Podcast Equipment: Your Guide To Equipment For Your Podcast
If you’ve thought about starting a podcast, one of the most common question is, “What equipment do I need to start a podcast?” The answer? It depends. Yes, it’s true that you need some podcasting equipment to get started, but it’s not just a one-size-fits-all answer. The equipment you need depends on where you are in your podcast journey.
The good news for you is when I started podcasting I had zero experience and now I’m 1000+ episodes in so I’ve been where you are at. Over that time I’ve gone from someone who used all free or low budget equipment, to slowly upgrading my recording setup to use to higher end equipment.
In this article I’m going to help you get started, make sense of all the different podcasting equipment options, and figure out the best podcast equipment for the type of podcast you want to produce.
There is only one piece of podcast equipment that I would put in the “must have” category, and that is a microphone. The reason is because the sound quality of your audio is one of the most important things for your podcast. You want to make it an enjoyable experience for your listens. If the sound is scratchy or muffled no one is going to listen for very long. However, if your sound is clean and crisp then you set a good foundation for your audience to want to keep listening.
The good news is you should be able to get a professional sounding podcast without having to spend a ton of money. Here are a few podcast microphone options for different budgets to help you create a successful podcast.
Medium Cost: Blue Yeti USB Mic. ($113) A USB microphone is the easiest option. It plugs into any UBS port so it should be simple to hook up to your computer and use. It comes highly recommended by many podcasters (I have not used this mic.)
Medium Cost: Shure SM-58. ($99) This is what I currently use and it’s great. I purchased two of them so that I can host in studio interviews via my audio interface. The sound is clean and crisp. Note: this microphone uses XLR Male to XLR Female cables to connect to an audio interface. I do not recommend this option unless you are using a mixer/interface (as it won’t plug right into your computer).
High Cost: Heil PR-40: $327 I have not used this mic but it comes highly recommended by many professional podcasters. You’ll have to buy extra XLR cables for it as well, but the sound quality will be as good as it can get. There is an option to purchase an XLR to USB cable if you want to hook it up to your computer.
Low Cost: Audio-Technica ATR2100 ($67) It plugs into any UBS port so it should be super easy to hook up to your computer. It’s a good starter mic (I have not used this mic.)
Other Podcasting Microphone Options:
Blue Icicle($49) In simple terms, this allows you to plug an XLR cord (which is what the Shure SM-58 and many other microphones use) into a USB port. This is a great option if you decide to purchase a non-USB mic. When I first started podcasting and had only a one microphone setup with no mixer this is what I used. I also use it sometimes when I am traveling and don’t want to bring a lot of podcast equipment with me.
Tip: I found out that the Blue Icicle can be great for shooting vlog style videos as well. You can record the video in Quicktime and hook up your mic to get better quality audio.
If you are an Apple user you can consider using the Earpods that came with your iPhone, or if you purchased Airpods use them. I do caution you that these options are not as good as purchasing a microphone. You’ve got to be careful with the Earpods rubbing against your shirt when you are doing your podcast. This can create a static sound (which isn’t pleasant to the listener). With the Airpods they’ll improve the audio quality more than talking into your computer or phone, but won’t be as crisp as an actual microphone.
Promise me that you are not going to spend too much time thinking about what microphone to use. While it is important, it is a decision that you should make quickly based on your budget. Also, you don’t need expensive podcast equipment when you are just getting started. You’ll have plenty of time to build out your podcast studio when you’ve got some episodes under your belt and you are crushing.
Podcast Recording Software
Zoom is my preferred online podcast recording software as is it simple to use and is the most reliable. It’ll allow you to record audio and video (in separate files), which is great if you are looking to repurpose your content to use on multiple social channels.
It also allows you to see your guest, which will help you communicate better, which will improve the quality of your podcast. You’ll be able to pick up on the non-verbal queues that you would miss if you were doing it with audio only.
Best of all, recording your podcast via Zoom costs $0 if you are recording with only one other person. It’s only $13/month if you want to record multiple guests and have it last longer than 45 minutes.
Recording your podcast via Zoom also allows you to be locationless (meaning you can record your podcast anywhere, as can your guests) as well as record multiple people. This is a big advantage as you could create a mobile podcast studio.
