What Equipment Do You Need to Start a Podcast? - A Guide
Joey McDowell is an experienced writer and editor originally from the Dallas area. A firm believer in a well-balanced lifestyle, Joey applies this forward-thinking approach as the editor-in-chief of The Idea Trader. He travels extensively to find compelling stories and insightful individuals.
Podcasting remains a popular medium among listeners of all ages. It essentially serves as a crowd-sourced version of talk radio, where anyone can say what they want and build an audience around their unique perspective.
So what equipment do you need to start a podcast?
Well, there’s some good news on that front: it’s easier now more than ever to start your own podcast.
In fact, it would technically be possible to create a podcast without spending any additional money on equipment, but the quality would not be very high.
Our list below details the equipment you’ll need to produce a high-quality podcast. It’s separated into essential and non-essential additional equipment that will only improve the production quality of your project.
We’ll start with the equipment you’ll absolutely need to start your own podcast. Without these items, you just won’t be able to create lengthy audio tracks.
This probably goes without saying, but you’ll need a microphone to create your podcast. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a dedicated external microphone.
Your phone has a built-in microphone, and the same goes for many contemporary laptops.
The downside of these microphones is that they tend to be of low quality. And as a result, your recordings will be of low quality as well.
Imagine listening to a podcast that sounds like it was recorded over a phone call. This probably wouldn’t make for a pleasurable listening experience.
And a podcast with low-quality recordings will have more difficulty finding success and building an audience.
Consider investing in a USB microphone such as the Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti. These models are relatively inexpensive and can produce recordings that sound great.
USB microphones also don’t require a USB audio interface to record onto your computer.
If money is no object, then you may consider buying an XLR mic. These tend to be much more expensive and are used in professional recording.
You’ll also need a way to edit your audio once you’ve finished recording. Sure, you could upload your audio directly to a hosting site, but the podcast will be much more entertaining if you edit out long pauses and mistakes.
Thankfully, it’s possible to get a basic audio editor for free. Some computers even include an audio editor right out of the box.
Audacity is a completely free audio editor that offers some robust tools and effects in addition to all the basics.
You even have the option to export your finished audio as a lossless file (.flac) or a smaller, compressed file that won’t take up as much space on your computer (.mp3, .wav).
And finally, you’ll need to find a website where you can post your podcast. When it comes to free audio hosting, there aren’t many options.
Sites like Soundcloud have strict upload limits, making it difficult to upload podcasts at all without paying a subscription fee.
YouTube does not have upload limits, but you’ll need to put your recordings into a video to be able to upload it at all.
And you don’t need to record any video, either, you can just upload a static image, most likely your podcast logo.
Now let’s take a look at some additional podcasting equipment that can help you improve your product.
USB Audio Interface
Using a USB audio interface will allow you to use top-tier microphones to record directly into your computer.
And if you’re planning on creating a podcast with multiple hosts, a USB interface will be absolutely necessary for recording from multiple mics at once.
Interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 allows for two simultaneous inputs. You can also adjust the gain of each input right from the box to make sure that both voices register at the same volume.
No matter how great your microphone is, if your recording space has bad acoustics, your audio will sound boomy and amateurish.
Soundproofing is a big topic, and there are many different ways to achieve a similar effect. It also depends largely on the space you’ll be using to record. Do you have neighbors? How thick are the walls? Are you located near a busy street?
There are both expensive and inexpensive means of soundproofing a space for audio recording.
Professional soundproofing can involve replacing drywall, carpentry, and high-tech materials. But these things also cost a lot and require a significant amount of time on your part.
When you’re just starting out, all you’ll need to do for mild soundproofing is to record underneath a heavy blanket or in a closet.
It may seem a bit strange, but this simple solution can do a lot to minimize room noise, letting your voice be the star of the show.
When recording audio, you should always use headphones that give you a direct feed of your input. This will help you catch small noises and mistakes while recording, rather than having to search them out during the editing process.
But standard headphones won’t accurately reproduce what your recording really sounds like. Most commercial headphones have a built-in EQ that alters sound slightly for a different listening experience.
Monitor headphones, on the other hand, reproduce audio accurately, allowing you to mix and make changes as needed.
This style of headphones isn’t completely necessary to producing a podcast, but it will allow you to up your game down the road.
A mixer is a great idea if you’re planning to have three or more hosts on your podcast. 4 and 6-channel mixers can still be relatively affordable, letting you route multiple mics into the mixer, which will then have a single output to a recorder or your computer.
There are even mixers specifically designed for podcasters, featuring trigger buttons that you can use to play sound clips or sound effects while you’re recording.
Before you know it, you’ll have your own little recording studio, suitable for podcasting or even music recording.
When shopping for any of this equipment, never be afraid to ask questions and find what works for you.
You might also want to check out this guide on how to overcome stage fright, since stage fright isn't just limited to live performances.