So you’ve decided you want to start your own podcast.
Just like having a social media account, or a website, podcasting is a great way to connect with an audience. So whether you’re running a business, an expert in your field or feel like you have something interesting to say; there is a huge opportunity in creating a podcast. So today we’re making sure you have got the basics covered in order to get started.
In recent times Podcasts have surged in popularity as a medium for both informational and entertainment content. A recent Nielsen study found that over 50% of US homes have a favourite podcast and more than 20% of people consider themselves heavy listeners.
The Podcast as a media format has been around for over a decade but it was not seen as a valuable media format till the past few years. The meteoric rise in popularity of Podcasting can be seen as a result of the relative ease of making one. Some hosts try to educate, others to entertain, and there are now shows about almost anything you can think of, amongst them several podcasts have become global sensations, even spawning into hit Netflix shows like Dirty John.
People listen to podcasts in all kinds of settings, when they are going to sleep, running, working, driving, or taking the train to work. There are now over 29 million episodes, and 700,000 Podcasts covering topics from crime and business to comedy, gaming and health. So if you want to jump into the podcasting arena and have a chance to build an audience and get sponsors you need to make sure you do it right.
In our other post, How To Launch Your Podcast we delve into choosing the right podcasting distribution partner, naming your podcast and building an optimised web presence. Today, we’re all about the sound, as you’ll also need to have podcasting gear that sounds great if you want to reach a lot of people.
To start a successful podcast you don’t need the top of the range podcasting recording equipment or an expensive recording studio. You can start out with buying the cheapest gear, but if you want to stand out we’d advise getting the best gear you can afford. Putting some thought into the Podcasting equipment and the place you record will go a long way.
Where Should You Record Your Podcast?
When thinking about where you should record your podcast, it first comes down to what your podcast is about. For the optimal listening experience, you don’t want any background noise that can take the focus away from your voice unless of course, you’re adding it in for dramatical effect.
The top Podcasts are generally recorded in a soundproof environment, so unless your recording a Podcast about car chases, avoid recording in a room that might catch the sounds of a busy highway or street where blaring sirens might often drive past.
If you’re interviewing people out and about it might be hard to always guarantee a controlled environment free from external sounds but with the right microphone and a little extra gear, you can get a great result. While you might not be able to have a fully soundproofed room, you can pick up some simple and cheap soundproof panels which you can stick to the walls of a corner in a room at your office or home, such as this foam panel which is relatively cheap (Available on Amazon for less than $20).
If however you have a little more budget and want to be able to bring them around you can grab this folding one for a little extra, they can be used with either a stand or adjusted to a tabletop, and as a bonus, they also come with a pop filter (Available On Amazon For 43.99).
Wall Mount Soundproof Foam Panels ($19.99)
Folding Foam Panels For Desk Or Stand ($43.99)
What Microphone Should You Use?
The most important piece of Podcasting equipment you need for recording a podcast is a microphone, don’t go thinking you can record a great podcast using your smartphone or laptop microphone as these are not designed for outputting high-quality sound. There a few factors to consider when choosing a microphone though. Do you need a condenser mic or a dynamic mic? Do you need a USB or XLR Mixer inputs which offer a dedicated audio interface. Don’t know what the difference is? That’s okay. Keep Reading.
Dynamic Vs Condenser Microphones
While both dynamic and condenser microphones do operate quite similarly the one you need will depend on where you are recording your podcasts.
Dynamic Microphones have a significantly lower sensitivity and don’t pick up sounds on the lower end, essentially this can result in a flatter audio output. If you’re recording in anywhere that’s not a controlled environment this can actually be a good thing as it reduces the feedback and background sounds that could disrupt your listener’s experience.
Condensers, on the other hand, are typically more expensive and are built to pick up high-frequency sounds, their sensitivity makes it the perfect choice for podcasters who intend to speak at a further distance from the mic and in controlled, fully soundproof environments and studios.
USB vs XLR Mixer Audio Interfaces
When it comes to choosing the microphone, you have the option of choosing a USB powered microphone or an SLR Mixer microphone. The USB mic as you can probably guess plugs directly into your computer, this can work for one host and is perfect if you are just experimenting. For a more advanced setup or if you plan to have more than one person speaking you should go with an XLR Mixer microphone, it requires a mixer also known as a dedicate audio interface between your microphone and your computer. Mixers are not cheap though, so there are also some options that offer both if you’re not ready to jump into a pro set up just yet.
Best Mixers: Yamaha MG 10 | Focusrite 2i2 | RODECaster Pro Podcast
Samson Q2U – USB/XLR (Dynamic)
The Samson Q2U is a great beginner microphone and it is the cheapest microphone worth buying that can still deliver great quality. While it’s not going to deliver the same result as other more expensive microphones it’s dynamic microphone capsule with a cardioid pickup pattern captures sound from in front of the microphone and less from the side and rear, minimizing ambient sounds and other room noises. It works for both USB and XLR outputs which means as you start out you can use it without a mixer then, later on, change over to and XLR set up for more of an advanced setup. It comes along with Mic Clip, Desktop Stand, Windscreen and Cables.
Price: $89.77 on Amazon
Blue Yeti USB Microphone (Condenser)
The Blue Yeti manufacturers are known for their ability to produce high sound quality, whilst also being versatile and overall amazing podcast gear. Many Podcasters first start out with it, and it’s a big favourite for streamers.
It comes with an adjustable stand, Volume Control, Mic Gain Control and 3 different condenser capsules which allow you to customise it for various recording settings. It also has a built-in headphone jack for those who want to listen to the recording in real-time. It’s basically the perfect USB mic for 1 person.
The Rode Podcaster – XLR (Dynamic)
Rode’s offering is in a class of it’s own, while it is a little bit more on the pricey side it comes with an internal shock mount and an integrated pop-filter. The Rode exudes a warm and focused recording sound and has a direct audio output with level control. It’s similar in design to microphones radio producers use and works well to prevent room ambiance.