Zoom Podcast Recording Tips
Before each of your podcast recordings in Zoom make sure that you click the top left corner of your browser, find “Preferences” and make sure your microphone is set up and listed. This is very important as a failure to do so could result in your microphone not being picked up, and the audio quality being poor because it used the built in computer microphone (Note: I am saying this from experience. Computers and technology can be dumb. You can do the same process 100 times and then on the 101 time it does something different).
When possible hard wire your internet connection into your computer. I purchased a longer ethernet cable in order to do this. The reason you want to do this is so that you have the best possible Internet connection. Zoom is reliable but not perfect and the same goes for your WiFi. This helps improve the quality. If the connection on Zoom is not good for you or the guest then turn the video off for both sides (so it’s audio only). That’ll help improve the quality. The important thing is that you get good audio on your podcast.
Live Streaming Podcast Software Options
Live streaming your podcast is something I recommend only once you get comfortable with podcasting. The reason is because there are more moving parts, and when you first start your podcast it’s important that you focus on being a great podcast host and consistently publishing episodes, not worrying about all the technical things you have going on.
That being said, live streaming your podcast will increase your visibility when done correctly, and it can add some polish and engagement to your show. There are two live streaming recording options that I’ve used and recommend.
Ecamm Live – $50/month – I recently started using Ecamm live so I could increase the quality and production level of the podcasts I created. Ecamm makes it easy to add in graphic intros & outros, multiple cameras or inputs (like your iPhone or iPad), or audio sound drops to make your podcast pop. You have the ability to live stream to one platform at a time, while also recording a local copy of your video on your computer.
StreamYard – $25 to $50/month – I used StreamYard for a while and really liked it. It’s simple to use and get setup. With the professional version you get the ability to stream to 8 social media platforms at once (which saves you from having to purchase Restream). If you are looking to stream to LinkedIn Live, YouTube, Facebook, or Periscope then this is a great option. While it allows you to add graphics to your podcast, I found that Ecamm had more functionality in that category. StreamYard was easier to use right away, so it’s my recommended option if you are just starting out in podcasting.
Podcast Editing Software Options
If you have no experience in podcast editing don’t worry, neither did I or the majority of people who started a podcast (and here are a few podcast ideas if you are looking to start one). It’s simple to learn by watching a few YouTube videos or taking a course. When it comes to audio editing options, there are a few free and paid options that all work great.
Garageband: When I first started podcasting I used GarageBand and it was great. It allows you to record and edit podcasts, and the software is pretty easy to use after watching a few YouTube videos. You should be up and running in no time. This is my recommendation for anyone starting out who is using a Mac.
Audacity: Audacity is a free recording and editing software for Mac and PC. When I first started podcasting I played around with it while I was learning Garageband. I found it to be pretty simple to learn after watching a few YouTube videos. This would be my recommendation when starting out if you are using a PC, or if you are looking for an alternative beginner option to Garageband.
Adobe Audition: This is a professional software with more features that you can purchase for $20 per month through the Adobe Creative Cloud. As my commitment and podcasting expertise grew, I decided to use Adobe Audition to record and edit my podcasts. Part of the reason is because I saw professional podcasters using it so I wanted to level up my skills. After using GarageBand first and then watching a few YouTube videos I found this software to be awesome. You don’t need to use Audition right away when you are starting out podcasting, but I highly recommend it if you have the budget as it is an industry standard.
Pro Tools: I’ve also produced podcasts using Pro Tools, which is another professional software. Like Adobe Audition, I don’t recommend using it when you are starting out unless your budget supports it. (My preference is to use Adobe Audition if you are going to spend the money.)
Podcast Recording Tip
Speed is a major differentiator in business. You want to be able to publish a podcast quickly. Because of this I don’t spend much time editing. I don’t take out the um’s or minor things. I leave them in because it is more authentic and natural. The key is to be able to deliver a high-quality podcast in your first episode by following this blueprint. This will have you better than 95% of podcasts out there.
When putting together your podcast equipment I recommend keeping it simple, especially at the beginning. I started out with using just the built-in camera in my Mac and it worked fine. After that I upgraded to a webcam because I wanted a more crisp look.
