Choosing audio gear for podcasting from the hundreds of possibilities and endless opinions can be extremely overwhelming, especially for the beginner. Fortunately, you can put together a podcasting setup with professional, reliable, high-quality gear at affordable prices.
This is a list of podcasting gear that we recommend to our clients and use ourselves every day. This list is for a live, in-person recording scenario. (As opposed to a recording with remote guests, such as over Skype.) All of this gear is professional, compact and portable.
Digital recorder, Zoom H6:
This is a reliable, compact and easy to operate four track recorder that will work great in your studio or in the field. It’s powered by a wall outlet via USB or by 4 AA batteries.
With an optional adapter, it’s expandable to six tracks: http://amzn.to/2rOeF4H
For lengthy field recordings or use in remote locations, you can even power it with a USB power bank: http://amzn.to/2rUH7BV.
Compact USB wall plug to power Zoom:
An existing USB charger will work fine, but it’s a best practice to have an adapter that is dedicated to your Zoom, so you don’t have to go chase it down.
Choose as big of a card as you can Also buy a backup or two. You can never have too much storage on a card. And you can never have too many SD cards.
Shure SM58 hand held mics, as many as needed:
These are rugged and reliable mics that deliver very good quality at a good price. You should have one mic for each person speaking during an interview.
Windscreen (One for each mic):
XLR cables (One for each mic. This is a two-pack):
Don’t buy more cable length than you need. Six or 10 foot cables will suffice in most cases. Shorter cables pick up less interference and are more compact on your tabletop or in your portable kit. Buy extras for backup and if need be, these extra XLRs can be daisy-chained to make a longer cable.
Portable mic stands (one for each mic):
These are not very sturdy, but they are lightweight, easy to carry and cost nothing. If they break, just buy new ones. Double-check for any loose screws, nuts or bolts before use.
Studio mic stands (one for each mic):
These are solid and sturdy for studio use, but they are extremely heavy and bulky. If you’re going to do interviews outside of the studio, portable stands are a better option.
Audio Technica ATH-M30
These are high-quality headphones, that will serve you well for recording, editing or personal use. You’ll want to spend more on better quality headphones for yourself because you need to clearly monitor the quality of the audio while you’re recording or editing.
For guests, more budget-minded headphones will suffice. Guests don’t need to monitor recording quality. They just need to be able to hear everyone talking on the show and any audio playback. Headphones also help the guest to tell if they are talking on-mic.
For attaching multiple headsets to the recorder.
For the Zoom recorder. Whatever kind you like.
Battery & USB Charger:
This is a handy unit because it can charge USB devices (phones, power banks) as well as AA batteries. And since the wall power into the Zoom H6 is via USB, you can use it for double duty as as a backup AC adapter for the Zoom, if need be.
Four-Channel Headphone Amplifier
This could be used in place of the simple headphone splitter. It gives each person the ability to adjust their overall headphone volume. This is a nice option for a permanent studio setup, but may be cumbersome for field recordings. There are lower-priced headphone amps available, but we do not recommend any of them. They are of poor quality and typically require the use of headphone adapters, which results in a lot of fiddling.
Anker Vertical USB Mouse:
This mouse is the recumbent bike of input devices. It looks weird, but works great for editing and general computing use.
Recording remotely over Skype is very challenging because there are so many variables, including unreliable connection quality and unknown or poor remote studio conditions. It’s a topic that deserves its own article, but for now, here is the setup that we use and recommend.
Call Recorder app (Mac only):
This is a fantastic little app that works within the Skype app. It allows you to easily record audio and even video of Skype calls. It comes with a handy set of drag and drop tools that will let you split the two sides of a call into separate tracks and convert the files into various formats.
The same company also makes an app for FaceTime, but we primarily use Skype, as it is more widely used than FaceTime. We have no recommendation for a PC-based recording app.
XLR to USB adapter:
This device will let you connect any XLR mic (such as the SM58) into your computer via USB. This is a much better option than pro-sumer mics with USB cables built in. Professional mics are more reliable and of better quality. They will also hold their value and be useful for purposes other than podcasting, if need be.
USB boom headsets:
Jabra UC 550:
Sennheiser PC 36
These are an option for Skype calls. The quality will not be as good as professional mics, so expect to need some cleanup work on the recording.
Often, we will ship a headset to a guest, rather than relying on the unknown quality of their available earbuds or the mic built into their computer. This ensures that remote audio will be of a consistent quality.
The headset mic is also helpful for people who are not professional speakers and might tend to drift away from a stationary mic on a stand. The boom arm-mounted microphone keeps the mic near the guest’s mouth at all times.
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