Podcasting has a very low entry cost. You can record, edit, and distribute a podcast by turning your smartphone or computer into podcasting equipment. To create a podcast with higher sound quality, you can purchase sound-isolating microphones and headphones for around $50 each, and audio editing software for $20 per month.
Podcasting Equipment List: What You Need to Have
When you start a podcast, your equipment setup will be as unique as your show. A solo-venture podcast may only require a computer and a microphone. More complex shows demand investments in equipment like additional computers, headphones, mixing equipment, and multiple accessories.
- Computer: You’ll need at least one computer to produce and distribute the podcast. More elaborate setups may call for one or more audio-only computers.
- Microphone: The built-in microphone on your laptop won’t do for very long. High-quality audio requires an external mic.
- Headphones: A good pair of headphones prevents feedback from speakers and focuses your attention on the show.
- Audio interface: A physical device that allows your computer to accept audio from external sources.
- Audio software: You’ll need a program to record, edit, and export your podcast audio files.
- Accessories: All the ancillary equipment for your podcast setup such as mic stands, pop filters, headphone amplifiers, monitors, and webcams.
Whether you’re podcasting in a fancy studio or from your kitchen table, the basic equipment you need remains the same. The good news is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a good-quality setup that yields high-quality results.
How to Choose the Best Podcasting Equipment
When choosing podcast equipment, keep it as simple as possible. Remember, the most expensive piece of equipment isn’t necessarily the best fit for your show. It’s important to choose equipment you are comfortable with and that fits into your budget.
The equipment you buy should be tailored specifically to your show. Each podcast is different, and may not require you to have a full array of podcasting gear. Consider your show’s particular needs before you buy unnecessary equipment.
For example, a solo-host show requires a simple setup. These podcasters do it all on their own, so they can get away with a minimalist setup. Many podcasts are made with nothing more than a laptop, USB microphone, and a pair of headphones. There’s simply no need to invest in heavy-duty studio podcasting equipment when you can record from the desk in a quiet room of your home.
Podcasts with more than one host often record over VoIP from separate locations. Recording from multiple locations calls for installing audio recording equipment that’s capable of capturing, mixing, and recording the sound of the call. This may require a physical audio interface and more than one podcasting computer to accomplish.
In-studio podcasts are usually more complex. If your podcast is set up for multiple guests, hosts, music, audio scores, and staff, that means you need more equipment. You quickly get into needing multiple microphones, stands, connection cables, and mixers. When you have a complex audio equipment setup, you’ll also need a greater level of expertise to make it all work together.
The great thing about choosing a podcast computer is that nearly any computer that’s sold in electronic stores today can be used to create podcasts. If you can connect a microphone to it and install audio recording or editing software, you have everything you need to record your podcast and get it out into the world.
Podcast Computer Pricing
You can pick up a budget laptop that’s capable of podcasting for less than $200. However, there are plenty of good podcasting computers available for any budget. High-end models can cost a few thousand dollars. Budget computers have a basic microphone and are capable of running some software programs. Higher-end models have more storage, which will be important if you plan on keeping a lot of audio files on your computer, and more powerful processors to keep your audio software running quickly.
Podcast Computer Features
The best podcasting computers allow you to capture multiple audio feeds. They also contain powerful processors to facilitate production, and have large hard drives to help you store the large volume of audio files and other content that a long-running podcast produces.
Podcast computers need:
- Connectivity: You’re going to be connecting a lot of devices to this computer over the course of your show, so it’s best to have a machine that can handle any external device that comes its way. Pick a machine that has plenty of connection ports like USB, AUX, HDMI, ethernet, and DisplayPort.
- Processing power: While any computer built these days can produce a podcast easily, the more powerful the processor, the smoother the recording software will run and the faster the editing and exporting process will be. Getting a bare-bones system will work; it will just take a lot longer.
- Hard drive: A lot of storage space is essential for a regularly produced podcast. Raw recording files, sound clips, image files, show notes, and research can fill up a hard drive faster than you’d anticipate. A large hard-capacity hard drive keeps all your elements and archives in one place for easy access when you need it.
Who Really Needs to Use a Podcast Computer?
Buying a computer specifically for a podcast is something that’s generally only done by professional podcasters and enthusiastic hobbyists. If you’re doing a once-a-month podcast just for fun, you can probably stick with the computer you already own. When your podcast starts getting a large audience, you can consider buying a model to dedicate to the show.
Any microphone that you can route into a computer can be used for podcasting. You can easily find these models online or at your local electronics store. However, if you’re looking to invest in a quality, stand-alone podcast microphone, some of the best podcasting tools include Blue Yeti and Snowball microphones.
Podcast Microphone Pricing
You can get a podcast microphone online from Amazon or eBay for less than $20. That’s a great price to start out at, and inexpensive mics are perfectly capable of recording high-quality content. Although, if you want the best sound quality possible, you’ll want to check out more expensive models. These can run from $50 – $500 depending on the brand you choose.
Podcast Microphone Features
There are several different types of podcasting microphones. Your choice should complement your setup and recording style. Keep in mind the type of computer you’ll be using and also what will be most comfortable for you while recording.
