Hardware requirements for podcasting are relatively basic and they can be purchased at a low cost. As you get more interested and involved into the world of podcasting and content creation you can easily upgrade to higher quality gear.
You will need these basic items in addition to a computer to produce quality audio files.
- A Microphone
- Pop Filter
- Audio Interface
- Shock Mount
- Microphone Stand
This is the most important piece of equipment when recording a podcast. You can get one that does a good job for less than $60 (or you can spend over $300). For someone that is not too technologically savvy, look for one that has a USB connector. There are two types of microphones; dynamic mics and condenser mics.
Dynamic microphones are best suited for live events and musical venues. They are tough and durable but have less dynamic range and lack high frequency response. This can be helpful when trying to avoid stray sounds from affecting your recording.
In live music, the industry standard is the Shure SM58 and you will pretty much see this microphone on every stage, worldwide.
Condenser microphones are often seen in recording studios. They capture audio in high detail and with a very good dynamic range. Although they are perfectly suited for studio environments, they are very sensitive and will pick up everything; computer fans, sounds coming from outside etc… It is also important to note that they are much more fragile than dynamic microphones and require phantom power (+48 volts).
This equipment will improve the quality of your recorded voice. Certain letters like “P” and “B” can create what we call plosives. This is created due to bursts of air that come out of your mouth when pronouncing words with these letters. Your voice will “pop” and this will get picked up by your microphone and negatively affect your recording.
Costing about $15, they consist of a black nylon diffuser and you can mount this on the front of your microphone.
Alternatively you can also fabricate one by bending a coat hanger to create a frame and stretching a piece of a Nylon stocking over this frame.
Some microphones come including a foam sock and that can also be used as a substitute.
An Audio Interface or Mixer
You don’t really need an audio interface if you record alone or if you are using an USB microphone.
An interface becomes useful when you are using microphones with XLR inputs and record through your computer. These devices enable you to connect your microphone to your computer so you can record through a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). You will also be able to adjust your gain settings and provide phantom power to microphone inputs if using condenser type microphones. These interfaces also allow you to plug your headphones for playback purposes.
If there are two or more guests on your podcast, you will need an Audio Interface or a mixer to record the multiple inputs for your audio tracks. This will help you to set different levels for each channel or mute specific tracks while editing your recordings.
You may not need a shock mount depending on your setup. This is often seen as a must for recording but often times it will not serve any purpose. If you are getting a hum caused by vibrations in your broadcast, it could be coming from your computer or from the table the microphone is placed on. Mounting your mic to a shock mount will isolate it from the source of vibration and will allows you to continue recording vibration free.
A good one costs around $25 and is usually specific to your microphone.
You will need something to mount your microphone, pop filter and shock mount to keep your hands free during your recording sessions. Some people like to use a desk stand where others would rather use a swivel boom arm setup like pictured above. This ultimately comes down to preference.
Always maintain a good distance from your microphone and refrain from touching or moving the stand around while recording.
Headphones allow you to playback your audio and hear what your podcast will sound like to your listeners. They also drown out background noises and will prevent cross talk while recording or talking on audio-conference platforms.
Cross talk happens when one of the voices from the podcast leaks onto an other track in the recording. The same voice gets recorded on multiple tracks and when these separate tracks get combined in the final mix, this results in unwanted echo effects. It is also referred to as audio bleed.
A basic set costs between $30 – $100 and will be more than enough for a beginner podcaster.
For seasoned audiophiles the Sony MDR-7506s are considered the industry standard in mixing headphones.
While this may not be a complete list, this all the basic hardware components you’ll need when starting out! Do your research to make your own informed decision.
Keep in mind that the only important thing is that you’re happy with your equipment. Starting your own podcast does not have to cost a lot but it does require some organization to make your show look and sound professional.