A quality podcast requires flawless sound. 🎧
To this end, investing in high quality equipment and equipping yourself (almost) like a pro is a must. However, if like me, you don’t know where to start and what exactly to look for, this article is made for you. 🙂
What equipment is needed to record a podcast ?
Which microphone to choose to record a podcast
The budget and the type of microphone you choose will not necessarily be the same if it’s your very first podcast or if it’s not your first try. 😃
The difference between cardioid and hypercardioid
With a mixer or a multi-track recorder, you won’t be using USB microphones, but XLR microphones. 🎙️ Some types of microphones are more suitable for voice recording, while others are better for recording instruments live or in the studio. But there are also microphones for other types of uses like capturing ambient sounds, for example. One of the first areas of microphone differentiation is directionality, it means the area that will be picked up by the microphone.
In a podcast with several speakers, cardioid and hypercardioid microphones are preferred, as it is preferable that the microphone of one speaker picks up as few sounds as possible from the other.
Before choosing a specific model, you should decide between a “static” or “dynamic” microphone. Both types of microphones can be used for podcasting, but a few points of differentiation can make the difference. A dynamic microphone has the advantage of being less expensive, less sensitive and does not require a power supply.
However, you will have audio that’s not as warm as a static microphone would produce. The static microphone is more expensive, but it’s more precise. It requires a power supply that can be provided either by your mixer or by a phantom power supply (between $20 and $50). Choose this type of microphone if your recording room is well set up and has no echoes.
Microphones for small budgets
– Your smartphone’s microphone 📱
If you’re an independent podcaster and you don’t yet know where your podcast will take you, you can start in a “homemade” way with your smartphone’s microphone in a very quiet environment. It’s best to choose a closed room that’s arranged in such a way that the sound does not reverberate.
At Ausha, we love asking podcasters who host their podcasts on our platform to send us pictures of their home studios because these are always funny situations! Some of them record their podcast in their dressing rooms or closets, others under a blanket or in a room with lots of pillows to absorb the echo. 🛏️ Choosing a well soundproofed room with no reverberation is one of the most important things in having a quality audio. 📣
These days, all smartphones come with built-in voice recording apps that are already installed and are quite good. If you ever come across the only smartphone in the world without an app, you can easily download one.
– Lapel microphones 👔
If you have a little money to spend on a microphone, I advise you to invest in a lapel microphone with a jack plug.It’s very practical, and you can record your episodes directly from your phone or your computer. The good news is that you can easily find them everywhere and for only a few dozen euros.
You can find both wired and wireless lapel microphones. Depending on your use and your budget (wired microphones are often cheaper), all that’s left is to choose. At this stage, you won’t hear any real difference between the two.
– The T-Bone MB 85 Beta for $45 🎙️
If the Shure isn’t quite in your budget, T-Bone’s MB 85 Beta is a good alternative dynamic microphone. It’s a bit more sensitive to handling noise and doesn’t capture high notes as well as the Shure SM58 LC, but it’s not a bad place to start if you can’t or don’t want to spend too much for a mic.
– The Bird UM-1 for $50 🐦
If you want to get the best bang for your buck, the voice recording (convenient, since we’re interested in podcasting). It’s super easy to set up since it doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles. It’s sold with a shock mount and a storage pouch, but you’ll need to buy a stand and either a foam windscreen or pop filter (to reduce popping sounds when you say your “b’s” and “p’s”) separately.
– The Eagleton CM60 for $65 🦅
For something a bit less painful on the wallet than the Rode NT-1, try the Eagletone CM60. One of the nice things about this mic is that you can switch its directivity to fit your needs.
We recommend using the cardioid setting for recording your podcast, and the omnidirectional pattern for capturing environmental sounds. Eventually you’ll probably want to upgrade, but this mic is good for getting your feet wet in the podcasting world.
Microphones for bigger budgets 💰
Once your podcast is more established, we recommend investing in better audio equipment to offer more listening comfort to your listeners. There are several types you can choose and at various prices. It’s up to you to make your decision based on your work and your budget.
– The Shure SM58 for $100 🎙️
The Shure SM58 LC is an industry favorite and a solid investment. It is known for its sturdiness and for producing true voice recordings. Its durability guarantees years of use, which makes the price a little easier to digest..
– The Blue Yeti for $129 🐻
A bit pricier, but the Blue Yeti model also has a lot more features than the Bird UM1. Volume buttons, a gain control, and a headphone jack are all built into this mic.
Choose from four different pattern modes: stereo mode, which captures the most natural sound, cardioid mode, which produces a super clear voice recording, omnidirectional mode, which is great for recording sounds all around the mic, and bidirectional mode, which picks up sounds in front of and behind the mic. Plus, this model is the only THX-certified microphone in its price range.
– The Rode NT-1 for $249 🔊
This is one of the best microphones for podcasting out there; even if you might have to empty your pockets to get your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed because it truly does produce high-quality sound. It’s well built and captures warm, crystal clear sound. And its 10-year extended warranty is the icing on the cake!