- Desktop microphones: If you plan a solo-host podcast while sitting at a desk, you may be content with a simple USB desktop microphone. Simply plug it into your USB port, launch your recording software, and hit record. These podcasting mics can turn any kitchen office desk into a recording studio.
- Mounted microphones: If you want the more standard radio-show studio experience, consider a mounted condenser microphone. These take a bit more setup and take up more space, but they’re also more adjustable and fit well into a proper podcasting studio. Prepare to deal with stands, brackets, and long connection cables if you go this route.
- Lapel microphones: If you don’t want a microphone in your face, you can look into a lapel microphone that’s more discreet. These kinds of podcasting microphones are also great if you are recording on a smartphone or other mobile device.
Who are Podcast Microphones Right For?
Every podcaster needs a decent microphone. It’s the main instrument you have for recording your podcast. If you have a substandard microphone or one that doesn’t work well with the rest of your setup, the quality of your podcast will suffer and your audience will notice.
Podcasting headphones can be as simple as the earbuds that came with your smartphone, or as elaborate as Bluetooth. Alternatively, you could pick up noise canceling models that cost hundreds of dollars on Amazon or the electronics store. If your budget is tight, you can start with a cheaper option and upgrade later.
Podcast Headphone Pricing
While you can produce a podcast with earbuds that cost as little as $10, it’s likely that you’ll want a set of podcasting headphones that produce high-quality sound. There’s no wrong answer to how much you should spend. You can get good quality headphones for less than $50, with features like noise canceling. If you want to hear every sound in perfect studio quality, you can spend hundreds of dollars or more on a top-notch model.
Podcast Headphone Features
Whether you choose over-the-ear or earbud models is a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few other features to look for.
- Sound quality: While a $10 pair of earbuds may get the podcasting job done, lower-quality headphones may miss small details and flaws in the audio while recording and editing. The podcasting headphones you choose should deliver crisp, clear, and detailed audio so you can hear exactly what your audience hears at every level of production.
- Comfort: If you really commit to podcasting, you’re going to be using your headphones a lot. So, you should get a pair that you’ll be able to wear comfortably for hours at a time. If a pair of headphones or earbuds don’t fit your head just right, it means hours of discomfort while you’re making your podcast and potentially hurts your performance.
- Wireless: A podcasting setup can get tangled with wires quickly. Choosing Bluetooth headphones or earbuds for your podcast can help keep your recording space tidy and take up one less physical connection port on your computer. However, if you go this route, make sure you’re buying low latency headphones so you don’t introduce any audio-sync delays in your recording.
- Built-in microphone: Many gaming headsets have built-in microphones that allow players to chat. While these microphones are not as powerful as condenser microphones, they can capture audio that’s high quality enough for a podcast. Choosing to combine your headphone and microphone into one product can reduce the amount of equipment you need and simplify your podcasting process.
Who Are Podcasting Headphones Right For?
Although it’s possible to produce a podcast without headphones at all, it’s not advisable. Headphones eliminate speaker-microphone feedback during the recording process and give greater clarity and detail during the editing and production phase. A reliable pair of headphones is a must-have for any podcaster.
Podcasting Audio Interfaces
An audio interface is a piece of hardware that connects to your computer to convert audio signals into digital signals that are high-quality and easy to edit. Audio interfaces improve the quality of your recordings, particularly if there are multiple people or guests recording at once for your podcast. Audio interfaces are common sound recording gear and can be easily found at music and electronic stores.
Audio Interface Pricing
A basic audio interface with a single channel input can cost as little as $50. However, if you’re going to add a piece of podcasting equipment to your setup, you probably want to spring for one that has at least a two-channel input for $150. And of course, the number of inputs available can go as high as $500 for 20 audio inputs.
Audio Interface Features
The audio interface you choose will depend on how many audio sources you intend to record in your studio and how many devices you want to receive the audio. Audio interfaces can also vary greatly in terms of size and weight, so consider if you want to be able to easily transport the device.
- Inputs: If you choose a podcast microphone that connects via XLR, you need an audio interface with at least one line-in to be able to connect it to your podcasting computer. If you plan on having a multi-microphone setup, musical instruments, soundboards, mixers or other accessories, you need to choose an audio interface that can accommodate all your elements.
- Outputs: Any audio interface you buy should have at least one output to USB so you can connect it to your podcast computer. However, it’s a good idea to have as many line-outs as you can, so you can record multiple sources in multiple locations.
- Mobility: If you frequently record in different locations or need to break down your recording setup after every episode, choose a small light audio interface that you can easily transport and store.
Who are Audio Interfaces Best For?
An audio interface is one of those pieces of podcasting equipment that isn’t strictly necessary, especially for podcasts with a single host and microphone setup. It’s only when you have multiple people recording in a single location that it becomes necessary. And for complex, professionally produced shows, they’re a must.
Podcasting Audio Software
Podcasters need audio software to record, edit, and export each episode of their podcast. You can choose one software program that does everything, or a different tool for each step. Most computers have audio software built into the operating system. However, for professional-level editing, some podcasters choose to use more powerful software they can download from an app store or a developer’s website.
