Podcasts are a series of digital audio broadcasts about specific topics that listeners can download or stream online. Businesses and experts use podcasting to create unique content for their target listeners. While you can get a basic setup for less than $1,000, buying the best recording, enhancing, and broadcasting tools can cost thousands of dollars.
Here are 23 must-have software and hardware podcast tools for all budget sizes.
Basic Podcast Tools
The basic equipment that a beginning podcaster needs are a computer and a microphone. To create and share podcast episodes, there are also supporting tools that may be helpful to add to a basic setup like headphones and editing software. We found a variety of tools to add to an ideal starter kit that beginner podcasters or those planning a solo podcast program will find useful.
You need a computer to record and upload your audio files. If you’re planning to work on podcasts for a few years, consider investing in a setup that’s designed specifically for your podcasting needs. There are numerous options for tower personal computers―also known as desktops―or laptops, but you should make it a point to look for a fast single-core processor for quicker processing of signal and effect chains in audio files.
Here are considerations to keep in mind when using desktop computers:
- All-in-one computers are similar to laptops in terms of components, which means their performance is comparable.
- Tower personal computers (PCs) are better options because they are more cost-effective and have better specs compared to all-in-one computers.
- Desktops with a fast processor and more than 8GB of RAM will allow you to process recordings and edit faster.
- Tower PCs are priced without a monitor, so consider the additional cost of purchasing a monitor in your budgeting decision
Desktop computers can be costly but are a good investment for serious podcasters. Check out Acer Aspire for Tower PC options. For all-in-one desktops, start your search with Dell Inspiron or a New Apple iMac for Mac users.
If you’re leaning more towards purchasing a laptop for your podcast, consider the following:
- Laptops are portable, so it’s the better choice for podcasters who want to be more mobile.
- Choosing between a Mac and Windows operating system depends on your preferred recording software. Some software will only work on a specific operating system.
- You should opt for a unit with at least 16GB of RAM, so you can complete recording and editing tasks quicker.
- Gaming laptops are good to use because you can use their high performing graphics for video and image editing.
Don’t be afraid to invest in a higher-end laptop for better performance and longer life span. You can start your search with HP Spectre. If you’re a Mac user, check out MacBook Pros starting at $1,299. Another great option for podcast professionals is PC Audiolab’s Pro Audio laptops, which they start at $1,699.
Using your computer’s built-in microphone is very cost-effective but not the best option if you want listeners to take your podcast seriously. Because you are investing your content marketing strategy in audio, you need to make sure that you have the best quality audio files. Even for beginners, it’s important to invest in a decent microphone before recording the first episode. There are a variety of microphones available at different price ranges.
Consider purchasing microphones based on your requirements:
- USB microphones: They plug directly into computer USB ports and are the best option for beginners and solo podcasters. You can buy them along with headphone monitoring jacks, so you can listen while you record. For options to consider, check out Samson Go Mic for $29.97.
- XLR microphones: These microphones are connected to your computer’s USB port via an XLR cable and audio interface. They’re often used by podcasters recording interviews with people at different locations or using multiple speakers in the same location.
XLR mics are further classified based on the type of environment in which they are being used. You will need to choose between a condenser or dynamic microphone, which differs in its sensitivity to picking up sound.
Here is a quick overview of condenser and dynamic mics:
- Condenser mics: Large-diaphragm condensers are perfect for solo format podcasts. They have excellent audio quality and sensitivity and are best for recording in a quiet environment like recording studios. Check out Audio-Technica AT2020 for $99.
- Dynamic mics: These mics work great for recording more than one voice in a room. They are perfect for live performances and recording environments with a lot of background noise. Check out Shure SM58S at $100 and Rode Procaster at $210.
You’ll find many more brands in a variety of price ranges, so you must know exactly what you need so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the options. Remember to take into account the price of the accessories you need to make the cost of these microphones fit properly into your budget.
Headphones are important when recording your podcast episode. It helps you make sure that your sound is being transmitted properly during recording. It also helps in monitoring the audio for static, loudness, and unwanted noise early on to avoid costly retakes. You’ll also need headphones if you plan on conducting interviews with remote guests.
