When it comes to podcasting, gear matters. Good quality equipment can greatly enhance the audio experience, making your podcast more appealing to listeners. But that doesn't mean you need to empty your savings account to start a podcast.
The key is understanding what pieces of equipment you truly need and which ones you can do without, given your unique situation and goals. This blog guides you through everything you need to know to make informed choices before you invest!
Questions to ask yourself before buying equipment
Podcasting setups come in all varieties depending on the type of podcast, number of hosts, etc. Here are several questions to ask yourself before making a purchase:
- What is the nature of my podcast? Different podcast formats, from solo shows to interviews to panel discussions, might require different types of equipment.
- Where will I be recording? The location can greatly dictate the equipment needs. For instance, if you're recording in a noisy environment, a dynamic microphone that minimizes background noise might be essential.
- How many people will be on the podcast? The number of hosts or guests on your podcast will determine the number of microphones, headphones, and other gear you'll need.
- What is my budget? It's essential to know how much you're willing to spend on your podcasting gear. This will help guide your decisions and prevent overspending.
- How techy am I? Your level of comfort with technology might influence your equipment choices. Some gear might require a more technical understanding to operate effectively.
- Do I want to record videos for YouTube as well? If you plan on recording video in addition to audio, you'll need additional equipment, such as cameras and tripods.
Regardless of how you answer these questions, most podcasters will, at the very least, need a:
- pair of headphones
- mic stand
- podcasting software
If you choose to video or want to interview multiple guests in person, your needs might also include an interface or mixer. and camera gear. We'll get to that later! Now that you have a better idea of what your needs are let's dive into our specific recommendations.
Our best podcast equipment recommendations
Here are our recommendations for everything you need–from the basics to the pro gear that will make your podcast sound professionally produced.
Software plays a foundational role in the production and distribution of a podcast. Here are some of our favorites within each category.
Here are three options for both editing software and hosting platforms:
Podcast editing services:
- Audacity: Audacity is a great digital audio workstation (DAW) for beginner podcasters. It offers a wide range of editing features, allowing you to cut, splice, and mix sounds together.
- GarageBand: This digital recording station is available free on all Apple devices and features an intuitive, straightforward interface with a rich collection of tools.
- Descript: Descript is a fantastic and unique audio editing tool that allows you to edit your podcast by editing the text transcription. You can sign up for a free trial to see if it's a fit for you.
- Hindenburg: Hindenburg is designed for spoken word and caters specifically to the unique needs of podcasters. Its standout features include automatic levels, a voice profiler, and an intuitive, non-destructive editing environment.
Podcast hosting platforms:
- Buzzsprout: Buzzsprout offers affordable plans, great analytics, and customer service and helps with podcast distribution to all the major directories.
- Libsyn: Libsyn's platform provides a comprehensive solution for publishing, distributing, and monetizing your podcast and a robust list of distribution capabilities.
- Podbean: Podbean also provides comprehensive publishing and distribution tools. This platform also has a live stream feature, allowing podcasters to interact with their audience in real-time
Remote recording tools:
- Squadcast: This tool offers high-quality audio recording and features such as live video and automatic backup recordings for added security.
- Zoom: An easy-to-use tool that offers real-time, high-quality audio recording with no need to download any software.
- Riverside.fm. Another web-based recording tool that allows for multi-track recording, automatic backups, and video recording capabilities.
Microphones: XLR or USB?
A good microphone is equally important to ensure clear, professional-sounding audio. Remember, your audience's experience is partly dependent on the audio quality, and a poor microphone can result in distorted, unclear sound, which can deter listeners.
XLR or USB?
If you're a podcaster on a budget or just starting, USB microphones may be the best option. They're generally less expensive, portable, and easy to use, just plug it into your computer, and you're ready to record. However, if you're planning to upgrade or expand your setup in the future, an XLR microphone can be a worthwhile investment thanks to its superior audio quality and versatility.
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB: A versatile mic with both USB and XLR connections, the ATR2100x offers clear, high-quality sound at an affordable price.
- Samson Q2U: Another dual USB and XLR mic, the Samson Q2U offers great sound and durability at a budget-friendly price.
- Shure MV7: A premium option for those looking for top-notch sound quality, the Shure MV7 offers USB and XLR compatibility and advanced settings such as built-in noise reduction. The Shure SM7b is also a great mic but has only XLR connections, so you'll need a USB interface to connect it to your computer.
Boom Arm Stand
A boom arm stand attaches to your desk or table and allows you to easily position the microphone to your liking. It's ideal for podcasters who record at their desks and want to quickly move the mic out of the way when not in use.
- Recommendation: RODE PSA1+ (a PSM1 shock mount can help reduce more unwanted noise in your recording).
A desktop stand sits directly on your desk or table and can be a good option if you're just starting out or have a limited budget. However, they typically don't offer as much flexibility in positioning as a boom arm.
