Podcast Equipment for Beginners
Podcasts come in varying qualities. I’ve heard shows that sound like they could be on the radio down to shows that I could barely understand. Hardware plays an important part of every podcast – for obvious reasons – but it isn’t the end all be all to a show.
With this post, I hope to elucidate which gear I use and what I recommend for a starter show. There are three categories: Microphones, Interfaces, and Accessories. They aren’t listed in any order of importance.
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With further ado, here it is: the podcast equipment post. Let’s get right into this.
First, this is the podcast gear that I use:
To start, the Audio Technica AT2020 is a really solid mic. The aesthetic is neat, it works well, and it’s fairly cheap. There’s a bit of self-noise in the microphones, but that’s never been an issue. The MXL 770 is a little cheaper, uglier, but better.
I’ve had the MXL 770s for years. They are fantastic microphones. I actually prefer them to the AT2020s. The 770s have a pre-attenuation switch that allows me to reduce the power of the signal without distorting the waveform. It also has a high pass filter switch. These mics have a lower self-noise than the AT2020s. That isn’t to say that the AT2020s aren’t good microphones, they are. I just prefer the 770s
This is the trickiest part of this whole thing. There are plenty of interfaces that can be used, if needed. You can completely skip this if you pick up a couple USB microphones.
To record Real Nerd Hours, I use a Focusrite 18i20 USB interface. It’s expensive, but it’s really solid. The reason I use this is because I need to record every person on their own track. This device has 8 XLR inputs, which, I agree, is overkill. At most, we’ve had five people on a single recording. Focusrite’s next smallest device, the 18i8, has 4 XLR inputs, which is completely fine.
For mobile recording, we use a Zoom H6. I love this thing! I really do. It makes recording a snap. The compressor and limiter features on this things are incredible. It has 4 XLR inputs and can be expanded to 6. It records each input on its own track as well. The only major negative is that it is battery powered. It can be powered through a mini USB port on the side of it. It’s so cool. If I had to redo anything, I think I would have started recording RNH using the H6.
Lastly, I use a Behringer Xenyx Q802USB for my desktop. It is a USB mixer. I use it strictly for web based interviews. I can tweak the EQ to provide a richer sound for the interviews I conduct online. This one isn’t very useful, I’ll admit. I’d rather just use the Focusrite for my audio inputs. I just so happened to buy this.
With the exception of the USB mixer, all of this stuff is fairly expensive. I don’t recommend this level of investment for podcasting beginners. Especially because most podcasts don’t make any amount of money.
I use standard XLR cables for my microphones. There isn’t anything crazy about them.
A pop filter is used to help prevent plosives when speaking into a microphone. Plosives distort audio. You don’t want them. Cloth pop filters are a must – they are considerably cheaper than metal pop filters.
I know this can be overwhelming, but just stay with me here. These are the things that I recommend you buy. These are based on one to three person setups. Recording by yourself is pretty easy and cheap. Recording with others is more difficult and expensive. Below I’ve broken out gear for recording by yourself and with others.
Keep in mind that the room you record in is THE single most important facet of the recording process. The room effects the sound of the recording more than the microphones do.
This is what I recommend you invest the most money in. You do not need a $400 Shure SM7B or any incredibly high-end microphone. I recommend keeping it under $100. You can have really great quality if you know how to work it. I would definitely buy MXL 770s. They are fantastic.
You can always run with multiple USB microphones. The Yeti and Snowball are both very good options for beginners. That will keep you from purchasing a USB audio interface, which will save you a lot of money.
The Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is a pretty rad device. It’s got four inputs and that can be recorded on to separate tracks. It works fairly well. Its cost is on the lower end of these types of devices and it’ll help you start with relative ease.
On the higher end, we have the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8. As I mentioned before, I do have the 18i20. Focusrite makes really great devices. I haven’t ever had any problems with mine and we’ve been going every week for a year and a half. This, I will say, is more money than you should spend at the beginning. It’s a great device and all that, but don’t do it.
I’m not a big fan of USB mixers because they don’t allow for multi-track recording and it’s a pain to edit audio that’s all on one track. I don’t feel comfortable recommending any at this point in time. If I don’t like to use them, how could I justify telling you to? Though, I will say, if you really feel like you should buy one, Behringer Q1202USB is pretty decent. That’s the most I can say for the device.
Definitely get pop filters. For a barebones set up, you really only need pop filters and stands. This can be ignored if you are using certain handheld microphones.
Obviously, if you’re using XLR microphones, you’ll need XLR cables.
I hope this post helped you in deciding which hardware you should purchase for your podcast. Remember, the gear won’t make a show good, that’s what you’re there for! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment or reach out to me through the contact form on the site!
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