Friday 14 May 2021

How we made the DE:CODED podcast

When we chose to make a podcast we knew we would have a lot to learn...

This is how we made the DE:CODED podcast

At the end of 2020 we decided to create a podcast.

Five months later we have published the final episode of series one. (We're definitely doing a second series.)

Some information and advice for those wishing to do the same follows...


The two presenters, myself (Simon Edwards) and Marc Briggs had no previous podcasting experience. That said, we're no strangers to public speaking, which probably helped.

We were super-stiff in the first few episodes and even read from a script in one. Don't do that...

I have some experience editing audio and video, but not using very modern technology. GarageBand is pretty easy to get used to. I didn't find any significant limitations and certainly was not tempted to upgrade to Logic Pro.


The podcast community spends a lot of time talking about equipment. We considered buying audio interfaces and mixers but found we could get by with:

We recorded into the MacBook using the two microphones. They work in XLR and USB mode. We used USB mode and connected them both to the same USB port using the Mini Dock.

On the rare occasions that we talked to a remote interviewee we connected the iPhone to the MacBook. It became a third sound input so GarageBand could record that person to their own track. This worked well with apps like Zoom.


We tried and failed to make much progress with double-ender recordings.

We didn't spend much time worrying about room acoustics.

The Buzzsprout Magic Mastering feature removed the need for us to get our heads around LUFS.

We tried to run the whole process lightly, using an iPad. But you can't record live multiple tracks without investing in quite bulky kit, which would have rendered the attempt pointless. It was easier and lighter to use a MacBook Air.

We tried to run the whole process using two iPads, recording one track to each and then combining them. That was a disaster. The audio timings are different and the tracks drift out of time with each other dramatically after a few minutes. Using one device to record multiple inputs is the way to go.

As we became more experienced (and faster) at editing we started removing more coughs, ums, errs and so on. But not religiously.

Over time I became less interested in matching sound levels and lining up music introductions, fade-outs and so on. Either I just became better at it instinctively or it doesn't matter much. I think the latter :)

By the final episode we'd worked out how to split episodes into chapters.


The logo was designed by Colin Mackleworth, who handles all of our design needs at SE Labs.

The theme music was created by me, using GarageBand. I started with the iPad but moved onto the MacBook because it was just easier to navigate the app.
iPads really are mainly good for sketching out ideas and consuming media.

According to the stats our first effort made it into the top 25% or so of all podcasts. And we're number 3 of all technology podcasts!

(In Iceland).

Most people initially listen through the blog and then migrate to Apple Podcasts. Some use Overcast and a few use Spotify. At the time of writing Spotify is supposedly gaining over Apple. But not with our listeners!


I think the sound quality of the podcast episodes was good. Certainly 'good enough'. Content is king so, as long as you're not recording in a toilet, focus on what's being said and don't worry too much about covering your room in acoustic tiles.

Consumer-grade software and equipment is definitely adequate.

Podcasting with an iPad is harder work than it should be. Yes, you *can* do it. But do yourself a favour and don't :)

Finding time to record and edit is hard. We released the first three episodes simultaneously, to help new listeners binge, and it took us weeks to get to that stage.

Setting deadlines is stressful but necessary. There's always something more important to do when there's no deadline.

Missing a deadline is not a disaster. We did that twice and no-one complained. Neither did the stats suffer. But get back on the horse ASAP!

Having a series with a finite number of episodes helps you stay focussed and you can see light at the end of the tunnel!

Social media brings people in. Twitter and LinkedIn worked well for us. Facebook less so. 

No comments:

Post a Comment