Best Podcast Starter Kit: At-a-glance
- There isn’t any one-size-fits-all podcast starter kit on the market
- That said, there is one that comes close
- Remember, though, 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 will review three common podcast setups covering 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!).
Our ‘Podcast Starter Kit’ guide was originally written in 2017. We update this post periodically to reflect changes in technology, our recommendations, and because we’re always learning new things!
And with that all said, let’s take a look at these podcast starter kit options.
Podcast Starter Kit Setups
Here are the three podcast 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.
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 audio recorder 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 better sound quality and a bit more recording flexibility, then there are a couple of good options out there.
The Rode SmartLav + is among our most recommended mics for on-the-go podcast recording. You can pick one up brand new for around $50. 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 struggle to talk while staring into a microphone. Lav mics are designed for single-person use, but you can run two into your phone to record interviews. 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 $100. This mic works as a USB, iPad, or mobile (iPhone) mic, and it has an excellent 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 and play’ (or, plug 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 flash drive. So let’s look at the best entry-level USB mics out there right now.
The Samson Q2U is my personal favourite ‘starter’ mic. At around $70, it’s very affordable and offers a good level of sound quality, too. It also has an XLR connection, so if you ever wanted to upgrade to a digital recorder, 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 Samson Q2U is also available in a great podcast equipment bundle deal that’s as good a complete podcast starter kit on the market as I’ve seen.
What About 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 considering buying a mic, I don’t think they’re necessarily the best value for money. My advice – opt for a Samson Q2U instead. Remember to check out the Q2U podcast starter kit, too.
Other USB Microphone Options
There are many 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 were 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 also play music, effects, and pre-recorded clips during your episodes. It’ll even act as a USB interface, if you’d like to use it with your computer.
To get set up with the PodTrak P4, however, you’d need to spend more than $200. You’d need at least one XLR mic to plug into it. Each local participant would need a mic; 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, but you might want to upgrade to pro-level podcasting headphones further down the line.
Cables, Stands, & Pop Filters
You may also need kit like XLR cables, mic stands, shock mounts, and pop filters. Take a look at our guide on the cost of podcast equipment to see the best options on that front.
Sound Quality Room Treatment (or Not!?)
The best podcast kit in the world will still sound bad in a poorly-treated environment. Fortunately, doing some basic acoustic therapy doesn’t need to cost very much at all. Here’s how to create a great-sounding podcast studio.
Alternatively, you might consider outdoor podcast recording. Noise doesn’t need to be a negative in podcasting, so long as your voice is crystal clear. The ambience of a park or street can bring an element of vibrancy and life to your content, so never think that you need to be locked in a cupboard trying to eliminate all background noises.
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 tricky because there are so many different styles and formats of podcasts out there.
So there may be no such thing as a “one size fits all” podcast starter kit, but the Samson Q2U Podcasting Pack & Accessory Bundle is as close as they come.
This bundle gets you set up with headphones, a boom arm, a desk stand, and cables to use your mic in USB and XLR form. That’s not to mention, the Samson Q2U mic itself!
There’s even a little cloth in there to wipe away your tears of joy once you realise all of this is available for a mere $130.
What Else do I Need to Podcast?
We’ve covered a few different options for building your own podcast starter kit. Now there are 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 record and edit your audio. You need audio software like this if you want to make any edits to your recording, or if you want to add 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 (either solo recordings or online calls), and it’ll take care of the processing, editing, and publishing of your podcast for you.
Alitu is ideal for complete beginners who don’t want to learn how to edit – or – experienced podcasters who don’t have time to edit!
Alitu doesn’t stop with recording and editing, either. You can upload and publish your podcast there, it has a free music library, and, it’ll auto-generate episode transcriptions for you. It pretty much has everything you need to podcast, under one login and subscription. Sign up for a free trial today.
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 $20 a month. But if you’re going to use Alitu for your editing and production, then you’ll already have access to a call recorder.
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 three of our favourites;
Any music you use during the course of your active subscription on these platforms is yours to keep, forever.
You don’t need to spend money buying podcast music, either. If you’re on a tight budget, check out our Free Podcast Music Packs. And again, if you’re using Alitu, you’ll have access to its free music library.
You’ll need cover art to create your podcast and make it available in places like Apple/iTunes and Spotify. Your cover art should be JPEG or PNG form, 1400 x 1400 or 3000 x 3000 pixels, and should be under 500kb in size.
Here’s our full guide to creating your podcast logo. You can make your own for free using a tool like Canva. Alternatively, you can hire a pro designer – for this, we recommend c7productions on Fiverr.
Your podcast host is the place where you upload and publish your episode files. Once you’ve created your show on a podcast host, people can subscribe to it and start downloading your content.
Alitu has podcast hosting built-in, so that’s one single login for recording, editing, producing, and publishing your podcast (with many more features, on top of that).
Of course, there are many other great hosting options out there, too. Check out our full podcast hosting platform roundup, if you’d like to do a bit of shopping around. There’s something there for every level and budget.
Podcast Starter Kit: FAQ
In this section, we’ll look to answer some of the frequently asked questions we get asked about podcast setups and starter kits.
Will a Condenser Microphone Give Me Better Audio Quality?
Condenser mics differ from their dynamic microphone counterparts in the way they function, and are built. A simplistic differentiation between the two is that condensers are better for recording voice in optimal environments, whilst dynamics will handle suboptimal conditions in a more suitable way.
To be honest, either type of mic is more than good enough to podcast with. It’s really how and where you use it that matters. I wouldn’t let whether a mic is condenser or dynamic be a deciding factor in whether you buy a certain mic or not.
Is an XLR Microphone Better Than a USB Mic?
XLR Vs USB is similar to the dynamic Vs condenser debate in that it’s how and where you use a mic that matters most. This time, we’re talking about how a mic is plugged in, and what it’s plugged into. Both of these routes have their advantages.
A USB mic gives you a quicker, simpler setup. An XLR mic, on the other hand, is much more flexible. You can plug it into a multitude of recording devices (even a computer, if you go via a USB audio interface).
Neither is “better” than the other, it’s only what works best for you. For what it’s worth, you find mics that do both. I’ve talked a lot about the budget friendly Samson Q2U in this post, and that’s one of them!
What About Video Podcast Equipment?
If you’d like to add a video component to your podcast, then check out our video podcasting guide where we run through some gear and kit options.
Best Podcast Starter Kit: Summary
As we’ve covered, there’s really no one-size-fits-all podcast starter kit because podcasts come in all different styles and formats.
That said, the Samson Q2U Podcasting Pack & Accessory Bundle would be ideal for most folks starting out. Whether you’re doing a solo show or online co-hosted or interview chats, then this is a great option.
But if you want to record multiple people locally, the Zoom PodTrak P4 is worth your consideration. You’ll still need mics to run into it, though, so that will bump up the price a wee bit.
Best of luck getting set up. Remember to check out of full How to Start a Podcast Guide to get everything else nailed down, as well as our Podcast Equipment Kits Guide if you’d still like to do some shopping around.
If you’d like more tailored help, you can combine video course learning with regular Q&A opportunities in our Podcraft Academy.