our other guide: about how to create a podcast.
On this page:
Remote podcast recording tips
1. Try to minimise background noise and distractions
Before the actual recording, ask your host and guests to lock themselves (if they can!) in a quiet room away from partners, roommates, kids and pets.
Ask them to close their windows to minimise noise from outside and remove things like ticking clocks. Fans or heaters that create a hum should also be turned off, where possible.
But be prepared for interruptions. You can try your best to control what you can, but sometimes there will be interruptions, that’s as true for podcast recordings as it is for news interviews (BBC YouTube video: Children interrupt BBC News interview – BBC News). Everyone involved will sympathise with the realities of working remotely or from home.
2. Mute notifications or alarms
Ask guests to mute any sounds like laptop or phone notifications.
Make sure to turn off your own notifications too, as they can crop up in the records. This includes vibrate mode – you would be surprised at what some microphones can pick up.
3. Ask people to use the same technology
Using microphones on headsets or headphones gives you a different level of audio than someone speaking into their laptop microphone.
If you’re recording multiple people at one time, encourage them to use the same method.
For example, everyone speaks through their laptop microphones. This means your audio levels will be much more consistent and you won’t have to keep playing around with the sound recorder throughout the recording.
4. Choose your meeting platform carefully (and check what people can use comfortably in advance)
Some people may not be able to access your preferred meeting platform. You might use Google Hangouts but perhaps other guests are more comfortable on Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Factor that into how you plan to record.
People may have to join via phone instead, which will have different sound implications.
5. Monitor the impact of internet connection carefully
Internet issues are another factor that you have to think about when recording podcasts remotely.
Sound can drop in and out. You need to be listening for this as you record. Audio that is affected by internet issues is often very hard to fix in editing and more often than not, it can’t be used. Keep an ear out for these issues as you go along.
Sometimes it might not be possible to record if the host’s or guests’ connection is really bad. If possible, ask them to phone into the meeting or rearrange for another time where their internet connection may be better.
Sometimes it’s best to admit defeat and try again another day to make sure the recording process is a positive one for the guests and host.
6. Explain your role and set expectations
Before you start the recording, explain to the host and guests what to expect and what your role is: which is to get the best quality of audio possible.
Explain to them how you’ll do that for example, that you might ask them to re-record things, or turn off notifications.
Reassure people that you may ask them to repeat something, but if you do it will be to improve the sound quality – not because they’ve done anything wrong!
7. Ask people not to talk over one another
When you’re recording through a meeting platform, sound can be distorted if people have noises in the background or start to talk over one another.
Ask people to leave a few seconds before they respond to a question so there’s no distortion. It may feel a little unnatural but it will make for better sound and make your editing much easier.
Some may prefer to go on mute until they’re ready to speak, which also works. This is important because of the way the audio is recorded onto one track for everyone.
If people are talking over one another, separating their track out is not easy and most likely, makes the recording unusable.
8. Identify potential issues early
Use the time while the host is chatting informally to the guests to listen for any sound issues. Address them before you start recording – this will give you more control.
Don’t be afraid to ask for re-records.
Things will crop up during recording so you need to be listening and responding to them. Don’t feel like you can’t interrupt the flow of the conversation. It may be appropriate to leave things until the end of the conversation, but make a detailed note of where/when and what the guests were talking about when the sound issue happened.
Remote podcast editing tips
Recording remotely also affects the way you edit. Unlike recording in-person, all sound is recorded onto one track. You have to factor this into the editing process, as you’ll need to first separate each speaker onto their own track in your editing platform.
There may be rogue noises that you didn’t hear in recording. Sometimes voices cover sound issues but more often than not, they’re fixable. So don’t panic.
As sound isn’t the same as recording in-person, the editing process is longer. Give yourself enough time to edit and not rush it.
When you’re sharing your mp3 file (which is typically a large file), it can be time consuming. You can’t just ask someone to look over your shoulder and get feedback there and then, in the same way you could if you were working together in an office. Everything has to be exported and sent via email, and if you or your team have slow internet, it can take a long time.
If you’re editing with waveforms, they look a lot different than they do if you’re recording in-person. It’s not always easy to see where the sound issue is coming from.
The good news is the more you edit remote podcasts, the more you’ll pick this up and be able to notice things. It’s a practice that takes time and perseverance but if you follow the advice in this guide, you should be on track to create a quality remote podcast.
This guide was developed in partnership with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Government Communication Service (GCS).