What equipment do you need to start a podcast?

So you decided to start a Podcast; you have a name, a topic, maybe some episode outlines and you're ready to record your first episode, but you need some suggestions on what kind of equipment you need to get started.

In this guide, we're going to cover the things you need to take your Podcast from script to a recorded reality. In order to turn your idea into something people can listen to, you'll need a few things:

  1. Equipment to record you and/or your co-hosts. Generally, some kind of microphone and a recording device are the bare minimum of what you need, but what if you have multiple co-hosts or want to record a guest? We'll cover popular equipment selections for nearly every budget category.
  2. Editing software: Now that you have your Podcast recorded, how are you going to edit it? There are tons of options from free to paid professional software.
  3. A means to host and distribute your Podcast: We'll talk about how to upload your Podcast to make it available for the world to listen to

What equipment do you need to record a podcast?

Like we mentioned above, the bare minimum to start your Podcast is a microphone and some kind of recording device. Microphones however, come in a variety of types with a variety of interfaces. Let's talk about USB microphones first, and then the more traditional XLR microphones.

USB Microphones

A USB microphone is a microphone that can plug directly into your computer to start recording with any kind of recording software. USB microphones are definitely the easiest to start using because it's the only hardware you need (unless you want headphones). A decent sounding USB microphone will probably start somewhere around the $80 mark.

The Audio-Technica AT2005USB is a dynamic microphone that costs $79.00 at the time of writing this guide and is a great starting point. It includes both a USB and XLR interface so you can connect it directly to your computer, or into a higher-quality audio interface down the road as you become a more experienced Podcaster and start to upgrade your equipment. This microphone does not come with a windscreen/pop filter, so I would suggest getting one that attaches to whatever stand you mount this mic to.

If you want to go a bit higher in quality (this is for all you "buy once, cry once"), the Shure MV7 is going to cost you $250, but is going to offer a noticeable increase in recording sound quality. Like the Audio-Technica, the Shure MV7 is a dynamic mic, offering both USB and XLR connections, a headphone jack for monitoring, an integrated yoke, and built-in foam windscreen. The MV7 embodies the classic SM7B microphone, but at a more accessible price with some fancier digital features such as a touch panel to control gain and monitoring volume.

XLR Microphones

The XRL cable interface is the standard for connecting audio equipment components. If you have an audio mixer, it's going to have XLR inputs. USB sound interface? XLR inputs. Multitrack recorder? XLR inputs. This cable standard will allow you the flexibility of upgrading individual components over time. That said, it's going to require a slightly higher initial investment than a USB microphone, but will give you more flexibility over time. First we'll talk about some XLR microphones and then some popular audio interfaces and recorders.

The Rode Podmic is a best seller for a reason; for $100 you're getting a dynamic microphone that is built like a tank and can go head-to-head with much more expensive microphones in terms of sound quality, but at a fraction of the price. Rode built this mic specifically for Podcasters, delivering excellent speech quality without picking up tons of background noise. While it does say it includes an internal pop-filter, we definitely recommend picking up the foam windscreen to make it even better.

The Shure SM7B is the Ferrari of dynamic recording microphones and is sure to please the audiophiles out there. If you want that silky smooth late night radio host voice, this is the mic to get. The SM7B has seen a rise in popularity over the last number of years and is prominent in podcasts, live streamers, and youtube personalities. Be aware though; the SM7B is definitely a professional piece of gear and is going to require the correct equipment to provide it with enough gain to work properly.

Recording your podcast

Now that you have a microphone to capture your stream of consciousness, let's talk about how to capture it. When recording, there are a few different routes you can take:

  1. Record directly to your computer
  2. Record to a dedicated recording device and export to your computer for editing later

Typically, software that can record directly on your computer can also handle your editing, so let's cover the hardware side of things first. This is for those of you that decided to go with an XLR microphone over the USB mic:

Dedicated recording devices

The biggest advantage of a multitrack recording device is that it's super simple to use. Plug in all of your microphones and simply hit the record button. Multitrack recorders typically record to a removable SD card of sorts so you can then take the raw recording and edit it on your computer.

  • Zoom P4 - $200: includes 4 mic inputs and 4 headphone monitor outputs.

Hybrid recording devices/mixers/interfaces

If you're looking for more functionality than the Zoom P4 and want the option to also record directly to your computer, there are a few options. Both the Rodecaster Pro and the Zoom LiveTrak L8 include the ability to record to an internal memory card like the P4, but can also connect to your computer and DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice. The advantage with both of these devices is that they are capable of sending each input channel to your computer to be recorded separately, giving you the ultimate flexibility when it comes to producing your final Podcast audio mix. With increased features also comes increased price, and both of these trend into the "prosumer" to professional category.

USB audio interfaces

So $400 is too rich for you and you don't need to record 8 tracks simultaneously. This is where audio to USB interfaces come in. Each of these devices can take at least 1 microphone input and outputs typically one channel over USB - pretty much like the audio card in your computer. Each of these devices will typically give you a headphone monitor output as well so you can hear what you're speaking into the microphone.

Recording & editing your podcast

What you choose to use for recording/editing software is going to greatly depend on your budget but also if you have a Mac or a PC.

Mac & PC options

  • Audacity - Free: Audacity is a free and open source multi-track audio editor and recorder. Definitely the most bare bones as far as editing and recording software goes, but incredibly capable.
  • Adobe Audition - $20/mo: Adobe Audition is a workhorse used by professionals and amateurs alike. Anything you could ever want to do to your Podcast audio, Audition can handle it.

Mac only

  • GarageBand - Free: If you have a Mac, GarageBand is not only free but very feature rich. GarageBand is going to have more features than Audacity, but not as many as Audition or Logic Pro. For Podcast editing, GarageBand is likely the best bang for the buck for those of you on a Mac and will take you very far and you might never have to upgrade.
  • Logic Pro - $200: Logic Pro is incredibly powerful, and for a Podcast, maybe too powerful unless you're running a large recording operation with multiple hosts, guests, etc. Like Audition, Logic Pro will take anything you can throw at it. It also comes with a massive library of sound effects, samples, loops, and midi instruments.

Distribution

Now that you have your Podcast recorded and edited, it's time to distribute it to the masses. This is where we here at CastCloud.fm come in. When you host your Podcast with us, we'll maintain your episode library, host all of your audio and show notes, and distribute your Podcast to any place you'd like, especially the large Podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc. Since Podcasts function off of open RSS feeds, your listeners can take your Podcast anywhere with them.

Ready to monetize your Podcast? We can help there too. We give you the capability of building a premium subscription for your Podcast. Directly offer subscriptions and perks to your listeners for a monthly price. Rather than trying to piece together multiple web platforms, CastCloud.fm is your one-stop-shop for all of your Podcast hosting and monetization needs.