When you hear the term “podcast studio” your mind might conjure up images of mics, mixing desks, and cables running everywhere. All contained within one nicely sound-treated room.
The average “podcast studio” is somewhat less glamorous, though. The vast majority of podcasters simply plug a USB mic into their computer, and – if they’re feeling extra fancy – stick a few foam tiles on the wall.
Many a successful podcast has been recorded this way. You genuinely don’t need complex or top-level podcast equipment for your show to make a positive impact or grow a dedicated audience. However, there is a chance that where you’re recording could be holding you back.
There are two common issues that could be putting you off from sitting down and hitting record.
- You can’t get the space or the peace and quiet at home.
- You feel a bit stupid sitting alone, talking into a mic.
These are two different reasons, but both have the same outcome – your podcast will never fulfil its true potential and could even lead to you quitting podcasting altogether.
There are measures you can take to address these issues – check out creating a silent home studio, and how to design an avatar for your podcast. But in this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can go a long way towards solving both.
And that involves taking your show outside.
This ‘podcasting outside’ post was originally written in 2016. We update this post periodically to reflect changes in technology, our recommendations, and because we’re always learning new things!
Podcasting is truly global, and podcasters live in a multitude of diverse environments. But it’s likely that no matter where you are, getting outside and having a 20-minute walk is an option that’s open to you.
Whether that’s through busy city streets, quiet country roads, dense woodland trails, or along warm sandy beaches, you can turn your neighbourhood into your very own podcast studio just by getting out there and hitting record.
Not only does it take the “can’t get the space or quiet at home” issue out of the equation, but it also goes a long way to fixing the “I feel stupid talking into a mic” feeling.
You’ve probably walked down the street chatting to a friend on the phone before. So now you just need to replace your friend with your podcast avatar. They might not actually respond to you, but that’s okay; you’ve got plenty to tell them anyway.
The fact that you’re up and moving means your blood is pumping faster, you’re breathing deeper, and you are generally getting more oxygen to your brain. This is far removed from the “alone in a quiet room” scenario that leads many people to get mic paralysis.
Ambience of Outdoor Podcast Recording
Another factor that makes recording outdoors appealing, not only for the podcaster, but for the listener, too, is the ambience.
The sound of birds chirping or waves lapping or cars and busses driving by, can create images in the mind of your listener and place them right there with you. It can really add depth, character, and even authenticity to your sound.
Naturally, it can’t become overbearing to the point that you can’t be heard above the noise of everything going on around you, though. So, if you do happen to live in a particularly noisy place or somewhere with constant hurricane and monsoon weather conditions, then there is another option…
Recording Podcasts Outside (in the Car!)
Cars make for great little isolated recording booths. And recording in yours will still give you many benefits of being outside.
Some podcasters have even been known to record their shows whilst driving, though that might not be legal, depending on where you live. If it is, though, a hands-free mic like a lavalier or dashboard camera will still be a necessity. If local law enforcement catches you driving past holding an SM58 in your hand then your next recording environment is probably going to be the police interview room.
Outside Podcast Recording Equipment
On the subject of equipment, though, what are the options available to you if you want to record outdoors?
One of the most popular options has to be the Rode Smartlav+. This is an unobtrusive lavalier mic that you can pin to your jersey and record directly into your phone.
You could also use a small digital recorder like the Zoom H1 and plug a lav mic into that. Or, use the recorder as a handheld. It’ll be best to stick a foam or furry wind jammer over it, though, to protect your audio from air movement.
Or, you could go really advanced with the Zoom SSH-6 shotgun capsule on a Zoom H5 or H6 recorder if you had the budget to stretch to it. Shotgun mics are great for really honing in on a voice which makes them the ideal field recording kit.
Like any podcasting setup, it depends on your personal preference and budget. Just find something that works for you and your show, and focus the rest of your attention on the most important part – your content.
What About Software?
If you’re recording into your smartphone then there is no shortage of recording apps for iOS and Android. And, if you want to record remote interviews, you can still do that outside, too, by using an app like Riverside.fm. Tech really is no barrier when it comes to recording a podcast outside.
The Outside Podcasters Movement
Anecdotally, I’m hearing from more and more podcasters these days who’ve abandoned attempts to create a permanent studio, and have taken their recording outside.
There is no shortage of reasons for this. Podcast equipment is constantly becoming smaller, more flexible, and more affordable. Post-pandemic, some folks continue to work at home, too, and the last thing they want to do is spend more time there in front of that computer.
