Everything you need for a completed podcast.
You’ve got the theme of your podcast nailed down and episode ideas are buzzing. So it’s difficult to slow down and think about what equipment you need to start a podcast. From audio equipment to podcast editing tools, you’ll definitely want to think about what items you’ll be adding to your podcasting studio before you hit record. The good news is, there are options for every kind of podcaster ranging from hobbyist to expert. And that means there’s also podcast equipment for low budgets and professionals. With such an expansive market, there’s no reason why you can’t start your podcast with equipment that helps you create a show you’re proud of. Let’s dive in!
Podcast Equipment for the Recording Process:
Podcast Equipment for the Recording Process:
Editing Software Information
Hosting Platform Information
Audio mixers allow you to combine sounds recorded from multiple sources. Deciding which mixer is best for you depends on how many inputs you’ll have. For example, a podcast with one host and one guest will likely need a different mixer than a podcast with two hosts and a musical guest.
For a long time, mixers were only compatible with the XLR microphones, but that’s no longer the case. Now, you can get mixers for USB microphones, which tend to be cheaper and more friendly for first-time podcasters.
Podcasts are all about audio. Listeners don’t see any images when they listen to your show. There are no flashy visuals to distract their attention if the audio is ever poor. Often times, podcasters will even warn their audience in their podcast intro if the episode audio is below their usual standard. All that to say, in podcasting, your audio quality is as important as your episode content.
Understanding Microphone Terminology
If you start shopping for mics and you’re not familiar with audio and microphone terminology, there are some terms you’ll want to know. This glossary of microphone terms is an extremely useful tool that can help you understand product descriptions and make an educated purchase.
Condenser, Dynamic, USB, or Xlr? Evaluating Which Mic and Connector Is Right for You.
Think of Dynamic Microphones as extreme sports lovers. They’re extremely tough, great in off-road scenarios (they don’t need a power supply), and perfect for picking up loud sounds like percussion.
By contrast, Condenser Microphones are usually found in studios. They do require a power supply, and don’t respond well to loud noise. However, condenser mics are usually more expensive than dynamic mics, and are more favorable in studio settings. Condenser microphones come in two varieties: large-diaphragm and small diaphragm. Large-diaphram mics are best for vocals and deep sounds while small-diaphragm microphones favor softer string instruments.
Connecting Your Microphone – USB vs. Xlr
There are two ways of connecting your microphone to your equipment – through a USB or XLR cable. Audiophiles have long debated the quality between the two, but each mic has its place.
USB Microphones are favored by first-time podcasters and hobbyists. They’re easier to set up, they connect straight to computer, and they’re a less expensive purchase. The cons? Most audio lovers will tell you that USB mics produce lower quality sound. As microphones across the board have improved, the quality difference has become debatable.
In general, XLR mics are a step up from the USBs. That’s mostly due to their increased adjustability. The cons? XLR mics can’t connect directly to a computer. Instead, they connect to a mixer that connects to the computer. The extra link isn’t desirable, but the sound improvement with the higher end XLR mics is worth the inconvenience.
Portable Mics vs. Studio Mics
Not all podcasts are recorded in one location. For some, portable podcasting equipment is essential. If field work is your thing, you’ll want to shop for a portable recorder rather than a studio microphone. Our recommendation? Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder. This model includes more inputs than the H5 or H4n Pro (though those make for good budget recording options). It comes with two provided microphones, and allows for a SD card that can capture up to 128 GB of audio. For context, that’s hundreds of hours of audio recording, depending on your audio storage format.
The Microphone for Your Budget
The quality of microphones has improved over time, which means the gap between the high and low end mics is beginning to shrink. However, because audio is the backbone of podcasting, it’s worth investing in a microphone that will get the job done and make your podcast easy on the ears. Here are our four favorite microphones ranked from the most expensive, to the least.
The Blue Snowball is a $50 mic that is favored by beginners or people who are podcasting for the fun of it. The audio quality is average, but for people who aren’t sure if podcasting is their thing, it’s a low-risk place to start.
These middle-of-the-road microphones are still respected by professional podcasters. They capture amazing sound and sell at a reasonable, $99 price point. A three-pack deal is also available.
We said it once, and we’ll say it again. This is a kit that’s loved by the pros. If you can afford them, they really are worth the money.
