How to Setup a Podcast: Best Recording Equipment for Beginners
When it comes to podcasting equipment the options are endless. What you go with is largely down to how serious you want to get with your audio recording, how capable you are with handling the technical setup, and mainly how much you have to spend.
To start off with, we’d recommend keeping it simple. Why complicate things before you’ve even recorded your first podcast.
- Computer/mobile device
- Audio editing software
- Call recorder (if needed)
There are plenty of no-fuss options that will allow you to start podcasting without breaking the bank. Here are some of our top picks.
The microphone is definitely the most important piece of equipment. Sub-par sound quality could be the difference between a listener switching off or staying tuned. If you’re going to invest in anything, make it your mic. All the mics below are used without a mixer or digital recorder, as to start off with you want to keep it as simple as possible.
Our top picks:
- Rode Lavelier Mic ($58 at JBHifi.com.au)
If you want to keep things really simple, you can record straight into a mobile device with the Rode smartLav+. It’s a broadcast-grade lapel mic perfect for discreet and portable recording. Simply clip onto your shirt, connect it to a smartphone or tablet headset jack and record via the Rode Rec app for iOS, or any other audio app of their choice.
- Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone ($89 at StoreDJ.com.au)
A go-to for podcasters such as Tim Ferris and Pat Flynn, this mic delivers amazing quality at a great price. The fact that it can be used with either USB or XLR cable means you can start with USB recording straight into your computer then move to recording through a mixer or digital recorder via XLR cable when you’re ready to upgrade your setup – without having to replace your mic!
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone ($198 $172 at JBHifi.com.au)
Yeti microphones are another favourite for podcasters. They produce pristine, studio-quality recordings with ease, thanks to the simple USB plug and go workflow. It also comes with its own stand for hands free recording but can be easily removed and attached to a boom arm or shock mount so it’s another great piece that you can start with as is and build on.
- Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone ($205 at StoreDJ.com.au)
You know you’re getting good quality when it’s a Rode mic, and this one’s no different. The Rode Podcaster is a dynamic USB microphone that combines broadcast-quality audio with the simplicity of USB connectivity, allowing recording direct to a computer without the need for an additional digital interface. It’s a step above the Blue Yeti in sound quality, justifying the additional cost.
Audio Editing Software
To start with, we’d recommend using whatever computer you have along with a free software option. No point splashing out on expensive editing software and a top notch computer just yet.
Basically, you have two options, depending on your computer:
- Mac: If you’re on Apple you have a couple of options. Garageband comes standard on all Macs and is a great free option for editing your podcast. Or you can download and install Audacity.
- Windows: If you’re using a Windows computer, you won’t be able to use Garageband but you can download and install Audacity for free, which works just as well.
Ideally, anyone appearing on your podcast will be able to come down and record with you in-person. Sometimes this isn’t always an option, though. This is when you’ll need to get a call recorder.
- Skype Calls
We’d recommend making your podcast calls through Skype, as the audio quality will be much better than on mobile. If you’re on Mac, the Ecamm Call Recorder ($29.95) is super simple and you can purchase and download online. For Windows users, there’s a free option – the MP3 Skype Recorder.
- Mobile Calls
If you can’t go with Skype, you’ll have to record on mobile. There are plenty of mobile apps (varied quality and price), but we’d recommend getting an Olympus Telephone Pick Up ($38). It’s far more reliable and will deliver better audio quality.
- Pop Filters: You’ll definitely want to consider adding a pop filter to your mic of choice (if it doesn’t come with one built in) to eliminate any of the odd vocal noises you end up with when getting too close to the mic.
- Mic stands: You’ll find a lot of mics will come with a tripod stand, but if not you’re probably going to want one. Besides the fact that you might get a sore arm if you have to hold your mic the whole time, you’ll find yourself bringing it too close or holding it too far away from your mouth, meaning more work in post production.
- Boom Arms and Shock Mounts: Want something better than the simple mic stand? You’ll want to get your hands on a boom arm and shock mount. The boom arm will help keep the mic in a perfect spot (not too close or too far from your mouth) throughout recording, and the shock mount will eliminate any disturbances from your computer or other low-frequency rumbles.
- Headphones: A lot of podcasters recommend using headphones so you can listen as you record. Why? You’ll catch any issues in the recording and can correct them straight away. In our opinion though, headphones can make you super self-conscious about your voice, and if you’re recording with more than one person, it just feels unnatural. When you’re starting out, it’s probably best to go without.
Looking for a more professional podcast setup?
When you’re ready to become a fully-fledged podcasting professional, you’ll want to trade in your USB mic into computer setup and look at getting a mixer or digital recorder with quality cables.
Mixers and digital recorders will deliver a far superior recording quality. They’re expensive though, and to truly make the most of them you need to understand the technical side of audio production. Because of this, we don’t recommend going down this line when recording your first podcast episodes.
If you’re keen to improve your setup in future, consider purchasing a mic that can be used with either USB or XLR cables. That way you can easily upgrade without having to buy a whole new mic.