Here is the complete guide to the podcast equipment you need to get started and what you need to upgrade over time. We will cover all types of gear, from entry-level to professional.
There is a lot of gear you can get, but that doesn’t mean you need it all right from the start. And also, keep in mind, equipment should never be in the way of creating content. Always start with what you have and find smart solutions if you are on a lower budget.
Essential Production Kit
Below is a list of the core podcast equipment essentials.
Choosing the right mic for a podcast is essential; here are a few things to consider:
XLR vs. USB
A question that comes up a lot when people are setting up a podcast is: should I use an XLR or USB microphone. Both XLR and USB are types of connections. An analog mic with an XLR connection requires you to get a preamp and an interface to connect it to your computer for mixing, live streaming, and uploading. On the other hand, a USB microphone already comes with a preamp and interface built into it, making it significantly easier to set up. A USB mic can be plugged into a computer right away.
Condenser vs. Dynamic
A condenser microphone picks up sounds with great detail and accuracy. Keep in mind that if you use a condenser microphone, it will pick up every sound in the room, even quiet sounds. They are commonly used in professional studios. One con with condenser microphones is that they require an external power source.
A dynamic microphone picks up louder sounds, generally from one direction. Dynamic microphones are generally cheaper than condenser microphones. They require no external power and are known for their durability and reliability.
In microphones, polar patterns refer to the sensitivity to sounds arriving from different directions. Here are the three most common polar patterns:
Image attribution to: Galak76 / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
Cardioid: These microphones capture sounds coming directly from the front. Canceling out most ambient noise.
Bidirectional: As the name suggests, these microphones pick up audio from two sides. Both at the front and back of the mic.
Omnidirectional: An omnidirectional microphone captures sound evenly form a wide circular radius.
Best podcast microphone for beginners:
When starting, the best choice would be a USB microphone, mainly because it does not require expensive equipment to set it up to your computer. This is because they are dynamic microphones. The second reason is that many USB microphones come with many pick-up patterns that you can switch between, so you don’t have to worry about getting the exact right fit for an analog microphone. Some of the best USB microphones are from Blue Yeti. They are a reliable brand that offers you the most value.
A podcast with video can be even more engaging as it adds a visual element for your viewers.
You can start with a smartphone or a simple webcam. But if it is within your budget, a good camera is essential to video quality. Podcasts are generally in an indoor setting and can go on for a pretty long time. This means you want a camera that can record for long periods without memory limits and overheating sensors. You should look for a camcorder or high-end digital camera that supports longer videorecording.
Live streaming video for your podcast
If you are looking to live stream your podcast, you will need a capture card. A capture card turns your camcorder or other cameras into a webcam. It connects your camera directly to your computer and captures what you see on the camera’s viewfinder.
(To live stream any content you will need a live streaming software like OBS Studio. Check out how to our streaming setup guide here)
You will, of course, need an SD Card if you are recording video for your podcast. But because a podcast can be long (sometimes hours), you need a very spacious memory card. Try to get something with a minimum of 64gb of storage.
Headphones are another piece of equipment necessary for recording podcasts. Everyone on the podcast needs their own pair. By hearing the tone of your voice played back live, you can monitor and adjust audio quality, volume, and tone of your voice. It gives you more control over the way you speak and how the podcast flows. Headphones are also useful for checking that your microphone is working directly or when you are interviewing over skype.
Microphone Arm Mount
An arm mount can easily be attached to a desk and enables you to move the microphone on a horizontal plane. It is a must-have for a podcast setup.
Mixing software on your computer allows you to record from multiple audio sources and convert the sounds to a digital format. Even more importantly, you can edit and cut the audio clips together, add effects, and clean up the audio with noise filters in post-production.
Some of the most popular mixer software is Audacity(free), Garage Band(free), and Adobe Audition.
Intermediate Production Kit
Above were the essentials for a good streaming setup, but there is a lot of gear you can get to improve production quality and make better live streams.
A pop filter is a protection filter that eliminates unwanted noise from the recording picked up by the microphone. It reduces a certain popping sound caused by high-speed air, generally from talking. Pop filters are great for indoor setups like podcasts.
Studio microphones are susceptible to rumble and vibrations that can come from the stand, floor, or equipment. To avoid that noise in the recording and protect the microphone, you can use a simple shock mount.
Advanced Production Kit
In the advanced category, you will find podcast gear that is more expensive but also require you to be knowledgeable about how to use it.
An audio interface gives you the ability to connect professional microphones to your computer. An XLR microphone cannot connect directly to your computer. An audio interface converts analog sound into a digital format for your computer. You might also need it if you want to connect several microphones and headphones for a podcast setup. An audio interface is also excellent for streaming podcasts live.
A mixer is a piece of hardware that can give you more control of the recording live. It also allows you to add sound effects live. This can be useful if you are live streaming your podcast.