The arduous phase of planning your podcast doesn’t end with coming up with valuable content. In fact, even if podcasts are purely audio, don’t be deceived by all the hard work that gets done behind the scenes. There’s more to it than meets the eye, such as finding the best podcast equipment.
Sound quality isn’t a huge deal-breaker when it comes to podcasts. But if you truly want to get your message out there in the best way possible, you will want to make sure that your podcast offers a pleasant listening experience.
A few months ago, I posted about How to Start and Launch a Podcast to Build Your Brand.
So I figured that the next thing I should write is about how to actually execute starting your podcast through finding the best podcast equipment for you.
Now the problem lies in finding which podcast equipment you need. Is it necessary to invest in an expensive microphone or can you just record with your iPhone? Is it important to invest in your recording setup when you’ve already soundproofed your room? Do you need to break the bank when investing in the right hardware and software?
There are TONS of sources out there to answer these questions, that it’s impossible to just go through only 5 sites to make an informed decision.
There is just so much to choose from and so many recommendations. How will you know where to start? Not only that, how will you know if you need let’s say, a boom arm or not? In fact, what even is a boom arm? What is a shock mount? So many terms!
Rest assured that this article will answer all those questions, so you don’t have to keep jumping from one site to another to figure out which podcast equipment is for you.
TEGA’S RESEARCH REVELATIONS
While writing this article in trying to find THE best option for you, I came to realize that there actually is no one best option. These are some of the things that I have discovered and that you should also take note of when deciding on which equipment to get:
- There are TONS of options to choose from, and there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation. This will all depend on your budget and the needs of your podcast and recording setup.
- There are brands that offer premium options and others that offer budget options. And remember that just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s perfect and worth splurging on. Spend SMARTLY and WISELY, even if you have the budget to go for the most premium option.
- Every podcast equipment has their pros and cons, and it will always depend on whether you think this is what YOU need.
- Each person has their own recommended product, and there is no PERFECT option for you. I trust that you will be able to make the right decision that fits your needs.
- It’s okay to start small. If you are not sure yet on where this podcast journey will take you, don’t spend so much on equipment. Once your podcast grows and progresses, you can always upgrade gradually and spend more.
Without further ado, let me show you what are the things you need to make your podcasts sound amazing for your listeners.
WHAT YOU NEED
Below is a breakdown of the type of equipment (hardware and software) you will need for your podcast.
For beginners, these are the types of equipment that you already have with you, such as:
For intermediate users, these are slightly more advanced tools that require a bit more expertise. But the time and money it will take to acquire these tools will be offset by the significance in improvement of your audio quality:
For advanced users, these are a whole bunch of other tools that you may need depending on the nature and needs of your podcast:
I know that this is a long list, and I want to tell you beforehand that you do not need EVERYTHING here. Again, it will depend on which ones are suitable to your needs and budget, and even on your podcast format.
So, how was I able to come up with this list?
THIS IS A COMPILATION OF MORE THAN 50 SOURCES
The reason why I titled this article as such is because after doing my own research, I noticed that not all of them gave a complete list of the equipment you need. If you were to do your own personal research, you will end up having to jump through several different resources just like I did.
After scouring through more than 50 sources, I was able to make a list of some of the most highly recommended products and equipment out there as testified by podcasters for fellow podcasters who want to start out.
My goal for this article is for it to be the one-stop-shop for ALL the types of equipment you need to start your podcast. I did my best to make sure I filled in all the blanks so that it saves you time and doesn’t leave you wondering if you’ve missed out on anything else.
Although this list isn’t absolute and super detailed, feel free to do even more research on the products below. Rest assured that this article would make a good basis for you to get started.
I also made it a point to arrange each product from least expensive to most expensive, and even sub-categorized some of them.
Another point I want to make is that I tried to avoid sounding as technical as possible so that everything is understandable for you. Again, everything listed here is a compilation of many other reliable resources, so these are all excellent recommendations.
Last thing I want to let you know is that I will not be taking ANY profit from any of the recommended products below. These are all based on pure research with no selfish interests in mind.
I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this article and I hope you will enjoy it as informative and useful as I do.