- Recommendation: Rode DS1
A good pair of headphones is vital for a quality recording as they allow you to monitor your audio in real time and catch any quality issues like background noise, echo, or distortion before they become a part of your final product.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: Known for excellent sonic performance and exceptional clarity, the ATH-M50x offers professional-grade build and sound quality. It's a favorite among audio engineers and podcasters for its comfort and detailed audio.
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro: Famed for its spacious reproduction quality and high wearing comfort, the DT 770 Pro provides impressive sound isolation. It's a great choice for podcasters who are looking for closed-back headphones.
- Sennheiser HD 280 Pro: The HD 280 Pro is designed to offer warm and natural sound reproduction. Its robust construction and excellent sound isolation are well-suited for professional recording and monitoring scenarios, making it a popular option among podcasters.
Mixers, audio interfaces, and portable recorders
While not essential for beginners, mixers, audio interfaces, and portable recorders can significantly elevate the quality of your podcast.
Investing in these tools can greatly enhance the production value of your podcast, and while they may require a larger initial investment, they can pay off in the long run in terms of audio quality and flexibility.
Let's break down when you need each one and our top suggestions for each.
A mixer is incredibly useful when you're dealing with multiple audio inputs, such as multiple hosts, guests, or sound effects. It allows you to adjust each input's volume individually and balance the overall sound.
Recommendation: RODECaster Pro. This mixer is designed specifically for podcasters and integrates all the technical components of podcast production into one comprehensive unit.
When you want to improve sound quality: An audio interface can significantly enhance the sound quality of your podcast, as it takes the analog signal from your microphone and converts it into a digital one that your computer can process. It's a must-have for XLR microphones.
Recommendation: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. This audio interface is highly rated for its high-quality preamps and digital conversion, making it perfect for podcasters seeking professional-level sound quality.
When you're recording out of the studio: If you often record interviews on the go or want to capture sound in specific locations, a portable recorder is an excellent investment. It allows you to record high-quality audio wherever you go.
Recommendation: Podtrack P4. Known for its exceptional audio quality and portability, the Podtrack is a favorite among podcasters who record on the go (although it can also be used in a stationary setup).
Video podcasting equipment
YouTube content creation, similar to podcasting, requires a range of equipment to produce quality videos that attract and retain viewers. It's important to remember that your audience's viewing experience is significantly influenced by the video and audio quality, as well as the overall production value.
Here is some of what you need to start a video podcast:
You can capture pretty impressive video on your iPhone, but a dedicated camera can level up your production and make it top-notch. If you have the budget, here are a few camera suggestions:
- Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II: Renowned for its superior image quality and advanced video capabilities, this camera is a favorite among YouTubers.
- Sony A5100: This mirrorless camera offers excellent video quality, a flip screen for vlogging, and a compact design at a reasonable price.
- GoPro HERO12 Black: For action and travel channels, the GoPro HERO12 offers excellent image stabilization and 4K video in a rugged, compact design.
Microphones for Video
While your camera's built-in microphone may suffice for casual videos, investing in a dedicated microphone can significantly improve your audio quality. From lavalier microphones that clip onto your clothing to shotgun microphones that mount on your camera, there are a variety of options to suit your needs.
Here are a few microphone recommendations:
- Rode VideoMic Pro+: This shotgun microphone offers excellent directional audio capture, making it ideal for vlogging and interviews.
- Audio-Technica ATR3350: This Lavalier mic offers clear, high-quality sound and is perfect for interviews or presentations where you don't want a microphone in the shot.
- Blue Yeti USB Mic: This versatile desktop microphone offers excellent sound quality and is perfect for voiceovers and podcast-style videos.
Proper lighting is essential to produce professional-looking videos. Good lighting not only ensures that your subjects are well-lit but it can also help set the mood and atmosphere of your video.
Remember, the most important aspect of YouTube content creation is the content itself. While quality equipment can enhance your videos, it's your creativity and uniqueness that will really resonate with viewers.
Resource: If you want to stick with just your iPhone, this podcast starter kit has everything you need to start vlogging with no camera purchase required.
Additional things you might need
Aside from recording gear, a podcaster will need a few more items that aren't necessarily equipment but are vital for a successful podcast. Here are a few suggestions:
Soundproofing is crucial for recording high-quality audio in a home studio. It helps reduce external noise and echo, resulting in cleaner recordings. You might need something like acoustic treatments or even just lots of furniture and rugs in your recording space
A podcast website
Having a dedicated website for your podcast can provide a central hub for your audience to find episodes, learn more about your show, and get in touch with you.
Podpage lets you create a beautiful podcast website in just minutes–packed full of features to engage your audience, monetize your content, and expand your reach with a whole suite of powerful features designed to grow your podcast.
Preview your website for free to see what you think!
So, while the quality of your podcasting equipment can certainly enhance the overall audio experience for your listeners, don't stress over getting it just right.
The most crucial aspect of podcasting is creating compelling content. Your audience will always appreciate meaningful, engaging content but won't stick around merely for its quality!