Anyone can create a podcast with some minimal equipment, but if you want to create a podcasting studio and make a serious effort in the venture, then you need to start with the right equipment.
Podcasts can be about anything you want. You can also record them anywhere you desire, but if you really want to take your podcast to the next level, then you need a well-equipped podcasting studio.
The equipment you need is fairly standard. You may already have some of it on hand. It is also possible to furnish your studio without breaking the bank as long as you know what to look for.
Considerations Prior to Shopping
Before you start buying items for your podcasting studio, you need to take a little time to plan what you need.
Start with deciding how much money you want to spend. Keep in mind that your podcast could take off and be a hit, or it could be a long time before your podcast starts bringing in any money.
With that in mind, it is almost always best to start off with the bare essentials. You don’t need the fanciest equipment right at the beginning. Start off with decent options that you can upgrade later.
One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you cannot sacrifice the quality of your sound. If your podcast does not have a clear sound, you will have a hard time getting and keeping listeners.
So, don’t be afraid to invest more in microphones and other audio equipment that will directly affect how your podcast sounds to the listener.
Setting up a Podcasting Studio
You also want to prepare your space as part of the plan prior to buying your equipment. The space you choose can help you to minimize the equipment you need while also boosting your sound quality.
Make sure the space is somewhere that you will feel comfortable spending a bit of time as you record. It also needs to be quiet. Ideally, it will have good acoustics that won’t provide a lot of noise as you talk.
The space also needs to have enough room for you, anyone else who will be there during recordings, and your equipment without it being too crowded.
Basic Equipment You Will Need
Now that you have those few considerations out of the way, you can begin looking for the actual podcasting studio equipment that you need to get your podcast up and running.
The first thing you want is a computer with internet access. Some people try to use smartphones when they first start, but it is not ideal.
You will find having a laptop is usually the best option as it allows you to travel if you need to while also providing the adequate abilities to record and edit that you need for a high-quality podcast production.
Recording and editing software
Recording and editing software can be something you download to your computer or that runs in the cloud.
The cloud is a virtual place where you access the software, and everything saves to virtual storage without you having to download or save on your own hard drive.
You’ll want to start with something simple. GarageBand is an excellent option, and you can buy the Apple Pro Training Series: GarageBand kindle book to help you learn how to use it and get the most from it.
Audacity, Pro Tools, and Adobe Audition are other good options if you want something you download to your computer. Cloud-based options include ZenCastr and Ringr.
Make sure whatever you choose is something you can learn to use quickly. You don’t need anything with a lot of advanced features or something that costs a lot of money.
While you may be able to use the microphone built into your computer or in your headphones, these do not offer the best quality for podcasting.
If you want a high-quality production, then you need to buy a separate microphone. There are plenty of affordable options available.
One of the top choices is the Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone. It comes with an adjustable stand, and you can buy other accessories to upgrade it in a bundle pack.
Another popular option is the Blue Yeti. This one comes at several price points. It also comes with a stand, and it comes in a range of colors.
You may want to get a boom arm for your microphone, but it depends on your setup. If you will need to move the mic a lot, then get an arm.
In addition, if you will have guests or a co-host, then you’ll need to buy multiple microphones, which can limit your options if you have a tight budget.
However, don’t be too cheap when it comes to your microphone. This is one of the most critical pieces of podcasting equipment you will buy because it directly affects audio quality.
Take time to shop around and really scrutinize the options so that you can get the best for your money.
Headphones are something that matters most to you and your overall comfort during the podcast.
Using them isn’t mandatory, but it will allow you to cancel out noise and hear the true sound quality of your recording. It is highly recommended that you buy a pair of decent headphones.
The last piece of essential equipment you will need is a mixer. You may be able to get by without one for a little bit, but if you really want high-quality, then you need it from the start.
A mixer will allow you to control the audio levels for premium sound. It will take some time to learn how to use a mixer, especially more advanced ones.
Start out with something simple that you can learn quickly. This is one of the pieces of equipment that can advance with you as your skills improve, so it is worth the investment.
