Colin started The Podcast Host over 6 years ago now, and it’s evolved a fair bit over that time. There’s one thing that’s remained core throughout, though:
we aim to help as many people start podcasting as I can.
The biggest stumbling block, we’ve found, is equipment
This page is designed to bring together all of our equipment advice and keep it in one easy-to-find place. No matter what stage of podcasting you’re at, you can find the tools you need here.
This page is always kept up to date with our current recommendations for podcasting equipment, software, tools and more. If you’re just getting started, or you’re looking to expand your podcasting kit, you can find out what you need below.
Podcasting Setup #1
The simplest method is nothing more than a microphone and your computer. Plug in the mic, fire up a recording package (next section) and go. The only choice you have here is USB or 3.5mm plugs. If you have a decent sound card, go 3.5mm, and if not, go USB. If you're not sure, go USB!
Headset Microphone: Sennheiser PC8 Cheap as chips but decent audio quality – a great bit of kit to get you started. This is the mic I still use when I need to record quick and dirty via Skype or Hangouts. Check out my headset mic shootout here.
USB/XLR Microphone: ATR2100 or Samson Q2U. These are essentially the same mic inside – a little more expensive than a headset, but a noticable increase in audio quality. They both have USB and XLR outputs and so can grow with you when you get a mixer.
Good Quality USB Mic: The Blue Yeti This is still one of the most popular podcasting mics out there – good quality sound and the best option out there if you want ease of use and setup combined with recording quality.
Best Quality USB Mic: For a little more than the Yeti, you get the Rode Podcaster and even higher quality.
XLR Mic: The MXL 990 This is the mic I use on a day to day basis. Great value, excellent quality and a noticeable improvement on the USB mics above. It needs a mixer though, and good mic technique so it's not half as quick and easy.
Podcasting Gold Standard: The Heil PR40 Advocated by some of the biggest Podcasters in the world, this is a great microphone. Perhaps not quite worth all the hype, because there are other options out there, some of which might work better for your voice. For example, Shure SM7b is a legendary mic in the industry. This is one that discerning audiophiles hold in great esteem, and one of the best of breed.
Podcast Recording / Editing Software
What's it For?
Sometimes known as your Digital Audio Workstation or DAW, this is the software in which you can record and edit your podcast. It allows you to piece together different audio recordings, add in title and background music and remove any mistakes you made, or sections you don't want to include.
Podcasting Setup #1.5
Nearly any Podcasting setup needs editing software, if only to produce your final MP3 and add your meta tags. Some people record into their DAW directly, and then edit. Others record to a digital recorder, then edit those files in their DAW. The latter is more reliable, but the former works fine in the early days. Beware of software crashes though!
Audacity Audacity is a free piece of software which acts like it costs a tonne! It's amazing the power Audacity offers for the (no) money, including compression, EQ and all the FX you need.
Adobe Audition Audition is a pro-level audio editing package and adds a bit more spit a polish to the appearance of Audacity. It makes many things a little easier, which is the main thing you pay for.
To be honest, the options to the left work just fine for pros too – stick with them!
Digital Recorders for Podcasting
Podcasting Setup #2
The most reliable way to record a Podcast is to plug a microphone directly into a digital recorder, and hit record. Recorders are far less likely to crash, and less moving parts means a cleaner audio chain. Or, record to PC & recorder for backup. USB mics wont plug into these, though, so watch out.
The Zoom H1N This is a great little recorder for the money. The internal mics are fine for outside recording, and you can plug in a 3.5mm microphone cable for an external microphone should you want to improve it.
Roland R05 This is an excellent digital recorder with great internal microphones and a lot more control than the lower end models, like the H1N. You can plug in a 3.5mm external mic for recording externall or from a mixer. For an alternative with an excellent internal microphone, look at the Zoom H2n. . This can be used as a USB microphone so it can serve double duty as your main Podcasting mic too!
The Zoom H6 A true pro-level recorder – the H6 has a wealth of recording options, can record 6 separate channels and takes XLR inputs – this means better quality mics and better quality input. For a lower budget, but just as good quality, go for the Zoom H5. That's what we use more than anything else at The Podcast Host. It has a few less features than the H6, but is more than enough recorder for 99% of people.
What's it For?
You need somewhere to host your Podcasting files – that is, to make them available so that the public can download them. Podcast Hosting takes care of this, and it generates the RSS feed you need to allow subscriptions and to be listed in iTunes and the other directories. I provide top quality, tailored podcast hosting through The Podcast Host so I'll talk you through the options below.
With hosting, it’s worth starting out as you mean to go on. After all, it’s quite difficult to shift away from a bad quality host. Avoid the free Podcast Hosting options, they’ll just drag your show down and stifle your growth.
The two hosts that we recommend are BluBrry and Libsyn. There’s not much to split them, so it’s main down to the following choices:
Do you want to house your podcast on your own website?
If yes, then Blubrry is the best option, thanks to it’s amazing Powerpress plugin for WordPress.
Do you want to place your podcast on the media hosts’ website?
If yes, the Libsyn is the best option. They offer you your own website under their domain.
Both BluBrry and Libsyn offer great stats. Lisbyn charge a little extra for their stats, while Blubrry include them within any hosting package.
What's it For?
Mixers add a whole lot of complexity to your podcasting setup, and they're most certainly not a necessity for a professional sounding show. But, they do bring with them quite a few benefits. The main ones for me are: 1. Workflow – you can start to record live, saving a whole lot of post-production time. 2. Mix-Minus – you can include co-hosts at a distance and have them hear music, sound FX and calls from your end.
Podcasting Setup #3
I'll give my own regular setup as an example of how a mixer can be brought into your audio chain. I like to keep things as simple as possible in my own studio, so I'm using the following: MXL990 Microphone on a Neewer boom arm for my vocals, iPad for music and IDs, Skype for co-host, all into a Behringer Eurorack Mixer for mixing. The mixer goes out into the PC to return audio to Skype via Mix-minus, and it also goes out into a Zoom H4n for final recording. I monitor my recording with DT770 Pro cans straight from the recorder. This lets me record every show live and cut down on the time it takes to get a recording out onto the interwebs.
I'll qualify this by saying that, to be honest, I'd recommend jumping in at the ‘Improving' level if you at all can. The increase in quality and features is huge, and the mixer will last you much longer. But… if you have to get in at the lowest possible cost, the Behringer Xenyx 1202 is the cheapest Mixer than offers mix-minus and still cuts any mustard at all. You'll have to put up with a not-very-great build quality, and the noise floor isn't great, but it could be used to run the Podcasting Setup I describe above.
The minimum level I'd normally recommend jumping in is the Yamaha MG10. This is a great little mixer, plenty of channels, lots of options and gives you decent volume control even with knobs. This is what we use on a day to day basis in The Podcast Host office. Quick, easy and powerful.
While Behringer allow many people to enter the world of mixers, Mackie are just a cut above. If you want a mixer with excellent audio quality, comprehensive features and build standards that will last you a lifetime, just look at their range. The Mackie ProFX8 is a brilliant mixer, and it's bigger brothers just get better and better, the more you spend.
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