The Best Podcasting Equipment for Beginners & Pros [2021]

The Best Podcasting Equipment

Do you have an outstanding podcast idea in mind? Maybe you want to record you and a friend chatting about your hiking adventures. Or, perhaps you want to do a monologue-style show detailing your day-in-the-life as an interior designer. Whatever idea is brewing in your mind, you likely believe in its success.

If the creative side of starting a podcast isn’t holding you back, the technical side very well might be. Understanding what podcast equipment you need (and don’t need) can be confusing territory to navigate. What on Earth is a shock mount? Do I really need a podcast mixer?

After reading the following guide, you’ll no longer have to devote brainpower to figuring out the best podcast equipment. We’ve covered it all here. From podcast microphones and headphones to editing software and hosting platforms, we’ve left no stone unturned.

Read on to discover the best podcasting equipment to invest in so that you can air your show with the utmost confidence.

Podcast Equipment: The Ultimate Audio Gear List 2021

Are you ready to learn about the best podcast equipment? Discover all the gear you can use to build your own podcast from the ground up:

Podcast Microphones

When you think of a microphone, the one Hannah Montana famously uses may come to mind. While this type is standard for many musicians, it’s worth mentioning that microphones come in all shapes, sizes, and forms.

At the end of the day, a microphone is just a tool you need to have to amplify your voice, and it sends the audio to be recorded elsewhere.

When you use an external microphone (instead of the one integrated into your computer or phone), you’ll achieve much better sound levels and quality.

Microphones in a Podcast Setup

When discussing external microphones, you should be aware of the two types: condenser and dynamic mics. These two types determine how crisp-sounding and sensitive your audio will be. Condenser mics are more susceptible to background noise and high frequencies, making them appropriate for full-fledged recording studios. On the other hand, dynamic mics are less sensitive to high frequencies but don’t produce the crisp sound that advanced podcasters seek.

Furthermore, we can categorize microphones by how the equipment connects to your computer:

XLR

An XLR microphone features three prongs in its connection. You need to connect it to your audio interface and then connect your audio interface to your computer or recording equipment. You can never plug an XLR microphone directly into your computer.

XLR microphones are excellent investments if your show requires multiple microphones. Most audio interfaces will have at least two mic inputs, making it easy for all your show hosts to speak their minds and be heard clearly.

USB microphone

USB microphones plug straight into your computer via a USB port. USB mics don’t require an audio interface to operate correctly, so they are very enticing for beginners to use.

A USB mic is not a good option for a show with multiple people hosting. Several people attempting to speak into one USB mic will create disorganization and chaos. Even if you plug in two USB mics into one computer, the result will be poor sound quality. The computer isn’t an optimal interface for multiple-mic operation, and yours may not even allow multiple USB connections.

Mic Cable/USB

After you settle on the microphone you’d like to use, you’ll need to decide on the right cable. All microphone cables vary based on factors like:

  • Connectors
  • Conductor’s resistance
  • Conductor’s material quality

In higher-end cables, you’ll find that:

  • The connectors consist of conductive metals like gold and silver.
  • The conductors contain higher-quality materials like oxygen-free copper.
  • The conductors have low resistance.

As you’re shopping for the right mic or USB cable, you should also consider length. A longer cable will offer more mobility and ensure you won’t be tied down to your computer. However, a longer cable can also result in a poorer listening experience for your audience.

Mic Stands

You won’t want to be hunched over as you’re recording your show. The right mic stand will let you adjust your microphone properly so that you can remain in a comfortable position during your recording session.

The type of mic stand you purchase will depend on your preferences. For example, you can get a long microphone boom arm that moves on a horizontal plane. Or, you can buy a tabletop mic stand that swivels to wherever you need it to go.

Close up of Mic Shock mount and stand podcaster

Shock Mount

No matter which microphone you get, it’ll likely be sensitive to sound that doesn’t move through the air. For example, your microphone will pick up sounds like someone:

  • Tapping on their desk.
  • Typing on their laptop keyboard.
  • Moving the mic’s boom arm.

