Podcast Equipment for the Beginner Podcaster
Podcasting is a popular medium to discuss the topics that interest you and your listeners, it’s similar to blogging, but not everyone has the time to type out a 1000-word blog post, write a book, publish freelance articles or come up with other ways to express their creativity, however almost everyone can find a way to talk about their interests for a few minutes a day… and that’s basically what Podcasting comes down to. Talking about your interests and hoping that other people out there want to listen to you talk about them.
Talking is the easy part though. For a truly professional-quality podcast, you’re going to need a few things.
For starters, you’re going to need a desktop computer, laptop or tablet to record with. Obviously, trying to record onto a tablet is going to severely limit your ability to create quality productions, so for the sake of this article I’m going to stick with using a computer or laptop.
While most computers come with a built-in sound card, you’re going to want to step it up a notch if you want a truly professional result, which means you’re going to have to get a recording interface. These days, some great technological advancements have been made in recording interfaces that work over USB (Universal Serial Bus) and you can get a very high quality recording interface for not a lot of money. Here are a few recommendations;
- Low-grade: Lexicon Alpha 2-Channel Recording Interface – $45.00
- Mid-grade: Focusrite Scarlett Solo – $99.00
- High-grade: M-Audio M-Track Eight – $399.00
All three of the listed interfaces offer USB recording for at least 2 inputs, which allows for you and another person to record at the same time. In addition to multiple inputs, they all support the ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) recording method, which allows your recording software to directly interface with the device instead of using software-driven communication, thus reducing the latency (delay) in recording, and increasing the quality of the resulting recording.
If you want to expand on the number of inputs you can handle at any time, you may consider adding a mixing board into your setup. The bonus of adding a mixing board is that you get the option to control each input independently in case you’re using different microphones, talking at different volumes, or simply have two people with different vocal dynamics. A nice, effective and affordable mixing board that I would recommend is the Yamaha MG10XU 10-Channel Mixing Board ($199.99). In addition to expanding on the number of inputs you’ll be able to handle, the Yamaha MG10XU also adds inline effects such as reverb and compression, which can add a nice polish to your final production when used appropriately.
Now on to the meat and potatoes of your hardware. The microphones;
- Low-grade: MXL 770 Cardoid Condenser Microphone – $78.99
- Mid-grade: Blue Bluebird Cardoid Condenser – $299.00
- High-grade: Rode NTK Tube Condenser Microphone – $529.99
While it’s possible to find a lot of podcast microphone bundles online, the majority of them come with nice-looking, but ultimately poor-quality microphones and I wouldn’t recommend them. The fact of the matter is, no amount of post-production, filtering or mastering is going to make your podcasts sound professional if you’re recording on a low-quality piece of junk microphone. If you’re going to skimp on any piece of hardware, make sure it’s not your microphone.
Aside from the odds and ends cables you’ll need to connect everything together, you’re also going to need a good microphone stand. I personally like the Neewer Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand because it mounts pretty easily to your desk, holds any microphone with a standard connection, and at about $14.00 USD per stand, they’re pretty inexpensive.
Once you’ve got your microphone setup, you’re going to need to hear yourself. For that, you’re going to need a good pair of studio headphones. Contrary to popular belief, those Beats Audio headphones that sell for a few hundred bucks at the store are pretty bad for studio recording. Here are a few recommendations;
- Low-grade: Sennheiser HD 202 II – $23.98
- Mid-grade: Sennheiser HD 280 – $99.95
- High-grade: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x – $159.00
Keep an eye out for a follow-up post in the future where I’ll talk about recording software, additional hardware you can use to increase your production quality, expand on your ability to record multiple people at the same time, and maybe even add in some additional flare to your new podcast. Until then, keep listening, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this post.