Podcast Equipment

Now that you have completed parts one and two of our tutorial on starting a podcast, it’s time to get into the logistical details of how to actually setup and record your episodes. This starts with gathering the right equipment. A lot of people view this part as the most difficult or complicated part of the whole affair, but it doesn’t need to be that way. With the right equipment and software, you can rather easily get yourself recording and on track to releasing your episodes on schedule.

Tech and Equipment

You have probably gathered by now that you will need some sort of microphone set up, but the tech and equipment side of podcasting is probably the most extensive checklist in our tutorial. We promise that reviewing this guide will be worth it for those of you who want to have a comprehensive understanding of technical set-up for podcasting.

Computer

You likely already own a computer, but we advise having a dedicated computer for the podcast. We recommend an Apple computer. In our opinion, it is the best tool for the job. Apple provides GarageBand, a simple to use recording software, which can be downloaded for free at anytime from their app store. The most common critique of an Apple computer is the price, but you can likely purchase one used if your budget is limited. In other words, you don’t need the brand new fancy model.

While we recommend Apple computers because of ease of use and free access to their GarageBand recording software, we do understand that most people may already own a PC running Microsoft Windows. PCs can be used for recording just like an Apple computer and if used properly can be just as effective. While Microsoft doesn’t offer a viable audio recording solution, there are several software options available for PCs. Audacity is one of the most popular free options available for download.

USB Audio Interface

It is a common misconception that you need a mixer for podcasting. In reality they are meant for an entirely different field. All you actually need is a USB audio interface, which will allow you to route all the microphones into your computer of choice. Most high quality microphones will not plug directly into your computer. The audio interface will allow you to assign individual microphones to separate audio tracks in your recording software, which will come in handy during editing. You will be able to see which microphone audio tracks need adjustments on an individual basis. Behringer makes several affordable interface options that you can find here.

The Microphone

The microphone is the most important piece of equipment for your podcast and as a result, the topic of much debate. People have been arguing for years about condenser vs dynamic microphones. The advantage for podcasting that dynamic microphones possess are that they pick up less background noise, so you are less likely to pick up sounds of paper shuffling, doors closing etc.

At PodBelly we look at the results, and the results show that the Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone is the best bang for your buck. However it will require an additional Fethead inline booster and windscreen. With that set-up, you’ll get the same quality sound as a more expensive broadcasting microphone at a much lower cost. While you can probably find an even cheaper set-up, the quality will start to decrease as you go down in price point. Purchasing the right equipment from the start will save the hassle and cost of replacing wrong equipment when you find out it doesn’t meet your expectations and podcasting needs.

You will probably want to pick up some microphone stands alongside your mic set-up. You will be talking for a long time so posture and comfort are important things to consider. PodBelly recommends an articulating arm style microphone stand, because it allows you more space and comfort. Instead of leaning into the mic, you can bring the mic to you when you speak. Prices and styles range, but in this case, more expensive doesn’t always mean better. A budget friendly stand can work great.

Headphones

Headphones are a place in which you have the opportunity to save some money. For a podcast you aren’t going to be mixing high quality music. You just need something that fits comfortably and outputs sound so you can hear the other hosts or guests. For headphones, we recommend you go with whatever pair you like the most. There are many different manufacturers to choose from.

Headphone Distribution Amp

This little piece of tech is pretty important. It allows you to plug in multiple headphones utilizing just one connection to a usb interface. It also provides everyone with individual volume control which helps monitor their distance and proximity to their microphone. This will help make sure that there is less editing to do in post.

Necessary Cables

You will need an XLR cable for each microphone set-up. A ¼ inch TRS stereo cable is also needed to connect the USB Audio interface to your headphone distribution amp. Both of these cables you can find online for reasonable prices.

Software

There are several options at a variety of price points and levels of complexity when it comes to recording software. This is good and bad. The higher the complexity, the harder to the program will be to learn, but will (most likely) offer more functionality. Thanks to PodBelly, you have tutorials {link} to help you get started on the most popular platforms. Some of the more common Digital Audio Workstations are listed below.

Audacity

Audacity is free, open source, and available for both PCs and Macs. You can download Audacity for free at AudacityTeam.org.

Audacity Pros

  • It’s FREE
  • It runs on PC or Mac
  • Editing tools are easy to find and easy to understand
  • Multitrack recording
  • Simple presets are a great starter kit

Audacity Cons

  • Interface is outdated
  • Quantity of effects and settings can be hard to master
  • Lower fidelity than programs like Adobe Audition

Adobe® Audition

Audition is part of the Adobe Creative Suite. It is a subscription service that can be purchased on its own or with the entire Creative Suite. Learn more about Audition at https://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html

Adobe Audition Pros

  • It runs on PC or Mac
  • Sophisticated user interface
  • Offers a high level of detail in waveforms
  • Multitrack recording
  • Powerful editing capabilities
  • Abundant effects

Adobe Audition Cons

  • Costs anywhere from $19.99 – $29.00 per month
  • Not as intuitive to use as Audacity

Apple® GarageBand

If you have a Apple computer, GarageBand is a no-brainer. It comes standard with your computer, is relatively simple to learn (at least the basics to get you going), and offers enough functionality to do pretty much everything you need to do for a basic podcast. We strongly recommend GarageBand. Learn more about it at https://www.apple.com/mac/garageband.

Apple GarageBand Pros

  • It’s FREE for Apple Mac users
  • Professional, clean interface
  • Editing tools are easy to find and easy to understand
  • Multitrack recording
  • Regularly updated
  • Robust features

Apple GarageBand Cons

  • It only runs on Apple Mac computers
  • Newer versions have removed podcast support
  • No mixing view on console
  • Limited import and export options

That is everything for equipment and set-up that we recommend. Be sure to check over everything and figure out what works best for you.

Proceed to Podcast Recording