A shock mount makes it so that you don’t have to tiptoe around while you’re recording your show. This piece of equipment minimizes unwanted sounds by protecting the mic from contact.

Some microphones will come with a shock mount, so you may not even have to worry about purchasing one separately. If not, your microphone manufacturer likely offers a compatible shock mount available for an additional cost.

Pop Filter/Windscreen

Have you ever listened to a show with good content but been annoyed at the loud popping sounds the hosts keep accidentally producing?

These pops occur because of quick-moving air that blows past the microphone whenever a person speaks. The listener will most likely hear a pop when you breathe in the microphone’s direction or pronounce the letter “P.”

Now, you can’t get through your show without breathing or “-ronouncing” the letter “P.” So, how are you supposed to prevent these undesired popping sounds?

Common solutions include pop filters and windscreens. Some show hosts prefer using a pop filter, while others opt for the latter.

A pop filter is a plastic, metal, or nylon sheet that rests in front of your microphone but doesn’t touch it. It diffuses or deflects any air that makes its way toward your microphone.

A windscreen is a thick piece of foam that covers your microphone all the way around — think of it as a tight-fitting sock. Its purpose is to absorb any air that comes out of your mouth before the air reaches the actual microphone.

When comparing the effectiveness of a pop filter vs. windscreen, there’s no clear-cut winner. A pop filter is better for minimizing plosives (those hard consonant sounds). On the other hand, a windscreen is better at reducing environmental noise and doesn’t block your face (which is ideal if you participate in video podcasting).

Podcast Recorders

Sure, you have the microphone to speak into if you reviewed the earlier sections. However, this device is just something to speak into. Podcast recording equipment is where the audio your microphone picks up gets stored. Explore the different options below:

Portable Digital Recorder

A portable digital recorder is ideal if you do many street interviews or change your recording location constantly.

Digital recorders allow you to participate in on-the-go recording, and you’ll never miss important moments. Simply plug in your microphone, secure the recording device in your pocket, and capture all the show-worthy content you can.

Even if you purchase a couple of digital recorders, we recommend investing in additional storage. A 32GB SD card is a standard choice for many podcasters, but you should always double-check the maximum size your recorder will accept.

Man recording a podcast on his laptop

Computer

If you don’t want to purchase a dedicated digital recorder, you can designate your computer as your recorder.

Having your computer as your primary audio recording equipment is a viable option, but it will present some limitations. You’ll need to be by your computer at all times, meaning you can’t record spontaneous content out in public like you could with a portable digital recorder.

Phone

Some novice podcasters use their phones as their podcast recording equipment.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a portable recorder, using your phone can be a great temporary solution. If you’re like anyone else in the 21st century, you likely already have your phone on you 24/7 anyways. It’ll always be readily available to you if you need to capture a conversation or share your thoughts.

As your show grows, you’ll likely want to improve your recorder’s storage capabilities. You can’t rely on your phone indefinitely, as it won’t be able to store all the long-form content you produce. But, it’ll work in the short term, as it offers a lot of mobility and convenience.

Audio Interface and Mixers

An audio interface is the equipment that connects your microphones to your computer. An audio interface records, processes, and converts the sound into a digital version and transmits it to your computer.

Audio interfaces are much simpler and more affordable than their mixer counterparts, which you can read about below.

Podcast Mixers

A podcaster allows you to produce high-quality audio by making changes live. Even in the middle of a segment, you can use a podcast mixer to improve audio quality, eliminate background noise, and incorporate specific effects and filters.

The mixer’s sliders and knobs let you adjust the volume, equalize the sound, and perform other tasks essential to enhancing your show’s production.

Podcast Headphones

Every podcast starter kit should include a trusty pair of headphones. When you first start your show, you don’t need to buy anything fancy. The standard headphones you use for listening to music (like a pair of Apple AirPods) will do the trick.

Headphones let podcasters hear their own speech as the microphone picks it up. With this feedback, they can adjust their distance from the microphone and project their voice how they’d like others to hear it.

