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Learn recommendations for audio equipment, software, plugins, and other podcasting gear that are worth spending money to get. These will improve your podcast!
This may sound crazy for my top suggestion but this will be crucial to your entire brand and podcast future.
Get a domain for your podcast and you can use that domain for professional-sounding email addresses (instead of Gmail or Hotmail).
Even if you don't have your own hosting yet, you can point this forward your domain to somewhere else, or work with pseudo-hosts (such as LibSyn or WordPress.com) to make your domain work on their system.
Whether you're recording an audio or video podcast, your sound quality is second in importance only to the quality of your content.
For audio, I recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100USB ($50) or the Heil PR40 ($300).
For video with lavalier (lapel) mics, I recommend the Giant Squid Audio lavalier ($40 for mono, $75 for stereo), the Rode Lavalier Microphone ($249), the No products found.. For a shotgun mic, I recommend the Rode NTG2 ($269).
Pop filter: $15+
The quickest way to sound unprofessional in a podcast is popping your plosives into the mic. A simple pop filter can fix this, as well as pointing the mic at your mouth from an angle and not talking directly into it.
Web hosting: $60–$100/year
HostGator—Single and multidomain hosting starting at $5/month. HostGator runs frequent sales and coupons.
BlueHost—Probably the most-popular shared web hosting company and for good reasons! BlueHost offers a single plan that starts at $6.95/month.
Media hosting $5+/month
If you have a small audience (under 100 downloads per episode), you may be allowed to host your media on your website host. But remember that “unlimited” doesn't really mean unlimited and your host may shut you down for abusing the resources.
I highly recommend a dedicated media host that provides truly unlimited bandwidth for video or audio files for your podcast.
LibSyn media hosting starts at $5/month for 50 MB rolling storage and basic stats. Use promo code “noodle” to get your first month free!
Blubrry media hosting starts at $12/month for 100 MB rolling storage and premium stats.
Video camera: $500+
I love the Canon Digital Rebel T3i ($550) or Digital Rebel T4i ($650) for short-form HD video production and high-quality photography. I use the T4i, but it's not much of an upgrade over the T3i if you'd like to save some money. Digital SLRs are usually limited to 20–25 minutes of video recording at a time (regardless of storage).
The No products found. ($1,039) is a beautiful camcorder designed for HD video and has no recording limit. You really can't go wrong the Canon's Vixia line of HD camcorders and you may find one that fits better in your budget.
Mic stand: $120
I love my Heil PL-2T overhead mic boom because it can keep my mic and stand from getting in the way. It's very smooth and has a special slot for the XLR cable. It works with any mic.
Get a comfortable, quality pair of headphones and you'll be glad you did. Make sure they have very little noise leakage (back into your mic) and that they're comfortable enough to wear for hours.
You don't have to have a mixer to podcast. But a mixer can allow you to do so much more with greater ease! Bring in Skype calls, play sounds into your recording, output to a digital recorder, or have multiple in-studio guests—all made easy with a mixer.
I recommend the Behringer X1204USB ($180) or the Mackie ProFX8 ($230).
External digital recorder: $200+
Recording into an external digital recorder has some great benefits, but it isn't necessary. But these recorders are great for audio, video, and remote recording and provide reliability and some extra features.
Zoom H2n ($179.99), Zoom H4n ($220–$270), or No products found. ($200).
For live-streaming video, I think the Logitech C920 ($78) is the best HD webcam you can get! It works on Windows and OS X. If you're on OS X, also get Webcam Settings in order to have further control over the camera.
Premium WordPress theme: $80+
StudioPress (powered by the Genesis Framework)—Most themes are $79.95 for unlimited sites and no renewals.
Thesis—$87 for unlimited sites and one year of upgrades, $197 for unlimited sites and unlimited upgrades.
Premium WordPress plugins: $37+
Gravity Forms—$39 for one site, $99 for 3 sites, $199 for unlimited sites. Half-price renewals.
Pretty Link Pro—Free basic edition, $37 for one site, $97 for unlimited sites. No renewals.
BackupBuddy—$75 for two sites, $100 for ten sites, $150 for unlimited sites. Discounted renewals.
Cover Art and other design: $5+
The visual branding of your podcast is often a potential subscriber's first impression. Because of this, you want something that looks professional and communicates your brand.
You can get design services as cheap as $5 from Fiverr.com, or hire me to professionally design something for you.
