Audio recordings range greatly in quality. It’s easy to tell when a recording is high-quality. It sounds smooth, clear, the volume is consistent, and there is no background noise.
The spectrum of recording options range from on-laptop microphones to whole studios. There are many ways to set yourself up for success when producing audio for online courses, videos, or podcasts. In this guide, we’ll make suggestions for how knowledge entrepreneurs can easily record good quality audio.
How can you make your podcasts, videos, and audio courses sound better?
Use a good microphone
Getting a dedicated microphone is the first step as it’s the primary tool that will capture the sound. But the cost of microphones ranges from $20 to thousands of dollars. How do you know which to choose and how much to spend?
How to choose a microphone for recording audio
When choosing a microphone for a podcast, video, or audio course, there are many options.
One good starting point is a lavalier microphone, which is great for discreetly capturing audio while filming. These clip right onto your shirt or coat and capture directional audio. This means it will record your voice clearly while blocking out background noise.
These can be hidden in your pocket and record to an SD card. This makes it easy to upload straight to a Kajabi audio course or sync with a video in any editing software. There are also more streamlined and cost effective lavalier microphones that you can plug right into your smartphone or into your camera, such as this one.
A handheld recorder, like one from Zoom, is another option choice for those recording on the go. These are helpful for creators making their content in an area that does not involve a recording setup. For example, if you’re recording outdoors.
Another option is to record straight into your computer using a USB microphone. What USB microphones lack in audio quality compared to professional mics, they definitely make up with convenience. They have tools like a pre-amp and digital audio converter built in, so they are a great entry level option.
We recommend the Blue Yeti USB microphone or the Audio Technica AT2020 USB microphone. These have easy plug and play operation and great sound quality.
For a more robust sound that can earn a permanent spot on a recording desk, consider using a dedicated vocal microphone like the Rode Procaster, Shure MV7 or the SM7B. We use the SM7B here at Kajabi.
Professional microphones are engineered specifically for balanced vocal recordings. Chances are your favorite podcasts have these on set!
How much to spend on a microphone
When it comes to audio, you get what you pay for. Once you choose the type of microphone setup, expect to pay anywhere from $20-$200 for a decent lavalier mic and $150-$300 for a good dynamic vocal microphone.
We always like to emphasize that your content holds much higher value to your customers than the audio quality accompanying it. In general, even a budget microphone will provide better audio than using a built-in microphone on your computer.
If you’re looking for a professional setup, be prepared for the additional cost of related equipment.
There are plenty of accessories that can further upgrade your setup and improve your audio quality. As with microphones, the cost varies. Here are some helpful items:
A microphone stand or arm that can move the microphone around. For most microphones, the optimal distance from your mouth is just a few inches. Being able to bring the microphone closer can provide for a more comfortable recording experience.
Pop filters (also pop screens or pop shields) reduce the “popping” sounds that come from bursts of breath, called plosives. They also maintain microphones by preventing saliva from getting inside the microphone. Position the pop filter three inches from your mouth and then leave another three inches from the pop filter to the microphone.
Sound-dampening items can go behind the microphone, nearby walls, even the floor beneath your setup if there isn’t a rug.
Shock mounts isolate the microphone from its stand. Shock mounts prevent any vibrations (like steps in the room or accidentally touching the microphone stand) from resonating into the microphone as low frequencies. It could even help minimize sounds that you don’t even realize the microphone is picking up, like a door slamming or an idling truck.
Consider a professional audio recording setup
Professional, high-end recording setups require more equipment. As a result, the cost will go up beyond the microphone due to related materials.
Additional recording equipment
A professional recording setup will be modular with all of the elements needed to capture the sound and transfer it to a digital file. These include a microphone, a digital audio converter, pre amp, headphone amplifier, and mixers. If you go this route, expect to spend a few hundred dollars at minimum, and perhaps into the thousands depending on the equipment you choose.
USB audio interfaces are a great option for combining many of these additional pieces of technology into one. They often include the digital audio converter, preamp, a virtual mixer, and headphone amplifier all in one.
These are ideal if you are doing solo recordings. But, if you have two or more people involved in your recordings, prepare to go beyond the USB audio interface.
