Venturing out of your studio and recording in the real world can be one of the most fun parts of podcasting. You can interview fascinating people in their own environment or at quiet café, capture background ambience and sound effects for your show, or just record a quick intro monologue in your hotel room when you’re on the road.
However, mobile podcast recording is an entirely different challenge than recording in a nice, quiet home studio with everything you need right at hand. Recording on the go requires thorough planning and specialized mobile podcast equipment. These five tips cover everything you need for a successful location recording, from how to build a mobile recording studio to securely backing up your work.
1. Plan Ahead
A good plan is the foundation of any successful recording adventure. If you just fly by the seat of your pants, you might find yourself late for an interview, leaving a key piece of gear at home or scrambling to adapt to a change of plans. Before you step out the door, plan your outing thoroughly, make sure anyone else involved is on the same page and double-check that you have everything you need to record.
- When preparing for an on-location interview, always confirm the date and time with your subject well in advance, then give them a friendly reminder the day before.
- If you’re venturing out to record some sounds related to a story you’re covering, make a list of exactly what you need to capture and check if you need permission to record on private property.
- Always pad your schedule with extra time to account for travel delays, setup time and the possibility that your conversation might run long (like the best conversations do).
To ensure you’re ready for any situation, make a checklist of all the gear you’ll need. Here’s a sample checklist for an on-location interview:
2. Streamline Your Setup
When putting together a mobile recording setup, the best way to lighten your load is to leave your laptop at home and use a mobile device instead. Even the smallest notebook computers still take up a fair amount of space in your backpack and on desks and tables. iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets are ultra-compact and more powerful than ever, giving you the freedom to record practically anywhere.
All Blue Yeti and Snowball USB microphones are compatible with the latest iOS and Android devices, meaning most phones or tablets can easily become a portable podcast recording studio.
You’ll need a compatible device and the right adapter cables to make it work, so be sure to read our article about using Blue USB mics with mobile devices for the full scoop. Adding a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse like the Logitech Keys-To-Go and MX Anywhere 2s can make your mobile device just as flexible as a laptop, allowing you to edit on the go as well.
While it’s possible to use multiple USB microphones with certain devices, XLR microphones provide greater flexibility for multi-mic applications. Fortunately, some audio interfaces (like the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo) are compatible with iPads, allowing you to use multiple XLR microphones on the go. And if you don’t feel like messing with mobile devices at all, standalone mobile recorders like the Zoom H6 are ultra-streamlined, reliable solutions.
Yeti Nano is an ideal USB mic for on-the-go recording.
3. Use the Right Mic for the Job
Since it’s probably not feasible to bring your favorite studio condenser microphone plus a boom arm, shock mount and pop filter on the road with you, you’re going to need a more streamlined solution. The best mobile podcast microphones are compact, lightweight and easy to use. Plug n’ play USB microphones are great all-purpose solutions, and handheld dynamic XLR microphones are ideal for recording multiple people in noisy environments.
For broadcast-quality sound on the go, Yeti Nano is our top choice. It’s tiny (hence the name), and at just 1.39 pounds it barely adds to the weight of your kit. If you’re putting together a mobile podcast recording setup on a budget, Snowball and Snowball iCE are fantastic options as well.
All three of these mics feature built-in desktop stands, so you won’t have to worry about bringing a cumbersome mic stand. Better yet, they can each be used as an external mic for mobile devices, giving you far better sound than your phone’s onboard mic.
If you have an audio interface or standalone recorder for connecting XLR microphones, the Blue enCORE Series offers some of the best options for mobile podcast recording. These premium handheld microphones require no mic stands, and since they’re engineered for live performance, they excel at capturing your voice with minimal background noise.
4. Carry Extra Power
The last thing you need when podcasting on the go is for your recording device to lose power in the middle of an interview. USB microphones and recording apps both draw power from your device, meaning your battery will drain faster while recording than during regular use.
Even if you leave the house with 100% battery, there’s a chance you might run low in the middle of recording. To avoid this potential podcasting nightmare, be sure to invest in reliable charging devices or external battery packs.
Designed in partnership with Apple, the Logitech BASE is a premium iPad stand that features next-generation Apple Smart Connector technology for instant wireless charging. All you have to do is set your iPad Pro on the stand and it starts charging while you use it.
Another Logitech gadget Apple fans will love is POWERED for iPhone, a wireless charging dock for the iPhone 8 and above. With these futuristic solutions, you’ll always be powered up and never have to touch a “wall-wart” adapter again.
If your mobile podcasting adventures take you far from civilization (or outlets), a power bank—also known as a battery bank or power brick—can be an invaluable part of your toolkit. These portable charging devices can store enough power to keep your phone or tablet going for hours beyond its own capacity. Power banks range from pocket-sized miniature models to rugged solutions with an abundance of power and charging ports.
5. Back up Your Recordings
Any time you’re podcasting on the go, it’s crucial to back up your recordings as soon as possible. If your mobile recording device were to get lost or damaged, your precious data would be gone, just like that! That’s why a good backup system is an essential part of any mobile recording setup. With so many small, affordable and reliable storage devices available, as well as easily accessible cloud storage, there’s really no excuse for not having a backup plan.
Gone are the days of lugging around a chunky hard disk drive (HDD), plugging it into the wall, waiting for it to boot up and being careful not to jostle it. Solid state drives (SSDs) feature no moving parts that can fail, require almost no start-up time and take up less space than HDDs of the same size.
It’s also a good idea to supplement your external drive with a cloud storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive for an extra layer of redundancy. Plus, you can easily sync files to your studio computer.
With cloud storage and a good SSD, you can save your recordings to multiple locations in a matter of seconds. As soon as you’re done recording, the files on your device will sync to the cloud, then all you need to do is drag and drop to your drive and boom—it’s all backed up in three places, just like that.
Time to Mobilize
With the right mobile podcast recording equipment, a solid plan of action and a reliable data backup system, you’ll be all set to capture your next story. For more resources, tips and gear recommendations, be sure to check out How to Start a Podcast: Blue’s Ultimate Podcast Guide.