Have you also been caught by the podcasting virus and now you want to start your podcast? Not the best choice of words for 2021, I know. Regardless, this blog will help you choose the essential equipment for podcasting, and provide a few tips on what to do next. Anyone can become a podcaster! All it takes is effort.
Launch a Podcast: What Equipment Do You Need to Podcast?
Let’s list things out first, shall we? So, to run a podcast, you need:
- Audio interface
- Audio interface + mixer
- Tailor-made solutions
The biggest advantage of using a recorder is its flexibility – you can make recordings wherever you are. This is why I personally prefer this approach. The Zoom H2 was my first recorder. I put it on the table, between me and my guest. Simple but effective! After each recording, I transfer the audio files from my SD card to my computer, where I post-production in Adobe Audition. I use the following effects to achieve better audio quality: compressor, limiter, EQ, and smart noise reduction. The only downside to this method is that the recorder also picks up surrounding background noise and echoes. If you opt for a recorder, then the best choice would be to record outdoors in a quiet environment.
Recorder With External Microphones
How to eliminate unwanted background noise? You will need a recorder with XLR inputs so that you can connect microphones. Using external microphones allows the gain to be set to an ultra low level, thus avoiding the recording of background noise. Headsets, on the other hand, prevent you and the other person from talking at the same time. The result is much better!
An audio interface allows you to connect one or more microphones to a computer. This is the solution of choice if you want to record directly using a computer or to broadcast your podcast live over the Internet. Some podcasters even use cameras to record their podcast! The Focusrite Scarlett series is one of the most popular audio interfaces. If you prefer to take a professional approach and achieve production with near-zero latency, you will need an interface with a FireWire connection, such as the Universal Audio Apollo Quad with a DSP processor. This has top-quality preamps and A/D converters, but it comes at a steep price.
Audio Interface + Mixer
Adding a mixer to your setup gives you more control over audio levels. This will allow you to record a podcast with someone calling via Skype. To do this, you will need a “mix-minus” setup. Although rather complex, this offers several advantages. Indeed, it not only helps avoid echoes but also adds effects or music to your podcast to make it more polished. The number of mic inputs you will need will of course depend on your situation. Make sure you choose a mixer with FX output, otherwise it is impossible to achieve a mix-minus setup.
There are two types of microphones suitable for podcasting: dynamic microphones and condenser microphones, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
- Advantages: affordable, less sensitive to unwanted ambient noise, virtually indestructible.
- Cons: Lower audio quality compared to condenser mics.
- Pros: Incredibly rich and crystal-clear sound.
- Disadvantages: expensive, sensitive to noisy surroundings, vulnerable, they can only be used in soundproof rooms.
With the ever-increasing popularity of podcasting, manufacturers have started making specially tailored products. For example, when using just one mic to record your podcast, the Rode NT-USB Micro USB is a great choice. Be aware, however, that it is not easy to add microphones at a later stage, and this microphone is specially designed for solo podcasters.
Useful Tips for Beginners
So, if you want to put together a serious podcast recording set for two people, and include, say, a video component, it could cost you around 2,000-3,000 dollars in total. What’s the point of spending more? The goal is to get a good recording, a clear sound of your speech.
Do you need an extremely expensive microphone and a serious recorder or audio interface for that? No. It is not necessary to spend big immediately. Some tricks can help you out when low on cash and relying on the equipment of less quality.
To do this you need a relatively well-soundproofed room. You can do this in a variety of ways, but in essence, you need to mask part of the sound-reflecting surfaces (flat and solid surfaces, such as hard tables, windows, walls) with something that absorbs sound. These can be curtains, some heavy fabric you fold a few times, it could be a blanket, or something similar to that. You wouldn’t believe how many voiceovers for commercials were recorded under the blanket!
Well, the professional solution is a sponge for acoustic insulation (the sponge that looks like egg cardboard). An alternative to this is a building material – insulator, and it is 10 to 15 times cheaper. Although it is not very beautiful, it does a job perfectly well, and if it bothers you how it looks, cover it with some fabric that looks nice.
The point is that 35-50% of large areas should be covered with such materials, and if the room is large, it is not bad to have several of them in the room itself, where they do not bother. If you do put them, every sound you record will be much cleaner, and whatever you record you will have a much better end product.
Okay, what about recording?
You can also try it on the phone, and it is very possible that, if it is close enough, and yet not too close, and directed towards you – the sound will be good. You can also try bugs. The cheap ones may be good enough for what you want.
My suggestion is, especially if you have an interlocutor, to place an audio recorder between you. Not a dictaphone, it gives a technically okay sound for further work, but the recorders give a better quality recording for listening. It scared you that they were going to be expensive? The recorder you need is, say Zoom H1n or Tascam DR-05, and their prices are incredibly reasonable. They are very light, portable, and great to work with. An alternative is to take some of the phone accessories that turn it into a capacitor microphone. But you may change the phone, and the plug-in may not be compatible with the new one.
You can buy a nice USB microphone (and they are from $100 and up). My recommendation though is to buy or borrow a recorder. It’s portable, you don’t need a computer with you on set, etc. You can also take a nice stand to position it where it should be in between. And it’s not expensive.
Apart from the technological aspect, what else do you need to know?
You should know that it is not easy. Maybe you really do make sense of it, and maybe everything will go smoothly. If not, don’t give up right away. Try, practice. Try with people you feel comfortable with. That’s a good start.
If you’re alone in your podcast, keep in mind that you may feel like a madman talking to a black box. The biggest problem, especially if you have some experience with public speaking, is that there is no feedback. That is, it is not there immediately, but only after the episode comes out, and sometimes it is not easy to lead a story if you do not have feedback to whom you adapt on the go.
But if you don’t try, you certainly won’t succeed. If you try, it may turn out that this is exactly what you need to devote your free time and your artistic, personal, or professional expression.
Free Quiz: Find Your Ideal Gear Setup in 1 Minute or Less 📷
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
Choosing the right equipment gets you on the right track, but ultimately it’s the content of your podcast that plays a decisive role in your chances of success. You don’t need a professional studio, you don’t have to invest a lot of money to create a podcast. Buy all the essentials first, set yourself up, and start podcasting. With time, experience, and a bit of investment, the quality of your podcasts will only grow.