Some points to consider when choosing your headphones are:
- Closed-back headphones are great for recording because they prevent the mic from picking up sound coming from your headset and causing an echo.
- Open-back headphones are more accurate and used mostly for sound mixing.
- You should have extra headphones available for every guest in your studio, so everyone can monitor their audio while they talk
- The physical quality of the headphones is important; make sure they’re comfortable to wear for long periods.
Some headphones are sold with microphones as a bundle, but you should always research their features so that you know what you’re getting. Some of the more popular headphones for podcasting are Sony MDR7506, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, and Sennheiser Momentum.
4. Microphone Stand and Boom Arm
A microphone stand and boom arm will help you position your mic and pop filter―minimizes popping sounds from pronouncing certain letters―properly to get the best sound quality. A decent set will allow you to move the microphone to a comfortable position easily. There are options for floor tripod boom arms and built-in mic stands, but boom arms and tabletop desk stands are popular in podcasts.
Consider the following features:
- Tabletop desk stands: Portable and less expensive alternatives to boom arms, and they allow you to install a shock mount. Try Heil CB-1 PTT with a push-to-talk and mute switch or VIMVIP, which is a three-in-one mic stand if you record via smartphone.
- Boom arms: Boom arms help in freeing up desk space and allow you to store the mic within reach. Try the K&M 23860, which already includes an XLR cable.
Make sure that your stand or boom arm are both sturdy and flexible, so they’re easy to adjust to the best height and angle when recording. Most mic brands also carry their own line of stands and boom arms for compatibility, so watch out for deals and discounts.
5. Shock Mount
Shock mounts protect your recording from vibrations that translate into recorded noise caused by movement. This includes anything from typing sounds and boom arm and chair movements to small nudges that you generally won’t notice but would be a distraction in your recordings. You’ll find them usually bundled with compatible microphones of the same brand. Alternatively, look for universal shock mounts that will fit with most mic brands like Rycote 44901 at $110 and Symphaudio at $7.99.
If you need to purchase more than one set of equipment, like microphones and accessories, it’s a good idea to look for alternative sources that can give you a more competitive price. Alibaba.com is the largest business-to-business (B2B) marketplace where you can find manufacturers that offer a wide variety of products. You can purchase a set of professional recording equipment that can be customized with your brand color and logo for as little as $23. Visit Alibaba.com to create a free account and check out its low prices.
6. Audio Recording & Editing Software
You need software or a digital audio workstation (DAW) to record the audio from your microphone and save it as an audio file. That same software will also have to edit your recording to eliminate background noise, cut out unwanted sounds, and add background music, among other functions.
Here are some suggestions for audio recording and editing software:
- Audacity: A highly recommended, free-to-use audio editing software that will work great even for beginner podcasters because its system is easy to learn and use.
- GarageBand: A free podcast recording software for macOS and iOS users.
- Adobe Audition: A subscription-based audio editing software that allows you to record more than one audio source at the same time and includes audio restoration features
- Logic Pro: A professional music production software for Mac users with automation features that can streamline your editing process.
- Hindenburg: Specifically designed for broadcast journalists and will work great for narrative style podcasts.
- Zencastr: An audio editing software for podcasters who plan on having remote guests on their show. It comes with an easy-to-use invite system that records each guest on a separate audio track.
Professional audio editing software can help make your recording stand out in terms of quality. However, you need to purchase the license along with the program use, which can be quite expensive and should be part of your budget considerations. Some licenses also limit the number of platforms it can be used on, so you need to factor in the additional cost if you plan on using multiple devices to record and edit your podcast.
Alternatively, there are free-to-use options that work well for beginner podcasters. You can also look for subscription-based software that also offers free basic plans. However, the features they offer in the free plan can be highly limited and might not suit your requirements.
7. Audio Interface
You might have decided on the microphones you want to use and the software for recording and editing your audio, but you also need the means to connect them. If you have one USB mic, you can plug it into your computer easily. However, if you add another, you will need to consider additional tools. If you’re using XLR microphones, you will require additional equipment.
