What kind of gear do you need to produce your own podcast?
You’ve decided this is the year you’re going to dive into the podcasting pool. You’ve done the smart thing and read Erin’s thoughtful blog on how and why starting a podcast in 2022 makes sense, especially if you’re in the business of growing your business.
So, you’ve got your show description. You’ve identified your target audience (and you’re committed to making the show ALL ABOUT THEM – not you). You’ve scripted an outline for your first show!
You want your podcast to have great sound. And great sound starts with great audio gear.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to wade into the tech discussion. What kind of gear and software do you need to move your podcast from the confines of your brain out into the wide world of audio on demand?
I’ve seen plenty of smart people staggered, if not paralyzed by the prospects of speaking “gear”, and I get it. Erin laughs at me because I’m still figuring out how to use Google Drive.
So, in the next couple of blog entries, allow me to walk you through the basics you’ll need to launch your best show possible.
As I noted in in previous blogs, the best show puts your audience first. That certainly applies to the content you produce. But you’ll be forgiven if it’s not obvious to you that your technical choices play a major role in putting your audience first.
Above all, you need to remember your show happens in your listener’s head. It’s the most intimate means of communication. And they have chosen to put you there! (No pressure 🙂
So, the quality of your audio is the backbone of a successful, engaging podcast.
That means we need focus first on the gear you can acquire that will provide the best tools and support to accomplish that.
First, I know there will be all kinds of review articles out there highlighting the “best on a budget” and I will only say that a lot of those blogs are in the business of making money from those recommendations. I make no money from this advice. It’s all based on decades of learning on the job, trial and error and deciding what I liked.
You don’t need to blow a month’s income on this stuff. But, if you’re not prepared to invest $600 up front on a podcast that’s intended to grow your business long term, then stop right here.
Alright, still with me?
Picking the best podcast microphone
The most important tool in your kit is your Microphone. I would point you towards three mics I use, (and I paid for them in full)
· The Shure SM58 ($130 CAD). It’s an industry standard AND a work horse. I’ve had 58s for about 20 years and I bought them USED. Excellent value and performance.
· The Sennheiser e835 (~$150 CAD). Right up there with the SM58 in my book.
· The Audio-Technica AT2040 (~ $150 CAD). Can’t beat this mic. And it will impress everybody who connects with you on your next Zoom call !
These are all dynamic mics. They are designed to mitigate background noise so they’re ideal for you if you’re setting up a makeshift “studio” in your kitchen or your boardroom. And, you want the XLR vs. USB models. XLR provides a better audio signal. And that brings us to the next piece of gear you’ll need.
(NOTE: No matter which mic you choose, buy the RODE mic boom (~$140 CAD) that mounts on your desk or table top)
Using a USB Audio Interface.
There are dozens of options here and they each have their benefits. So, I will narrow my suggestion to the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (~$170 CAD). It’s quickly become an industry standard for remote recordings and podcasting. This unit allows you to connect your XLR mic and your headphones to your laptop/desktop to your recording platform.
The best podcasting headphones.
There are literally thousands of options here. The only thing I would suggest is that you consider the best noise cancelling “cans” you can get for your money. Noise cancelling is best because they help prevent audio “leakage” from the headphone which, in turn, gets picked by your live mic. That can create some distracting echoes in your recording.
What Recording Platform should you use for your podcast?
Three years ago, it would have been necessary to explain to you how we could use video conference platforms to meet or interview others. By now, you’re a Zoom/Webex/TEAM pro.
You can certainly use any or all of those platforms to connect remotely with your podcast guests. And I would say they’re “adequate”. But, if you want to finish the package off to get a Pro-level sound, I would suggest three options.
· Riverside.fm is the platform we use most at Story Studio Network. (Again, this is not a paid endorsement). We use it because it works for us. It’s a subscription service. Your costs depend on the number of hours of recording you do in a month.
· Squadcast is the platform I first started using in March 2020. It’s also a subscription fee based on usage. I switched to Riverside because of certain features they offered over Squadcast at the time. But much has changed since then and both platforms are competitive.
· Zencastr is a great option if you’re doing a show that includes fewer than four voices per episode. Best of all, it’s budget friendly. There is a FREE option that would serve most of your recording needs.
All of these platforms record audio, (and video if needed) locally. That means, your audio is recorded to your computer in Halifax while you interview your guest whose audio is recorded locally to her laptop in Tokyo.
When you hit the STOP RECORD button, those files are pushed to the cloud. You have the option to have the platform mix the individual tracks or you can download them to your hard drive and hand the files off to your editor.
Now you’re armed with some basic gear to produce pro-quality audio. The next step is to make the most of it.
Next week, we’ll talk about the editing options for you. SPOILER ALERT, if you can edit a Word document, you can edit your podcast audio.