– The Shure SM7B for $360 🚀
This is the microphone we use in the Ausha Studio. Sure, it’s true that its cost is quite expensive compared to the previous microphones, but the quality of sound you’ll get from it guarantees you won’t be your purchase.
When we think about buying a microphone, we often think first about the recording of our episodes and the listening comfort of our listeners (which makes sense), but you’ll find that your post-production work is a breeze with a mic like the Shure SM7B, since the sound you get is
perfect right out of the box.
A microphone for recording your episodes on site
– The Zoom H5 for $270
The Zoom H5 is super easy to use because you can manage everything directly from the device’s audio interface. We put this device in the portable category because it does everything that the Zoom R16 does (thanks to its 4 XLR inputs), but since it features a built-in stereo capsule you don’t even need to plug an up XLR microphone.
You can control the volume of each track separately using this device, and like the R16, you will end up with a multitrack recording. You can even control everything with a remote (sold separately). If you only plan to use the recorder for field interviews, you might want to consider the Zoom H1, which you can find for around $100.
Which recorder to use ?
Once you’ve chosen your microphone, you’ll need to define the way you want to record everything you’ll be saying.
Get started easily with your smartphone 📱
As mentioned above, today’s smartphones offer sufficient quality to start recording your podcast without investing in professional equipment. You can, for example, connect your stationary microphone or lapel microphone directly to your phone with a jack.
If at first sight (or first listening), you don’t hear a difference with recording on dedicated softwares, upgrading to more professional podcast equipment will become necessary if you want to offer your audience an extremely pleasant and comfortable listening experience.
Choose a digital recorder 🎛️
Some microphones (like the Zoom H5, which we just mentioned) have an integrated recorder. Simply insert an SD card, which you can then connect to your computer to edit your posts on your editing software.
You don’t need an extra recorder, just use the one that is built into the microphone. It’s very practical if you are doing a nomadic recording, like a street interview for example. But this is not the case for all microphones.
Choosing a computer 💻
The easiest and most obvious way for all podcasters is to connect your microphone directly to your computer. All you need to do is choose your recording software (which is often the same as for editing podcast episodes) like Audacity, Adobe Audition or Garage Band.
At Ausha, our favorite recording software is Reaper. It’s very easy to use and allows you to record on multiple tracks, making it easier to edit. Reaper has a free version that you can renew as many times as you wish.
To learn more about recording softwares for podcasts, go to the next lesson in the Ausha Academy.
Do you need a mixing console to record a podcast?
In reality, you can very easily do without a mixer to record podcasts. You can record a podcast with only a microphone, a computer, headphones and a well-soundproofed room. But if you want to take it a step further and go for an even better sound, a mixer console might be a good idea.
A mixing console is useful if you want to:
• use an XLR microphone
• record several tracks at once
• record “live” and not looking to do a lot of postproduction work
The advantage of using this equipment for your podcast is its great flexibility with live sound processing. Whereas a multi-track recorder offers few options, mixers are generally better equipped on for this.
However, you won’t be able to do multi-track recording with this setup. Your work file will contain only one track which mixes all the sounds captured during the recording. You’ll need to take the time to do your balances before the recording. 🔴
– The Yamaha MGU line from $259 to $929
You won’t regret investing in any of the products in Yamaha’s MG series. Just be sure to pick one that comes with a USB port so that you can hook it up to your Mac/PC (all of the models that feature this have a “U” at the end of the product name). Since each channel has its own equalizer, you can make each track sound exactly how you want it to.
You can also easily mute different tracks during the recording using the mute button located next to each channel fader. Balance your inputs with the gain knob before recording and adjust the volume during the recording using your faders. This line also features lots of effects (like reverb and echo) that might come in handy if you want to play with the sound of your voice.
– The Zoom R16 for $400
A big quality of the R16 is that you can use it independently from your computer. It has a built-in audio interface that lets you manage your projects right from the control panel. It can record from up to 8 mics at a time and manage up to 16 tracks. All of your tracks are recorded and stored separately on the SD card. You can even record on the go, thanks to its back-up battery power and two built-in mics.
Unfortunately, only two inputs supply power, so you’ll need to buy phantom power supplies if you are using more than two non-self-powered mics. Some controls aren’t super intuitive, but once you get the hang of it you won’t want to work with anything else.
We can however regret the fact that only 2 tracks are powered. You will have to invest in phantom power supplies if your setup is composed of more than two non self-powered microphones. Moreover, some of the manipulations are not exactly very intuitive, but once you get used to the beast, you won’t want to do without it.
– The Rodecaster Pro for $500
For some years now, the Australian manufacturer Rode has been shaking up the podcast market with a mixer that offers the features of a true radio studio. It allows you to connect four microphones at once and even allows you to conduct interviews by phone.
With the Rodecaster Pro, you can launch jingles directly from the mixer while you’re recording. At Ausha, we fell in love with the Rodecaster Pro as soon as we tried it! 💜
What kind of setup do you want ?
The home studio of a solo podcaster 🏠
In this configuration, you will only need 3 elements: a USB microphone, a computer and headphones Then you just have to record what you capture via recording software. And with that, you’ll just have to record what you capture via your recording, you will have to add your jingles, sound effects or credits in post production during the editing stage. 🎛️
In general, a PC or Mac laptop has an active microphone by default. Please remember to change your “sound” to “external microphone”.
