Making your voice sound great for podcasting

“You have such a great radio voice” I was told often during my stint in live radio. Now that I’m exclusively podcasting, I hear “you have such a great voice for podcasting” but I’ll let you in on a little secret. I cheat! I use technology that enhances my sound to make my shows easy to listen. I figured it was time to let you in on the secret! Here’s how to make your voice sound better while podcasting.

Great audio is a big deal, and I credit my audio quality for the growth of The Justin Brady Show and my career in emerging tech PR. The cheaper the audio quality, the less authority listeners attribute to your show and your content. For the same reason you dress nice for an interview, you should “dress” your voice if you want to be taken seriously.

How to make your voice sound better while podcasting

While it’s true genetics do play a major role in the sound of your voice (duh) you can do a lot to enhance the listen-ability of your voice. To make your voice sound better while podcasting, you should utilize a vocal coach, purchase a great mic, compress your audio, treat your room, and use software to further enhance the listening experience.

Consider podcasting and radio are entertainment, and the slightest things can turn your audience off, losing you listeners. If you’d like to make your voice sound better while podcasting, there are several steps you can take.

Vocal training enhances podcast audio

Vocal training is the most often overlooked, and most important aspect of incredible podcast audio. To make your voice sound better while podcasting, yes there are lots of technical things you can do, but you should take your voice seriously. Nervous ticks, talking in your proper register, smacking your lips, and managing vocal fry are important—these things can drive listeners crazy.

There are a few things you can fix immediately by simply listening to your recording and critiquing yourself. Are you breathing too heavily? Are you smacking your lips? Can you hear your crackling sounds from a dry mouth? Are your plosives causing pops in the microphone? You can fix it all of easily. But if you want to get technical, hire a voice coach.

I’m married to a vocal coach, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can reach out to your local music university and get recommendations on vocal coaches. They’ll help you speak in your proper register (some people speak unnaturally high or low) and they’ll help cure you of bad habits.

Use a great microphone to enhance podcast audio

Using a high-quality microphone really does make your voice sound better while podcasting. Initially, I used a Yeti Blue USB microphone, and currently, I use a Heil PR40. During radio, I was introduced to the ElectroVoice RE20, and honestly, I prefer it—or its upgraded version the RE320—over my current setup. The most popular microphone you see is the Shure SM7b, most likely because it’s the microphone Joe Rogan uses.

The benefit of a great microphone comes down its sensitivity and ability to “pull” audio from your voice. In the case of the Heil PR40, it pulls the low resonate frequencies out of my voice, that other microphones completely miss. This is one reason guests and listeners thing I have a great voice, because they’re hearing deeper frequencies and tones that are typically lost on the phone, or even in person.

Microphones, like any other tech, range wildly in price, but over the $500 range, only audiophiles and audio engineers will notice the difference. Heck, most listeners probably don’t even hear the difference between my first show and my most recent show.

Use Compression and EQ for podcast audio

If you’re using a soundboard, you likely have EQ settings. I slightly adjust my EQ to make my voice sound more natural and clear. I boost the high a bit to make my voice clean and boost the lows to compensate. Because most people don’t have great studio headphones in a quiet room, boosting the highs cuts through the average chaotic environment, and boosting the lows to compensate ensures my voice isn’t tinny and irritating.

Using compression is also very important as well. I have my on-board compressor dial turned all the way up (COMP) as well, but then heavily compress my sound in Adobe Audition as well.

uncompressed audio and compressed audio

What does audio compression do?

In simple terms, compression brings down the high volume spikes and increases the low, typically inaudible, parts of your voice. To make your voice sound better while podcasting, this is an easy hack. Visually, compression takes an audio wave and flattens it.

Typically, the low resonate parts of your voice are lost, but if you use compression those beautiful lows in your voice aren’t lost, but are amplified.

Adobe Audition Dynamics, compression and autogate settings for my podcast audio.
Adobe Audition Dynamics settings for my show

What does gating do?

Using an audio gate is also a simple way to increase your audio quality by chopping out distracting background noise, and even breathing. Anything below a decibel level you set is automatically removed from the audio if you know how to set it correctly.

For my shows, I run all my audio through a process in Adobe Audition in Effects » Amplitude & Compression » Dynamics that automatically gates, compresses, and refines my audio. You can see the settings to the right.

After recording with on-board compression, and full treatment and processing in post, the final audio clip in the video demo below is what the result is.

How to treat (or soundproof) your room for podcasting

Sound treating your room, sometimes incorrectly referred to as “soundproofing,” is another often overlooked way to make your voice sound better while podcasting. It may seem like the only purpose of treating a room is to eliminate background noise, but the practice actually improves your audio quality.

When sound treating a room, audio engineers have two goals. Eliminating noise from the outside and eliminating echo within the room itself. Eliminating sound from the outside is difficult and can be expensive. You can move into a basement or to an interior room of a building for starters. If you have the budget you can pay to professional soundproof. Anyone, with minimal investment, can reduce echo in their recording room. I clamped moving blankets to my ceiling, covering all hard surfaces.

What most don’t know is the impact a treated room has on your voice quality. Treating a room obviously makes editing in post easier because cuts are more obvious when background noises suddenly “stop.” But when speaking on a mic in a treated room, your audio is less “muddy” and easier to understand. Treating the room works especially well when using compression.

Because a compressor brings “up” the volume of sounds, it will also amplify the sound of an HVAC system or computer fan running in the background. You can hear this on live radio segments. When hosts stop talking, you will notice a slow amplification of background noise.

You can also demonstrate this via chat services like Skype, Zoom or Microsoft teams. Have your friend run a noisy fan or air conditioner, and tell them to stop speaking. You’ll notice the background sounds slowly increase because many of these systems use a basic form of compression to help level audio volume.

Audio examples of audio quality for Justin Brady Show.

Making your voice sound great for podcasting

10 Day Press Guide

If you take these tips to heart, you will easily make your voice sound better while podcasting. The demo above is a great example of what various levels of production can sound like.

Obviously, podcasting is a very effective content strategy tool for your brand if done correctly. If you’d like to stay ahead of the curve, I’d recommend signing up for my newsletter. I’ll throw in a free guide to get your more press in 10 days as a free bonus.


 

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