Choosing Your Podcasting Equipment: Top Picks for Any Budget
Creating your own podcast show is an exciting prospect, but where do you start? One of the most critical aspects to consider is choosing the right podcasting equipment. From microphones and headphones to podcast recording equipment and hosting platforms, there are countless options available in the podcast equipment market, and it can be overwhelming to sift through them all. In this post, we will guide you through the essential considerations when choosing podcasting equipment.
We'll also provide you with recommendations for different types of podcast equipment based on your needs and budget. Whether you're a beginner or an expert podcaster, this podcasting equipment checklist will guide you to make informed decisions.
Considerations When Choosing Podcast Equipment
Selecting the right podcasting equipment is not an easy thing, there are a few essential considerations that you should keep in mind. Firstly, your budget will play a significant role in determining which podcast equipment you can afford. Secondly, consider the format of your podcast show. Are you planning on interviewing guests? Will you be recording on the go?
By taking the time to carefully consider these factors, you'll be well on your way to choosing the right tools for your podcast setup. We'll discuss them in detail below:
Budget: When starting a podcast, it's crucial to consider your budget when selecting podcasting equipment. There are options available for every price point, with higher-end gear improving sound quality.
Show Format: Your podcasting equipment should be chosen based on the format of your show. For solo recording, a basic podcast setup with a microphone and headphones may work. However, multiple microphones and a mixer are necessary for interviews or group shows.
Recording Space: To create a high-quality show, choose a quiet and soundproofed recording space. Background noise and echoes can impact recording quality. Sound-absorbing materials or blankets can help improve audio quality, and a microphone with noise-cancelling features can enhance clarity.
Podcasting Equipment Checklist
The type of microphone you choose should depend on your recording environment and the format of your show. With the right microphone setup, you can elevate your podcasting equipment and deliver clear and professional-sounding audio to your listeners.
Types of Microphones for Podcasting:
1. Dynamic microphones:
Most commonly used for podcasting due to their durability, affordability, and ability to capture clear sound from a close distance.
Work by converting sound waves into electrical energy through the use of a diaphragm and magnetic coil.
Generally have a cardioid polar pattern, which means they pick up sound from the front while minimizing background noise from the sides and rear.
2. Condenser microphones:
More sensitive and have a higher frequency response compared to dynamic microphones.
Work by converting sound waves into electrical energy through the use of a diaphragm and charged plate.
Generally have a cardioid polar pattern, but some models have switchable polar patterns that can be adjusted for different recording scenarios.
3. Ribbon microphones:
Work by converting sound waves into electrical energy through the use of a thin metal ribbon suspended between two magnets.
Have a figure-8 polar pattern, which means they pick up sound from the front and back while minimizing sound from the sides.
Require a preamp or audio interface with a high gain to achieve optimal performance.
Best Microphones for Beginner, Intermediate and Expert Podcasters
For beginners, affordable podcasting equipment such as a USB mic or dynamic microphones are recommended. Intermediate podcasters may upgrade their podcast setup to condenser mics for better sound, while experts may prefer high-end models.
For beginner podcasters:
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB: This microphone is a great option for beginners due to its affordability, ease of use, and versatility. It is a dynamic microphone that can be used with a USB or XLR connection and has a cardioid polar pattern, making it suitable for recording in a variety of environments.
Blue Yeti: The Blue Yeti is a popular USB microphone that is also great for beginners. It has multiple polar patterns, making it suitable for a range of recording situations, and has a built-in headphone jack for monitoring audio.
For intermediate podcasters:
Shure SM7B: The Shure SM7B is a dynamic mic favored by voiceover artists, podcasters, and radio hosts. It delivers a smooth, natural sound and has a cardioid polar pattern ideal for various recording environments. Although it's pricier than some other options, its high-quality audio makes it worth the investment.
Audio-Technica AT4053B: The Audio-Technica AT4053B is a condenser microphone that offers nuanced and detailed sound. It's ideal for podcasters who record in quiet environments. With a hypercardioid polar pattern and low self-noise, it minimizes background noise.