Other software that makes podcasting easier: $10+
- ID3 Editor ($15) for tagging MP3 files with ID3 information.
- More advanced audio/video-editor ($50–$350), which can make editing quicker or easier.
- Soundboard program ($10–$50) for playing sounds directly into your recording.
- Screenflow ($99, OS X) or Camtasia Studio (Windows) for screen-recording.
- Wirecast ($495 or $995) for professional live-streaming video.
- Skype recording software.
- Webcam Settings (OS X) for controlling your webcam settings (aptly named).
This is at the bottom of the list for a reason. Consulting isn't required, but if you need the help, this will be far worth it to pay for as your top priority.
But many podcasters will benefit and maybe even enjoy the self-teaching process.
I'm available for consulting if you need help with podcasting, branding, design, fixing your podcast, WordPress, and more. Check out my new consulting page if you'd like to hire me to help you.
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We'll also have an open Q&A about Audacity in addition to the hour-long training.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Best piece of equipment – voice recorder because you can record in studio, on location, great for a backup and crisp, clean sound.
I use the R-05 but think the H4N would have been a better choice with its extra features and input options.
Best online community for talking podcasting (and learning) – Google Plus without a doubt! The “podcasting” community on particular.
Really enjoy your show, thanks.
Thanks, Andrew! The R-05 is certainly smaller than the H4n, which makes it a bit easier to carry.
You like the “Podcasting” community the best on Google+? Not “Podcasters” or “Podcasting Technology and Resources”?
A less expensive alternative to the Zoom H4n is the Tascam DR-40. I recently bought one for $180 on Amazon, compared to $270 for the H4n.
We record “in the field” (aka the local pub) and replaced a battery-powered Behringer mixer tied to a Zoom H1 with just the DR-40. (Lugging around an 8-port mixer every week is not great, plus risking that a beer spill could short it out.)
Since we use two hyper-cardioid XLR-cabled dynamic mics and our voice volume levels are appreciably different, I was looking for a digital recorder with two XLR inputs and per-input gain controls. Thus the H4n and DR-40.
From reviews, the audio quality is the same on both but a few differences:
– They’re both 4-channel recorders but the DR-40 can only record 2 at a time. The H4n can record the two input channels plus the built-in mic at the same time. Useful for musicians or recording live crowds.
– The DR-40 will record a track at your current gain level and optionally another simultaneous track at up to -12db below so you’ve got a quieter version available in case you run into peaking problems.
– The H4n has hardware input level switches. The DR-40 has menu level controls. The menu controls are easy enough for me, only takes one click.
– The H4n has a metal body while the DR-40 has a plastic body. Since we don’t handle it a lot or run the risk of dropping it often, I was fine with the plastic.
YMMV, of course, but it’s worked well for us and I’ve got a hundred bucks to spend another day!
I use the H4n’s four-channel ability all the time to record in-studio voices on one stereo track and remote voices and sounds on another stereo track.
The input volume on the H4n can be adjusted for each of the four channels! That’s like a mixer in a box.
I was about to pull the trigger on the Zoom H4n but went in a different direction. I always have my iPhone with me, so why not use it as a digital recorder? I bought the Tascam iXZ (a mic interface for my iPhone), the MXL FR-355K pair of lav mics with an XLR plug at the end, and the HD Voice Recorder app for the iPhone.
Spent about half the price and the quality is fantastic. I do need to bring the audio into Audacity just to boost the bass a bit but, for those times when I need to record quality audio for a video or if I’m recording on location instead of the studio, it’s an excellent solution.
(and, no, I have no affiliations with MXL or Tascam)
That’s a great setup! Do you have an episode posted so I can hear the quality? —
Sent from Mailbox for iPhone
Not yet – I’ve been using it for the audio track on a series of training videos. As soon as I get them produced and posted, I’ll send you a link. Or, so that I don’t hijack your forum with self-advertisements, I’ll record some audio and send it along.
Go ahead and post back here when you have something. Others may be interested, too.
Thank you for sharing the Giant Squid mic link. I’m hoping to do some interviews at a convention this summer, and that just may make things a lot easier to record.
I’m quite certain that Dave Jackson’s interviews from New Media Expo were recorded with his stereo GS mic.
There is no one best piece in my little studio. So I name several:
– portable digital recorder: Olympus LS-5. I am very happy with this one. But as its the only one I have ever used I cannot compare with the Roland’s or others.