Choosing your audio interface depends on your podcast format:
- USB audio interface: Popular for its simplicity in connecting XLR mics directly into your computer. It’s like an external sound card that can give you some control over sound quality. For example, you can check out the Steinberg UR44,
- Audio mixers: These give you the most control over individual audio sources (XLR mics) so that you get the best sound quality on your recordings, there are USB output types you can connect directly to your computer. For example, try the Behringer Xenyx Q802USB
- Virtual audio mixers: You may need these if you’re using more than one USB microphone at the same time. For example, look at the Voicemeeter.
The key factor in determining which type of equipment to use and how much it costs is the number of inputs you need. The more audio sources―microphone users―you have, the more input points you need.
8. Audio Hosting
Audio hosting services are dedicated spaces for podcast files. This is where you can store your recordings while you’re working on them and when you’re ready to publish. Your listeners will be able to subscribe and download or stream your episodes through your audio host, so you need to find one that is both reliable and suits your budget.
Here are some of the most popular audio hosting sites for podcasts:
- Buzzsprout: Available for free where you can upload up to two hours of new content each month but will only hold your episodes for 90 days; With a paid plan, your episodes are hosted for as long as you’re subscribed, and more content can be uploaded monthly.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3): Available free but limits storage space; paid service charges depend on the rate of used storage and bandwidth per month.
- Libsyn: Plan starts at $5 a month and offers distribution on all of the most popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Podbean: Offers unlimited bandwidth and storage for its paid plan and 5 hours or 100GB monthly storage for its free plan.
- Blubrry: Podcast hosting starting at $12 a month for 100MB of space with unlimited bandwidth.
It’s not advisable to save your audio files on your website as it will pose issues with your bandwidth. Audio files can be pretty big, with the average around 30MB, and can cause your website to slow down every time someone streams or downloads an episode. Most audio hosts either have a website set up for you on their site to deliver your audio files or place them on your existing website.
9. Podcast Directory
You need a podcast directory to help distribute your recordings, and you can register to as many channels as you like. There are many directories available and subscribing to popular ones will give you better chances for gaining listeners. They also offer various features to help you analyze how much exposure each of your episodes receives regularly.
Some of the most popular directories for podcasts include:
- iTunes: Still considered the largest podcast directory; You’ll need an active Apple ID to submit your podcast recordings to the iTunes store.
- Spotify: It’s becoming more popular for podcasts. Use your Spotify account to submit your recordings. Instructions for uploading depends on your podcast host of choice.
- SoundCloud: SoundCloud is unique in that listeners can discover, like, share, and comment on the specific moments within your recording.
- Google Play Music: Google has its own audio streaming directory, which means your podcast channel will have a chance to show up in search results.
- Stitcher: It streams more than 65,000 podcasts. All you need to do is sign up a content provider on its partner page and wait for confirmation.
Aside from these platforms, you might also want to consider creating a podcast channel on YouTube. This works great for podcasts that also film their episodes in video, especially when they invite guest experts for interviews.
Your website will serve as your primary marketing tool. This is where your audience can have direct access to your podcasts and articles. Plus, it can help you generate more revenue through banner ads and affiliate links. Which website host you choose will depend on your budget and how much traffic you expect it to receive, but there are many economical options available.
Share your podcast episodes on your website and reach as much of your target audience as possible. Dreamhost is a very low-cost web hosting service that offers just the right features to run your affiliate blog efficiently. It provides users with unlimited bandwidth, a domain name, and a one-click web apps installer to help you start your blog in no time for as little as $4.95 a month. Visit Dreamhost today and take advantage of its discounts.
Best Podcast Tools for Mobile Episodes
Sometimes, the opportunity for a great podcast episode can come when you least expect it. When this happens, you can always rely on several mobile-friendly tools to record your show right then and there. Things like mobile phones and recorders are all you need tucked in your pocket or bag, and you’re all set.
11. Portable Digital Recorder
While almost every phone is now capable of audio recording, you need to consider the sound quality of your podcast. Consider investing in a portable audio recorder that you can use on the go. Aside from its built-in microphone, handheld audio recorders usually have various inputs and outputs for instruments and headphones.
