How to Build a Podcast Studio
Building Toronto Podcast Studio was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences we’ve ever had. But it was also very challenging. We are going to step by step on how we built our podcast studio, Toronto Podcast Studio. We’re sharing the tips and tricks we learned, and our mistakes and what we’d do differently next time. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade your existing setup, this post will provide valuable insights into the process.
Importance of Having a Dedicated Podcast Studio
A podcast studio is a designated space for recording your podcast, equipped with the necessary equipment and tools to produce high-quality audio. By having a dedicated podcast studio, you’ll be able to create a professional-sounding podcast that will leave a lasting impression on your listeners. Having a dedicated space for your podcast is a huge advantage to producing a podcast. It knocks down an extra layer that could stop you from creating your podcast. You can leave your equipment out in one room and fire it up when you want to use it.
Purpose of the guide
The purpose of this guide is to provide a step-by-step guide on how to build a professional podcast studio. Whether you’re just starting out with podcasting or looking to upgrade your existing setup, this guide will help you create a podcast studio that’s perfect for your needs. This guide will provide insight on the decisions we made.
Determine Your Needs
Before building your podcast studio, it’s important to determine your needs. This will help you choose the right equipment and find the right space for your studio. Here are some questions to consider when determining your needs:
- What type of podcast will you be recording?
- How many people will be involved in each episode?
- Will you be recording in-person or remotely?
- What is your budget for equipment and setup?
By answering these questions, you can better understand the type of equipment and space you’ll need for your podcast studio. In our case, we planned to have a maximum of 4 people to record a podcast at a time. This meant we needed four of everything, including microphones, microphone stands, headphones, etc. If you’re recording a solo podcast, you’ll only need one microphone and a small room. However, if you’re recording with multiple people, you’ll need multiple microphones and a larger space.
It’s important to understand your needs because you don’t want to invest in a studio only to find out that you need additional equipment or a larger space. So, take your time and determine your needs before moving forward.
This project may end up costing more than you think if you’re not careful. For example, it’s going to cost you more if you go out and buy an expensive microphone and not realize that it’s power hungry and needs a preamp. I would recommend you make a list of everything you need to buy, write it down
Choose Your Room
When it comes to building a podcast studio, choosing the right room is just as important as having the right equipment. Your room will have a big impact on the quality of your podcast, so it’s important to choose a space that’s both functional and comfortable. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a room for your podcast studio:
Acoustics play a big role in the sound quality of your podcast. A room with good acoustics will reduce unwanted echoes and reflections, making your voice sound clear and professional. Lookout for rooms made with a ton of glass or materials that can cause a lot of bounce back. Clarity is key for podcasting, if someone listens to your audio only podcast, you want to make it as easy as possible to understand.
The size of your room is also important. A small room may have too much echo, while a large room may have too much reverb. Ideally, you want a room that’s large enough to allow you to move around freely, but not so large that your voice sounds distant.
Good lighting is important, especially if you plan on recording a video podcast/YouTube videos. You may have to work with whatever you have already, but there are a few easy ways to make lighting better. Natural light can be amazing, but can also bring on its own challenges.
Take a listen at what the room really sounds like, is there heavy HVAC work? Can you hear a loud road outside from the window? Is the room well insulated from the noise of surrounding rooms? These are all factors to consider.
Lastly, comfort is key. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your podcast studio, so make sure it’s a space you enjoy being in. Our studio was tiny, and spending a long period of time there was often uncomfortable. If we were to build another studio, I would want some more space.
Importance of Acoustics, Size, Lighting, and Comfort
Having the right acoustics, size, lighting, and comfort in your podcast studio will help you produce high-quality podcasts that your listeners will love. Poor acoustics can lead to an unclear voice and unwanted echoes and reflections. A room that’s too large or small can also impact the sound quality of your podcast. Good lighting is important for both recording and editing, and a comfortable room will allow you to focus and be productive.
Setting Up Your Studio
When you’re setting up your studio, you might want to take some general notes, measurements, and really try to dream up what you want. Your notes don’t have to be perfect, but they should help you get a clear idea of the space you have to work with. This will even help you decide what kind of equipment you need. Look for inspiration in places such as Pinterest. You might find something interesting such as how the wires are hidden, the color scheme of a studio, etc. A few things to consider when setting up your studio include:
Our studio was not 100% sound proof. In fact, we could hear noise through a wall where there was piping running. We decided to add another layer of treatment to that wall, and completely covered it in sound panels. We wanted to have as good of a sound as possible for the room we had.
We built our sound panels by hand, and added more panels later. Our first panels were massive, and we used 2x4s. This resulted in very heavy duty panels. They weighed a lot, and might not work for everyone because of that weight. You probably don’t need panels as big as we made. When we made our second batch of panels, we used 1x4s instead. These were much lighter and easier to work with.