Headphones are essential to preventing feedback loops. In other words, the headphones let you keep track of your recording, but the sound won’t leak back out into the mic.

Plugging in a headphone jack also lets you block out external noise and distractions and focus on what you’re saying.

As your show grows, you can look into purchasing a higher-quality pair. We recommend brands like Bose and Audio Technica. Audio Technica, in particular, has a vast lineup of headphones for podcasters with different budgets and preferences.

Note: Everyone who is speaking on your show should have their own set of headphones.

Headphone Amplifier

If you’re recording your show solo, you won’t really have a use for a headphone amp. But, if you’re partnering with one or more hosts, you’ll want to get one as soon as possible.

A headphone amp is a low-powered amplifier that allows you to connect multiple headphones at once. Once each host plugs their headphone jack into the amplifier, they’ll be able to hear themselves clearly and speak with ease.

Sound Quality

It doesn’t matter if you have the most engaging or revolutionary speaking points in the world — no one will want to listen to your show if the sound quality is poor. Here are some factors to consider that can make or break your episodes’ sound quality:

Studio/Location/Podcasting Space

If you’re taking up podcasting as a fun hobby, you may not want to turn a whole room into your recording environment. Often, all you’ll need is a desk to place your equipment on top of.

Podcasting Studio location

However, if you want to make a career out of podcasting, you should consider creating a designated podcast studio. Ideally, you can turn a whole spare bedroom into your recording area. Taking this step is also ideal if you plan to bring multiple people onto your show, as you’ll create plenty of moving-around space for creative energy to flow through.

Acoustic Treatment – Foam

Choosing somewhere to record your episodes is often simple enough. However, you should be thoughtful in your decision. Try to set up your space strategically so that you can capture crisper audio from the get-go. This way, you’ll have to perform more minor editing during the post-production steps.

As you’re setting up your space, you should consider incorporating acoustic treatments. These treatments let you improve your room’s acoustic properties and make the environment sound more neutral.

Even if you’re on a budget, there’s no excuse not to implement acoustic treatments. Some of them already exist around the average home, like bookcases, heavy comforters, and rugs. Having these objects around will create a more predictable recording environment.

If you want to implement professional acoustic treatments, you can do so. Online stores like The Foam Factory sell pieces of acoustic foam for you to place around your recording room. These pieces come in various types, including spades, egg crates, pyramids, wedges, and grids. Using a combination of different shapes will let you build a more sonically pleasing recording space.

Podcast Recording Software

Your podcast wouldn’t have much substance if you weren’t able to record yourself. To get your voice on record, you’ll need to invest in some decent recording software. You have multiple options at your disposal when it comes to recording software, so be prepared to figure out which one is right for you:

Computer- & Web-Based Solo Recording

If you’re on your own, you can use an audio program for your computer. These programs are called digital audio workstations (DAW). Simply download and install whichever digital audio workstation catches your eye, press record, and get to talking!

One of our favorite DAWs is Audacity. It has been around for a while and is free to use, making it easy to see why it’s so desirable. Another DAW you can try is Adobe Audition. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee, but it includes more features and an excellent user interface.

As a solo podcaster, you can also opt for a web-based application instead of installing software on your computer. This method lets you record from anywhere with Internet access. This way, you don’t have to worry about having your personal computer with you.

Interview Recording

man and woman recording a podcast interview with video camera and mic

Do you have an interview you’d like to conduct with multiple people in different parts of the world? Luckily, you can use web-based platforms like Zoom.us, Riverside.fm, Alitu, and Skype to record calls and ensure all your participants can convey their ideas.

Editing Software

Once you finish recording your show, you’ll likely have at least a few unpolished audio files on your hands. Podcast editing software lets you:

  • Upload your own audio and royalty-free tracks
  • Delete unwanted snippets
  • Order all your files appropriately
  • Make the volume level consistent
  • Align your various audio files (to make it seem like they were recorded at the same time and place)

Some software is available as both recording and editing software. For example, you can sign up for a Creative Cloud subscription and get access to all of Adobe’s creative tools for recording and editing audio content. With these tools at your disposal (and knowledge of how to use them), you can ensure higher-quality audio for all your episodes.