Logitec c920 – $90 – Adding this webcam to your podcast studio setup is a no brainer. It’ll immediately increase your video quality, which will separate you from 90% of podcasts out there. It shoots in 1080p and you’ll see a big improvement from you computer camera. It is also plug and play as it uses USB. From a mobile podcast studio standpoint, because it’s small and portable you can take it with you everywhere. I throw it in my backpack with me everywhere. I highly recommend you add this piece of podcast equipment to your list.
Podcast Audio Interface/Mixer
When you are just getting into podcasting using an audio interface or mixer is not a necessity. I didn’t use one until I was ready to take my podcast game to a new level.
A podcast mixer or interface allows you to route, mix, and change the levels of the audio signals (which is fancy talk that doesn’t really matter when first starting out.) Most professional podcasters one.
When I first started podcasting I used a Behringer Q1202USB 12-Channel Mixer ($99) The main purpose of this was to allow me to do interviews by patching in my iPhone (when I wasn’t using Zoom.)
After that I upgraded to the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 Audio Interface ($249). I’ve been very happy with it as it allow me to have a simple interface, connect two microphones, plus hook up my iPhone or iPad. It’s also small enough that I can throw it in my backpack or a suitcase for mobile recording.
I wanted to level up my podcast production even more so I upgraded again and I’m currently using the RodeCaster Pro. What I like about it is the ability to add in podcast audio drops/sounds easily. It also has multiple inputs so you can record with multiple people at once.
If you are recording the video of your podcast then it is important that you get some lighting so you look good. The good news is this doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be done pretty simply.
Elgato Key Light – $199. This podcast studio light is great because it saves space by clamping to your desk. This was super important for me because I used to have soft box lights and they took up a ton of space. It also has a mobile app to change the color temperature of the light, which is great for creating the look you want. I highly recommend this.
Lume Cube Broadcast Lighting ($99.95). I’m often traveling and want to be able to deliver the same level of quality no matter where I go. After extensive research to find a portable light I settled on this one. It gets the job done and is easy to transport and set up. I highly recommend you get the one with the tripod as it’s much more stable than the suction cup that sticks to your computer.
Selfie Ring light ($90). A selfie ring light is one of the more popular options for podcast video lighting.
Soft Box lighting ($75) – At my home studio I use a soft box light directly in front of me. It softens hard light and eliminates shadows. I’ve got a few of these for when I use a green screen.
Podcast Equipment Accessories
Green screen ($100) – If you want to add some creativity to your video podcast then get a green screen. It’ll allow you to change you background to whatever you want. This allows you to be intentional and add an element of polish to what you create.
Elgato Streamdeck ($150) – If you want to add sound drops to your podcast then this is an easy way to do so. It also allows you to add in graphics transitions. It is worth noting that when live streaming I was able to use this with Ecamm but not with StreamYard.
When deciding where to spend your money with your podcast equipment I do not recommend headphones being a huge investment. There are other more important things that will add to your podcast quality.
Wearing headphones when you are recording a podcast via Zoom is important so there is not an echo in your audio when your podcast guest talks. Audio quality is important so make wearing headphones part of your podcast routine.
As for which headphones to use for podcasting, I started out using the wired earbuds that came with my iPhone. After that I upgraded to the Airpod Pod so I could have a wireless setup, which I think looks better aesthetically.
If you wanted to get a pair of podcast headphones, a good and affordable option is the Shure SRH440. They are only $100 and come recommended.
Getting podcast equipment is an investment in yourself. I still use the original microphone from when I started podcasting years ago. It has certainly been the gift that keeps on giving.
After that I slowly upgraded my gear, one piece at a time as my love of podcasting grew. As I started to do more on camera video I upgraded the camera. I want to reiterate that I did not start out with the best podcast equipment, nor should you unless your budget allows.
Everything you do is a reflection of your brand so increasing the audio and video quality of your podcasts will pay off in the long term. If you are smart about it you’ll be able to build yourself a versatile podcast studio that’ll be able to create high quality content.
Starting a podcast has been one of the biggest blessings in my life and business and can be for you too. If you are interested in launching a podcast and want to get it done easier and faster then let’s talk. I’d love to have a conversation about how I can help and make your vision a reality! You can sign up here.