For expert podcasters:
Neumann U87: The Neumann U87, a legendary condenser microphone, is popular among professionals for its warm, natural sound. It features switchable polar patterns and low self-noise, making it the perfect choice for experienced podcasters seeking premium sound quality.
Electro-Voice RE20: The Electro-Voice RE20 is a dynamic microphone often used in radio and podcast studio. It has a warm, natural sound and a cardioid polar pattern that works well in noisy environments. Plus, it comes with a built-in pop filter and shock mount for convenience.
2. Audio Interface and Mixer / Recorder
The next thing you should get for your podcast setup is an audio mixer. An audio interface allows you to connect microphones, instruments, and other audio sources to your computer for recording, while a mixer gives you the ability to adjust levels and apply effects in real-time.
Best Audio Interfaces and Mixers for Podcast Setup
The best audio interface or mixer for you will depend on the number of inputs and outputs required for your podcast setup and your budget.
The Behringer Xenyx 302USB is a popular option in podcasting equipment because of its affordability and ease of use. It comes with two XLR inputs, making it ideal for solo podcasts or small group recordings.
For intermediate users looking for a more advanced podcast setup, the Zoom LiveTrak L-8 is an excellent choice. With six sound pads, multi-track recording capabilities, and built-in effects such as compression and EQ controls, it provides greater versatility to your recordings.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a great podcast equipment option for podcasters seeking high-quality audio recording with a user-friendly design. It's perfect for solo podcasters or small groups with its XLR and 1/4" inputs, and it offers a range of useful features like a dedicated headphone output and zero-latency monitoring.
When it comes to podcasting equipment, headphones are an essential tool for ensuring high-quality audio. They allow you to monitor your recording and catch any unwanted background noise or distortion. Look for headphones that provide a comfortable fit and high-quality sound, as you may be wearing them for extended periods of time during recording. It's also important to consider the type of headphones that best suit your needs:
Types of Headphones for Podcasting Equipment
1. Closed-back headphones:
Most commonly used for podcasting due to their ability to isolate sound and minimize bleed.
Have a solid outer shell that blocks out external noise and prevents sound leakage.
Generally have a high level of bass response, which can help with monitoring low-frequency sounds.
2. Open-back headphones:
Offer a more natural, open sound and are ideal for critical listening and mixing.
Allow some external sound to leak in, which can be distracting for some users.
Generally have a flatter frequency response, which means they accurately reproduce sound across the entire frequency spectrum.
3. In-ear monitors (IEMs):
Small earbuds that fit directly into the ear canal, offering a low-profile and unobtrusive monitoring solution.
Provide good isolation and prevent sound leakage, making them ideal for use in noisy environments.
Generally have a more balanced sound compared to closed-back or open-back headphones.
Best Headphones for Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Podcasters
Choosing the right headphones for your podcast set up can make all the difference in audio quality and comfort during recording sessions.
Beginner podcasters may want to consider affordable options such as Audio-Technica ATH-M20x or Sony MDR7506
Intermediate podcasters may opt for mid-range options such as Sennheiser HD280 Pro or Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
Expert podcasters, on the other hand, can invest in high-end options like Shure SRH1540 or Audeze LCD-X.
4. Microphone Stands, Boom Arms, and Shock Mounts
Buying the right microphone is only half the podcast setup battle. Selecting compatible stands, boom arms, and shock mounts are equally important to ensure optimal sound quality. When selecting these accessories, look for compatibility with your chosen microphone and other podcasting equipment, and consider factors such as price and build quality to make a wise investment in your podcast setup.
Best Microphone Stands, Boom Arms, and Shock Mounts for Your Podcast Set Up
1. Microphone Stands:
On-Stage MBS5000: An affordable, sturdy desk stand with a weighted base that prevents tipping.
