Getting Started: Podcast Hardware
What are the essentials to start recording your podcast? There are three key pieces of podcasting equipment needed for you to get started, which will make a minimal, yet perfectly formed, podcast setup. The crucial three are:
- A microphone with mic stand
- An audio interface
- A laptop or PC
Let’s take a closer look at each of these and explore what they do and why they’re needed.
To capture your voice in high quality, you must have a microphone to record your podcast. There are plenty of podcast microphones on the market, ranging from affordable to premium and sometimes outrageous, connected via an XLR or USB cable. There are some things to consider when choosing a microphone.
Every microphone, whether USB or XLR, inherently has its own individual sound characteristics which react differently with each person’s voice. When using an audio interface, you’ll benefit from a wide range of microphones to choose between. From hobbyist to professional studio quality, and depending on your budget, you’ll be able to decide which sounds best for your podcast.
Unlike with a USB mic, in using an audio interface you’ll also have the opportunity to upgrade or change your mic, or expand the number of microphones you use on your show. Recording with a guest becomes quite tricky with USB microphones since each person on your podcast needs their own; you would need to plug in each USB mic to your computer, which can be limited by your computer's USB inputs. Audio interfaces allow you to connect many microphones at once at high quality, while only using one USB port.
In addition to a microphone, we would highly recommend getting a stand so that you can position the mic in a fixed location and not have to worry about it. This will also ensure that there is a consistent volume from your voice on the show, as the position will be constant — not going from far away to too close throughout your show. We will go into different options at a later point; however, there are affordable options on the market to get you started.
An audio interface
An audio interface is an external unit that connects to your computer. They can connect in a few ways but most often via USB. It allows you to get high-quality audio to and from your computer and your recording software. The audio interface converts analog audio to digital and back again at very high quality.
Numerous interfaces can be typically used for recording music — Vocaster is focused on podcasters. Its simple setup process and small, lightweight design make it a great travel companion so that you can join the conversation wherever it happens.
Using an audio interface isn’t as intimidating as it may seem and, with a little practice, you’ll feel empowered by the control you have over your audio. There are plenty of videos that can help you get started using an audio interface for your podcast.
You can bypass the need for an interface in your setup; however, we highly recommend getting one. While most USB mics are chosen by new and hobbyist podcasters because of their all-in-one portability and low cost, that comes at the price of sacrificing audio quality. The truth is, regardless of what stage you are at on your podcasting journey, an audio interface should rank high on your priority purchases because of the audible improvements you will experience.
A tablet, laptop or PC
You will need a machine to record your podcast to the software of your choice — we will talk about software options later on. You will need to make sure that the interface you purchase has the right connection for your computer, such as USB or thunderbolt, and that the microphone you select connects to your interface, this being more often than not with an XLR cable, unless you are deciding to go with a USB microphone.
The computer connection is obviously the link through which the audio interface inputs and outputs reach your computer for processing. While thunderbolt interfaces are popular for some applications, USB interfaces are most prevalent.
On modern computers, such as the latest generation of MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, you’ll only find Type-C sockets. Most new interfaces will have USB-C connections, so hooking up a new device, such as a Focusrite Vocaster One or Vocaster Two, to a new computer or iPad Pro with USB-C is straightforward with the appropriate cable. However, the old-style USB-A connection (the classic half-inch wide rectangular plug) still dominates.
You can also bypass the need for a laptop or PC with hardware that records your voice straight into the unit, such as the Rode Rodecaster Pro®️, however this will come at a cost. If you don’t want to use a computer whilst recording your podcast then this may be an option for you to consider.
The cost? Software allows greater flexibility when it comes to editing your show, adding intro/outro music, and other elements. It’s inevitable that recording with a standalone unit will lead you to software eventually anyway to edit and add these elements.
Getting Started: Podcast Software From DAWs, podcast specific recording software, and music and sound platforms, there is a wealth of software available to record, mix, and finalise your show.
Getting Started: Additional Podcast Equipment To get a studio quality podcast recording, you will need to consider headphones, microphones, pop shield, and sound treatment.
Podcast Recording Tips A step by step guide on how to record a podcast show once you’re set to get started.