Best Podcast Starter Kit: At-a-glance
- There isn't any one-size-fits-all podcast starter kit on the market
- Types of podcasts vary, as do things like budget, environment, and ambitions
- In this guide, we help you build the ideal podcast starter kit that's perfect for your own unique wants and needs
- We'll cover simple smartphone and USB setups, to more premium ‘all-rounder' options
- We'll also run through the other stuff you'll need – from artwork to media hosting
- Read on, and let's get started…
So, you really want to start a podcast. You've got something of value to say, and you can think of countless topics in your niche that you'd like to cover. There's just one problem: how do you figure out the best podcast starter kit to fit your budget and context?
It's easy to be intimidated by pictures of recording studios, mixing desks, and cables running everywhere. But you don't need any of that to start or run a podcast.
In this article, we're going to go over three common setups that cover every potential use case. If you've felt stuck in a rut with this for a while now, then fear not. We'll have you up and on your way to recording your first episode in no time.
A quick heads up, before we dive in. We sometimes use affiliate links in our content, which means we may earn a commission should you decide to buy through them (though at no extra cost to yourself!). With that all said, let's take a look into these podcast starter kit options.
Podcast Starter Kit Setups
Here are the three setups we'll take a look at:
The Smartphone Starter Kit
A simple and lower-cost option for recording solo shows, or local (on-location) co-hosts and interviewees. Jump to smartphone section.
The USB Mic Starter Kit
The most common way of recording solo shows, or remote (online) co-hosts and interviewees. Jump to USB section.
Struggling to Choose & Use Your Podcast Equipment?
Pick the right gear, and learn how it works: from USB mics to mixers.
The All-Rounder Podcast Starter Kit
Finally, we'll talk about a setup that covers all bases. It might cost a little more, but your options, flexibility, and sound quality will be taken to the next level. Jump to ‘All-Rounder' section.
And remember, if you need help with the rest, check out our full guide on How to Start a podcast!
Your phone is probably the most expensive bit of potential podcast kit you own, and it can double up as your podcast microphone too. Sure, it might not sound as good as a studio condenser mic, but most phones have pretty decent mics built into them nowadays.
To record a podcast with your phone, it's simply a case of finding your ‘voice memo' or ‘voice recorder' app and you're ready to start your first episode. There are a few free voice recording apps for Android and iOS that will give you a better level of audio quality, too.
Accessorising Your Smartphone
If you're looking to stick with your phone, but you want a better sound quality and a bit more recording flexibility, then there's a few options out there.
iRig Mic Cast
The iRig Mic Cast is compatible with most Android devices, as well as iPhones and iPads. At around $30, it'll add an extra quality to your recording without breaking the bank. It simply plugs into your phone's headphone port and you're ready to go.
iRig Mic Handheld
If you like the idea of the iRig Mic Cast, but you'd rather have a more traditional looking mic that you can use in a stand with a pop shield, then take a look at adding the iRig Mic Handheld to your podcast kit. At around $60, it's more expensive than the Mic Cast, but also a fair bit more flexible. Just like the Mic Cast though, you plug it into your phone's headphone port and you're ready to record.
The Rode SmartLav + is one of our most recommended mics for on-the-go podcast recording. At around $80 it's a little more expensive than the iRig mics, but you might find a lav mic more comfortable to record with. Lav mics (also known as collar or lapel mics) pin to your shirt, and are commonly seen on TV. They can help you feel more comfortable and natural if you're someone who struggles to talk whilst staring into a microphone. Here's how to use 2 SmartLav+ mics to create an on-the-go podcast recording kit.
For a Premium option in this category, take a look at the Shure MV5, which tends to cost around $80. This mic works as a USB, iPad, or mobile (iPhone) mic, and it has a really good level of sound quality too. Check out our review of the Shure MV5 to get the full lowdown.
The beauty of USB mics is that they are virtually ‘plug in and play' (or plug in and record, as our case might be) if you're using a computer, laptop, or Mac.
Connecting a USB mic is no harder than connecting a pen or flash drive. Let's have a look at the best entry-level USB mics out there right now.
The Samson Q2U is my personal favourite ‘starter' mic. At around $80, it's very affordable, and offers a really good level of sound quality, too. It also has an XLR connection, so if you ever wanted to upgrade to using a digital recorder in the future you wouldn't need to buy a new mic. Depending on what part of the world you live in, it can be hard to pick up a Q2U. If this is the case, you might need to look at the Q2U's “twin”, the ATR2100.
The Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball?
The Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball are popular mics in the podcasting space. If you already own one then it'll be more than good enough to podcast with. However, if you're still looking at buying a mic, I don't think they're necessarily the best value for money. My advice – opt for a Samson Q2U instead.
