Picture this: You and your podcast speaker are all set for a great conversation. You’re remotely connected via a professional recording studio like SquadCast.
As you start talking, though, you hear your own voice repeated back to you each time you speak, typically with a bit of a delay.
This echo, also called feedback, can be a major detractor for your listeners.
Even if you have the right topic and the right speaker for an incredible remote recording, audio issues like echo can make or break your show. That’s why you should do everything you can to keep it out of your recordings.
Luckily, echo is entirely preventable. Read on to understand why echo happens and learn a simple troubleshooting process, including three questions you can ask today to resolve echo for your podcast.
1. Is everyone wearing headphones?
Any podcaster will tell you that headphones are an essential ingredient for an amazing recording. While headphones aren’t always the most comfortable (or fashionable), they’re a surefire way to keep your audio quality high and minimize echo.
Ideally, everyone collaborating on your recording should use headphones.
Why? Let’s say your guest isn’t wearing headphones. In this case, your microphone picks up your voice and transmits the sound to your guest’s speakers, which amplify sound.
When those speakers project the sound of you talking, your guest’s microphone is sensitive enough to also pick up your voice. This means your voice will play back again, so you (and your future listeners) will hear an echo.
However, when everyone uses headphones, you minimize the risk of this echo because headphones limit the chances of a mic picking up the other person’s voice a second time.
To use headphones for echo cancellation:
- Plug the headphones into your device. (Pro tip: Wired headphones are preferable to Bluetooth headphones!)
- Select headphones as your default output audio device in your system settings.
- Refresh your web browser.
- Ensure your headphones are selected in the recording platform you’re using.
Now, you and your podcast guest should be all set!
2. How can we limit echo if someone doesn’t have headphones?
While headphones are always preferred, you might encounter a guest who doesn’t have headphones. (If you know ahead of time, we recommend sending them a kit that removes the hassle from the recording experience.)
If your guest doesn’t have headphones on hand, SquadCast offers an echo cancellation solution to help with this scenario.
Simply toggle the “Wearing Headphones?” button to the left to indicate that not everyone has headphones. This will enable echo cancellation and limit feedback in the recording session.
While echo cancellation is a useful backup plan when headphones simply aren’t an option, this solution comes with trade-offs.
For instance, if two people are talking or laughing at the same time, echo cancellation will quiet the audio as a way of preventing feedback.
This is called Audio Gain Control (AGC), an automatic volume reduction that — you guessed it! — prevents echo. (Volume returns to normal after simultaneous speaking ends.) But reducing the volume means compression of the audio and, thus, lower quality.
To avoid AGC, try to limit instances of people speaking at the same time, although this can be challenging to eliminate entirely when the conversation is flowing. We recommend ensuring everyone is mindful of not talking over others before recording starts.
Want to avoid all of these workarounds? Headphones are the way to go.
In short, using headphones is the gold standard of remote recording because it means:
✅ No compression trade-offs or reduction in volume or audio quality.
✅ No need for extra echo cancellation software.
✅ No behavior changes needed for collaborators.
3. Everyone’s wearing headphones, but I still hear an echo. Why?
If all collaborators are wearing headphones but you still hear your voice echoing back to you, you likely have audio bleed.
While headphones are definitely preferable to using built-in speakers, they are mini speakers in your ears. When the volume is high enough, even headphones can project the sound in a way that your microphone picks up. That’s how the echo can still occur.
How do you know if you’re dealing with bleed or another kind of echo? Simply put, if everyone is using headphones, the echo is most likely bleed. (Plus, bleed is a bit quieter than other types of echo.)
The solution for bleed is typically much simpler than for other forms of echo. Try turning down the audio output volume on your computer, test for the echo and repeat these two steps until you no longer hear the bleed. (As an added benefit, turning the volume down is better for your hearing, too!)
Trying to assess whose headphones are causing feedback?
👉When there are just two collaborators: If you hear yourself echoing, the other person needs to turn their volume down.
👉When there are more than two collaborators: Mute everyone, then unmute one by one until you find the echoing collaborator and have turned their volume down to remove the bleed.
💡Pro tip: Run a quick sound check
Before you start recording, take a few moments to record a 15-second sound check to test for any echoes. This way, you can troubleshoot and resolve any issues before you’re in the thick of the recording process.
That’s a wrap!
Armed with these tips, you should have all that you need to reduce echo and make your next remote recording incredible. With headphones, volume checks and echo cancellation if needed, you’ll have crisp and clear audio that doesn’t sound like you recorded it while spelunking.
For more best practices and troubleshooting tips on a wide range of podcasting topics, we’ve got you covered. The SquadCast blog and YouTube channel are your go-to resources to make sure your next remote recording is your best one yet.