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Digital Recorder vs Computer Recording: Ideal Podcasting Setups

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Today we have a question from a reader about how to go about recording their Podcast – this is mostly about the eventual recording device rather than the components closer to you as the presenter, and delves in to the PC vs digital recorder debate.

Have a look below to hear my thoughts on the issue. Here’s the question I was sent:

Dear Colin, very pleased to have found your site just now via your article about the best microphones for podcasting. Thanks for all your advice.

I want to start a podcast and already have a Zoom H4n recorder. I’m really stuck with whether to use that with a dynamic mic (could just about afford a heil pr40!) or to use my mac with a USB mic like the Rode Podcaster? Which set up would give me the best quality sound?

I’m coming to podcasting from video so am used to using the H4n, then dropping the audio into final cut pro x for editing.
I would be very grateful for your thoughts. Many thanks.

First off, thanks for getting in touch!

To me, your question revolves around two factors, both of which are really important to achieving great quality sound:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Component Spec

The first one is the thing most people forget, while concentrating much more on the 2nd.

Zoom H4n Digital Podcast RecorderKeeping it Simple

You’ve got an excellent quality recorder there in the H4n, and if you got yourself a Heil, you’d have one of the best podcasting Mics money can buy. Using both of them, you can then implement the simplicity factor and simply plug the Heil straight into the recorder. This keeps the audio chain short, and there’s little opportunity for external noise or interference to cause trouble!

You would get a good sound with a Mac and a Rode mic, but they’re lower quality components on both ends (mic and recorder), and in a lot of ways it’s less simple because you’re recording from a mic into a USB interface, converted to Mac readable format, brought into Mac recording software, etc. Plus, software, even on a Mac, can crash, which is why I always use my H4n for recording.

The extra benefits of going for your H4n/Heil option is that it’s really expandable. You can start to add things to the chain (making it less simple, mind you, but much more flexible!) such as mixers, gates, processors, etc, all of which you might want to do as your Podcast becomes more and more successful.

So, just a few thoughts, and certainly not the only way to go about it – hope that helps!

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think. How do you record your Podcast, what does your setup look like? Do you favour simplicity or complexity and options?

If you’d like more information on digital recorders, here are some of our recommendations.

Or, if you’d like access to our course library of tutorial videos on how to podcast with both digital recorder and computer setups, why not take a look at Podcraft Academy.

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