I would love to start off with one clear bundle of everything that anyone needs to record a podcast, but unfortunately, it isn’t quite that straightforward. As podcasts themselves aren’t all the same, naming a one-size-fits-all solution is near impossible. But before I discourage anyone, I have tried to “boiled down the ocean” as much as I can to provide a simple solution to finding the gear that fits for you and your podcast best. To do this, I’m going to break things down by budget and the number of in-person hosts.
Before I jump into recording specific equipment, the most important element to record a podcast is a computer. It is possible to record a podcast on a tablet, but I would highly recommend using a computer. Either a Mac or PC works great.
In addition to the computer, you need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to process and edit your recording. If you have an Apple computer, then GarageBand is a great free option, or if you have a PC then Audacity is also free. One more software option is using something like Spotify’s Anchor‘s built in editor. Anchor‘s editor lacks a DAWs processing abilities, but it is a streamlined and easy to use way to structure your episode.
One Host Podcast Recording
Categorizing by the number of in-person hosts may seem strange as the first criteria, but it is arguably the most important thing in determining what gear to purchase. If you are only recording yourself in person, then you can look into getting a USB microphone. With a USB microphone, you can have any number of remote guests via platforms like SquadCast, Zoom, or Zencastr, but you are limited to one in-person mic. If you wanted to have another in-person mic, then you would have to upgrade your entire setup. So before choosing a USB microphone, it’s crucial to think about where you would like the podcast to go with hosts and guests, but if one mic is all you need, then a USB mic is the best option.
USB microphones are a great option because they have a built-in audio interface. To record on your computer, you need an audio interface to convert what a mic captures into something a computer can read and record. Since a USB mic has this built-in, it lowers the overall cost of your setup and makes it easier to use – all you have to do is plug a USB cable into your computer.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Blue Yeti USB Microphone ~ $115.00
Multiple Hosts Podcast Recording
As I mentioned above, a USB mic works great for a solo podcast, but isn’t the right fit for a podcasts that has multiple in-person hosts. A setup for recording multiple people in person has three components.
1. Audio Interface
The cornerstone piece of a multi-track recording setup is the interface. For this post, the two biggest factors in determining the right interface will be budget and the number of mics you plan on recording.
As with most things in life, price plays a role in the decision of buying an audio interfaces as have a ridiculous range in price and quality. To make things as painless as possible I have narrowed it down to my favorite budget and ideal option.
In addition to price, the number of mics you plan to record is crucial to choosing the right interface. Interfaces have mic preamps built in, and you will need one preamp for each mic you want record. For example my budget recommendation is Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which has 2 preamps and lets you record 2 mics. If you are planning on having 4 mics, you would need to get the 18i8 or my favorite option the Rodecaster Pro.
The Rodecaster Pro is what we use at JSW, and I love it. It has 4 preamps, Bluetooth capabilities to have callers phone-in, and tons of great features designed specifically for podcasters.
OUR BUDGET RECOMMENDATION: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ~ $170.00
OUR IDEAL RECOMMENDATION: RØDECaster Pro ~ $750.00
Now it’s time for the obvious category. Microphones. Microphones are the most obvious part of recording and yet one of the most confusing things. You’ve got ribbon mics, dynamic mics, small diaphragm condensers, large diaphragm condensers, and on top of that they can range from a few dollars to over 10k.
While I love and am fascinated by microphones, I’m aware that the purpose of this post is to provide palatable options. So for podcast I recommend a dynamic microphone. They’re durable, easy to use, and don’t pick up too much extra noise.
One thing to note is the budget option needs a pop filter (under accessories). Dynamic mics are sensitive to plosives – that sound harsh “P” sounds in a microphone – and a pop filter helps eliminate that. The ideal options have a built-in pop filter, so they don’t need an additional one.
OUR BUDGET RECOMMENDATION: sE Electronics V7 ~ $100.00
OUR IDEAL RECOMMENDATION: EV RE20 ~ $450.00
3. Cables + Accessories
As far as cables go, you’ll need an XLR cable to connect the mic to the interface. When ordering a cable, make sure the cable length allows you to set the mic the desired distance from your computer and interface.
In addition to XLR cables, you’ll want a mic stand unless you want to hold the mic to record a podcast. My favorite options for mic stands for podcasting are either a desk boom or a podcast boom arm. A desk boom stand is generally cheaper and allows for easy setup on any table or desk, but has less flexibility for ideal mic placement. A podcast boom arm allows you to comfortably adjust the mic to fit however you are sitting, but tends to be more expensive and takes extra time to set up.