Before you spend money on expensive podcasting gear, you may already have things in your home or office that can improve the quality of your podcast. Add you own suggestions and stories in the comments!
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1. Carpet and furniture
Look at what's around and under you in your “studio.” Carpet and furniture can help your podcasting.
- Comfort—If you'll be sitting or standing and talking for long amounts of time, make sure you're comfortable.
- Organization—Furniture can help you organize your cables and equipment better.
- Noise-reduction—More soft things and furniture in your room will reduce the reverb.
- Props—For video, furniture can make great props, so consider showing some things instead of trying to hide them.
2. Sheets and blankets
Playing with sheets is no longer just for child-superheroes!
- Backdrops—Hang a sheet from the ceiling, pin it to the wall, flatten it or let the it look like a curtain. These can be clear and professional looking backdrops.
- Noise-reduction—Hung sheets and blankets can reduce room reverb. This is especially good when you're somewhere that you can't change the furniture or walls.
- Light-diffusing—Hang a white sheet (or shower curtain) in front of a window to soften the direct sunlight coming in.
3. Lamps and other lights
You may not need professional lighting to look professional!
- Window and sunlight—Use the natural, pure light of the sun for your videos. Experiment with different positions to see what looks the best in your videos.
- Lighting—With some consistent lightbulbs, you can use any available lamp to control your room lighting. I have previously balanced an open window's sunlight with daylight-colored CFLs in regular house lamps. For example, look at my Electro-Voice RE320 video.
- Special lighting effects—When you have different-temperature bulbs (such as fluorescent, daylight, and incandescent), you can get some cool lighting effects by white-balancing to one light source and then adding the second. Incandescent bulbs and “soft white” CFLs will usually be a warmer, yellow color. Daylight and daylight bulbs will be more blue. Regular fluorescent will be more green. Watch Ray Ortega's great video about mixing light temperatures.
- Background effects (like Christmas lights)—Use lamps, Christmas lights, or anything that glows for attractive background effects and look great when you have a shallow depth of focus (where you're in sharp focus and your background is blurred).
- Props—Lights, on or off, can look great as problems. Have a weird-looking lampshape? Something with high-tech-looking blue LEDs? See how it looks for your video.
“When I started podcasting, I was so poor, …” “How poor were you?” “… I had to ask my coworkers if I could have used pantyhose for my podcasting.”
- Mic pop filter—The classic DIY podcasting gear! Everyone should make one, at least once. Make a self-standing loop out of a metal hanger and stretch the pantyhose over it. You'll get a cheap and decent pop filter that could last for years!
- Light-coloring (with caution)—With colored pantyhose, you may be able to stretch it in front of a light to color or diffuse the light. Be careful that you don't create a fire hazard.
- Camera effects—Stretch pantyhose over a camera lens for soft focus and starlight effects.
5. Random “junk”
One man's junk could be your own podcasting treasure!
- Props—It may not look good by itself, but will it look interesting in your video?
- Recycled furniture—Use old lumber or other broken furniture to make into something new for your podcast.
6. Car or closet
The best sounding recording studio may be your car or a closet with clothes.
- Noise reduction—Because these places have few flat surfaces and plenty of soft things, you may be able to record with no reverb at all.
Smart mobile devices can easily replace computers. Think about your Android or iOS phone, a tablet, or even an iPod Touch.
- Video camera—Video podcasting, remote recording (especially with optical image stabilization in iPhone 6 Plus), or Hangouts broadcasting.
- Audio recorder—Use the mic on your device, run your equipment into your mobile device, or get a specialized microphone.
- Sound cart—Play sound effects into your podcast from the convenience of your mobile device.
- Live-streaming—Offload the live-streaming processing to a mobile device. This works best for audio-only, but can sometimes work for video, too.
- Phone/VoIP interface—Bring guests or remote cohosts into your podcast through a dedicated mobile device and save money buying an extra PC.
Paper? Yes, that's right!
- Posters and infographics—Make your studio more artist and personalized with interesting color prints. You could also print out fan creations.
- Props—Cue cards, paper art, and others things can look great as props.
- Cheatsheets—Keyboard shortcuts, workflow, or my podcast preflight checklist.
What are your household ideas for podcasting?
Do you use a random household item for podcasting? Have you found a way to save money and use something you already have? Share in the comments below!
- Send your questions for me to ask John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire in my upcoming 200th episode!
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Whose Podcast did you mention near the end? About 25 minutes?
Really needed this episode today as I recently moved into a new house and my studio has a lot of Echo and reverb. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Christopher! What is the room like?
It’s a 10 x 10′ room, has two windows with blinds but the thing I’ve struggled with is it has sliding french doors with full length glass. I’ve tried hanging a blanket in front when I record and that helps a little but I’m going to have to add more soft furniture in the room.
You could also track blankets over the other walls.
I use some of these, especially for my digital marketing news videos. I’ll take pics to share when I go in the studio later today.
I took 2 old picture frames and rigged them up to make a teleprompter for my iPad. I’ll eventually buy one that I can control with a foot pedal, but this gets the job done for now and cost me $0 to build.
Here’s how I use some of the items you mentioned:
– my video studio has furniture from my bachelor days that I refused to get rid of
– incandescent up light that I had laying around adds interest to my fake plant and contrast to my daylight soft boxes
– iPhone 5s is my video camera and I have my ATR2100 attached to it (until I get a lav)
– iPad with Boss Jock for music and clips on my regular podcast
– I may be using my iPhone and iPad together with Boss Jock to record a podcast interview at a conference next week (if I don’t get a digital recorder)
My challenge now is dealing with a horrible echo in my video studio. I grabbed an old blanket yesterday to use. Hopefully that will help until I can get insulation up on the huge metal door.
I’d love to hear how the blanket works for you.
I use a mirror. It reminds me to smile and engage.
I have a desktop stand. It works best in the space I have. My condenser mike has an off-axis shock mount that works OK until you happen to tap the stand, and over it goes. I was afraid I would damage my mike, so I unscrewed the base and added a 5 pound weight from a normal barbell set and screwed it back on. Now you can’t knock it over when you try.
Brilliant! It looks like it was designed that way.
And clever way to get your podcast cover art in there. 😉
The first thing I did when I wanted to podcast was check on a recording environment. Sound absorbing and deflection. I cordoned off half a basement storage room, the room within a room concept, and used moving blankets and eggcrate bed foam pads for this purpose. I put my desktop PC unit outside the room, and I get very little noise of any kind. I can even record with the furnace running in the basement with no ill effects.
How well does it block other house noises, like dishes or screaming children?
It’s amazing. I was obsessed with sound treatment and spent a couple of weeks working on this before anything else.
My desktop unit has a slight noise that is easily taken care of in post. The household furnace is 15 feet from my microphone, but the sound must get through 6 feet of air, a studded and insulated wall, 3 feet of dead air, then a wall of moving blankets. Once inside the space I have a moving blanket as a table cloth, more on the walls and the bed foam against the book cases in front of me. I am facing the near center of the actual room. I also have the bed foam suspended about 6 inches from the ceiling. Much deflection, and much absorbing going on here. Looks horrible, but the sound is important, not the look. When someone stomps on the floor above me, I can hear that, but it has failed to happen during recording yet. I hear no TV, no talking, absolutely nothing from other parts of the house unless they walk directly above me. If you happen to listen to an episode, I would love to know what you think of my results.
We had a family singing group growing up and I could never think of recording anything without sound treatment. I think people could really benefit a tremendous amount by watching a YouTube video or two on acoustics and sound treatment. Now there is an idea for an episode!