Ep. 1 - Dirty secrets of clean sound in podcasts
In this inaugural episode, Arnab interviews his Metacast co-host (me, that is) on my experience starting a podcast. We talk about inspiring stuff like how to “just do it,” how to get used to the sound of your voice, technical bits about gear, tools and software, and random things like how I lost all of my podcasting equipment when my rental car was broken into during a road trip in California.
The segment about stolen gear is probably my favorite part of the episode. It was sort of therapeutic to talk about the pain of losing two MacBook Pros, two iPads along with a professional Shure microphone and studio headphones. Most annoying of all, they also stole my personal car key that cost me more than a thousand dollars to recover.
The cool part about this segment is that it was just a chat of two friends about life. It was so authentic and enjoyable that it doesn’t even matter if anyone will find it interesting — we did it for ourselves and will keep going on tangents and detours in the future.
In this first episode, we went through my story of creating Айти Самурай (“IT Samurai”), a Russian language podcast about technology that I started back in 2021 and abandoned at the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February last year.
Here are a few takeaways and “good to know” bits:
A “closet studio” will do for starters. If you don’t have a room with good acoustics, you can always record in a closet (see the background in our pictures on the episode cover!) Your clothing will absorb rogue sound reflections and reduce echo. Don’t forget to turn off air conditioners and heaters.
A sock is your free pop filter. If you’re on a budget, you can record high quality audio using an iPhone in a sock with the Voice Recorder Pro app.
Clickers gonna click. Everybody’s mouth is a clicking machine (listen to the episode to hear amplified mouth clicks). But lucky you — there is software that removes mouth clicks and makes you sound less like an alien eating raw human flesh.
The world hears your voice differently. When you speak, you hear your voice with both the inner and outer ear. That’s why the voice on the recording sounds differently from how you perceive it — your hearing is augmented by the vibrations passed through your skull. But everybody else hears your voice the same way you hear it on the recording. That’s how you sound to the outside world. Get over it.
Leverage your guests’ networks. You can source guests for your podcast by asking people to make introductions to their connections. That’s how you also grow your personal network.
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you! Arnab is a Twitter guy and I’m on Instagram. Use the method that works best for you!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (both of us get it)
Arnab’s Twitter: @or9ob
Ilya’s Instagram: @podcasthacks (I publish videos of how we create the podcast as it’s happening)
You can also leave comments on this substack post. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!
Here are the links to the tools and gear that we mentioned in the episode. Note that the Amazon links have our code and we stand to make a little money if you buy through those links!
Descript — a tool that can help you edit audio similar to editing text in a word processor.
iZotope RX — a software suite for fixing issues and improving audio quality.
Anchor.fm — a podcast hosting service from Spotify.
AudioJungle — a service that lets you license music for a podcast.
Reaper — an inexpensive but very powerful digital audio workstation (DAW), which is as powerful as ProTools or Logic but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (it really costs like half a nail or $60).
SquadCast — a powerful tool for recording interviews. It saves high quality audio locally and uploads files to the cloud, so you can download and process them later.
Riverside — another tool, very similar to SquadCast. We had some issues with it in the past, so we prefer SquadCast.
Voice Recorder Pro — an iPhone app for lossless audio recording.
Shure MV7 — a condenser mic with a direct USB interface. It is a smaller sibling of Shure SM7b (see next).
Shure SM7b — a kick ass condenser mic for podcasters and radio hosts. It’s pretty much the golden standard in the industry. It’s expensive and also requires an audio interface because it only has an XLR output (no direct connection to your computer’s USB port).
Shure SM58 — an indestructible and fairly cheap cardioid vocal mic that is widely used for live concerts. Ilya recorded this episode using an SM58 connected through a Scarlett 2i2 audio interface because the SM58 only has an XLR output and you need extra gear to connect it to USB.
Blue Yeti — an inexpensive USB mic that has multiple recording modes (e.g. cardioid, condenser, etc.) Arnab recorded this (and other) episodes using a Blue Yeti mic. The mic’s color is actually black, not blue. Go figure.
Scarlett 2i2 — a nice-looking and powerful yet inexpensive audio interface for plugging in your XLR mic (or any other music instrument) and getting digitized output into your computer via USB.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x — studio headphones for great sound quality.
IT Samurai (Айти Самурай) — Ilya’s other podcast, which also happens to be the topic of the conversation in this episode.
The Tim Ferriss Show — my all-time favorite interview podcast.
Postlight (formerly known as Track Changes) — two guys talking about technology, business and the world.
NPR’s Podcast Startup Guide — a great book about starting a podcast from the best in the industry.
Hog Island Oyster Co. — a restaurant in San Francisco serving the best clam chowder you’ll ever try. Just don’t leave any stuff in your car when you go eat there.
Bye for now. Don’t forget to subscribe!
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