written by Chris Cordani, Radio Broadcaster and Podcaster.
In the first post in our series, we asked if podcasting was right for you and your business, brand and PR strategy. After deciding to look further into it, those considering the idea of hosting a podcast will ask two questions:
- What equipment do I need?
- How much will it cost?
Those are extremely important questions and answerable in a variety of ways to fit the needs and expectations of an aspiring podcaster.
As any entrepreneur and creator knows, making something happen requires a foundation and the tools to achieve one’s goal. In the case of your podcast, this requires proper equipment. While this may invoke thoughts of having to build a huge studio, that kind of endeavor is generally not necessary. Having said that, the quality of the broadcast will coincide with the investment.
The first thing you will need is a computer. It is safe to deduce the vast majority of the readers of this post have one already. You may choose to use the one you already have or pick up a separate one solely for the podcast. It is advisable to have plenty of memory space available or an external hard drive to store each program. Good quality external drives generally range between $49 and upward; you will not, however, need to pay extra for 5 terabytes of storage as 1TB will suffice for our purposes. We recommend the MyPassport units from WB or drives by Seagate.
The microphone is the most important component of your podcast setup. There are two directions in which to go: 1) a simple USB podcast mic and 2) a traditional broadcast setup involving a good-quality broadcast microphone and a USB audio-interface. Many podcasters tend to go with the
former as it is the relatively inexpensive route and there are some high-end Yeti USB microphones which can offer very good quality for one’s voice. If you are planning on a mostly solo voice-only podcast, perhaps this is something to consider. The better USB microphones tend to price between $149-199.
Still, one must consider the large amount of podcasts out there and one way to separate yours from everyone else’s is the sound quality. Keep in mind, this podcast represents your image and brand. That is why it is advisable for a serious podcaster to look into using a broadcast studio-quality microphone. Before shopping for a one, consider your budget. There are some affordable ones offering decent quality in the $100-150 range, but for a more professional sound, you will need to look into a range higher. Investing in a pro-quality mic does not mean you need to go overboard and pay $700 and up; there are excellent ones available ranging from $250-$449 that would make for a stellar presentation. I have been a professional broadcaster and podcaster for over 21 years and will strongly recommend the Shure SM7B. While Shure offers top-notch microphones, also look into models from Electrovoice and Rode.
Dynamic cardioid microphones are an excellent choice for a podcaster as that type picks up only the sounds from a nearby apple-shaped pattern around it, focusing on your voice and not on potential background noise and, depending on quality, can deepen your voice to a degree. With the mic, you will also need an audio interface to convert one’s analog sound into digital to plug into on of your computer’s USB ports. I use the Steinberg UR242, which has a good quality-pre amp and enables me to have three in-studio guests if I need them. Depending on your needs, there are plenty of good-quality interfaces available in several price ranges. I recommend staying relatively inexpensive here as long as you get what you need and are not required to go into heavy technical aspects of higher-grade interfaces. For a one-person podcast with one or no regular in-studio guests, a model with two mic inputs will do as you will not need four or more.
You will also need a mic stand. Generally, a basic small stand will work for virtually any podcast setup. If you prefer, you can also look into attaching mic arms (depending on how many people would be on the podcast at the same time in your studio) to the desk/table in your studio.
USB mics will come with their own cables. You will need to purchase an XLR cable for each of the traditional broadcast microphones you plan to use.
Stores and manufacturers also make full podcast bundles available with all of the components. This can save time but be aware of the quality of everything you purchase as you would in a bundled package of any set of products.
After you have invested in and set up your equipment, you will need audio editing/recording software to record your podcasts. If you do not plan to do more than basic editing (or outsource post-production), you need only download the free Audacity program, an option many podcasters choose. If you prefer to edit your show, then look into programs like Adobe Audition, the choice of many radio professionals. You can sign up for an affordable subscription to AA through Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Also, as mentioned earlier in the paragraph, you may also take the option to outsource your post-production to a production company or freelancer.
As for those of you who will be airing interviews with remote guests, Skype and Zoom are effective tools to call and commence with the conversations. Most computer operating systems will allow you to record the discussions directly onto audacity or other editing software, but some may force you to use another program. If that is the case, Total Recorder is an excellent example of a good, downloadable program to handle recording such exchanges for your show and comes at a very budget-friendly price.
These are the tools you will need to put together your podcast studio, whether it be in the corner of your home’s living room, your office or a full room or office space dedicated to your podcast. The coming posts in this series will focus on how to plan, perform, distribute, syndicate and promote your podcasts.