Why go with a professional recording setup?
Why would someone opt for this modular setup that requires more equipment and investment over a more affordable option? It comes down to higher quality sound and equipment.
Each piece of equipment is just doing one specific job, so it can specialize and perform better. The materials are also usually higher quality. For example, you’ll get metal rather than plastic.
With a professional recording setup, you can upgrade and replace elements down the line. Professional setups are customizable. The various elements of a modular audio recording system also tend to last longer.
If you have more demands on your audio recording system, such as multiple people recording at the same time, you’ll need a more robust setup as well.
Less expensive options have trade-offs. For example, USB microphones rely on the drivers from the brand. This can present issues if the drivers stop working, which is rare, but could be very inconvenient if it occurred when you planned to record.
And, because an all-in-one recording tool is doing more, it likely will only last a few years. Many elements of high-end audio recording setups can last for decades and retain resale value.
Upgrade your recording location
Musicians and voiceover artists record in special studios. You don’t need a professional setup to get good quality audio, but you can take steps to recreate that environment.
For an example, Kajabi Hero Andrew Bryant shared a look at his live broadcasting setup:
In a pinch, recording in a quiet, carpeted room with minimal echo is a start. Record when it’s quiet, and choose a smaller room over a larger one.
Due to the physics of acoustics, sound bounces in a room. Acoustic treatments can counteract unwanted sound from impacting the recording.
Many audio producers use bass traps and acoustic panels. These are used to reduce reverberation in a room which can impact the quality of the recording.
Acoustic panels or absorption panels typically go on the walls in a room. These address middle and high frequencies. You’ve likely seen these in auditoriums, movie theatres, or concert halls.
Bass traps are thicker than absorption panels and typically go in the corners of a room. These address low frequencies.
You can buy ready-made acoustic room treatments. Check out Guitar Center, Sweetwater, Gik Acoustics, Amazon, or other music supply stores. You can also have them custom designed and created for your space.
Soundproofing differs from sound damping because it prevents outside sound from getting into the recording room. For example, the sound of construction or music playing that permeates the walls and windows.
To avoid this, ensure your recording space and the surrounding area has good insulation. Seal windows and walls and install soundproofing door sweeps.
Invest in audio mixing and mastering
Mixing and mastering your audio makes it sound its best. Mixing involves taking multiple tracks and combining them into one. Mastering involves polishing the mix to make it ready for distribution.
Sweetwater discusses more about the differences between the two in this post.
Great mixing and mastering is important to make sure that podcast or course tracks are consistent in volume and sound. That way, someone can listen to them like an album without having to adjust the volume or notice inconsistencies.
You could produce audio tracks yourself using any number of audio recording programs, such as Audacity, GarageBand, Ableton Live, or FL Studio. But if you’re not skilled in this area, there are options to get help.
Outsourcing your audio
If you’re a knowledge entrepreneur, you may find it more cost-effective to outsource your audio production. But how much does it cost to outsource audio production? Upwork lists audio production freelancers and most rates are between $25-$55 per hour. Be sure to establish a workflow with your freelancer and get an estimate on how much it would cost to produce your audio materials.
AI audio production
Fortunately, there is a middle road between completely producing audio yourself and outsourcing. There are multiple software options that use AI to produce great quality audio.
Some services, like LANDR, allow you to upload your files and they return a completed file back. Other software options, like Izotope Ozone, have you at the controls but with machine learning tools included to generate the sound and consistency you need
Using audio with Kajabi
On Kajabi, knowledge commerce entrepreneurs can use their audio in their online courses, with both video and audio-only options.
Having great quality audio provides a better experience for your clients. Because it’s more pleasant to listen to, it will encourage your customers to engage with your content.
Audio recordings crafted with care will make a better impression on your customers. Improving the quality of this aspect of your offering will help clients attribute a higher value.
Kajabi makes it easy to turn your expertise into a successful knowledge commerce business. Our comprehensive suite of tools includes a website, payment processor, course builder, email marketing, and templates of sales pipelines. The combination of these tools empowers you to get your business up and running quickly, with no coding required.
Ready to get started creating your knowledge commerce business? Explore our pricing and start your free 14-day trial.