THE COMPLETE LIST OF THE BEST PODCAST EQUIPMENT
Cell Phone and Headset
The best way to get started without being bogged down by all these tools is to start with what you have -- your personal cell phone and earphones. By simply using the recording app on your phone to record your podcast, and going to an editing tool such as Audacity (more on this later) to make simple edits, you will be able to start a podcast literally at the tip of your fingers.
I won’t be getting into any details as to what phone or basic earphones work best because I want you to work with what you have, if you are going for these types of tools to start with.
Investing in a microphone is important because although it is possible to record using earbuds or directly on your phone or laptop, that method will not offer a pleasant listening experience for your audience.
Choosing a microphone doesn’t always mean that the most expensive one is the one that offers the best quality. This will depend on other factors as well such as your environment, podcast structure, and personal preference.
Before we get started, here are just a few terms that you may want to familiarize yourself with:
- USB Microphone – this is a type of microphone that lets you directly connect your microphone to your laptop or computer, making it very easy to setup.
- XLR Microphone – although this microphone requires a more complex setup, you will definitely want to upgrade to one in the future because it offers better quality.
- Dynamic Microphone – from the term “dynamic,” these provide great recording quality in all sorts of environments. This allows you to record either at home or on the road.
- Condenser Microphone – this is for more professional-sounding recordings because it produces a clearer, crisper sound. These are usually more expensive than dynamic microphones and need a professional setup.
Here are some of the best microphones you can choose from that fall under a wide variety of price ranges:
ENTRY-LEVEL: Samson Q2U (Dynamic)
What makes this microphone a good option is that it is budget-friendly and offers both USB and XLR connections. What this means is that you can connect it both directly to your laptop via the USB port, or invest in an audio interface (we will talk about this in detail later) for the XLR component. Because it is so versatile, this would make a great beginner’s microphone.
The ATR 2100 is very similar to the Samson Q2U in that it also has both USB and XLR connections. Although the Samson Q2U, according to most reviews, is more susceptible to P-pops, it also offers more value-for-money compared to the ATR 2100. They are both similar in terms of design and everything else, but if you are willing to spend more for slightly better sound quality, then the ATR 2100 is the way to go.
MID-RANGE: BLUE YETI (Condenser)
The Blue Yeti is one of the most popular microphones out there because of its great audio quality and recording options. This microphone allows you to set it up so that it can record solo shows, two-person interviews, and group interviews, all with just one mic! Audio quality isn’t excellent compared to more expensive microphones, but it does the job and offers a wide range of features.
These two are about identical in terms of sound quality and are great choices as well. The Rode Podcaster is a USB microphone while the Rode Procaster is an XLR one. Since they are both dynamic microphones, this means that they don’t pick up a lot of background noise, and so would be great for home use.
HIGH QUALITY: HEIL PR-40 (Dynamic)
This is another popular microphone testified by many podcasters. Though many reviews say that this is over-hyped and although sound quality is good, it is a bit overpriced for its quality. But for people who have the budget and see what this hype is all about, feel free to give it a go.
HIGH QUALITY: RODE NT1-A (Condenser)
Although this microphone is in the higher price range, it comes with a shock mount and pop filter. It offers a super rich sound and is great for someone who is looking to upgrade microphones and sound more professional.
Probably one of the reasons why the Shure SM7b is so legendary is because it has been used by Joe Rogan since day one. This microphone is very well-built and the sound quality is superb. But despite this microphone’s amazing quality, this isn’t recommended for beginners due to how sensitive it is to sound. This type of microphone requires a professional studio setup and skilled mic technique. But once you do decide to go pro, this is the way to go.
So, what is a pop filter and what does it do? Simply put, a pop filter prevents any plosives (harsh p’s, t’s and k’s when you speak). You’d definitely want to avoid any plosives in your podcast because it will annoy the ears of your listeners.
Another unusual benefit of the pop filter is that it lengthens the lifespan of your microphone because it acts as a shield to any saliva that might land on your mic (gross, but true).
Here are some of the most recommended pop filters:
Nady MP-6 is one of the most popular filters out there because of its affordability and great performance. If you are looking for a basic pop-filter that isn’t expensive, many podcasters recommend this one.
