It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole searching for the best podcast equipment. There are tons of equipment options available for all levels of podcasters. Where does one begin?
Well, it depends on your needs and level of expertise. There’s affordable equipment suited for people just starting their podcast journey, as well as expensive equipment for seasoned pros. Luckily enough, there’s also affordable, good-sounding equipment for everyone in between.
I don’t want you to feel unsure of what to buy, so, in this article, I’m giving you the best guide on podcast equipment. It’s suited for all levels of podcasters.
Before we get started, please ask yourself the following questions:
- How tech savvy am I?
- How much effort do I want to put into podcasting?
- What’s my budget?
- How many people do I plan to record at once?
- Where do I plan on recording?
- How much editing do I plan on doing?
Think about your answers to these questions while you read along. It’ll help you narrow down your “equipment needs” vs. your “equipment wants”. This will be different for everyone.
To kick things off, I’m starting with the best podcast microphones. Microphones are the holy grail of podcast equipment.
You’re gonna need an actual microphone. You already knew that, but,I had to mention it because I don’t want you speaking into your computer’s built-in microphone, or using your smartphone to record a podcast. You’re better than that, and if you want to build an audience, they’re going to expect better.
First things first, If you’re thinking about buying the Blue Yeti, DON’T. If you already did, throw it in the trash or donate it. It’s a terrible microphone for podcasting. So much so that I wrote a blog on Why The Blue Yeti Sucks for Podcasting. There are dozens of other microphones marketed to podcasters, and most of them are shit. Fortunately, I know what I’m doing and I won’t be recommending them.This post will only contain dynamic microphone recommendations because dynamic microphones are the only type of microphones you should be using to podcast. If you want to learn more about the different types of microphones, check out the link.
A USB microphone connects to your computer via a USB port. These microphones tend to be on the cheaper side, and are more geared toward beginner to intermediate podcasters. Pro podcasters also use them as backup mics or travel mics. This is because they’re compact and super easy to use. Although these microphones are cheap, as far as microphones go, they don’t sound half bad.
The Audio – Technica ATR2100x USB
This mic sounds pretty damn good, especially for the price point. Podcasters around the world often use this mic to record podcasts. It’s USB and XLR, which is great if you need the flexibility of both connections, or If you plan to upgrade to an audio interface in the future.
Great sound for great value. The Q2u is USB and XLR too. This microphone captures the sound thats coming from right in front of the microphone capsule, thus rejecting room tone and ambient noise. It has a built-in headphone jack for real-time, low latency monitoring.
For podcasters looking to level up, there’s the Shure MV7. This is Shure’s answer to the USB mic game. This microphone is younger brother of the Shure SM7B. It’s USB and XLR compatible, has a touch panel for gain, headphone level, and muting, It boasts natural vocal replication. If you want to get fancy, you can use this microphone with the ShurePlus MOTIV desktop app, to add some vocal processing to your voice.
Rode’s Podcaster is a heavy duty USB microphone that has excellent audio to digital conversion. The microphone has a built-in pop filter so you don’t have to worry about popping those pesky P’s. It features a tight cardioid polar pattern to reject room noise, and has an internal shock mount. The shock mount is great for preventing desk bumps and thuds from making their way into your recording. The Podcaster sounds great on any voice you put it in front of.
Podcasters who are more serious about their sound will want an XLR microphone. They’re built with 3 pin connectors, so they can’t connect directly into a computer, like USB microphones. In terms of podcasting, XLR mics connect to digital recorders or audio interfaces. These types of microphones produce higher quality audio.
Heard round the world, the SM58 is iconic. In fact, it’s what I use to record my podcast, Clipped. It’s more or the less the industry standard for live vocal performance. It captures an accurate depiction of your voice, and it’s built like a tank.
Contributing crisp, rich tone, to podcasters around the globe, the Rode PodMic has quickly become a favorite in the scene. The PodMic has a booming low end, internal shock mount, and is lightweight and compact. Who doesn’t love its gold grille? This is a badass mic that will produce crisp vocals. It’s a prefect piece of equipment for podcasters of all levels. It was designed to pair with the Rodecaster Pro, but will sound great with any audio interface or recorder.
I imagine you’ve seen this microphone in YouTube videos. It seems like every podcaster is using this thing. For good reason too. This is a fantastic microphone for podcasters. The SM7B has built in shock absorption, and a built-in pop filter. With it, you can get warm, in your face vocals, every time you plug this baby in.