Some popular choices for hand-held digital recorders are:
- Zoom H4N Pro: This is a four-track audio recorder with built-in stereo mics and also works as a 4-In/2-out USB Audio Interface.
- Tascam DR-40x: A four-track audio recorder that can also be used as USB Interface
- Sony Voice Recorder ICD-PX: It comes with a built-in mic, USB, and microSD card slot that holds up to 32GB of expanded memory
A dedicated handheld recorder will give you a lot more flexibility and provide features to give you a professional quality recording. It can even function as a USB interface. It’s a sound investment for podcasters who see themselves traveling for their episodes. You should also consider getting an extra battery pack.
12. Mobile Phone Accessories
Your smartphone will be handy for many tasks in your podcasting career with the right accessories. You don’t want to be low on battery, out of storage space, or waste a perfectly good interview because of low sound quality. Keeping the most important mobile accessories on-hand will ensure you’re always ready to record an episode or interview in an instant.
Some mobile phone accessories you should consider:
- Memory card: Get a dedicated memory card for all your podcast recordings. You need to always have enough memory space, especially for unplanned interviews.
- Powerbank: An extra battery source can come in handy for people actively using their smartphones.
- External mic: An alternative to your phone’s built-in mic for better sound quality for your recordings. Consider lapel mics―small mics that can be attached to an item of clothing―like Shure MV88 for iOS and Samson Go Mic Mobile for both iOS and Android users.
If you find digital audio recorder prices a little too steep, recording on your mobile phone is also an option. One good tip to remember is to turn on your smartphone’s airplane mode when using it for recording to help minimize background noise.
13. Mobile Apps for Podcasting
There are a number of mobile apps that can help you work on your podcast episodes from anywhere. This is very useful if you are using podcast hosting and streaming services that are also available on mobile. It makes sense to have these apps available on your phone for seamless work on your podcast episodes.
Some useful mobile apps for podcasting are:
- Call recording app: You need a call recording app to record interviews on your smartphone. However, remember to always ask permission before recording. Check out InCall Recorder and Automatic Call Recorder as they are free to use but also offer paid plans.
- Audio editing app: If you need to edit your audio recordings, several mobile apps can cut and tidy an audio file that you have on your phone. Lexis Audio Editor for Android and TwistedWave Audio Editor for iOS are paid options but offer a suite of useful editing features.
- Recording and uploading app: Your phone might have a built-in microphone and recording application, but some apps support both recording and uploading functions. AudioBoom and Spreaker Studio are good examples.
Note-taking apps are built into your smartphone and often include recording functions so, combined with the apps mentioned above, you’re all set for an ad-hoc interview or episode. Some podcasters manage to run their show through mobile with these apps. This is ideal for those who are working on a limited budget.
Podcast Tools for Professional Quality Episodes
Even beginner podcasters need to think about investing in equipment and software to improve the quality of their recordings. This is especially so for those who are planning a program format that includes conducting interviews and inviting guests on to the show. They are intended to provide an overall professional quality for each episode.
14. Pop Filter
Pop filters minimize and eliminate popping sounds created when pronouncing certain letters like P, T, and K. These sounds create distortion and clipping in your recordings that can distract your audience. Prices of pop filters vary depending on their compatibility with other microphone accessories other features that make audio recordings sound better.
Some pop filter brands to consider are:
- Nady MPF-6: This brand can be mounted easily on a boom arm or a microphone stand.
- Auphonix: A six-inch pop filter that’s compatible with Blue Yeti mics and has a double screen filter for maximum air stopping power without blocking your voice.
- WindTech PopGard 2000: A good option to match with large diameter mics and features a curved frame, so it blocks the air from all angles.
Pop filters are important when you have a mic that’s in direct line with your mouth. Their filtering capability reduces the extra amount of time required to remove the noise during editing.
15. Headphone Amplifier
Headphone amplifiers are designed to turn up the signal level on your headphones so that you hear audio that is louder and clearer. Additionally, this will allow you to have more than a couple of pairs of headphones available for your podcasts. Most mixers only have at most two dedicated headphone ports, and this won’t be enough if you plan on inviting multiple guests on your show.