If you recall, we mentioned Blue Yeti as one of the best microphones out there. Blue made a pop filter to match with that, and that is Blue the Pop. This filter is not exclusive to the Blue Yeti but would be the perfect match if you have decided to get the Blue Yeti.
This leads more towards the high-end, professional-level Pop Filters, and would make a great investment. The premium material and design effectively remove any plosives, but if you are on a budget and plosives for you aren’t that much of a problem, you can go for the cheaper options above.
Using headphones while recording a podcast is crucial because it helps you become more aware of how you sound. Hearing yourself while you speak may seem weird at the beginning, but you will get used to it over time and will learn how to adjust your voice when necessary.
There are some people who do not record with headphones, but for the most part, it is a great practice to do.
Just like microphones, there are tons of headphones out there that you can choose from. There are closed-back headphones, open-back headphones, on-ear headphones, over-ear headphones, and so on.
It may get overwhelming, but you must always get back to the core purpose of these headphones. Which is to record a podcast, right?
For recording podcasts, you will need to identify which type of headphone works best.
The best type of headphones for podcasts is closed-back. Because it’s closed-back, it prevents sounds from leaking back into the microphone. This is called audio bleeding and will affect the sound quality of your recordings.
So here are some of the best closed-back headphones out there...
This is one of the best budget headphones out there. Not only is it comfortable, but it’s also very portable because it can be folded into a compact design. The balance between price, performance, and comfortability is what makes these headphones one of the most popular in the industry.
The Beyerdynamic DT Pro 80 boasts of its comfort and durability. What makes it ultra-comfortable is its furry padding, which indeed contributes to its comfortability, but may not be hygienic overtime. Best not to share these headphones with anyone else!
If budget isn’t an issue, then the Shure SRH 1540 is something you would definitely want to upgrade to. Because of how comfortable it is, you’ll be able to wear it for hours at a time. This is more of a luxury item rather than something you would want to use as a beginner.
A mixer is like an audio input in a sense that it connects multiple inputs together. But the difference with the mixer over the audio input is that the former gives you more control over these various inputs.
It’s just like being the conductor of an orchestra and your goal is to make sure all instruments harmoniously work together. Mixers are also generally more expensive than audio inputs.
The main reason why you would want to invest in a mixer is if you are planning on hosting several guests on your show and you need to make more adjustments to ensure consistency of sound quality.
Here are some of the most recommended mixers:
The Behringer Xenyx Q502 USB is great if you are looking for an affordable, compact, on-the-go mixer. This has all the basics you need to record a solo and 2-person podcast. But because of how basic it is, you will want to find a more complex mixer as your podcast progresses.
These two are the best mixers for solo and 2 person podcasts because of how easy it is to use. Both beginners and experienced podcasters alike will be able to utilize the features of this mixer. It is also compatible to Apple devices and produces great sound quality.
This is one of the best mixers under $200. It has some distinguishing features such as the ReadyFX effects engine with 16 sound effects, a unique graphic EQ, and USB recording/playback. This would make a great investment.
Just like the Yamaha AG03/AG06, this model is also a reliable and perfect USB mixer for beginners. It also has built-in sound effects, powerful digital processing, and a durable design.
Being the priciest among the three, the Behringer Xenyx 1204USB offers premium sounds in a compact module. What’s great about this compared to the Yamaha MG10 XU is that this one has sliders instead of knobs, which are more precise and easier to adjust. This would make a great choice if you are planning on upgrading.
If you’ve never heard of a boom arm, it’s what holds a microphone in place, which is an additional plus.
Purchasing a boom arm isn’t an absolute necessary requirement, but it offers a lot of convenience and other benefits. Most of the time, holding the microphone by hand isn’t advisable because of the vibrations and the occasional switching of the mic from one hand to another.
A boom arm also saves up a lot of desk space, and since the microphone is already held by the boom arm, whenever it’s time to record, all you need to do is simply pull the boom arm towards you.
Here are some boom arms recommended by many podcasters.
This is one of the cheapest options out there but is a great boom arm for beginners because it does the job. One of the things you need to take note of before purchasing this is that your microphone should not exceed 1 kilogram (Blue Yeti is not suitable) because the boom arm is so lightweight.
