Introducing our podcast and media studio
With video now firmly established as a key component of your content strategy, and more recently the explosive growth of podcasting, just before lockdown we decided to set up our own professional podcast recording studio as part of our digital agency in Kendal.
Ok, so the timing wasn’t great! We signed the lease on the new studio just before lockdown was announced in March of this year. Less than 2 weeks after we’d signed for more office space, many businesses had already decided that working from home was the future! But thanks to some of the business support available we pushed on, confident in the rise of podcasting and the growth opportunities it would provide. With multi-media platforms so readily available and accessible these days, every business has become a publishing business, regardless of their sector. Content remains king, but competition to get your voice heard continues to proliferate across more channels and podcasting is seeing fantastic growth.
I’ve been hosting our own podcast called The Clientside since early 2019, and when we learned that the small room next door would soon become available, I knew it would be the perfect space to create our own studio–not only for our own podcast production, but also to support our clients and other local businesses who might be considering starting their own podcast.
Subscribe to the Clientside Podcast
The Clientside is a fortnightly interview style podcast with authors and leading figures sharing their experience to help you to get the most from your digital marketing.Listen online or via your favourite podcast app
We started with a blank canvas - an empty echoey shell that was going to need a bit of work before it would be a usable space for recording high quality audio. The room was the perfect size for what we wanted to do. It’s about 3m x 3m, so it's ideal for hosting small groups for interviews. Connectivity wasn’t going to be an issue either, with the wiring trunks backing directly on to our existing network, so all we needed to do was add in some sound proofing and install the audio kit. We haven’t stopped at the microphones either. Increasingly podcasts are recorded on video too (especially through lockdown where in-person interviews have been practically impossible), so we wanted to be able to record video that could be potentially live streamed or published to YouTube depending on requirements.
The first priority was furniture. This in itself would help to reduce the echo in the room but it was still going to introduce hard surfaces, so clearly we’d need to go further. More on that shortly.
I wanted to have a bar height table to give people the option of standing while recording. I also thought it would make the room a bit more interesting - we spend long enough sat behind a desk, plus being more upright can make engaging in conversation easier - but it gives people the choice of what suits them.
Given the space, we opted for 4 positions around the table, with some wool upholstered stools which would help to eliminate the echo. We wanted as much acoustic protection as possible to ensure the highest quality audio recordings.
For the sound proofing, we opted for a series of wool covered acoustic panels that would wrap around the 3 walls of the room. These give plenty of cover at head height to dampen the sound. We also added 2 large ceiling panels along with a branded ‘feature wall’ giving us a nice backdrop for video recordings, while the table is surrounded by more neutral colours making the space suitable for clients to use.
The impact of the acoustic panels on vocal sound in the room has been phenomenal. Given that we’re right on the edge of the town centre in a quiet location anyway, we’re confident that we’ve got a fantastic space where we’ll be able to achieve super high quality recordings.
So on to the exciting bit and installing some of the AV hardware. We started with a 40” HiSense SmartTV which obviously provides a big screen experience for interviewing remote guests or viewing online content. This is wall hung and connects to an HDMI module embedded in the table.
We’ve set up 2 Røde Procaster microphones. These are dynamic mics with XLR connections which makes them ideal for podcasting. These types of mics are designed to filter out background noise while capturing the detail in your voice, so they're a little more forgiving when there's a car alarm or something screaming in the background. We’ve also got a Røde Podcaster which is an easy to use USB mic, as well as 2 Samson Q2U dynamic mics for additional guests.
We’ve mounted the 2 Procaster mics on to Røde PSA1 boom arms with shock mounts and have desk mounted mic tripods for additional guests. These feed into a Rødecaster Pro mixing unit that supports up to 4 XLR mics along with USB input (great for Zoom or other recording platforms like Squadcast.fm), a bluetooth input and a direct phone input.
The Rødecaster Pro is a fabulous piece of kit and makes the technicalities of the recording a breeze. As well as being able to control the volume of mic input, the built-in audio processing adds that little extra sparkle to your voice while also taking care of more advanced effects such as noise gates and compression to reduce background noise and even out the audio levels.
The Rødecaster also has 8 sound pads with pre-loaded and customisable effects, so with a little confidence, you could quite feasibly record live without having to do any post production. For those who appreciate the reassurance of recording rather than doing it all live, the mp3 and wav file exports are easily imported into Adobe Audition for more advanced editing and post production.
Video wise we’ve mounted 2 Canon M6 Mark II mirrorless cameras on tripods to provide 2 filming positions, as well as having a Logitech C920 HD webcam so we can do face to camera style interviews. The M6 is a fantastic camera with several lens options, including a 32mm f/1.4 lens giving incredible depth of field and capable of producing 4K video. We've also got an older Nikon D7200 DSLR although as with any older kit, the video features aren't quite as good, but still recording up to 1080p. Using a combination of lav mics and a Røde Video Mic Pro mounted on a separate tripod ensures equally good sound quality for video content.
The windows in the room face north which means it’s evenly lit. They even have diffusers on the glass from the previous tenant which is a bonus, but extra directional lighting is provided by 2 Neewer bi-colour dimmable LED lights on stands.
Who can use the studio?
We’ve created our podcast studio for our own podcasting and video production as well as providing us with a facility to support client marketing campaigns. However, once social distancing restrictions ease we expect the studio to be available to hire by the hour, either with or without production support. So if you’re struggling with getting your head around the technical requirements for a podcast, or don’t have a suitable quiet space in your own premises to host interviews, then this will be the perfect place to create your own voice. The studio is also ideal for professional media interviews, hosting webinars, group discussions and single person video content.
As an experienced digital team, we can also help with editing and enhancing your content as well as hosting your podcast so it can be found on all the popular podcast platforms.
Learn more about hiring our podcast studio
Learn more about our podcast studio, or download our ultimate podcast planning guide.More on our podcast studio