Business of podcasting – audio equipment

August 18, 20140 Comments

Before we delve deeper into the topic of podcasting we need to discuss equipment. Depending on the podcast format of your show; video, audio or both, will dictate the equipment you’ll need.

audio podcasts

Let’s start with a simple audio podcast (I say simple, because as far as I’m concerned they’re the least complex to produce compared to some of the extra equipment you’ll need with a video show.) When I started in 2006 there were primarily only audio shows, so all you really needed was a microphone and recording software (which we’ll cover in the next post.)

As I mentioned previously, my first microphone was a little plastic mic from one of my kids’ toys. It worked well enough to get my feet wet, but I discovered quickly that I needed to step it up a little.

Still reluctant to take the full plunge I didn’t actually improve things all that much when I ran out to a big box electronic store and picked up this same exact microphone pictured here, the Sony Omnidirectional Microphone.

Let’s just say it didn’t improve things all that much and move on. I won’t bore you with the long list of mics I tried until I finally decided to spend the money for an USB mic like the Samson G-Track.

Let me just state this as clearly as possible. While the Samson G-Track is not the ultimate mic on the market, it’s been well worth the money and has been my microphone of choice since I bought it in 2008.

What makes it a great mic for podcasting?

  • It’s a USB mic – this means you don’t need a mixer or some other intermediate piece of equipment to get your voice into the computer and on to the recording.
  • Onboard volume adjustment – the Samson G-Track has it’s own input volume dial so you have more control over the level of your voice or another piece of equipment.
  • Line-in jack – not only is it possible for you to record yourself into the computer, but because there’s a secondary line-in jack on the mic it’s possible to have a sound board with sound effects or even another microphone plugged in for easy interview recordings without having to mess with a mixer.
  • Supercardioid pickup pattern – unlike an omni-directional mic which picks up sound from all directions, the supercardioid pattern means it pretty much picks up what’s directly in front of it (trust me, there’s been plenty of times I’ve worried about someone else in the room making noise only to discover it was never picked up.)
  • Zero-latency monitoring with volume control – or more specifically, you can hear yourself in real time with headphones. This is great so you can hear the recording happening in real time as your audience will eventually hear it when you post it. This is a huge bonus if you’re concerned about picking up background noise or simply for monitoring any feedback.

Another important piece of equipment to consider when looking at microphones is the stand. Without a good stand, even the best mics won’t work to their full potential. With that said, of course I started out with the most basic desktop stand, which is nothing more than a weighted base and short rod with a clip.

This was okay, but I wanted (and recommend) something with more versatility and reach. A mic stand such as the RODE PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm is a great investment.Regardless of which one you pick up, the main thing to remember is to make sure you can get the microphone in a position that’s comfortable and out of the way…just in case you’re a hand talker!

Last but not least is whether you need a wind screen or pop filter. If you’re prone to POPPING your “p’s” when you’re talking or are afraid you may “spray it when you say it” a pop filter of some sort is a great investment to keep your audience from cringing at the sound of spit hitting your microphone.

We could easily go into a discussion about headphones, I recommend you get some if you use a mic or system with zero-latency monitoring. They’ll give you a true feel for how you’re show will sound before the audience can tell you in a not-so-nice way.

There is other equipment audio professionals might say you can’t live without, but this is the equipment I’ve used for Matt’s Basement Workshop – “the early years”, Spoken Wood Podcast, & Wood Talk for all these years.

Next post, we’ll expand the discussion of audio podcast equipment to recording software. There’s EXPENSIVE or SHAREWARE. Guess which one I’ll potentially recommend?

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