The Rode PSA1 is an extremely popular choice among podcasters and although it is on the pricier side, one great feature about this is that it rotates 360 degrees and is highly flexible. Also, since the springs are internal, it doesn’t produce much sound when you adjust.
If you have a heavier microphone like the Blue Yeti, there have been reviews saying that the Heil PL2T is able to support this. It also offers 360-degree rotation and has internal springs.
Most microphone brands already offer compatible shock mounts, but it is great to invest in a universal one so you can switch between mics. The purpose of the shock mount is to absorb any additional noise from vibrations caused by accidentally touching the mic or moving the boom arm too much. It removes all unnecessary sounds, contributing to an even better listening experience.
Let’s take a look at two of the most popular and recommended universal shock mounts.
The LyxPro MKS1-B Condenser Spider is a budget universal shock mount. Because of its spider-like design, it is versatile with most microphones, although it works best with larger ones.
This is one of the most regarded universal shock mounts out there because of how durable and sturdy it is. One of its greatest features is its four screws with rubber grips that really keep the mic in place.
Cables can sometimes be overlooked because they seem like such a minor component of the entire setup. But investing in good cables is a wise choice because remember that these are what provide connection between devices. It is also important to take note that high-quality cables will only make sense if you invest in good equipment as well.
Great cables offer better signal and last much longer. And if you are just a beginner and have a small area, you do not need to invest in long cables because it will only take up more space.
Here are three of the most recommended cables.
One of the nice features of this cable is that it comes in different colors and is very affordable. If you are someone who wants to color code to keep things organized, then this is one of the go-to budget cables out there.
Mogami is a well-known cable manufacturer and they offer a variety of lengths from 2 feet to 100 feet. This is one of their budget-friendly cables because the materials being used are more economical. But Mogami assures that quality is not sacrificed.
This is the premium version of the Mogami Silver. This cable is the most expensive one among the three but is a worthwhile investment if you don’t want to keep upgrading down the line.
Mic Activators are only needed if you have a microphone that has low sensitivity, which is the case for dynamic microphones. I don't want to get too technical here but investing in a mic activator if you have a dynamic microphone will be worthwhile if you want better sound quality.
This is the most recommended and most popular mic activator out there. This is great for a home studio where a single microphone needs a signal boost to connect to the rest of the recording setup.
If you need multiple inputs, you can go for the Cloudlifter CL-4 which allows for four independent input sources.
Earlier, we talked about XLR Microphones that need to be connected to Audio Interfaces. The purpose of an Audio Interface is to connect the microphone to the computer. In simple terms, an audio interface translates the signal coming from your microphone into a digital one, so it is understood by the computer.
The advantage of passing through an interface first rather than connecting directly to the computer is because the former offers more connectivity options, meaning you have the option to connect more devices to improve the quality of your recordings.
To connect the interface to your computer/laptop, you will simply need to plug it via a USB, Thunderbolt, or Fire-Wire cable.
Below, we will talk about several types of interfaces with options to connect to more microphones if the need arises, especially for podcasts with more than one host:
This is the most recommended audio interface for 1 XLR input. Focusrite is an excellent brand altogether and will be mentioned several more times in this section just because of how praised it is by other podcasters.
The Steinberg UR12 is very similar to the Scarlett Solo, but with a few differences. The Scarlett Solo can work in more frequencies, while the Steinberg only works on 192 kHz frequency. But the benefit of the Steinberg UR12 is that it is compatible with more devices like laptops, desktops and even iPads, so this option would be much better if you are working with more devices.
The PreSonus AudioBox iTwo is a great option if you are on a budget. This audio interface is worth considering because of its wide offer of features given its cheaper price point. PreSonus is also a very reliable brand so you can be sure that their products are reliable and durable.
Just like the Scarlett Solo, the Scarlett 2i2 is equally as popular. What makes it so popular is its easy setup, portability, and compatibility with iOS, Mac, and Windows. Many users also commend the Scarlett for its ultra-crisp sound compared to other brands. Most people would go directly for this option over the Scarlett Solo because of the small price difference with the fact that it can connect more microphones.