Quite possibly the most famous broadcasting microphone ever built. The Electro-Voice RE20 delivers a classic, natural sound. It’s designed for close proximity vocals and certainly packs a punch. It’s design allows podcasters to move freely around the mic, without ever sounding, “off mic”.
So, you’ve got a microphone, now how the hell do you record with it? You’re obviously going to need to plug it in somewhere and hit a record button. There are several ways to record podcasts, but, for the sake of this article, I’m outlining what I believe to be the best three ways.
- Recording into a digital recorder
- Recording into a DAW, via an Audio Interface
- Using a web platform to record, such as Riverside.fm
If you’re a “hands on” type of person a digital recorder could be a great option for you. Or, maybe you spend all day at your 9-5 job working on a computer, and when it comes time to record your podcast you want to be as far away from a computer as possible. Perhaps you travel a lot and you want to record on the go. If you can relate to any of these situations, recording your podcast via a digital recorder could be the best option for you.
There are several digital recorders on the market that sound great and have everything you need to create a professional sounding podcast. These recorders have XLR inputs, SD card storage, headphone jacks, and are capable of multi track recording.
I’ve owned a ZoomH6 for several years. This thing produces low noise, high quality recordings. It’s got four microphone inputs, and a detachable stereo microphone connected to the top of it. The H6’s preamps are quiet enough to crank those gain hungry dynamic microphones without inducing noise. There’s SD card storage, various recording options, and a great looking LCD screen to monitor levels.
Zoom PodTrak P4
The P4 has four awesome sounding microphone inputs. But, what really makes this recorder shine is the four headphone outputs, the programmable sound pads (for using SFX or music drops on the fly), it’s ability to record phone calls, and that it double as an audio interface. This thing is PACKED with features and it’s really affordable. Basically, you’ve got a fully functional podcast studio in a lightweight, tabletop recorder.
Tascam Portacapture X8
At the time of writing this, the Portacapture is a fairly new digital recorder. I personally haven’t used this bad boy, but, it’s got great podcasting specs. Furthermore, the touch screen looks incredible based on the visuals I’ve seen. It comes loaded with four XLR jacks, a stereo microphone capsule, a limiter, a low cut filter, compression, bluetooth functionality, and more. The Portacapture has everything you need to record a multi-person podcast anywhere you want.
Recording Into A Computer Using An Audio Interface
This is the method I use the majority of the time, for my podcast Clipped. For the sake of podcasting, an audio interface is a piece of equipment that enables podcasters to connect XLR microphones to their computers. The audio interface then converts the microphones signal, which is analog, into a digital signal that the computer can take in. Audio interfaces can have a single microphone input, or dozens of microphone inputs. Headphones and speakers can also be connected to an audio interface, as well as other types of audio equipment. Audio interfaces connect to computers via USB, and if you’re planning on recording into audio production software, otherwise known as Digital Audio Workstations, you’ll need an audio interface.
I have an article on the top 5 audio interfaces for podcasters, here. Definitely check it out for more detailed information on audio interfaces. In addition to the article, here are some other audio interfaces that are great for podcasting.
You’ll Need Audio Production Software To Go Along With Your Audio Interface
Software for recording, editing and mixing audio is called a DAW. It stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It’s where the magic happens. It’s where the cutting, splicing, pasting, leveling, and all of the other audio manipulation happens. You can record straight into a DAW with an audio interface, or you can record elsewhere, and use your DAW for editing and mixing your podcast.
The Best DAW’s for Podcast Production
A Place To Record High-Quality Remote Interviews
Ditch Zoom and sign up for Riverside.fm. It’s hands down the best place to record remote podcasts. With Riverside, you can record full-fidelity audio and up to 4k HD video files, all remotely. This all happens from your web browser, you don’t need to download software or an app.
On Zoom, those in the session with poor internet will end up with pixelated video and choppy audio. This is because of dropouts in the signal. This doesn’t happen in Riverside because of their use of “continuous recording”. You see, Riverside continuously uploads everyone’s audio and video to their cloud, in real-time.
This produces clean audio and crisp video. If your computer crashes mid-session, it doesn’t matter because everything is continuously saved, automatically. Riverside was designed specifically for podcasters, so they built technology to record high quality wav files, and HD video.
