1. A Microphone
The first key thing you need when you’re looking to start your own podcast is definitely a microphone. I’m sure you’ve seen one, but one thing that’s important to mention is that the microphone is a transducer, or a device that converts sounds waves into electrical signal. There are a couple of different types of microphones, but the two that matter to the podcasting world are dynamic and condenser microphones. Let’s not get into the way they work, so here are a couple of key differences between the two.
The first key difference between the dynamic and the condenser microphone is their sonic characteristics. Condenser mics are able to record at a wider frequency range, especially when it comes to the high frequencies (8 kHZ and up), which makes them sound fuller and the sound is overall richer and more bright, which is the reason why their main use is in the recording studios. They tend to reach their highest potential when used on sensitive instruments like a violin or a harp, because those instruments have a lot of information in the higher spectrum. One of the disadvantages of this type of microphone is that they are sensitive and tend to pick up much more than what’s in front of them, like the background noise or the traffic noise that’s audible in the room. That’s why they are mostly used in acoustically treated spaces, such as recording studios. On the other hand, dynamic microphones are much more robust, more resilient, easy to use and they mostly pick up sounds directly in front of them, even though they might not sound as full as a condenser. This, however, has no impact on people recording a podcast, because the human voice generally doesn’t have a lot of important information in the high frequency spectrum. The final difference between the two is the price. Dynamic microphones are generally cheaper, even though there’s a lot of audio equipment today that is accessible and cheap.
Because of all the things mentioned, we’d recommend you go for a dynamic microphone, unless you have access to an acoustically treated recording space. Here’s a couple of dynamic mics that are perfect for your podcast needs: Shure SM7B, Electrovoice RE20, RODE Procaster, Shure SM58.
One last thing, we’d recommend you refrain from buying USB microphones. Not to get into the specifics, but the use of “real” microphones in combination with an audio interface seems complicated which is the reason people usually go for this type of microphone, however once you get acquainted with using an interface, you’ll see that recording is quite easy.
If you’re interested in learning more about the microphones and the way the work, feel free to check out our take on microphones on The Nootka Sound Podcast.
2. An Audio Interface
The second key thing you need when recording your podcast audio is an audio interface, which you can use to record the microphone into a computer. An audio interface is essentially an external sound card that is connected to your computer via USB, Firewire, as a PCI card or some other way. For podcasting, the USB connection is more than enough, so don’t bother with anything else. Furthermore, an audio interface, is simply put, a hardware device that’s used for getting the sound to and from the computer. It also serves as a pre-amplifier for the microphones, and has mic and instrument inputs, as well as balanced monitor outputs and a headphone output, among other things.
When buying an interface, it’s very important to jot down everything you’ll need in terms of its features, especially If you plan on having a more complicated recording set-up. For a basic set-up where you record your voice while communicating to guests via Skype or Zoom, you won’t need simultaneously more than two mic inputs and two or four outputs that you can use to connect your speakers or audio monitors. Here’s a couple of audio interfaces that you can buy that are perfect for a basic podcasting set-up: Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen), Steinberg UR242, PreSonus STUDIO 26 and Avid Mbox 4×4.
If you’d like to learn more about the audio interfaces, or see what all of the buttons are used for, you can check out the second episode of our podcast here.
3. A DAW
The third key thing you need when starting a podcast is a piece of software that you will use for recording and editing your podcast audio. For that you use a DAW or a Digital Audio Workstation, which is a computer software specially designed for recording, editing and post-production of audio files. There are a lot of different types, for example some may be specifically designed for working with MIDI instruments or for mastering music, however in essence, every DAW is very similar because they all have the same basic functions you would need when working with sound. So, if you learn how to use one DAW, you basically learn all of them. Furthermore, it’s not that important which DAW you pick, as long as it fits your needs and financial capabilities.
The software that we recommend – that is free – is Audacity for Windows (it’s available for iOS and Linux) or GarageBand, that’s only available on Apple devices. If you have a bigger budget and/or are planning to start doing audio production professionally, you can choose to buy any one of these: Adobe Audition, Avid ProTools, Steinberg Cubase ili Reaper.
If you’d like to learn more about DAWs, the basic functions and how to use them, we also have an episode on that, which you can check out here.
4. A Podcast Hosting Service
The forth key thing you need when starting a podcast is to choose a way to distribute your podcast episodes. As we mentioned, you access podcast episodes via streaming platforms. And those websites usually don’t allow for direct file upload, they rather use an RSS feed as means of distribution. RSS is a web feed that allows users and apps to access updates on a specific website. Therefore, you need hosting where you can upload all of your files and where you can get the RSS feeds for those files. You can do that by uploading them to your website, but you need to have a valid RSS feed installed on the website. The simpler option is to use an external hosting service, one that is specifically made for podcasting. You have to pay for those, although some do offer a free option. Here are a couple of websites that offer hosting for podcast files that we’d recommend: Libsyn, Buzzsprout, Simplecast, Soundcloud, Podbean.
We’ve created a quick table that shows their features:
|Storage (monthly)||50mb||3 hours||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Bandwidth||Unlimited||20K downloads a month||20K downloads a month||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Available for free||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
These are the 4 key things you need when starting a podcast. If there are some parts you’re having trouble comprehending or if you have a topic suggestion for us to cover in the future, make sure to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time!