Identify what gear you need to start podcasting…
The explosion in popularity of the Podcast is something of a phenomenon. From your next-door neighbour to Hollywood stars just about everybody has one. Whatever you’re into from current affairs to celebrity gossip, science fiction to sports – there are podcasts covering every conceivable topic. Some podcasts utilise jingles, sound FX, and theme tunes for audacious experiences. Conversely, some are exercises in minimalist recording: one-person, one-mic. This begs the question: what is the best podcast setup for you?
The beauty of the podcast lies in the direct connection between you and your audience. The production can be as elaborate or as simplistic as you wish, from multiple participants debating a topic at length or a single voice regaling an amusing or tear-jerking monologue. With that in mind, your setup can also be highly technical or stripped-back and fuss-free. We’re going to err on the fuss-free side and take a look at the gear that requires minimal effort.
What equipment will you need?
In the simplest terms, when creating a podcast, you need a means of capturing your voice, i.e. a microphone. Naturally, you need a recording device to save your audio to so you could opt for a hard disk recorder or computer/laptop. Your audio requires editing and this is where your digital audio workstation (DAW) comes into play. Once you’re happy with the podcast it’ll need uploading to your website or a podcast hosting platform (i.e. iTunes, Soundcloud, etc.). Then just sit back and wait for the adoring masses to tune in.
Marantz Professional USB Microphone POD Pack
The Marantz Professional USB Microphone POD Pack is great for those who want an all-in-one microphone solution. Boasting substantial credentials thank to its impressive specs, this pack also contains a suspension boom arm, which wouldn’t look out of place in a professional studio. All fittings are supplied to mount the boom arm to your desk, allowing you to move and position the mic with ease. Thanks to the mic’s USB connectivity you can record directly into your DAW of choice.
M-Audio Uber Professional USB microphone with headphone output
The M-Audio Uber Professional USB microphone with headphone output is an outstanding microphone from the tech giant. The flexibility of this mic is nothing short of awesome. Sitting proudly on your desktop thanks to its built-in stand, the Uber Pro is home to switchable polar patterns. You can expand or narrow the microphone’s field of capture to suit your requirements. Using one of four options: cardioid, omni, figure 8 and stereo, you can create an intimate one-to-one setting with the listener. Alternatively, you can open things up when having a discussion with one or several participants. Simply change the polar pattern and you’re good to go.
The headphone output on the enclosure is a stroke of genius, which allows you to monitor your recording direct from the mic. This saves you from having to integrate an audio interface into your setup. It also allows you to avoid using the headphone output on your laptop to minimise latency. This reduces the effect of delayed auditory feedback (DAF), which can result in unintentional slurred speech. You can attenuate the monitor level using the level control knob to minimise external distractions.
M-Audio include a Pro Tools First download with each Uber Pro, giving you immediate access to the industry-standard DAW – result!
Essentials HP-2 Headphones
Even experienced professionals with scripted podcasts are not immune to distractions during recording sessions. Outside influences, such as ticking watches or whirring fans, can play havoc when you’re trying to concentrate so this is where the headphone buffers come in handy. Not only does this feature help to focus your attention, it also exposes any audible flaws. The Essentials HP-2 Headphones are perfect for providing isolation within your recording environment, offering comfort with cushioned ear pads. The Essential HP-2 headphones also play nicely with other audio equipment, and boast a 6.3mm jack stereo connector with generous 2.5-metre cable.
Essentials PF1 Pop Filter
Peaks can occur when you’re pronouncing ‘B’ and ‘P’ sounds, due to the turbulence causing by the sudden expulsion of air. In the world of phonetics, they are known as “Plosives”. The Essentials PF1 Pop Filter is perfect for eliminating unwanted plosives for polished and professional-sounding audio, whilst the screw-in mount allows the PF1 to connect firmly to most stands. The goose neck design enables the pop filter to be positioned as per your requirements. Ideally, you’d maintain a few inches between you and the mic.
PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Audio and MIDI Interface
The Presonus Audiobox USB 96 Audio and MIDI Interface is ideal if you have two podcast hosts and require two microphone inputs. Equipped with professional grade 24-bit/96kHz audio recording capability and a pair of mic/instrument combo inputs, your podcasts will sound absolutely pristine. It is also USB-bus powered, which makes it easy to setup and use.
The PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 is compatible with both Mac and Windows based computers for ready connectivity. PreSonus supply a copy of their Studio One Artist DAW to get you up and running, and include the Studio Magic plug-in suite of instruments and effects. Perfect if you fancy creating your own theme tune or jingles.
Marantz Professional MPM-1000 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
After mentioning the PreSonus Audiobox and the potential for multi-mic setups, it would be remiss of me not to include the Marantz Professional MPM-1000 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. The high-quality of the mic belies its affordable price tag and it is perfect for a wide range of recording applications.
Marantz have thought of everything by generously including a windscreen, shock mount, tripod stand and an XLR cable.
Zoom H1n Portable Digital Handy Recorder
There may come a time when you decide that you want to grab some soundbites from the public, conduct interviews on-the-fly, or capture on-location ambient sounds to use in your podcast. The Zoom H1n Portable Digital Handy Recorder is handy for those venturing into the great outdoors and need something pocket-sized and easy to use. The H1n features a pair of built-in mics, a range of recording formats to choose from, the ability to save to MicroSD and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 data transfer speeds to PC, Mac or iOS. All you have to do is point and record!
Digital Audio Workstations
When it comes to choosing your digital audio workstation, there’s a vast range of options available to suit all budgets. It all depends on your workflow preference, operating system of choice (Mac/Windows/Linux) and what is affordable to you. Popular free options include Audacity and Garageband, which offer the basics to get you started.
Industry heavyweights such as Pro Tools, PreSonus, and Ableton, all offer affordable options to get stuck into. They provide greater processing power for more adventurous podcasters and producers. If you fancy expanding beyond a single-mic setup, having a little more in the tank when you need it is hugely advantageous. As noted above, with the M-Audio Uber Pro you receive Pro Tools First, and PreSonus include access to their Studio One DAW with the Audiobox USB 96 too. Both give you a taster if you fancy something beyond the free options.
Get In Touch
Hopefully, we’ve got you in the mood to take your first steps towards podcasting greatness. If you need any further inspiration then check out our other great studio equipment. And, as ever, if you need any advice you can speak to one of our in-store Specialists who can guide you in the right direction. You can also call our Customer Service Team on 01925 582420 with any questions you may have.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.