The amount of information, guides, podcasting schools and tips on the internet is simply overwhelming. So, I’ve done the research for you, and tested it extensively. My recommendations are simple, quick and inexpensive.
Top tip? Headphones - at least for you!
1. If you are recording a subject, then you at least should wear headphones. Just the ones that came with your phone are fine, it doesn’t have to be flash. In my interviews I wear a set of headphones but I often do not put them on my subject. I find that if you are using an external microphone, and that is well placed in front of the subject then they do not need headphones. Please be aware that you cannot actually hear the recording through the headphones while you are making it. The headphones are simply there to block out external noise and keep you focused on them, and the interview, and to identify if they are beginning to talk “off mic”.
2. However, you may want both you and your subject to wear headphones, especially if you are not using an external microphone. (Don’t worry we discuss those later). This will focus the sound even better. It is a personal choice about whether or not you want to both use headphones.
If you decide to BOTH wear headphones then you will need to read the following instructions:
What to do to connect two headphones to your device or laptop
Firstly, you will need to get a headphone splitter so you can plug in more than one headphone into your device. I’ve pictured the one I recommend in Image 1 below. This is a Belkin headphone splitter, it costs approximately $11 and they are everywhere – online, at JB Hi-Fi or any other IT shop worldwide. Make sure you get the headphone splitter that fits your device’s audio jack.
Interestingly, the quality of your headphones doesn’t matter. You can use the bud headphones you got with your phone (for you, not your subject), and then some over the head $20 headphones for your subject. That’s all you need. The aim of headphones is to be able hear yourself as you talk, and to hear if you and your subject are both talking on and directly to the microphone. You will be surprised how that focuses the voice towards the microphones and balances out the sound recorded. Headphones is the best tip I can give you – there is a reason why all professional radio DJs and sound technicians are always wearing headphones. And it’s not just because it looks totes cool.
Help! My IOS device doesn’t have a headphone jack!
If you have an IPhone 7 or 8, or another new IOS device, then you will have a lightening jack instead of a standard audio jack. Don’t worry. You’ll have to do this:
Your device should have come with a free lightening to headphone jack adapter, which you can use to plug in old headphones. If you did not get one, then you can buy one for $12 AUD from any IOS store or JB Hi-Fi. It is pictured in Image 2.
To connect two headphones, you can either connect one wireless headphone using Bluetooth, and then the other headphone using the lightening jack adaptor OR
You can buy another $10 adapter that then plugs in to the first adapter to create two audio streams. This is a Connexia Sound Audio Adaptor Plug Socket. It is pictured in Image 3.
Image 4 shows you how the final set-up will look.
If you want to plug in more than two headphones, then you can plug in the original Belkin headphone splitter.
Note: You can only plug in one Bluetooth audio device to any device with less than Bluetooth 5. This is all IOS devices 7 or lower. Only the IPhone 8 allows you to plug in two wireless audio devices (such as two headphones, or an external mic and a headphone) as it has Bluetooth 5.
What about hearing aids?
If your subject has hearing aids, then headphones can be tricky. But still try and use them if you can. If your subject won’t wear headphones, the most important thing to remember is that you need to be wearing the headphones. That way, if your subject drops away from the microphone or loses audio quality, you can hear it straight away and address it.
You can wear any headphones with hearing aids – except buds. My mum wears hearing aids, and from our extensive testing, we found that headphones without the hearing aids were her preferred method. Mum did not wear her hearing aids with the headphones and we kept the headphones on, but there is no technical reason for not doing so. Tip: Do what is best for your subject here, and make sure you are wearing the headphones at least. And test out the audio quality!
Do I need an external microphone?
No, for personal use recordings and following our tips then generally no. But audio will sound better with an external microphone so it depends what quality you are looking for.
I advise you first test test your sound quality without an external microphone no matter how you choose to record, as if the room is quiet, the device still and close to your subject, and everyone speaking clearly and on-mic, then you may well not not need an external microphone. Please note that the use of an external microphone is a personal decision and outside the advice provided by A Lasting Tale.
But do you have any microphone tips?
… an external microphone will take it to the next level, the professional podcast quality level. Here at A Lasting Tale we definitely use external microphones when recording our interview package. There are so many types of microphones you could use. A great sounding USB port microphone is the Blue Snowball ICE USB Microphone (Blackout) - it costs about $80 AUD from JB Hi-Fi. These plug into a laptop using a USB port, and to a IPhone or IPAD if you also use a lightening port to USB adapter. Note, using the adaptor may only work on the newer devices, such as the 7 and 8. You can also get microphones that will plug directly into your smart phone device but these can become expensive. Go and talk to your friendly retailer if you need advice here.
If you sign up to the wait-list at Rachel Corbett at PodSchool, you will recieve her free Podcasting Guide which also provides suggestions for other external microphones.
Want about wireless microphones? This could be a good option if you are using a IPhone 7 or 8, and are using the lightening jack to attach your headphones. In that case, then you could attach the microphone wireless using Bluetooth, and the headphones using the lightening jack adaptor. I do not use a wireless mic, but the best reviews for well-priced wireless mics are - https://www.micreviews.com/guides/top-10-best-wireless-microphones .
Other IOS device microphones (non-wireless) are at https://www.micreviews.com/guides/top-10-best-ios-microphones