The PreSonus Studio 68 is a high-quality interface with easy usability, amazing sound, and versatility. Because of its versatile interface, it is great for home-use, especially because it’s not that expensive considering that it has 4 inputs.
If you are looking for another solid option, then Tascam would make a great choice. It is one of the simplest and most comfortable interfaces to use because of how it is designed.
The Behringer U-Phoria 1820 would make a good choice if you are on a budget. It is compatible with most DAWs (we will cover this more later) and iPad/Android Devices. It doesn’t have as many features as the next option, the PreSonus Studio 1824C, but is enough for the price you pay.
PreSonus yet again delivers another great product with its Studio 1824C which allows for multiple inputs and outputs and a whole ton of other features. It is also compatible with most DAWs (we will cover this more later) and iPad/Android Devices
You will only need a headphone amplifier if you will be interviewing guests in the same space. The purpose of a headphone amp is so that each person can control the volume of their headphones. Each person has their own preference when it comes to the volume level, so you want to make sure everyone is comfortable when recording.
This is said to be the cheapest and most reliable option in the market. Because it uses a dedicated power supply, you don’t lose that much level when you split the signal 4-ways.
The Art HeadAmp5 is slightly more expensive than the Behringer MicroAMP HA400 but has clearer signal and even comes with headphone jacks for both consumer and pro headphones without an adapter.
The great thing about this headphone amplifier is that it offers more functionality compared to the other two, but it is also the most expensive. This also has balanced stereo outputs, meaning better signal and better audio quality. If you had the budget, this would be the best option since it is the most reliable.
A portable recorder will make a good investment if you foresee yourself to be on the road when recording your podcasts. This is a suitable device for personal interviews outside of your studio. And because of its portability, you will need to consider things such as battery and storage since most of the time, it won’t be connected to anything while you’re using it.
The Tascam DR-05 is a great budget portable recorder. This is great for beginners because it's easy to use and has all the basics. If you’re still at the beginning stages of your podcast, then this would make a good first portable recorder.
Many podcasters swear by this portable recorder because of its great audio quality in any environment. It can also record up to 4 channels and comes with 2 professional X/Y microphones making it very easy to capture sound. It may take some effort to learn how to use this device because of all its features, but it is one of the best portable recorders out there.
Investing in good equipment means that you also need to take extra measures to soundproof your area as well. You can’t solely rely on your recording equipment because any unnecessary external sounds could be included in the recording if you do not record in a quiet environment.
Choosing a room is the first step in setting up your studio. You’ll want to make sure that it is far from any noises such as traffic and any other noises from outside. Also, the smaller the room, the better, that way sound doesn’t have to travel too far and lessens the echo.
Soundproofing the room includes the following measures:
- blocking any openings in the walls and ceiling
- adding acoustic treatment with acoustic foam
- treating the floor, especially if there is another room under your main recording room
- placing furniture (if your room is big enough) and paintings to absorb any sound
These are just some tips to help make your room more conducive to recording. There are no specific brands to recommend but be sure to check out specialty items like acoustic foam for the ceiling and walls, and sealant if the floor needs extra treating.
And we’ve covered all the hardware needed to complete your studio. Let’s cover some of the software and other tools you will need.
Once you’ve recorded your podcast, you will need a digital audio workstation or DAW to edit. There are plenty of DAWs to choose from and come in a myriad of prices. Here are the top 5 recommended by most podcasters.
Audacity is a free DAW and is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It doesn’t have the best interface and will take some getting used to, but it has all the basic features needed to edit a podcast.
For Mac users, this is a free tool that you can use to edit your podcasts. It is also very easy to learn and has all the basic features needed to edit.
Reaper is a paid DAW but is very affordable. It has more features compared to Audacity and loads quickly. The interface is also more user-friendly and is great value for your money.
The thing with most editing software is that they are made specifically for music production; but Hindenberg is designed for podcasts, interviews and radio because the designs and features are tailored for spoken word. Once you’ve edited your podcast, you can upload your file directly to SoundCloud and Libsyn.