- Separate audio and video tracks
- Magic Editor – Upload a logo, and change the layout and dimensions of your video
- Clips By Riverside – Easily repurpose long form content into social media clips
- Transcription, producer mode, screen sharing, streaming, and more
We use Riverside.fm almost daily at The Podcast Haven. It truly is the easiest and best way to record remote interviews. Looking to record a solocast? Riverside is great for that too. Use an audio interface or a USB microphone and record a solocast right into the platform.
Contrary to popular belief, you’re going to need headphones to record a podcast. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people recording podcasts without headphones. It drives me NUTS.
Why do you need headphones? Well, you need to know how you sound on the microphone, as well as how your guests sound. Unable to hear yourself or others? Turn up the headphone volume, and suggest everyone get closer to their mics. Hearing distortion coming from you or someone else? Turn down that microphones gain.
In addition, if you’re recording remotely and you’re hearing feedback, it could be because the guest isn’t wearing headphones, and the sound coming out of their computer speakers is getting picked up by their microphone. It causes feedback loop. Don’t be that person. Demand that everyone in the session wear headphones.
The Best Podcast Headphones
This is a tricky one, so I wrote an article on it. The article outlines more information on the importance of wearing headphones, as well as my top 7 Headphones for podcasters.
In the meantime, here are my favorite headphones.
Sony MDR 7506
The Sony MDR 7506 are really high-quality headphones. They’re a staple of the TV/Film/Music/Podcast industries. These headphones are lightweight, comfortable and do a great job of rejecting background noise.
After you’ve decided on a permanent place to record in your home or office, you’ll need to do some sort of acoustic treatment. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or buy anything crazy, but, some foam for your studio will improve the sound of your recordings.
Try this, stand in the room you’re planning to podcast in. Clap a few times and listen. Do you hear the sound bouncing off the walls creating an echo effect? This is known as slap back. It’s the sound waves reflecting off the walls and other hard surfaces in the room. When podcasting, the same thing is going to happen to your voice. It’s going to bounce off the walls and get picked up by your microphone. Consequently, it makes your recording sound like you’re in a bathroom or canyon.
Putting up some foam on the walls will help absorb sound waves and negate some slap back. In addition, rugs and soft furniture help with sound absorption. To overcome this issue, put some foam panels on the walls directly to the right and left of your desk. Next, put some on the ceiling and behind you.
The Poster Board Trick
Go to your local crafts store and buy some 2ft x 2ft poster board. Take the foam panels and glue them to the poster board. Then, tack the poster board onto the wall. It’s cleaner and beats gluing the foam directly to the wall. It’s a bitch to pull foam directly off the wall when it’s time to move or change your set up.
The Best Studio Foam Is By Auralex
Auralex makes great products. I recommend the 1ft x1ft square panels that are 1inch thick.
With so much podcast equipment to think about, podcast accessories usually fly by the wayside. However, it’s the little things that often make podcasting a little less stressful, and create a smoother workflow.
For instance, it’s best to be hands-free when recording. This way you can look at your laptop, jot down notes, or review your episode outline. To be hands-free you need some sort of mic stand. If you’re using a USB microphone, it’s possible you will need extra USB inputs. Podcasting into a digital recorder? It’s a good idea to have extra SD cards for storage. A computer’s hard drive space is precious. If you’re recording onto it, it may fill up fast. Be diligent and grab yourself an external hard drive before your main drive gets maxed out. Recording remote podcasts? Obviously you’re going to need good lighting.
The list goes on, and on. So, to help you out, here’s a list of some great podcast accessories. I can personally endorse these because I’ve used them.
10 Podcast Accessories I Love
- Rode PSA1 Microphone Boom Arm
- Sabrent USB 4 Port Hub
- Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod
- Monster Prolink XLR Cables
- Lipety 13inch Ring Light
- SanDisk SD Cards
- Lacie Harddrive
- Pop Filter
- Surge Protector
- USB C Female to USB Male
*As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a commission if you purchase something through any of my links. This is at no additional cost to you, and helps me keep the blog alive. In addition, I’m also a Riverside.fm affiliate, and earn a commission if you use my link to sign up for their service.*
The Wrap Up
I know, I know, that’s A LOT of equipment. But, now you know what’s needed to run a successful podcast. I covered everything I can think of, and listed everything that I use or have used to record my podcast, Clipped.
Also, I’ve been editing and producing podcasts for 7 years and have been working in pro audio for 12 years. It’s safe to say I’ve used a lot of equipment, and I know what works, and sounds good. I also know what equipment to avoid. Don’t worry, I didn’t list any of that junk.
If you have any questions about podcast equipment, or want some personalized recommendations based on your setup, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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