How Much Does Podcast Equipment Cost? At-a-Glance
- The vast majority of podcasters won't need to spend more than $100 on their podcast equipment (assuming you already have a computer!)
- A USB mic and a set of earbuds will have you recording solo shows, as well as online/remote conversations.
- A digital recorder means you don't need a computer. You can start from as low as $100, but you'll need to spend at least $300 to get the best out of this setup.
- You can run a couple of XLR mics into your computer via a USB audio interface for around $300.
- Read on to find out more…
There's a lot of brilliant podcast gear on the market these days. But too much choice can be overwhelming, and often, people will spend a lot more than they need to in order to record their podcast episodes.
Nobody likes to feel ripped off, so let's take a look at how much podcast equipment costs, based on your own unique needs, wants, and budget.
What Will I Need?
The type of show you want to run will determine the equipment you need. Here we'll look at the different pieces of kit required to record the most common types of podcast.
We'll work on the basis that you've already got a PC/laptop/Mac, and that you've installed the audio-editing software Audacity, which is free. Audacity is great if you're recording a solo show. However, if you'd like to do online/remote interviews or conversations, check out our best call recorder tools roundup.
Anyway, on to the actual gear. A quick heads up, too, that we sometimes use affiliate links when recommending certain products. This means we may earn a small commission if you were to buy through them. With that all said, what podcast equipment do you need, and how much does it cost?
A USB Microphone (& Some Headphones)
A USB mic is ideal if you're doing solo shows, or online/remote conversations.
The quality of USB mics has come on leaps and bounds these past few years. In my opinion, the best overall option remains the Samson Q2U (or the ATR2100), because you can also use those with things like digital recorders and audio interfaces further down the line, if you want to.
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Aside from the mic itself, you just need to plug in some headphones. Yes, you can buy yourself a high-end pair of studio headphones, but you can just as easy use the trusty set of earbuds you have lying around.
For the vast majority of people, this is all you need to make a podcast. You can be up and running with an excellent kit for less than $100.
Naturally, there are more high-end USB mic options out there too. The AKG Lyra or the Rode Procaster will give you top-of-the-range sound quality, but you'll pay anything between $150 to $225 for the privilege. Find out more about them in our Best USB Mics roundup.
But maybe you're in the market for more than a simple solo USB setup? If so, read on.
You might want a digital recorder to podcast if you are:
- doing ‘on-location' interviews
- recording with a co-host in various locations
If you don't want to be tied to your computer or laptop and want to introduce a co-host or interviewee to your recording, then a digital recorder might be the best option for you. Here are some options to suit every budget.
A Zoom H1 recorder can be used on its own with its built-in microphones. It comes with a small stand that you can set up on the desk in front of you to record two or more participants gathered around it. You can usually pick up a brand new Zoom H1 for around $100.
However, sound quality will always be limited when sharing a mic. You can optimise this setup by plugging lavalier mics into the H1 via a splitter, but this can treble your podcast equipment cost.
The H1's bigger cousins, the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6 come in at between $280 and $360 respectively. These recorders are bigger, more powerful, and can record XLR mics on multitrack. Bear in mind that you won't pay much less than $100 for each XLR mic you use. Again, you can simply record into the recorder's built-in mics but this will limit your overall audio quality.
The newly-released Zoom PodTrak P4 is cheaper than the H5 and H6 at only $200. It does more, in the sense that you can use it to record calls, but it also doesn't have built-in recorder capabilities, so you'd need to buy at least one XLR mic to make use of it.
Mixers & Audio Interfaces
Mixers are beginning to become obsolete in the world of podcasting. They were popular amongst some because they let you record remote conversations and play music/effects “as live”. However, the Zoom PodTrak P4 does this is a much cleaner and simpler manner. As I've mentioned already, the P4 costs $200, but you'll need to buy additional XLR mics to record with it.
USB audio interfaces are worth a look, if you'd like to record into your computer with XLR mics. My favourite is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which costs around $160. The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is a great sub-$100 option.
What About XLR Mics?
I've mentioned XLR mics a lot so far. You might want one (or more) to plug into your digital recorder or audio interface.
Our Best Podcasting Microphones roundup is a deep-dive on the top choices on the market right now. Here's a summary of some options, though.
- Samson Q2U/ATR2100 – sub-$100 and also works as USB mic
- MXL 990 – sub-$100, great sound, at a low cost
- Rode Procaster – $230 – one of the best podcasting mics around
Other Bits & Pieces
You might have some additional outgoings on top of the gear you plan to buy. Don't worry though, you can keep these additional podcast equipment costs pretty low.
Q: Do I need headphones?
Yes, but you can get away with using the earbuds you already own. If you want to buy a decent set of studio-quality headphones you'd be talking $30-$40, at least.
Q: Do I need a mic stand?
Most USB mics come with desk stands, so you can get set up to record right out the box. However, you might want to upgrade to a boom arm further down the line. You can pay as little as $10 for a boom arm, but a word of warning – the really cheap ones tend to be false economy.
Q: Do I need a pop-filter?
Some mics come with a foam windshield which might see you through in the short-term, especially if you're using a desk stand (which means you've nowhere to mount a pop-filter to). If you're buying a boom arm or mic stand then it's worth chucking in a pop-filter too. You can get one for around $10.
Q: What about cables?
If you're using a USB mic it'll come with a cable that plugs directly into your computer. If you want to use XLR mics into a digital recorder or interface, then you'll need an XLR cable for each of them. You can pick one up for less than $10 if money is tight, but again, you get what you pay for.
Summary: How Much Does Podcast Equipment Cost?
Most people don't need to spend more than $100 on their podcasting equipment. A USB mic will suit you if you're recording solo or online/remote conversations.
For the other bits and pieces, if you need them, you can be anywhere from $20 to $100+.
Nobody wants to spend more than they need to on podcast equipment, so make sure you're not getting something that's overkill for your own podcasting requirements. If you're spending any more than $400 on your gear, make sure you've got a very good reason for it, and are certain that you need everything in your shopping cart.
Check out these additional resources as you continue to plan your ideal podcasting setup;
- Full Guide to Podcasting Equipment: What Do I Need, & Why?
- Podcast Software: The Complete Guide From Start to Finish
The subject of buying podcasting kit comes up on a weekly basis in our live Q&A sessions inside The Podcast Host Academy. Aside from talking through your choices with you, we also give you a full range of courses on everything from setting it all up and editing your audio, to promoting and monetising your content!