Podcast Hosting

A common misconception podcasters often have is that they can upload their shows directly to apps like Spotify or Apple Podcasts. However, the process isn’t that simple.

Podcasts are distributed via RSS feeds, and you’ll need a podcast hosting provider to create your feed and publish your finished episodes to popular listening platforms.

As you’re looking for the right podcast host, you must consider factors like:

  • Storage offerings
  • Bandwidth capabilities
  • Content promotion integrations
  • Analytics/statistics displays
  • Website creation capabilities

There are many podcast hosting providers to choose from. Here’s a quick overview of some popular ones and their benefits and drawbacks:

  • Libsyn: Libsyn is one of the most well-established podcast hosting providers. You can start using it for under $10 per month, but you’ll have to go without ample storage space and advanced analytics tracking.
  • Transistor: Transistor imposes monthly download limits, so you must be aware of your storage needs before paying for this provider’s services. However, it does come with more advanced features, like the option for private podcast feeds.
  • Castos: Castos offers unlimited bandwidth and storage limits and a dedicated web page as your podcast’s home base. It also has à la carte options, like the option to create password-protected podcasts.

Video Podcast Equipment

Now, you don’t need video footage to create a successful podcast. But, some show hosts enjoy having both audio and visual components to increase engagement with their audience.

If you’d like to film yourself talking, you’ll need to have some podcast video gear on hand. Some podcasters can get away with using their smartphones. Take the iPhone 11 Pro, for instance — it provides 1080p HD video recording at 60 fps, which is great quality that an average viewer will appreciate.

Consider investing in two or more cameras if you’d like to incorporate multiple angles. For example, you might want the focus to be on a specific speaker or the whole group at certain points, depending on the structure of your show.

Investing in the Best Podcast Equipment for Audio Quality & Convenience

After reading through our podcast equipment guide, you should feel much more prepared to start recording and uploading your show. As you begin buying microphones, headphones, and other supplies, refer back to this guide for advice. You’ll be on your way to hosting the show of your dreams in no time!

FAQs

What equipment do you need for podcast?

Acquiring the right podcasting equipment may seem like a chore, but this short list summarizes everything you’ll need:

  • A microphone
  • A mic cable
  • A recorder
  • An audio interface
  • Headphones
  • Editing and recording software
  • A podcast hosting service

Once you assemble all your equipment, you don’t need to rent out a dedicated studio. You can record at home and turn an unused room (or even a small section of a heavily-used room) into a makeshift podcast studio.

What equipment do I need for a video podcast?

You’ll need all the same podcast equipment that a sound-only show requires. However, you’ll also need to invest in:

  • A video camera
  • Extra memory cards
  • A tripod
  • A video editing application
  • An excellent Internet connection (if you want to record a live podcast)

What are the best microphones for podcasting?

Some of the best podcast microphones to help you achieve better sound quality include:

  • Samson Q2U
  • Electro-Voice RE20
  • Heil PR-40
  • Rode Procaster
  • Rode NT-USB

How do you start a podcast for beginners?

Beginner podcasters should begin by investing in the right podcast equipment. If you don’t have a microphone, recorder, headphones, and editing/recording software, you’ll need to acquire these items before you can start creating content.

What should my first podcast include?

Your first podcast should include all the essential podcast equipment detailed in the first FAQ. You can hold off on non-essential podcast equipment like acoustic foam barriers and swiveling mic stands until you familiarize yourself with the basics.

What do I need for a 2 person podcast?

For a two-person podcast, you’ll need:

  • Two sets of headphones
  • Two microphones
  • A headphone amplifier

Other than these items, the rest of the equipment you’ll need is the same for a one-person show.

How much money does it take to start a podcast?

It all depends on the current equipment you have and the level of production you’d like to pursue.

Some podcasters can start for free by using their current smartphone and headphones, free editing and recording software, and hosting providers with free trials. Others can spend as little as $50 or $100 to commence their shows with the right equipment.

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