Other USB Mic Options
There are a lot of excellent USB mic options on the market these days. If you reckon this route is going to be the best fit for you, and would still like to do some shopping around, then check out our Best USB Mics for Podcasters roundup.
The All-Rounder Podcast Starter Kit: Option 3
If I was just starting out, and had a decent bit of budget behind me, then I'd buy myself a Zoom PodTrak P4. This little device comes in at less than $200, and there isn't a lot it can't do.
You can record multiple guests/interviewees locally, or run remote (online or phone) call recordings. You can even play music, effects, and pre-recorded clips during your episodes.
You'd need to spend more than $200 to get set up with the PodTrak P4 however. You'd need at least one XLR mic to plug into it. You'd want a mic for each local participant, and you can plug in up to four. I mentioned the Samson Q2U already as an excellent option, though you might also consider the Shure SM58.
Check out our review of the Zoom PodTrak P4 to get the full lowdown.
Other Podcast Starter Kit Gear
There are a few other bits and pieces potentially worth looking into.
For starters, you should definitely be using headphones when recording and editing your podcast. The good news is that you'll get away with using the trusty set of earbuds you already own. You might want to upgrade to pro-level podcasting headphones further down the line, though.
You may also need kit like XLR cables, mic stands, and pop filters. Take a look at our guide on the cost of podcast equipment to see the best options on that front.
Automate Your Podcast Production & Publishing
Alitu is a tool that takes your recording, polishes it up, adds your music, and publishes the episode, all automatically.
Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Podcast Starter Kit on the Market?
Many aspiring podcasters have asked us if there's such a thing as a “podcast starter kit” on the market. A one-box solution that'll equip them with all the gear they need to start and run their show.
This is a great idea in theory. But unfortunately, it isn't an overly-practical one.
There are many different types of podcast out there, and no single pre-packed box of equipment could be referred to as a “starter kit” for them all.
Aside from the different podcast formats available, other important factors that determine equipment are things like location, environment, motivation, ambition, and budget.
To give a one-size-fits-all recommendation for every podcast would have the majority of podcasters spending much more than they need to. Instead, pick a setup from the options above, based on how you plan to record. That's the best and most cost-effective way to get your own personalised podcast starter kit.
What Else do I Need to Podcast?
We've covered a few different options for building your own podcast starter kit. There's just a couple of other things we'll need to get your podcast off the ground.
Firstly, the good news is that Audacity is completely free, and will allow you to both record and edit your audio. You need audio software if you want to make any edits to your recording, or if you want to add in intro or outro music. Learning to use Audacity can take a bit of time and patience, but it's not hard once you grasp the basics. If you're looking for a shortcut to mastering Audacity, we have a course inside our Academy that'll help you do just that.
Automate Production & Make Editing Easy
Thanks to our “podcast maker” tool Alitu, you don't even need audio software like Audacity anymore though. Alitu is really simple to use. You can record directly into it, and it'll take care of the processing, editing, and publishing of your podcast for you. It's ideal for complete beginners who don't want to learn how to edit, or experienced podcasters who don't have time to edit!
Call recording software
This is only required IF you're doing an interview show with remote guests. If that's your aim, check out our roundup of the best tools for recording a podcast online. If you just want our top pick though, then you can start using SquadCast from $10 a month.
Music & Audio Branding
You don't need music, but it can add an extra layer of professionalism and identity to your content. There are plenty of options out there for finding great music that's safe and legal to play on your podcast. Here are 3 of our favourites;
You'll need cover art to create your podcast and make it available in places like Apple/iTunes and Spotify. Your cover art will be JPEG or PNG form, 1400 x 1400 or 3000 x 3000 pixels, and should be under 500kb in size.
A podcast host is the place where you upload your episode files. Once you've created your show on a podcast host, people can subscribe to it and start downloading your content. For more on how it works, check out Where do Podcasts live?
But, if all you need to know is, “which podcast host should I choose, and how much will it cost?” then my quick recommendation is Buzzsprout and you can sign up for $12 per month.
Buzzsprout is low-cost, high value and has all the features you'll need. As a bonus, it's really easy to use and the dashboard is a pleasure to look at. You can find more details in our Buzzsprout review if you need to check it over.
Need More Help Starting Your Podcast?
Hopefully, you've now got a better idea of where to look when putting your very own podcast starter kit together. It doesn't need to be expensive, and it doesn't need to be complicated.
If you're still looking for some in-depth info on the other aspects of planning and launching a show (content, episode formats, audience growth, etc) then I'd suggest checking out our guide on How to Start a Podcast.
And if you're looking for more tailored support with your show, check out The Podcast Host Academy
That’s our membership site, where you’ll find access to all of our tutorials, ebooks, downloadable resources, and courses. The courses range on everything from voice training and presentation skills, to promotion and monetisation. And on top of that, we run weekly live Q&A sessions where you can get all your questions answered on an ongoing basis!