Podcast Audio Software Pricing
Audio software for podcasting doesn’t have to cost you anything. There are free audio recording programs preinstalled on pretty much every computer sold today. Macs have GarageBand and Windows machines have Audio Recorder. If you don’t like either of those, there are free options like Audacity and WavePad. All of these programs have the basic tools you need to record and edit your first podcasts. However, many seasoned or professional podcasters grow beyond these software programs.
There are paid audio software programs to fit just about any budget. Many of the popular professional-level software programs like Adobe Audition and Avid ProTools are sold by subscription for under $30 per month.
Podcast Audio Software Features
The software you use to produce your podcast could be one application or several. No matter which route you choose, you will need a program to record, edit, and export your podcast episodes. Many of the all-in-one tools are very user-friendly, while some of the standalone software tools offer more robust editing features. No matter if you choose an all-in-one podcasting app or a suite of audio-editing tools, you’ll need the following features.
- Recording: A good recording program is easy-to-use and connects to multiple digital and analog audio sources. The more sources a program can capture from, the more versatile it will be throughout the life of your podcast.
- Editing: For many podcasters who have a well-developed recording routine, editing is minimal. Those who like to polish their work in post-production should look for a full array of editing tools. Audio editing tools run the gamut from simply trimming away unwanted portions of a recording and adjusting track volume to reducing unwanted noise on your tracks, and bringing in outside recordings, sound effects, and music.
- Exporting: The best podcasting software supports multiple format types for export. Having options beyond the popular MP3 and WAV is useful because it lets you pick the file format that’s right for the podcasting service you’ll be uploading to. The best audio production programs also create files in the ACC, AIFF, AU, FLAC, MP4, M4A, OGG, WMA formats and more.
Who Is Podcasting Audio Software Best For?
Every podcaster needs at least a basic program on which to record, edit, and export their show. The podcasting software you buy can be as simple as a free, single-track recorder/editor or as heavy-duty as the programs used by professionals in the music industry.
As your podcast grows, you’ll most likely want to expand beyond a microphone and a laptop. You may choose to incorporate mixers, mic stands, pop filters, headphone amplifiers, monitors, and webcams into your podcasting equipment setup. You can find all the ancillary devices you need at electronic stores, music shops, and audio equipment retailers.
Podcast Accessories & Pricing
- Mixers: While not necessary for recording audio, mixers allow you to control multiple incoming audio sources at once. Having a mixer in your podcast setup is convenient if you need to quickly adjust the volume or gain of an audio source on the fly. You can pick up a budget mixer for less than $50 or spend hundreds on a mixer with multiple inputs and controls.
- Mic stands: A good mic stand keeps the microphone close to your face, is sturdy, adjustable, and easy to store. Mic stands are generally affordable, with base models costing around $20.
- Pop filter: Pop filters are fiber shields that are placed in front of microphones to reduce audio flaws and protect it from saliva coming from the mouths of speakers. If the podcasting microphone you bought didn’t come with one, you can pick one up for less than $10.
- Headphone amplifiers: Each pair of headphones in your studio should have independent volume control so your hosts, producers, guests, and engineers can personalize the volume of their headset to the level that’s best for them. If your current headphones don’t do this, you can purchase a four-channel headphone amplifier for less than $25.
- Monitors: Many podcasters like to have information like research and audio clips at their disposal during the recording process. Additional monitors (which typically cost around $100) allow this information to be displayed during recording sessions.
- Webcams: Most successful podcasts don’t just stick to audio. Video podcasts are very popular, and many podcast recording sessions are streamed live via YouTube, Twitch, and other services. If your computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam, you can get a basic one for under $20, or spend up to $100 to get a webcam with HD recording capabilities.
Who Are Podcast Accessories Best For?
The number of gadgets you buy to make your podcast run smoothly is going to be specific to your show. Bringing in devices intended to make things simpler can quickly backfire and gum up the works. A good rule is to only get podcasting equipment that fills a specific need for the show and can integrate well with your current setup without having to tear the whole studio apart. When first starting a podcast, less is more when it comes to equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Podcasting Equipment
If you are new to podcasting or the world of audio engineering, it can be hard to discern what equipment is necessary and how much you really need to spend. The truth is you do not need to splurge on professional-level podcasting equipment to create a quality show. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about podcasting equipment.
How much does podcasting equipment cost?
If you already own a computer, you can start a solo-host podcast for $0. To produce a high-quality podcast, you will likely also need a microphone and headphone, which will cost around $50 each, and audio software which costs around $20 per month.
What do I need for a two-person podcast?
For a two-person podcast, you will need at least one computer, audio software for recording, editing, and exporting your podcast, two microphones, and two headphones. Optional equipment includes pop filters for the microphones, an audio interface, and mic stands.
Can I buy a podcast equipment package?
Yes. There are several companies that offer podcasting starting packages. However, you can likely save on startup costs by purchasing the equipment individually as you need it.
Each podcast is different, which means the specific equipment needs of each podcast are also different. At minimum, you will need a computer and audio software. Most podcasters also use standalone microphones and headphones. The types of microphones, headphones, and extras you choose depend on your personal preference, budget, and recording space.