When podcasting first became a ‘thing’, we at telbee were excited. A communication method led by voice? A dream come true!
Because of its low barrier to entry, easy setup and no need to look pretty, podcasts and podcasting have cemented their place in our lives - whether we like it or not.
This voice communication method brings entirely new ways of using your imagination, learning a new skill and, of course, finding out things you might not have known about your favourite topics.
There is one challenge, though, and that's how to get started. That’s why today, we’re bringing you our list of the best hardware to start your own podcast or improve the quality of what you have already.
[Disclaimer... this is not a guide for those seasoned veterans with the best of the best equipment, so nothing will be out of the price range and technical application of a normal human being.]
Microphones are as serious in the podcasting world as they are in the music industry. The quality is sometimes apparent, and at other times very subjective, pleasing to the ears of one person but not as much to another.
If you are starting out or just upgrading what you have, the biggest question will be around connectivity (and the way you record) as well as quality, and believe us when we say that sometimes price is the last thing you should be looking at (in a good way). Here are some of our favourite microphones for podcasting on a budget:
#1 Get started with your phone
In the photography trade, the old adage states that “the best camera is the one you have with you”. The same goes for podcasting.
A zero-cost item if you carry one already (and c’mon, who doesn't?!), recording on a mobile might not be the best quality but it's something you can use to hone your skills and practice working off a script or freestyle. Much like vlogging, this is the perfect starter medium to get feedback from friends, family and others interested in your topics - and it will set you up to podcast the right way from the start.
We recommend checking out Google Recorder on Android and Voice Memos on iOS for recording your first podcasts.
#2 USB Microphone - Blue Yeti X
The newest incarnation of this industry-changing microphone functions every bit as well as - if not better than - its predecessor, and USB connectivity means you do not need an amp or any other input hardware to create a podcast which sounds like the best in the industry.
The Yeti features Polar Patterns, which allow you to get the best quality of voice depending on what you are recording. Choose Cardioid to capture your own voice and nothing else, whilst Bidirectional mode will capture both you and a guest with studio grade sound.
The only downside? You have to control certain things on your PC or Mac whilst recording. However, that should not put you off using this. I have one and I love it!
The Blue Yeti (the OG version) | The Audio-Technica AT2020 USB | The Rode NT-USB
#3 XLR Microphone - Audio-Technica AT2020 (or AT2035)
Affordable (in the price range of the above Yeti X) and super high quality, the Audio-Technica AT2020 comes recommended by audio professionals worldwide and is used by a vast amount of podcasters in its various guises. It’s a fantastic microphone for podcasters as its design really suits a single speaker/singer (so keep that in mind if you have guests).
Its features are a bit basic when compared to a standalone USB microphone, but that's to be expected when you have amps and other hardware doing the heavy lifting. You should also consider its bigger brother, the AT2035, as it comes with a shockmount (no more bump noises) and some filters, which make the price worthwhile.
The Rode Procaster
Mixers have seen a drop in popularity in recent years, with USB microphones becoming more and more popular (yes, i'm going to be lambasted for saying that). Having another cost and piece of hardware in the mix does add to the difficulty of setting up for any would-be podcaster.
There is, however, no denying that mixers do add versatility to any podcasting setup, and allow you to branch out and upgrade easily without breaking the bank (again).
#1 Mixer - Mackie 402VLZ4
Compact and super robust, this little mixer has great features and an even better price for any new or podcaster looking to upgrade (or just add mics to their current setup). Its 4 channels make this mixer versatile for all but the most demanding audiophiles.
#2 Mixer - Yamaha MG10
Another mixer in the ‘affordable but quality’ sector. Yamaha is known for quality and great sound, so why would this mixer be any different? Featuring 10 channels, it's the perfect podcasting mixer for those who might have guests on their show or want multiple inputs.
#3 Honourable mention: Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio (USB)
If you want to take the guesswork out of choosing your setup for podcasting (and it’ll just be yourself recording and talking), then the Focusrite Scarlett is a kit which is tried and tested.
Featuring a great microphone, a mixer/preamp, an XLR cable and a decent set of closed back headphones, this set will work well for anyone wanting to get into podcasting and should work well even when you hit the big time. At a similar cost to the Yeti X and the AT2020 (for the entire kit), this would be a great choice for any beginner.
Don’t forget the accessories!
Whilst this article is by no means the gospel when it comes to podcasting equipment, it should give you an overview of what you need to get started.
However, keep in mind that some accessories will be needed to make you comfortable. Mic stands, shock mounts and shields will all help improve the quality of your podcast.
Podcasting is a great way of getting your story out there - and it's one of the most accessible mediums out there for reaching audiences that are interested in your story.
It’s also a very easy-to-consume medium, which makes it more attractive to those wanting to learn, extending your listener base even more. Watch this space for another blog on our favorite podcasting distribution platforms!
To find out how our voice recording and messaging tools for podcasters can transform the way you interact with your listeners (and hear their questions and stories), get in touch with the team at telbee today. We’d love to hear from you!