What Podcast Equipment Should I Buy?
what does it take to start a podcast?
When Get Schooled first started, we recorded our episodes in a recording studio, thanks to our former rockstar producer, Connor Hormell (he’s the magic behind the Get Schooled intro music).
However, after a couple episodes, I realized I had to take on the production process myself. Our third episode, Under Fire, was the first episode recorded, edited, and produced by me.
Getting started was an arduous, frustrating process. There were way too many recommendations and resources and too many places to buy stuff from. I grew tired of reading the differences between a condenser and dynamic mic, and I just wanted someone to give me a list of things to buy. So if you’re anything like me, hopefully, this will help. Here’s everything that we use in the production of Get Schooled.
All the equipment below, unless listed otherwise, has been purchased from Amazon. Our team belongs to the Amazon Associates program. Using these links on our site will help us earn some money from your purchases!
This post will be updated as new equipment gets used in production.
TL;DR: With a budget of $400, you can put together a professional-sounding podcast!
Onsite Recording Equipment | Minimum Expected Cost: $35.79*
To interview guests face-to-face, we use the following:
Cell phone or handheld portable recorder*
I purchased a pair of lavalier mics (or lapel mics) to conduct in-person interviews. These are the clip-on mics you see on TV shows or at university lectures - you can simply mic yourself and your guest up and be ready to go! The mics we’ve been using are the ATR-3350IS (with adapter) and cost $29.00.
You can plug your mic(s) and adapter(s) into your cell phone or handheld portable recorder, but if you want to use more than one mic, you can support this by using a stereo splitter. These come pretty cheap - we got this UGREEN Headset Splitter Adapter for $6.79.
*I bought a handheld portable recorder for easy, on-the-go recording. I haven’t used it yet, although these recorders are a staple in audio journalism. Stay tuned to see what we do with the Tascam DR-05, which rings in at $99.99 (this figure is not included in the “minimum expected cost”).
So far, I’ve been setting up the mics using my cell phone voice recorder. I’ve noticed that the volume on my interview recordings tends to be much lower than I’d like it to be. I haven’t figured out if it’s because of the mic or because I’m using my phone. For example, in Episode 6: “Can Technology Save Education?”, you can notice the difference in volume between the interview and the commentary.
Many podcasters use the Blue Yeti condenser mics to record interviews. We just purchased one at $100.00 (This figure is not included in the “minimum expected cost”). We haven’t used it yet, but we’ll keep you updated!
“Home Studio” Recording Equipment | Minimum Expected Cost: $353.92
To provide commentary at our workspace and/or conduct remote interviews, we use:
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Zoom Video Conferencing
Here’s the setup: I have an AT2020 Studio XLR Mic ($99.00) attached to my desk with a NEEWER adjustable clamp-on mic stand ($12.99). It’s perfect because the mic stand is compact and can easily go off and on my desk whenever I need it. In front of the mic, I have a $11.99 pop filter to protect air noises and weird sounds from affecting my audio. The one I use is this Venoro Pop Filter - I had to jerry-rig it to get it to work and it’s almost too small to do the job, so I’d recommend searching for something else.
Everything else is pretty straightforward, other than the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and the audio interface. I got my headphones as a gift, but you can get any closed back headphones that range from $50 - $150. I’ve included a suggestion below. You should also make sure to buy a few headphone adapters (under $10) if you’re going to be using an audio interface.*
*I used $50 and $10 for the expected minimum cost calculation above.
What is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)?
A DAW is basically a program that lets you play with several tracks at once. When you’re podcasting, for example, you might be recording your guest, yourself, background noise, music, and more! All of these sounds go on separate tracks and you want to be able to control each one however you want.
There are different “levels” of software you can use, depending on what stage of the game you’re at. Since this is my first major foray into audio editing, I use Audacity, which is free and open source. Of course, this might mean it’s not the most “studio-quality” of the DAWs, but it’s up to you which software you want to use. To check out the difference, Get Schooled episodes 0-2 are recorded professionally with studio-grade equipment. Everything else has been recorded with the setup I’ve been describing and edited on Audacity.
What is an audio interface and why do I need it?
Remember when I described my mic setup a few paragraphs ago? I left out the part where the whole thing connects to my laptop.
When recording audio, you want to capture high-quality sound that goes beyond what your laptop can do. For this, you need an audio interface, which is hardware that essentially upgrades your sound and allows you to connect multiple inputs and outputs while recording. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, for instance, allows you to plug in two microphones and headphones while you record your podcast. The one I have cost $159.99 and is the most expensive piece of hardware on this list, but is an essential piece of equipment for audio production.
Your audio interface is the connection between your XLR microphones and your computer (and of course, you need mic cables to plug everything in - the ones linked are $9.95). Make sure you turn on your phantom power, hit record on your DAW, and test out your sound through your headphones before interviewing your guests!
We use Zoom’s free conferencing for 1:1 virtual interviews. Make sure you record them with consent!