Here are some headphone amplifier brands to consider:
- Pyle-Pro PHA40: A four-channel portable headphone amp for less than $20.
- Behringer Microamp: An ultracompact, four-channel amp for $24.
- On-Stage HA4000: Four-channel headphone amp for $30.
These amplifiers also give you individual volume control over each headphone, so it’s easier to customize for each user. You also have to get a compatible balanced tip-ring-sleeve (TRS) cable with which to connect it.
16. Remote Interview & Calling Software
If you plan on conducting remote interviews for your podcast using basic tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, you might want to consider alternative software that records your calls. If you would prefer using Skype, some applications help improve the quality of your Skype calls.
Here are some recommended call recording tools:
- Ecamm Call Recorder: Allows you to record Skype calls from a Mac computer and edit each voice separately using GarageBand or other audio editing software; The price is $39.95 as a one-time purchase.
- Pamela: An application used for professional call recording using Skype. Its mid-range paid plan, starting at 33€ (approximately $37), offers unlimited audio and video recording and is also available for a 30-day free trial.
- UberConference: A free software available for PC/Mac/iOS/Android and includes features that allow participants to join the call via desktop or phone; the moderator can record the calls.
- Callnote: Records calls using Skype, Google Hangouts, Viber, FaceTime, Facebook, GoToMeeting, and WebEx. It’s compatible with PC and Mac OS and offers free and paid plans.
Alternatively, you can use a mixer to record your Skype calls, and you won’t need to use additional software. You will even be able to manage individual volumes for each source. There are also other software like Ringr, Zoom, and Zencastr if you prefer to use a different calling software other than Skype.
17. Video Recorder
Podcast videos are becoming popular, especially now with YouTube opening its doors to podcasters. If you’re planning to also record videos for your podcast, any camera with 1080p resolution will work great. These are similar to what vloggers use. You can also use any smartphone with a high-resolution camera.
Some popular video recording cameras to consider:
- Logitech C920S HD webcam: Provides a high-quality video streaming camera that’s great for recording and video calling from your studio. The price is $69.99.
- Panasonic Full HD Video Camera: Handheld camera that’s compact and lightweight for podcasters who want more mobility; It costs $197.99.
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: For those who want to invest in a high-quality phone that can be used for running a mobile podcast; this latest Samsung phone version has a triple-lens camera with a ton of features that rivals a professional video camera. It’s priced at $778.
Like all your other podcast equipment, your best choice for a video camera will depend on your podcast’s program format. Technology is always improving for video cameras, so you can find more options with great quality at a much lower cost if you shop around.
18. Project Management Tool
Podcast hosts make use of show notes, guests, and sometimes even entire storylines for their episodes. This is possible with the use of project management tools. It allows podcast producers to keep their podcast episodes as well as their calendar organized. It’s also especially useful when keeping track and reaching out to planned guests ahead of time.
.Some of the popular project management tools:
- Trello: Free to use project management service that makes use of Kanban-style project boards and simple card interface.
- Asana: Similar to Trello but requires a paid plan to access more management features.
- Wrike: Project management tool with task-dependent project timelines and multiple project views, including Kanban boards and Gantt charts.
- Acuity Scheduling: A great option for managing guest invitations.
Aside from these project management tools, some podcasters also make use of services like Slack and Jing for improving communication. This is most effective for podcast programs that involve a larger group of people to create and run the show.
Best Podcast Tools for Marketing
Marketing plays a big part in a podcast’s success. For listeners to discover your channel, you need to create a strategy to introduce and get your podcast in front of your target listeners. Marketing a podcast includes everything from creating cover art to adding transcription to your episodes.
19. Image Editing Software
Images are important elements for podcasts. Directories like iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher require content producers to upload their own cover art for their channel. You can also use a static image when creating an episode on YouTube to replace a video.
Some image editing programs you should try are:
- Canva: Easy image editing interface with tons of available templates, even in its free plan.
- Gimp: Simple alternative to Adobe Photoshop, Gimp is free to use with an assortment of basic and advanced image editing tools.
- Stencil: Paid plan that allows users to create social media graphics using its stock photos and online editing tools.
