In this new marketing and media world, podcasting is the new(ish) kid on the block. And although podcasting has been a thing for a long time, more and more people are listening to them, and more businesses are taking advantage of this new marketing and educational channel.
If you’ve been thinking about joining the podcast revolution, read on to find the quick and dirty on how to get started.
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Although social media platforms continue to push video (live and produced), and YouTube is the second largest search engine, many more people are discovering the benefits of producing and listening to podcasts.
There are over 2 million podcasts in existence right now with a few thousand being added each day. And while that may sound overwhelming, remember, only about 64% have uploaded a new episode in the last 90 days.
What that means is while there is competition, there is also a massive opportunity. This is especially true if you are a business owner with products or services to sell.
But what you came here to find out is what gear and services you really need to get started. Let’s get into the recommendations.
A general list of supplies
In general, you’ll need the following items to have a professional sounding podcast:
- Microphone (USB or XLR)
- Podcast hosting service
- Windscreen/pop filter
- Microphone stand or boom arm
- Acoustic treatments
- Editing software
- Audio interface/mixer
While it looks like a simple list of supplies, in this article we will only focus on a few of the items on this list. Let’s start with recording your podcast.
There are two types of connections you’ll see for microphones: USB and XLR. USB microphones will plug directly into your computer. XLR microphones will require an interface or mixer to record locally or to record to your computer. The upside is the quality of the audio is generally better than the USB connection, but if you’ve got a good connection, most people won’t notice.
Prices of microphones range quite a bit, but here are my best suggestions for three budget levels: entry-level, intermediate, and advanced (of course you can buy whatever microphone suits your budget).
Entry-Level – Samson Q2U
This microphone generally sells for around $69 and has very good quality. It comes with USB and XLR connections so you can upgrade your sound without buying a new microphone. It is very similar to the microphone I currently have (Audio Technica ATR2100) and sounds great right out of the box. Also, in the box, you’ll get a mic clip, a desktop stand, windscreen, XLR cable, USB cable, and a carrying pouch. Pretty good for just around $70.
Intermediate – Shure MV7
Shure is a brand that makes incredible microphones. This includes the MV7. According to Shure, it was inspired by its more expensive cousin, the SM7B (covered next). Coming in at around $250, this microphone can also record via USB or XLR. You can even connect to Shure’s own app to further control your audio to make the most out of this microphone.
While the microphone only comes with two USB cables, you can upgrade your package on the Shure website to include a boom arm and headphones. You can even customize the color!
Advanced – Shure SM7B
This is the “king of microphones” for many podcasters and YouTubers. Coming in at around $400, this microphone is excellent for podcasting as it will pick up more of the dialogue and less of the background noise. It is an XLR microphone so you’ll need a mixer or an XLR to USB adapter to make this work.
While you could get away with recording into your phone, I don’t recommend that as it won’t be the best audio quality. And, other than recording into a portable interface like the Zoom Podtrak P4, you’re likely going to record into a program on your computer. Here are your best options:
I listed both programs here because they are both free and still pretty robust to use. Audacity is a downloadable program and works on both Mac and PC. However, if you have a Mac, you should already have GarageBand (if not, you can download it for free from the App Store).
GarageBand is a little more robust than Audacity, but either program will still give you great results.
This is the program I use when I’m only recording audio. It requires a monthly subscription but you get advanced editing tools. You can also buy audio presets from other companies so level up your audio game when using Adobe Audition.
Editing programs most podcasters use tend to either only cost a small amount per month, or they are serious audio engineers with more advanced programs. If that’s not you and you have room in your budget and on your team, consider outsourcing your podcast editing. The cost will vary significantly, but you’ll be free to create and market your podcast.
I want to preface this section by saying that none of this is required if you’re going to use a USB connection for your microphone and remain a solo show. However, if you plan on recording remotely (with or without your computer) or want the higher quality of an XLR connection, you’ll want to look into these devices to level up your sound.
If you are going to be stationary and only need to plug in a couple of microphones, this is a great choice. It connects to your computer via USB and also gives you the ability to monitor sound right from the interface.
If you know you’ll be recording on the go or simply need to connect 4 guests, this portable interface is the preferred choice. The Zoom records each audio on separate tracks and can connect via USB to your computer or you can record to an SD card. It can be powered for a few hours with just 2 AA batteries.
Coming in at around $600 at the time of this writing, you’ll find the Rodecaster Pro to do all you need and more. It can handle up to four microphones and has programmable pads and built-in sound effects to take your show up a notch. You can also control audio levels, record to your computer or straight to an SD card.
There are a lot of great hosts out there but I prefer Buzzsprout for my hosting needs. Their site is simple, easy to use, and makes submitting your podcast a breeze. The site also includes great analytics and a decent price.
If, however, you need a private podcast, here are Buzzsprout’s top recommendations for that.
In the end, there are a lot of options for you to choose from and have a professional-sounding podcast at the end of the day. There is no magic set of gear that will make that happen or make your podcast more successful than another.
My advice is to buy the best gear you can afford, create great content, and make sure it sounds great.