One option is the Mackie Mix Series 8-Channel Compact Mixer. It’s one of the more affordable options and is relatively simple, so you should be able to learn to use it quickly.
Another product to consider is the Behringer XENYX 1202FX. This is a little more expensive and advanced. It will be a good choice if you have some experience using a mixer.
More Advanced Equipment to Consider
There are additional items that you will eventually want to add to your podcasting studio. These items all help with the overall quality.
A shock mount helps to reduce vibrations and keeps your microphone stable during recording.
Your microphone may come with a shock mount, so always check before you buy one.
A good choice that is also affordable is the Rode PSM 1 Shock Mount.
Pop filters or windscreens
A pop filter or a windscreen will help stop harsh sounds that happen when you pronounce certain letters, such as “p.”
It fits in front of your microphone and also can assist with cutting noise from air or wind.
A nice choice is the Nady SPF-1 Pop Filter. It clamps on your mic and has a flexible arm for perfect positioning.
An audio interface expands your audio capabilities. It also helps to improve quality. You can connect multiple inputs and outputs with it, including your mixer.
It is kind of an extension of your computer, allowing all your podcasting equipment to work together. An example is the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD.
If you will have a co-host or regularly have guests on your podcast, then you will need a headphone amplifier.
It allows you to plug in multiple headphones at one time. You also can control each of the headphones levels.
One option is the Fifine Headphone Amplifier with four channels.
If your space has acoustic issues, you may do well to add in acoustic panels. These are simply foam squares that you hang up on the walls and area around you.
They absorb sound and help control issues, such as echoes. The good news is that they are very affordable if you don’t need too many of them.
You can get them in multi-packs. One option is the 12-pack of foam mushroom acoustic panels from Fstop Labs.
Portable digital recorder
If you want to take your podcast on the road, then you will need a good quality digital recorder. Do not rely on your phone for this.
The recorder needs to be able to capture high-quality audio if you want the finished podcast to have superior sound quality.
It is especially challenging to redo audio recordings for things you got when on location or meeting subjects outside the studio. You need to make sure that you get it right the first time.
Consider the EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder. It’s a top-selling product that is easy to use without confusing controls. It also will hook directly to your computer for file transfers.
How to Set up Sound Equipment for Your Podcast
Now that you have everything you need, you are ready to set up your podcasting studio.
Start with an empty space and add in any kind of soundproofing items you have. If you bought acoustic panels, then go ahead and hang them up now. You can also add in rugs and curtains to help with soundproofing.
The next step is to determine where your computer and controls will go. This will depend on whether you will serve as host and producer or if you will have someone else handling the producing duties while you host.
If you will be doing everything, then make sure to set up your equipment all in the same area so that you have easy access as you record to adjust sound levels and make other adjustments.
If you will have someone else handling the producing, then set that person up away from your hosting area to help avoid any outside sound interference or issues.
He or she doesn’t have to be very far away, but try to give some space between you and the producer so you won’t pick up every sound he or she makes.
Once you get the equipment in place, take a seat and see how it feels. Make sure your microphone and any controls you will use are in a good position.
You want to be comfortable during recording, so make adjustments as needed to get to a place where you are feeling good and ready to go.
Once you start recording, you may need to further move things around and change up your space. Just be sure that before you start a podcast that you feel good so that you can focus on recording and not whether your equipment is well situated.
The Bottom Line
While you certainly can start up a podcast with nothing more than a laptop, it won’t help you to make a very good podcast. You want to invest a little into your endeavor if you are taking it seriously.
Those people making the top podcasts have some outstanding equipment.
If you want to compete, then you need to make an investment in securing the bare minimum equipment for your podcasting studio. You can keep things simple, but do focus on quality when making your choices.
Keep in mind that the bottom line in creating a podcast is always going to be your sound quality. It has to be top-notch. If any piece of your equipment is compromising your audio quality, then you need to replace it.
The recommendations we’ve made here are all good quality options. Take your time to shop around and see what you feel would best meet your needs and make the most sense in your podcasting studio.
Do you have any other suggestions for podcasting beginners? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your wisdom in the comments below.