Adobe Audition is one of the most expensive, but also the most recommended software for editing your podcasts. It has plenty of great features such as batch processing, multitrack function, and a very clean user face. But due to the myriad of functions, it may not be suitable for beginners who are just trying things out.
Recording Tools for Long-Distance Interviews
Sometimes it can be difficult to get you and your guest together in one area to record a podcast. That shouldn’t be a problem since there are plenty tools out there that allow you to record your interviews virtually.
Zoom is a widely used conference calling tool which can also be used for you to record your long-distance interviews. The quality isn’t as great as other tools that are purely dedicated to remote recording, but it does the job. Compared to Skype, Zoom has better quality so if you have both tools, many people suggest going for Zoom over Skype.
With Zencastr, you don’t need to download any software since it works right within your browser. They have a free plan that’s sufficient for basic needs since it allows 8 hours of recording hours per month for up to 2 guests. It also saves both sides of the recording as separate files so that it’s easier for you to edit the final product.
Squadcast is on the pricier side and has all the features Zencastr has and more. Some features include a “green room” where you can chat with your guests and video recording so you and your guest can see each other.
The reason why you will be needing an audio host is to act as “storage” for all your files. There are many great audio hosts out there, and we will be listing some of the best ones.
Buzzsprout is one of the most recommended out there because of its well-designed dashboard that is easy to understand even for beginners. They also have a cool feature where you can embed a podcast player on your website.
You can start off with a free plan with limited storage, but if you plan on growing your podcast, you will definitely need to invest in a paid membership which will be well worth-it. One downside of the paid plans is that those too have a limit to bandwidth and storage.
Another highly recommended audio host is Podbean. Podbean has plenty affordable plans that are great for beginners. And if you are planning on upgrading, they have paid plans with unlimited hosting. It also has video features that automatically upload new episodes to Youtube after publishing.
If you’re planning on having a website for your podcast through WordPress, then Blubrry has a plugin called PowerPress which makes it easy for you to manage your podcast directly on your website. It is also very easy to learn since they provide a podcasting manual to guide you.
What makes Transistor standout is their analytics tools and even allows you to have multiple users per account. They have hosted some popular podcasts like Cards Against Humanity, Drift, and Honeybadger. Transistor also provides you with an embed code for you to upload your episode on your WordPress site.
Libsyn is also highly popular and has been around since the early days of audio hosting. Because of how long they’ve been in the industry, many podcasters have grown accustomed to this audio host. Although they don’t offer free plans, their cheapest one at $5 per month is a good start.
This tool isn’t directly related to podcasting, but for those who want to create a website for their podcasts (which will help get your podcast more exposure), then you will need to sign up fora web hosting platform.
We will talk about some of the most popular hosting platforms.
This is the most affordable hosting out there in fact, their cheapest plan starts at $0.99 per month. They also have a great interface so it doesn’t feel like a budget hosting and even have excellent customer service. If you are on a budget and just want to start with a cheap but reliable host, then Hostinger is the way to go.
Bluehost is one of the most recommended hosts out there for beginners because of its affordability and features. It also lets you easily install WordPress and covers all the basic needs, and if you eventually want to upgrade plans from let’s say shared hosting to dedicated hosting, they have that too. If you decide on Bluehost, then you will most likely stick with this platform because it has everything you need down the line.
If you are planning on creating your website on WordPress, which is the most popular option, then WP Engine would make a great choice. WP Engine makes managing your WordPress website easy because they do all the updates, offer WordPress-centric customer service, and because this host is specifically for WordPress users, your website will load very fast. All these great features come at a price though, with their cheapest plan starting at $30 a month.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED AND ALL ELSE WILL FOLLOW
And we’ve made it till the end of this complete list of the best podcast equipment for any budget.
It may seem like a very long list with loads of choices, but don’t stress yourself out too much. Think about what you need right now at this moment, but also think long term on whether podcasting is really something you want to pursue and see which items you need to invest in at the beginning.
There is absolutely no shame in investing in more affordable equipment, and this will not be a deal breaker. Make sure you don’t break the bank, and place more of your effort on creating valuable content over everything else.
I have no doubt you will make the right choice in the end. I hope that you will find this article useful as a guide for you to get started on your podcast journey in choosing the right podcast equipment.