The advantage of this configuration is that it allows you to meet all the expectations of a solo podcast. For more comfort, you can invest in a small USB mixer to which you can connect, in addition to your microphone, a musical instrument or a sound launcher.
The portable studio 🏃
This setup works just like the setup we explained for roundtable podcasting with a digital recorder. The only difference is the digital recording device you should choose. Obviously, you’ll need one that is portable, so when shopping around you should take into account: size, built-in microphones, and battery power.
You won’t be able to connect very many microphones, and you won’t be able to hook up a laptop for sound effects, either. Nevertheless, this type of setup is very practical for small roundtable podcasts and field interviews.
The Home Studio for a podcast with several speakers 👧🧑👨🦱👨🦰
If you choose this path instead, you’ll need (at the very least): one microphone per host/guest, a USB soundboard, XLR cables, a Mac/PC equipped with a recording software, an SD card, a headphone amplifier, and one pair of headphones per guest/host.
One of the nice things about opting for this solution is that it’s much easier to mix in real time (live, if you will). Unlike multitrack recorders, which offer few options for mixing, soundboards usually give you quite a few controls.
However, multitrack recording is not possible with this type of setup; you will end up with a single-track project that combines all of the sound inputs used during the recording session. That means you’ll need to take the time to make sure your sound is balanced before you start recording.
Which headphones to choose for recording a podcast ?
The comfort of the headphones 🎧
Before worrying about the technical specifications of each headphone, pay particular attention to its comfort. Let’s face it: you’re going to spend a number of hours with this headphone on your ears recording, mixing and editing your episodes. So our friendly advice to you is don’t neglect
Depending on the size, type and brand of headphones, the weight will vary. Obviously, the heavier it is, the less comfortable it will be in the long run. You can also choose between headphones that completely cover your ears and others that simply sit on top. As you might imagine, the “fully covered ears” version is more comfortable in the long run. Additionally, headphones will do a better job of shielding you from ambient noise.
For the sake of your little ears👂, don’t use earphones, first because the sound feedback is not ideal, but also (and especially) because they’re not at all comfortable. I challenge you to spend more than three hours with earphones constantly in your ears. Your editing might be a bit painful at the end. 😫
Open-back or closed-back headphones ? 🤔
– open-back headphones 👐
This funny term simply means that some headphones allow air to pass through the earphones while others do not. If you choose “open-back” headphones, the advantage is that your sound will be more natural, since you’ll hear some ambient sounds. The sound quality you’ll hear in your headphones while recording or editing will be pretty close to what your audience will hear once your episode is published. On the other hand, the disadvantage of “open-back” headphones is that your insulation won’t be as good.
What you hear in your headphones (your voice or your guest’s voice, for example) is likely to be picked up by a very sensitive microphone and therefore may cause feedback. Also good to know: this type of headset, because it’s open and lets air pass through, is less durable since it’s more vulnerable to humidity.
– closed-back headphones 👏
If, on the other hand, you opt for “closed-back” headphones, leaks (or what is known in industry lingo as “sound bleeding”) will be considerably reduced. Since this type of headphones blocks out ambient sounds, you won’t need to worry about your microphone picking up both your recorded voice and your real voice.
However, keep in mind that the rendering may be less natural and certainly not as close to what your audience will actually hear. “Closed-back” headphones block sound so well that you won’t be bothered by surrounding sounds, making it easier to edit your episodes.
A wired or Bluetooth headphone?
It’s up to you! There’s no real difference in sound quality. 🤷♀️
A Bluetooth headphone may have a very slight delay between the time the voice is recorded and the time you hear it in the headphone. But this type of headphones can be quite handy, especially if you’re used to recording your podcast in different places. Wired headphones can save the day if your Bluetooth headphones runs out of batteries during a recording, for example. I can tell you from experience…
Other equipment needed to record a podcast
An anti-pop filter 🤭
For a perfect sound in your podcast, you’ll need to invest in a pop filter. It allows you to lessen the impact of “B”, “P” and “T” sounds and offers your audience a more comfortable listening experience. Pronouncing these letters produces, you produce a puff of air, and if you’re too close to the microphone at that moment, it will cause a blast that’s unpleasant to the ear.
Anti-pop filters are not expensive. You can find them starting at approximately $15. And then there’s the MacGyver version. You can simply use an old pair of tights and a metal hanger and place your homemade anti-pop filter in front of your microphone when recording your podcast.
Foam acoustic panels 🤫
If you are not lucky enough to record your podcast in a proper studio, you can invest in foam panels which allow you to improve the acoustics in your room and avoid echoes.
And if you’re on a tight budget, you can also build them yourself by collecting cardboard egg cases. Constructing panels with textured materials will keep the sound from bouncing around and will prevent you from picking up too much reverb.
That’s it, now you have everything you need to make your choices. But it’s not over yet! Beyond hardware, you’ll now need to choose which software to use for recording and editing your podcasts. Don’t worry, we’re here to advise you, and that’ll happen in the next lesson. 👉