After several million downloads, I started searching around for tips on podcasting equipment to upgrade from my ATR-2100 and GarageBand combination. I wanted podcasting equipment that would last a long time, make the boring tasks easier, and would improve the quality of my recordings. I also wanted to keep my beginner equipment as a backup.
Some of the most important tips on podcasting equipment are to invest in file backup and organization tools, to purchase what you will use often, and to try out different digital audio workstation software to find one that suits your needs.
My Best Tips on Podcasting Equipment
I started with an inexpensive microphone and an old laptop, but I have made some bad choices when it comes to podcasting gear in the beginning. These are the best tips on podcasting equipment I have learned and collected from the internet as a growing podcaster.
- Choose a dynamic microphone over a condenser microphone unless you are working in a professional studio with soundproofing.
- Dynamic microphones pick up sounds that are close to it, while condenser microphones are extremely sensitive and you will be able to hear the ice cream truck on the next block. I still use the Shure SM58 Dynamic microphone to record. That is what the professionals use for speeches and is the most popular microphone for live performances. I still get excited when I see the same microphone on television.
- USB microphones are an excellent choice for those who are testing the waters in podcasting, but unreliable long-term –not because of the mic itself, but with the connection or computer.
- To be honest, I still cannot hear the difference between a microphone plugged in with a USB connection versus one with an XLR cable (the standard microphone thick cables), but my USB-connected microphone warped my sound once and I made the switch. I used it all the way through hundreds of thousands of downloads.
- You can do a lot with a budget audio interface.
- I recently ordered the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen to plug into my computer, but I used my Zoom H6 recorder for a really long time and it worked great. Of course, I have looked at the Rode audio interfaces, but I do not need them just yet.
- Invest in data back up hardware or cloud services as soon as you start treating your podcast as a business.
- There is nothing worse than looking around for a file that you have to fix and not having it on your computer. I consider it as insurance for my data. I back up my files on an external hard drive and on cloud services. I use a Sandisk External SSD with 500GB of space, and Google Workspace drive space. I also use FreeFileSync software to mirror my podcast files over to my hard drive.
- Comfortable headphones are a must-have if you plan on working long hours on editing yourself.
- I have a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M30x and those things press against my skull that its straight up painful after about half an hour. I started using the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (80 Ohms) and I have to say, they made all the difference.
- Grab a microphone stand that you can use while standing up, or on a stool. You will breathe better and your speaking voice will improve.
- I used to sit looking down at my script and notes on my computer until I started noticing the sounds of me moving around in my chair. In trying to fix that by standing up, I discovered how much better I sounded by standing up. Give it a try!
- A good shock mount is a worthwhile investment.
- I use the Knox Gear Shock Mount for my specific microphone and it made my recordings much quieter without all the bumps I had to edit out. For mobile recording with my Shure SM58, I use the little rubber donut shock mount by Shure called the A55M.
Mixers vs No Mixers
For me, at this stage, I am more likely to mess up my sound if I mix it right from the input. I would rather have the option to record my audio as-is out of the microphone and then process it using several tools from my digital audio workstation (DAW).
I use compression, automatic volume leveling, background noise reduction, de-essers, and de-clickers. I hardly think about mastering audio, but that’s because I just cannot tell the difference in sound just yet, but I know I will look back someday and wonder why I did not work on it before. For me, it is just part of the game.
I have tried looking up YouTube videos about sound mixing and editing but I get lost whenever the trainer starts talking about how it sounds too boomy, or tinny, or too much mids and highs. I have no idea what they mean.
So what I did instead was to look up how a sound editor worked on a narration track similar to what I do and tweaked my own tools to match what he did. It surprisingly made a huge difference and it sounds like a professional setup that I hear on NPR (well, to me). Since, I just use the same template and apply the same settings to all my audio.
What to Buy If You’ve Made Your First $1,000 Podcasting
First, go for security. You want to secure your winnings and not mess with your honeypot just yet. Invest in backing up your data, securing your website, and getting budget back up devices in case your electronics fail and you need to meet a sponsor’s deadline.
If you are making recurring revenue, it might be time to start improving your content and quality. The quality of your recordings can be better improved with better software, unless you are recording from a digital recorder or a mobile device. If you are recording with one of those, I would recommend that you invest in a microphone.
Some items that I consider essential as a growing podcaster are:
- The Zoom H6 Recorder as a backup to your audio
- A good solid microphone stand or arm for your desk
- The Shure SM58 microphone, before making the jump to a Shure SM7B
- The Scarlett 2i2 by Focusrite to serve as a device to plug in your headphones and microphone
- A Mogami XLR cable to avoid interference while recording
- The Beyerdynamic 770 Pro (80 ohms) headphones. If you have a big head like me, you will thank me later