As a marketing tool, your cover art represents your brand, so it’s important to have a design that looks professional and is consistent. Fiverr is a great marketplace to help you find and hire freelance professionals. For as low as $5, you can hire freelance graphic designers to create a logo and artwork for your podcast. Sign up for access to Fiverr’s pool of professionals today.
20. Music Source
Once you get the hang of creating podcast episodes, you should start thinking about how to create your own branded sound. This can be done by creating theme music for your podcast show that you can use for intros, outros, and background music. Sound effects like a clapping audience can also be useful to help establish the mood quickly.
Some useful software for this task are:
- Music Radio Creative: Creates intros, outros, jingles, and more; you can preview different voices easily, and you will get extremely high-quality voice-overs to make your podcast sound much more professional.
- YouTube Audio Library: Offers an array of free music to use for your project, from dramatic themes to more ambient ones.
- iMovie Audio Library: Mac users have access to a library of sound effects from iMovie to use as soundbites for their podcast.
If you want to add a voice-over, you can do it easily using audio recording and editing software. You can also hire a voice-over artist from Fiverr for as low as $5 and get a more professional result.
21. Transcription Software
Getting your episodes transcribed will open your podcast channels to the hearing impaired and to every other potential audience who don’t have access to podcast streaming services. A transcription will also convert every word spoken on your podcast into searchable keywords if you post it in your description or on your website. Having your podcast transcribed is one of the quickest search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to help improve your podcast’s ranking in search engines like Google.
Here is some transcription software you can use:
- Scribie: This is available for multiple languages and dialects. It charges 75 cents per transcribed audio minute.
- GMR Transcription: Fast and accurate transcribing at a good price, using real human transcriptionists; charges a minimum of $1.25 per transcribed audio minute of up to two speakers.
- TranscribeMe: Offers professional transcription at a low rate of 79 cents per audio minute; also offers speech recognition alternative and translation services.
When choosing your transcription service provider, keep in mind the trade-off between payment rate vs turnaround time and quality. Visit their websites so you can compare the quality and how fast they can complete transcription of one episode. Some will ask you to pay a premium to have your project completed earlier.
22. Link Shortening Tool
Most podcast directory links can be massive, which makes them unappealing to potential listeners. This is why link shortening tools are becoming more popular and are offering a variety of features to help with branding. Find out what makes each tool unique and choose the one that you like best.
Tools you should try are:
- Pretty Links: Lets you create short links that will redirect to longer URL; for example, yourpodcastsite.com/1 will go to yourpodcastsite.com/welcome-to-episode-one.
- Bitly: Create shortened URLs that fit Twitter’s 280 character limit.
- Dynamic Links: Create a seamless transition from your mobile website to the equivalent content within your app so your listeners can pick up where they left off without missing a beat.
URL shorteners make links more visually appealing and allow you to show off your brand. They also make users feel more comfortable to click on shortened links and not mistake your URL as spam.
23. Audio Clip Creator
When advertising your podcast, remember that you have a very short amount of time to catch people’s attention. Try cutting some clips of your best moments and include them in your ads. This will help draw potential listeners in by giving them a quick teaser of what to expect on your podcast, including the vibe, personalities, and how you present your topic.
Some popular audio clip creators are:
- Wavve: An excellent tool that turns your podcast audio into shareable video clips. This makes it easy to tease episodes and is a great way to draw attention to your post in those crowded social media feeds.
- Headliner: Allows online users to use the video tool to convert audio files into videos to share on social media. It also has a graphic design feature.
- Podclipper: A great way to share your audio and podcast clips and promote them through social media or a website embed.
Like movie trailers, you can be creative with your ad, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Test different sound effects and video, if you’re also on platforms like YouTube and branding strategies to find the best ways to connect with your listeners.
Podcasting can be done in many ways, and each host or producer is driven by goals that are meant to improve their business or solidify their expertise. Take time to identify your purpose for starting a podcast, and you will have an easier time identifying the best podcast tools to use. Use our list of software and hardware podcast tools and start your podcasting career in no time.
Did we forget to include your favorite podcast tools on our list? Share them with us in the comments.