K&M 210/2: A high-quality, adjustable microphone stand with a tripod base and a telescoping boom arm.
Rode PSA1: A professional-grade studio boom arm that attaches to a desk or table and provides maximum flexibility and reach.
2. Boom Arms:
Heil PL-2T: A high-quality boom arm that is compatible with a variety of microphones and provides a smooth and stable motion.
Blue Compass: A premium boom arm with internal springs and built-in cable management that allows for smooth and precise positioning.
Samson MBA38: An affordable boom arm that attaches to a desk or table and provides adjustable height and reach.
3. Shock Mounts:
Rode SMR: A high-quality shock mount that is compatible with a variety of microphones and provides maximum isolation from handling noise and vibrations.
Auray SSM-BC10: An affordable and versatile shock mount that fits most condenser microphones and provides good isolation.
On-Stage MY-420: A budget-friendly shock mount that is compatible with most large-diaphragm condenser microphones and provides good shock absorption.
5. Pop Filters and Windscreens
Unwanted sounds can often creep into your recordings, including wind noise and popping sounds caused by plosive consonants. An often forgotten part when shopping for podcast equipment, pop filters and windscreens are essential pro tools for any podcaster looking to improve their audio quality. Pop filters reduce popping sounds by placing a barrier between the microphone and the speaker's mouth, while windscreens help reduce wind noise in outdoor or windy environments. Foam windscreens are an affordable option, while fur windscreens provide better sound quality in harsh weather conditions. By using these podcasting equipment tools, you can significantly improve the overall sound quality of your podcast recordings.
Best Pop Filters and Windscreens for Podcast Setup
When choosing a pop filter or windscreen for your podcast set up, consider compatibility with your microphone and ease of use. Incorporating these tools into your podcasting equipment setup can drastically improve the quality of your recordings and enhance the listening experience for your audience.
Some popular pop filter brands include the Samson PS01, the Nady MPF-6, and the On-Stage ASVS6GB.
For windscreens, popular brands include the Rode WS2, the Shure A58WS, and the WindTech MM-29.
6. Computers and Digital Audio Workstations (DAW)
To record audio and edit podcasts, computers and digital audio workstations (DAWs) are essential tools in your podcast setup. A powerful computer with ample storage capacity is necessary for handling large audio files, while a good DAW will provide the necessary post-production features to mix and edit your recordings. Consider your specific needs and budget when choosing a computer, and look for a DAW that offers features such as multi-track recording, effects plugins, and automation capabilities. With the right podcasting equipment in hand, you'll be well on your way to producing high-quality podcasts in no time.
Best Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) for Podcasting
There are several popular DAWs available for your podcast setup, each with its unique features and benefits. Audacity is a great option for beginners as it's free and user-friendly.
GarageBand is an excellent podcasting equipment choice for Mac users, offering advanced features such as multi-track recording and sound effects.
Reaper is a budget-friendly option that provides professional-level tools such as VST plugins and automation capabilities.
Adobe Audition offers powerful podcast editing options and seamless integration with other Adobe Creative Cloud apps.
7. Recording Software
User-friendly and easy-to-navigate software can help you to edit and enhance your audio quality with ease. Additionally, compatibility with your computer or recording device is a vital factor to consider while selecting recording software. It is also important to research any additional features available and their cost. A good recording software in your podcast set up can make all the difference in producing high-quality content for your listeners.
Best Remote Recording Software
When recording episodes, it's not always possible to have guests in the same location. That's when remote recording software comes in handy. The best remote recording software options allow you to record interviews or conversations with guests who are not in the same physical location as you. SquadCast, Zencastr, and Cleanfeed are three popular choices in podcasting equipment. All three offer high-quality audio recording capabilities and features such as automatic backup and file sharing.
Best Editing Software for Podcasting
Choosing the right editing software is a podcasting equipment crucial if you want to create a professional and polished podcast. While there are many options available, it's important to consider your budget, level of experience, and specific needs when making a selection.
