There are quite a few podcast equipment considerations to make before you get your podcast stood up: How many folks are going to be involved in this endeavor? What type of software is there to help you with audio editing? Do you have any comfort or experience with websites and web hosting? All of these questions and more will ultimately affect your bottom line when deciding what to invest in. When I decided to shoot for the premium setup recommended on “www.incomschool.com,” I believed my cost was going to be in that ball park. Unbeknownst to me, it cost me quite a bit more to get up and running, and that’s before I began adding more equipment.
As soon as I got my initial setup, I quickly began to realize that I’d need to double what I had because I figured I may need to interview someone live and in-person at some point. Then, I subsequently began to calculate, what if I had two guests, or a co-host and two guests? Simply passing a microphone between people could be done, but that process would detract from the recording experience, and likely the production quality. Ultimately, my need for equipment grew as my vision did, expanding to accommodate future scenarios just as much as present ones.
I initially chose to go with the “premium setup” that was suggested at www.incomschool.com because I wanted to make sure the quality of the podcast was comparable with the top tier podcasts already out there. It’s a very real consideration to make—if your quality isn’t to a certain standard—you’re literally losing listeners before they ever have a chance to get into what you’re trying to convey. I also have adopted the philosophy that I personally want to have the same amount of microphones, headphones, stands, etc. I don’t believe I need to have super fancy headphones (I will explain why shortly), but even though you are likely going to be monitoring levels and for sound anomalies (a real reason to have headphones), your guests may need a set too, e.g. in order to hear anybody who is not physically in the room. Sometimes though, folks just like to have the headphones.
So, to start, the one piece of equipment that I feel is absolutely indispensable if you’re going to do any voice over, podcasting, live recording, etc–is the Zoom H6 Recorder. This lightweight and portable wonder is more than worth it’s current MSRP of $349 (I purchased it at $399 before it’s price reduction) simply because of how flexible and reliable it is.
First of all, it’s battery powered (4 AA batteries), but it can also be powered via a USB port. While it comes with a 2GB flash media card, it supports up to 128GB, which is more than enough space for the typical user. The Zoom H6 also allows you to plug in up to 4 phantom-powered devices, like microphones, instruments and more–in addition to an additional port at the top for accessories like an X-Y microphone or ball mic (both of which come with the H6). I’m going to actually be purchasing the Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Capsule. In a nutshell, this accessory will allow me to attach two additional XLR microphones to my Zoom H6 recorder, for a total of 6 devices (check out this thorough YouTube! review for more info–again–you can power this device via a USB connection which they didn’t realize at the time of filming).
Secondly, you’re going to need to decide how you’re going to want to approach your recording: Are you always going to have a laptop? Are you going to have multiple devices? This may impact the type of microphone you get. I opted for the Rode Procaster, because the reviews and recommendations I read on it were pretty damn high across the board. As a note–just because you see someone selling a Rode Product, doesn’t mean they’re officially recognized as a Rode distributor. The importance of this little nugget is that the Rode Procaster also comes with a 10 year warranty when you register your microphone purchase from a recognized dealer (the product page I linked was the same as the one I got from Rode’s website). If you’ve heard my podcast(s), I’m sure you’ll agree that the podcast has quality audio. The Rode microphone I bought was such a sturdy and sound pice of equipment, I eventually purchased three more. At $229 a pop, I believe it’s safe to say I believe in the quality and value of this particular product. If you want to go high-end, you can get the Rode Broadcaster—which I’m eyeing for 2017.
You’ll need a decent stand that can support the weight of the Procaster, so—get the PSA1 Swivel Mount Boom Arm if you want a flexible mount (don’t forget the Shock Mount if you go this route), or the Rode DS1 Desktop Stand if you want a cheaper more stationary stand (which I used the wrong way a couple of times in the beginning, causing the mic and stand to tip over—because, again—that mic is heavy!). Lastly, a Wind Stopper is something you can get starting at $5—$6, but sometimes a simple foam Popper Stopper does the trick without all the adjustments. Doesn’t look as cool, and costs a bit more—but you can decide which works for you. The Rode Procaster’s come with a built in popper stopper—but they are extremely sensitive!!
Now, on www.incomschool.com, a couple of headphones were suggested—and I chose to go with a cheaper version of the AKG headphones that were mentioned. I did eventually double back and purchase the AKG 240 L headphones, which were slightly more high end than the first pair I bought. So, between those 2 purchases, the Beats headphones I already owned, and the Audio Technica ATH M30X I bought most recently—there’s not a lot of difference when it comes to podcasting. I will say that I like the Audio Technica’s the most because of their fit, comfort and collapsibility, but the AKG 240 L’s are pretty cool, too. If you’re recording for music, or you want to do video and make more of a statement with your headphones, you may want to make different considerations—but for podcasting, just make sure they’re decent.
Lastly, your wires and connections are what you’ll need to connect everything. I tried the 5’ Planet Waves XLR Cable, but honestly—I get a little bit of line feedback on my audio if a landline or cell phone is too close to it. I picked up 2 25’ XLR cables from Radio Shack for less than what I paid for the Planet Waves XLR cable, and I like Radio Shack XLR cables better. I’d also highly recommend something like a Belkin Multi-Headphone Splitter, simply because you never know how many people may need to plug in, and this particular piece of equipment is super inexpensive. I’d also recommend Stereo Breakout Cables. These bad boys will allow you to connect your Zoom H6 to a laptop, computer, phone or tablet, and are a great way to capture audio from those devices.
Now—you don’t have to go with Rode mics and equipment. I’ve heard that Heil is pretty good, too. But, when I read reviews and looked at people who do video accompaniment to their podcasts and what not, I noticed a lot of Rode products. Feel free to find what works for you if Rode is a bit too pricey, or you think you can do better elsewhere. Don’t let cost be your sole deterrent unless you absolutely have to, though. I have podcasts where I encourage people to save and make smart buys—so I will not try to persuade you to step outside of what’s comfortable for you. I am merely conveying what I’ve learned thus far. Also, sometimes—you have to spend a little money to sound and look like money. What’s more, I fully intend to write off as much of these purchases as I can. I hope this proves helpful to some—please feel free to experiment with portions of what I said to configure a set-up that works for you. Peace!0