We used Rockwool safe and sound insulation, and speaker cloth fabric from FabricLand. The key with these panels is that you want sound to actually travel through, which is why we used speaker cloth. This allows sound to go into the insulation and dissipate rather than bounce off.
Choosing The Table
We decided not to cheap out when it came to our table. We got our table from Heritage Harvest Tables and it was our centerpiece. The quality of our harvest table impressed potential clients and we thought about all the conversations that would take place around this table and we knew it would be worth it. We were able to custom size it to fit 4 guests perfectly. Our table was approximately 96”x30”.
As silly as it may sound to consider this before we even talk about equipment, put it in the back of your mind before you get too far down the planning stages. This is something we wish we would have not made an after-thought and come up with a way to build it into our original designs. The last thing you want is to trip or have someone trip and fall. Injuries can occur, and your expensive equipment can be damaged.
Choose Your Equipment
You are going to need audio equipment to record a podcast. I don’t think that should come as a surprise! What equipment you need really depends on what you want to do with it all. Here is a breakdown of some of the equipment you may need:
Years ago when I was first starting out, I had a small mixer, it had four XLR channels. That was perfectly fine for my needs then, but as we started to take on clients, the mixer didn’t have multitrack recording capabilities, and that would not have been good enough for the job. So we upgraded to a Soundcraft Signature 12 channel multi-track mixer. It’s done a great job for us, and we’ve never had any issues with this. You’ll want to make sure your mixer has enough XLR channels to connect as many microphones as you need.
Another option is an audio interface. We own the Focusrite Scarlette. There is less control and options for a mixer, but that shouldn’t be a huge deal if you’re only recording your voice.
In our case, knowing we were going to open a podcast studio, I wanted to use what people saw podcasters using. That is the Shure SM7B. Let’s face it, this microphone is the standard for podcasting. Many of the most popular podcasters in the world are using this microphone, and for good reason. It’s an amazing microphone and it even looks cool. There are plenty of options for microphones though. If you’re not planning on having
Since our table was made from wood, our mic boom arms (we used RODE PSA1) could leave indentations on the table surface. Be mindful of this when you stand your mics for your podcast studio. You should use a mic stand, nobody wants to hold a microphone up for an hour. We also own a Yorkville MS-105B, and this desktop mic stand has been great.
Before you run out and get yourself a Shure SM7B, consider that you will also need some type of preamp, as this mic needs a ton of power to get it to the appropriate levels. We used the Cloudlifter CL-1 at our studio, and it seems to be a very common choice with the SM7B.
We had an okay computer when we first started out. Where we ran into problems was when we tried to use three or more cameras at a time, we were getting dropped frames. It was when we were recording video with more frequency we upgraded to an overly powerful PC and it handled all the cameras we threw at it. We used panasonic cameras that had an SDI out. We connected them through SDI cables, into a piece of hardware we purchased called a Blackmagic Design Decklink capture card. If you choose to go this route, please do careful research on your exact needs.
To capture audio and edit your audio, you’re going to need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). We use Adobe Audition, but there are many great choices. Avid Pro Tools is another common choice for advanced audio editors. Audacity is very common in beginners because it’s free. It’s a great place to save cost when getting started because it is still a pretty powerful tool. On top of this, common plugins include Izotope RX 10 and Waves Clarity Vx, among many others.
For your video you’re going to need additional software. We used vMix to capture our videos, and it has many great features. However, OBS Studio brings many of the same features, but at no cost. I would suggest you first try OBS and see if it has all the capabilities you are looking for before looking into paid softwares. Don’t forget to capture the audio on this program as well, even if it’s as a single track so you can match it up. You will find what work flow works out for you.
Choosing the right camera is a difficult task. You’re going to want to consider both quality and budget when deciding on which camera is right for you. You’re also going to want to consider how you plan on setting up your camera with your computer. Make sure it can provide clean-feed so you aren’t recording the camera information that can be overlaid on top of the image on some cameras. Some DSLR’s can’t record for long periods of time. You’re going to want to do your research, and ask about that before making a purchase.
Depending on the size of your studio and how many people are going to be recording, you might need a light for everyone, and if you have a backlight for everyone you can make things look a little more cinematic. We actually had a feature film use our studio for a scene, and this is how they lit it:
If you’re using a solo studio, a ring light provides nice and soft lighting that will make you look good. Additionally, many YouTubers use a dim light in the background, a lamp or even neon sign to give it atmosphere.
In conclusion, we hope this guide helps you make this challenging task a little simpler. We hope you can learn from what we did, but definitely be sure to make it your own personal touches. We aren’t saying we had the best setup and that you should do exactly what we did, this is simply a guide telling you what we did. There are many incredible podcast studios out there, so be sure to research and look out for what you like about each. Also make a list of what you don’t like or what doesn’t work for you. That’s how you’ll learn to build a podcast studio that you love and you’re proud of.
If you’re a podcast beginner, you can check out our guide on how to start a podcast, or see more of our blog posts.
Stapling on speaker cloth to the wooden frame.
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