Audacity is a popular free and open-source option with an intuitive user interface.
GarageBand is another widely used choice among Mac users, offering advanced features for music production as well.
For more specialized tools designed specifically for audio journalists and podcasters, Hindenburg offers features such as automatic leveling and noise reduction.
8. Memory Storage Devices
A memory storage device is a podcasting equipment essential. It can be frustrating to lose important recordings due to insufficient storage or slow transfer speeds. When choosing a memory storage device, consider factors such as storage capacity, transfer speed, and compatibility with your podcasting equipment.
Types of Memory Storage Devices for Podcasting Equipment:
USB flash drives offer portability and ease of use, making them ideal for on-the-go recording.
SD cards provide more storage capacity and are better suited for longer recordings or multiple episodes.
It's important to choose the right memory storage device based on your specific needs and podcasting equipment compatibility. Whichever type you choose, make sure to invest in a reliable and high-quality option to ensure that your recordings are secure and accessible when you need them.
Best Memory Storage Devices for Podcasting
When it comes to choosing the best memory storage devices for your podcasting equipment, there are several options available that cater to different needs and budgets.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are a popular choice for their fast read and write speeds, which can significantly reduce transfer times. However, they may be more expensive compared to hard disk drives (HDDs).
USB flash drives offer portability and convenience, while SD cards provide higher storage capacity ideal for longer recordings or multiple episodes.
Cloud storage services are also available but may come with additional costs.
9. Soundproofing Materials
Sound quality is essential for creating a professional and engaging listening experience. However, background noise and echoes can often prove to be a significant hindrance. That's where soundproofing podcast equipment come in handy:
Types of Soundproofing Podcast Equipment:
Foam panels are affordable and easy to install
Acoustic blankets are thicker and provide better sound insulation.
Curtains are portable and easy to set up but may not be as effective as foam or acoustic blankets.
Best Soundproofing Materials for Podcast Set Up
Acoustic foam panels: Auralex, Foamily, Mybecca, Pro Studio Acoustics
Mass loaded vinyl: Trademark Soundproofing, Acoustical Surfaces, Green Glue Company, Mass Loaded Vinyl by the Roll
Green glue compound: Green Glue Company, Auralex, Trademark Soundproofing
Acoustic treatment materials: GIK Acoustics, ATS Acoustics, Primacoustic, Vicoustic
10. Hosting Platforms
A common challenge faced by many new podcasters is selecting a hosting service that meets their needs and budget. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
Best Hosting Platforms for Beginners, Intermediate, and Expert Podcasters
Beginners can benefit from free or low-cost platforms like Anchor and Buzzsprout that offer user-friendly interfaces and reliable customer support.
Intermediate podcasters may want to consider Podbean or Transistor, which offer more advanced features and analytics.
Expert podcasters may prefer enterprise-level platforms like Libsyn and Blubrry that offer customizable options and advanced monetization strategies.
Podcasting Equipment Conclusion
Selecting the right podcast equipment is crucial for starting your own podcast. Consider your budget, recording space, and podcast format when choosing your tools. Equipment like microphones, headphones, audio interfaces or mixers, stands and boom arms, pop filters and windscreens, computers and digital audio workstations (DAW), recording software, memory storage devices, soundproofing materials, and hosting platforms are all important for producing high-quality content.
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What equipment do I need to be a podcaster?
The podcasting equipment you need is a microphone, headphones, a computer or smartphone, and recording/editing software to be a podcaster. Additional podcast equipment like a pop filter, mic stand, and audio interface can also improve the quality of your recordings.
What is the bare minimum equipment to start a podcast?
The bare minimum podcasting equipment you need to start your own podcast show is a microphone to capture your audio, headphones to monitor your recording, and a computer or even a smartphone to edit and upload your episodes.
Entrepreneur. Podcaster. Go-Getter.
Alex Quin is a full-stack marketing expert and global keynote speaker. Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of UADV Marketing - a member of the Forbes Agency Council.