Then, there’s the fact that many creators simply get much better results in recording outdoors. Here’s a great piece published by Nick Hilton making another strong case for going outside with your podcast.
The great thing about pre-recorded content — the clear advantage it has over live broadcast — is that we can take risks on the quality of the record. We can start recording next to, say, a busy road, and if it proves too noisy, guess what? we can move! We can adjust mic positions, re-record segments, mix field recordings with indoors recordings. And nine times out of ten (according to scientists, who go to another school) a conversation recorded in a meadow, or a pub, or an antique steam train, is going to sound better and more dynamic, than if that same conversation had been recorded in an airless, slightly bouncy room.Nick Hilton – Go Outside: podcasting shouldn’t be limited to studios
Outdoor Podcast Recording Case Study: Far Fetched Adventures
How about a real-world example of podcasting outdoors, then? This is Charlie and Stacey, who ran a podcast called Far Fetched Adventures, and it’s the ultimate example of a brilliant on-the-go show.
We asked Stacey for her tips and advice for podcasters looking to create more content in this way. Here’s what she had to say…
“Best practice is to get really comfortable with your kit setup and establish a consistent system that becomes second nature when you’re… well…out in nature.
Rather than fiddling with wires buttons and where to put everything while you’re on the go, practice creating a minimalist setup that feels comfortable and easy to manage.
Thinking about the battery life of whatever you’re using is super important.
If you’re using your phone and a lav, make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave the house. If you think you might be in for a slightly longer session or you find yourself on a bit of an adventure, investing in an external battery block (or two) that can keep your phone charged is an easy way to extend your record time without being tethered to a wall charger.
If you’re going to be using a field recorder like the Zoom, make sure you bring extra batteries for that as well.
Creating a podcasting “go-bag” out of a backpack you likely already have is an efficient and organized way to carry the essentials mentioned above. Headphones, your laptop should you decide to edit on the go, and even some snacks, water, wallet, etc.
The key to successfully recording outside is to make it as comfortable, natural, and as effortless as possible. With the wide variety of portable gear and recording options available to us, creating your next episode on the go is as simple as taking a walk.”
Summary: Is Podcasting Outside for Me?
There are no one-size-fits-all answers in podcasting. There may be a few reasons why recording outdoors can’t and won’t work for you, and that’s absolutely fine.
However, if you’re struggling with your energy and delivery in front of the mic, or, just can’t get a good level of sound quality and quiet at home, then I’d encourage you to give it a try. Even if it ends up being a disaster, you’ll hit your step count for the day!
Need More Podcasting Help?
If you’d like to chat about the barriers preventing you from hitting record, check out Podcraft Academy. Aside from our regular live Q&A sessions, you can work through our dedicated courses on everything from voice training and presentation skills to promotion and monetisation.
What Our Readers Think About Can I Record a Podcast Outside? (Yes, & You Probably Should)
Thanks for this tremendously helpful post! I’m working with the Zoom H4N Pro. Do you happen to know which would work better for using lav mics with this device, a splitter, or two mono adapters? Also, do you happen to know if there’s an adapter for using TRRS/smartphone lav mics with the Zoom H4N Pro?
Many thanks in advance, Anelyse
Hi Anelyse – two mono adapters will give you a little more control than a splitter. As for the adapter, I’m not aware of one at the moment, sorry!
Thanks so much for your quick reply and advice, Matthew!
Re: the adapter, a staff rep from Zoom recommended the Rode TRS to TRRS cable. Many thanks again, Anelyse
Hi Anelyse, just got round to looking at this and it seems the Rode SC3 may be what you’re looking for? http://www.rode.com/accessories/sc3
I was thinking of starting a driving podcast. It’s just an idea. I have very very limited knowledge on recording equipment. But I wanted to get my vehicle mic’d properly and record the talks and edit them, where should I start? Thanks. Any help is appreciated.
Hi Travis, lavalier mics and a digital recorder sounds like the best option for this!
Great article about podcasts. I will be getting into them soon. To expand off the stage fright aspect, I help people past that mental block as a professional. A lot of it is about practice recording, not judging yourself, and managing expectations. More info at http://www.liberatedperformer.com
Thanks for the great information! What about an outdoor podcast with two hosts and 1+ guest(s)?
Mathew: Great stuff. I do my weekend show outside, live from Fort Myers Beach. By the way, we are linking to your article today. http://www.podcastbusinessjournal.com
You’d definitely want to have everyone together in the same place, outdoors. Consider what the outdoor ambience does for all three of you.