Note: This kit is currently out of stock on amazon. However, the Electro Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone itself is still available for $449.
Supplementary Sound Capture Equipment
“I purchased a microphone, but then I needed to buy all this other stuff before I could record my podcast!”
Unfortunately, this is a common frustration we’ve heard from people who thought purchasing a microphone would be enough. The sound capture process alone includes a number of supplementary products you’ll need to purchase to get started. In the best case scenario, you’d buy everything on the list below for your studio, plus editing softwares and a hosting platform.
It may not be feasible for you to deck out your podcast recording studio right away. However, these are a few accessories you should plan to purchase if you’re going to get serious about podcasting.
- USB Cable
- Audio Interface
- Pop Filter
- Mic Stands
- Cable Adapter
- Cable Splitter
If all this feels overwhelming, know that many podcasters rent their equipment. We’ll dive more into podcast equipment rentals later.
Microphone Kits for Podcasters
You can avoid the hassle of tracking down all the complementary equipment for your microphone by purchasing a microphone kit. Every kit is unique, so be sure to read the product description so you know the kit you’re purchasing has the items you need.
Our Favorite Microphone Kit
Our team hands-down prefers the Electro-Voice RE20 Microphone Kit. Why do we love it? The sound quality is crisp and consistent. The Shockmount keeps the mic steady and vibration free. The kit comes with the cable required to connect to mixers and other podcast equipment. Plus, the mic arm mounts to your desk to reduce clutter. It’s a common choice of professionals for a reason.
After reading about the price of podcast equipment, you’ll be relieved to know that most editing softwares are free to use. Our top two platforms, Audacity (for everyone) and GarageBand (for Mac users) fit that category. We’ve found that these two platforms are the most user-friendly without cutting quality. Still, there are pros and cons for podcast editing softwares that are worth knowing before you commit to one for your podcast.
One “con” that applies to all editing softwares is that you’ll either need to learn how the program works or hire a podcast editor.
Think of podcast hosting as the airbnb of podcasting. Your podcast host houses your audio for you, either for free, or for a small fee. Essentially, when you’re paying for podcast hosting, you’re purchasing storage real estate.
Podcast hosts also distribute your podcast to podcast apps – where listeners actually access and download your show. We use podbean for our podcast hosting needs. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and they offer ways to help you monetize your podcast through platforms like patreon. Podbean is our host-of-choice, but there are dozens of other free and paid podcast hosts for you to choose from. We’ve produced a guide to podcast hosting make sure to check it out!
Tricks & Tips for Podcast Equipment
High End Mics Make Up for Other Budget-Friendly Equipment
With a high-end microphone, your editing software, mixers, and other equipment don’t have to be as robust. Your microphone should be the most expensive tool in your studio.
You Don’t Have to Have It All
A lot of podcasters feel pressure to have the best equipment right from the get go. While you don’t want to cut corners on quality — especially with microphones, there are plenty of acceptable pieces of equipment to choose from. Most mid-range podcast equipment items will be fine for your show, especially if you take the time to build a quiet home studio.
The Advantages of Podcast Equipment Rentals
Okay, so we talked about renting podcast equipment a bit earlier, and it’s worth mentioning again. There are plenty of reasons to rent podcast equipment, even temporarily.
- If you’re new to podcasting, you don’t know if you’ll want to stick with it long enough to justify investing in a home studio.
- Limited series podcasts are rarely worth the investment of purchasing high-end equipment.
- Renting allows you to try equipment risk-free before you buy.
- Renting podcast equipment gives you time to assess what you actually need for your show.
Convincing enough? Ask us about our podcast equipment rentals if you’re interested in exploring your equipment options.
Getting Podcast Equipment Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
There’s a lot of information out there about podcast equipment. Unfortunately, there also seems to be a lot of conflicting advice. Our biggest tip for getting your podcast equipment is this: don’t let the details keep you from creating your podcast.
Try renting podcast equipment to see what you like. Or, if you’re ready to spend a little money, invest in a great microphone and let the rest of your equipment be OK. If you do have the money to fill your podcast studio, we still recommend that you do some more research before dropping any serious amount of cash. Most importantly, get the equipment that’s going to support your podcasting goals and allow you to have the most fun and least frustration in the process.