For the past two weeks, this column has focused on podcasting. We talked about why you might want to start one, and how to go about planning it out to maximize your success. Today, it’s all about the nuts and bolts—what do you need, in terms of equipment, to get started?
First, let me say that a podcast can be started on a shoestring if needed. The equipment can also run into tens of thousands of dollars. But there is a happy medium between using your cell phone and budling out a full-blown studio.
Here are some essential items that you will need to start a podcast with ballpark pricing:
Microphone: A good quality microphone is essential for recording your voice clearly. If you are making a solo podcast, a USB microphone is fine; otherwise, you may want to look at some XLR mics when you go to add guests. Avoid condenser (super sensitive) mics unless you have a studio. (USB: $100-$200, XLR: $30-Thousands)
Computer: You will need a computer to record, edit, and upload your podcast. Any modern computer or laptop should work fine. Right now, I am unaware of any that will do it all easily on a tablet.
Audio recording and editing software: You will need software to edit and process your audio files. Popular options include Audacity(free and good), GarageBand (for Mac), and Adobe Audition (outstanding and expensive). Personally, I use a program designed for voice only called Hindenburg. (Free to several hundred dollars to a monthly $20 subscription)
Headphones: You will need a good pair of headphones to listen to your recordings and make adjustments. Avoid noise-canceling headphones because you want to hear what is being recorded, not what is being modified. And I do recommend using them as you record to catch any issues as early as possible. ($80 to $125)
Pop filter: A pop filter is a mesh screen that helps reduce plosives (the harsh P and S sounds) when speaking into the microphone. Again, look to eliminate any issues as early in the process as possible. (Under $20 per microphone)
Mic accessories: You will need a mic stand to hold the mic, and there are various kinds depending on your situation, from a portable tripod stand to a desktop stand to a boom arm. You will also need microphone cables for your XLR mics. (Stands from $12 to $20, Boom arms from $20 to $100, Cables $15 per microphone)
Audio interface (optional): Without getting into the weeds, audio is analog but delivered digitally. A USB mic will do this conversion as you record right into your computer. When you have multiple mics and other inputs, an interface is needed to make that conversion. This can be an interface (box), a mixer (there are some inherent issues), or, more recently, an all-in-one recorder/interface. (Pure interface: $80 to several hundred, Mixer: $80 to several hundred, All in One: $400 to $700)
Here is a link to an Amazon Idea List I created. Have a look. I am often asked, “just tell me what you’d get?” and here’s my answer.
A podcast to go set up. Keep it in a small duffel bag in a closet when not needed, and set it up wherever you need it.
- Zoom Podtrack P4 to record up to 4 XLR microphones. Ability to record a phone call or bring in an external audio source. It runs on batteries, or you can buy a power supply. $149
- 4 Shure SM-48 Microphones, four cables, four windscreens, four tripod mic stands. $71/mic
- 1 (maybe more if you want guests to have them) Sony MDZ 7506 Headphone. $80
This will run anywhere from $300 for a single-host podcast to $513 for a 4-microphone setup.
Additional costs may include a hosting service such as Libsyn, Podbean, BuzzSprout, etc. Most offer a free tier, but an aggressive plan (for a travel agency) might run $20 per month!