If you've got the knowledge and a concept, we can certainly help you achieve podcast glory. Continue reading this blog to discover some of the essential gear needed to make your own podcast or improve your current set-up, in addition to some proper techniques for recording, editing, and mixing.
When it comes to podcasting, your most essential piece of equipment is a microphone. After all, if you want to show off those dulcet tones, you need something to capture them. That’s why it’s crucial to use a high-quality microphone whenever you record.
USB mics are great for quickly setting up solo recordings and Zoom calls or capturing interviews in the field, while XLR mics offer more flexibility for recording multiple people and interfacing with pro audio gear such as mixers and analog signal processors.
For studio-quality sound, check out the Apogee MiC Plus USB microphone. The built-in cardioid condenser capsule helps eliminate unwanted background noise while recording. Best of all, the MiC Plus is compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or PC for quick and easy recording on any system.
Don’t let its vintage look fool you, the AKG Lyra is a state-of-the-art USB microphone that’s tailor-made for podcasts, YouTube videos, voiceovers, and more. With four different pickup patterns designed for solo and multi-person recordings, the Lyra adapts to any scenario.
Modeled after the best-selling AT2020, the AT2020USB+ offers the same premium sound that Audio-Technica mics are known for in a convenient USB format. The tight cardioid pickup pattern is ideal for recording via Skype or voice chat.
Beyerdynamic also has a really quality USB microphone option in the FOX. This mic offers up 24-bit/96 kHZ studio-grade quality resolution, an on-board mute button, and a gain switch. The FOX is a solid fit in the studio or on-the-go as it also allows users to connect to computer or a smartphone via a simple adapter.
For multi-person or interview-based podcasts, it’s usually best to use an XLR microphone for each speaker. This allows you to cleanly capture each person's voice and makes it much easier to edit when it comes time for post-production.
The Shure SM7b has been an industry-standard vocal mic for professional broadcasters for the last few decades. With a built-in windscreen and a custom shock mount attaching to a boom arm, the SM7b is perfect for podcasting. However, the output can be a little low, so you might want to partner it with a Cloudlifter CL-1 to boost the signal.
Another mic often found in radio stations that translates to the world of podcasting is the Electro Voice RE20, a large diaphragm dynamic mic delivers classic broadcast tone. With a built-in pop filter to eliminate plosives, an internal element shock-mount to reduce noise from vibration, and a frequency response specifically tailored for vocals, the RE20 delivers great sound right out of the box.
For a brighter, more modern sound, try the Aston Origin condenser microphone. This mic also features a mesh-knit pop-filter and custom End Caps to absorb unwanted rumble, making it easy to capture pristine sounds with minimal setup or accessories.
If you want to be able to record and mix great-sounding podcasts from anywhere, look no further than the Universal Audio Apollo Solo USB and Apollo Solo Thunderbolt. With two Unison preamps and realtime UAD Processing, you can capture a wide range of sounds from vintage vibe to modern sheen. The Apollo Solo Thunderbolt will also allow you access to Universal Audio's new LUNA Production System, making your interface and DAW integration that much easier.
Solid State Logic has always been known for impeccable sound, and this extends to their recent interface release, SSL2+. This compact two-channel interface combines SSL-designed analog microphone preamps with immaculate 24-bit/192 kHz conversion for studio-quality recordings. And with two built-in headphone outputs, the SSL2+ is perfect for interviews or working with a co-host.
For a quick and easy podcasting solution, try the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. With two state-of-the-art preamps and class-leading converters, the 2i2 delivers impressive sound. Best of all, it comes with two popular DAWs: Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack.
If you’re looking for something lightweight and portable that won’t weigh you down or become uncomfortable while recording, try the Sony MDR-7506 headphones. And if you’re looking for studio-quality headphones that won’t break the bank, try the AKG K92.
Tips for Recording and Mixing a Podcast
As any audio engineer will tell you, it’s not just the gear that makes a good recording, you’ve got to know how to use it. Quality sound starts with your recording space. If possible, install acoustic panels in your recording space to prevent unwanted echoes and standing waves for a cleaner, more focused sound.
Proper mic placement and settings are also crucial for capturing quality sound. Start by placing the microphone six to 12 inches from your face. If the mic is too far away, you run the risk of capturing too much background noise and room reflections, making your voice sound distant. If the mic is too close, the proximity effect can cause your voice to sound muddy, making it difficult to understand what you’re saying.
Finally, adjust the mic so it’s not sitting right in front of your face. Speaking directly into a mic will cause plosives, or popping sounds caused by bursts of air from “p” and “b” words. To avoid this, use a pop filter, place the mic at an 45-degree angle to your mouth, or both.
Pre-production is another simple way to improve the quality of your podcast. If you’re recording by yourself, write down some talking points to help guide you through the show. You don’t need to create an entire script, as a matter of fact, it will probably sound bad if you try to do that. Instead, just make a list of key things you want to cover.
Similarly, if you’re interviewing someone, be sure to send them the questions ahead of time. This gives them time to prep and jot down some key points as well, which can be the difference between an awkward conversation and a riveting podcast.
If you’re chatting with your guest or co-host remotely, be sure to have them record their own voices separately. Ideally, they’ll use a setup similar to yours to prevent your voices from sounding miss-matched. This is a common problem when recording a guest calling in via phone, but software like Source Elements can help capture professional-sounding audio from any source.
While you’re recording, be sure to wear headphones to prevent any bleed from getting into the microphones, and keep an eye on your levels to make sure you don’t peak. These are issues that cannot be undone in post.
When it comes time to mix, start by filtering out any unnecessary low-end below 80-120 Hz and cleaning up any muddiness in the low-mids. You may be tempted to use a shelf to boost the high-end, but be careful! This isn’t a pop record! Too much air will cause the listener to become fatigued quickly.
Use a compressor to even out the dynamics and make sure your vocals remain consistent throughout the entire piece. A de-esser can also be useful when working with particularly sibilant recordings.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to recording professional-sounding podcasts before you can say, “This episode is brought to you by Me Undies!”