– power supply for the digital recorder: I first bought the LS-5 without any additional equipment and soon realised that running it on batteries is not a good idea. Spending less the 10 EUR (probably around 10 USD) on a power supply was a good investment
– microphones: I bought a Sure SM 58, which works very nicely with my mixer, but interestingly enough not when I plug it directly in the digital recorder (then the audio is awful). Overall the SM 58 is very solid with a very nice audio and I would recommend warmly. For my some times co-host I bought the much cheaper Audio-Technica ATR2100USB and it offers an excellent sound for a low price. Sound wise it is very close to the SM 58 and with the USB connection, my co-host can record withouth the need for a mixer or external A/D converter.
– D/A converter: Already years before I started podcasting, I bought an M-Audio Transit USB A/D-D/A converter. It suits me well for recording Skype interviews into the digital recorder. It is small and reliabel. And it runs on my favorite operating system (FreeBSD).
The SM58 is a great mic. The reason it doesn’t sound right when plugged directly into your LS-5 is because the recorder lacks a preamp. I imagine you use an XLR- to-1/8″ cable?
If you want to plug it directly into the LS-5, you could get the iRig PRE for about $40. It’s a tiny 9-volt powered XLR-to-1/8″ preamp primarily designed to hook XLR mics up to iPhones but it works in other 1/8″ jacks.
However, that said, I wouldn’t recommend it. I tried the iRig and it was awfully noisy. Works in a pinch but the noise floor was way too high.
Anyway, there you go.
Thanks for adding this information, Dave!
Great stuff! We often take our power cables for granted.
Interesting what you say in your podcast about why you don’t use MP3TAG for editing your podcast’s ID3 tags because you reckon you can’t “cut ‘n’ paste” a whole podcast’s set of tags.
I don’t know about the Mac, but I use MP3TAG all the time in Windows and can happily cut and paste a podcast’s complete set of tags. So save yourself $15 guys!
On other issues, I can highly recommend the Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro headphones. Incredibly comfortable for long details and very detailed for monitoring, almost surgical precision.
Recording I use the Rode NT1A, pop shield and an acoustic reflection filter.
I use a Focusrite Saffire firewire interface which has high quality microphone pre-amplifiers plus in-built compression and EQ options; a cracking little interface.
I too use the Zoom H4n for outside work such as recording interviews at the Chelsea Flower Show for use on my Plantadvice.co.uk website. Again, very impressed with this device.
Has MP3tag always been like that? When I was on Windows, it would never offer to field fields, didn’t seem to have copy and paste, and it was too easy to lose my tags without saving by clicking on a different file.
Nice headphones, but a bit out of my price range.
If you’re using the Rode NT1A, what kind of “studio” do you have? Condensor mics usually pick up more room noise.
Thanks for sharing your picks!
Agree with you about the saving issue in Mp3tag, it is a pain, but I get into the habit of saving all the time. I’ve used Mp3tag for a few years now and I think I’ve always used the cut/paste like that.
Yes the condenser microphone does pick up some background noise. I record in my study, although I have got some acoustic artwork tiles on the wall to deaden the reverb a little (I’ve got an article about them on my blog if you want to have a look at them).
Unfortunately, because of my circumstances, my PC is in the same room where I record, so on a recording session I always record 10 seconds of background noise which I later use to get a noise profile and then use a few dBs of reduction to drop it down a bit; not too aggressively, as this can be counter-productive.
I use the free ReaFir plugin from Cockos in Cubase for this, but you could use Audacity.
For higher quality work I use a longer XLR cable and put the microphone in the lounge, which is quiet and the soft furnishings keep the reverb down. This type of recording environment works for Jeff Lynn from ELO 🙂
Its shows like this that keep me coming back to your show. Straight forward, down to earth and useful. I haven’t seen this mic talked about much in the podcast world, but I’ve been using a Sennheiser MD421. It is a great mic that can be used for music recording (tom toms and snares sound great) and it is used in a lot of radio stations. It has a built in pop filter although I also use an external filter, and it has a roll off filter which lets you tweek the warmth of the mic right on the mic. I started with a PR-40 and believe it or not it just stopped working! So I am using the 421 instead and am very happy with it. Just my 2 cents…
It’s funny that you mention that mic because I got to borrow and use that for some of my early episodes of the Ramen Noodle.
You said that you can’t use your DSLR as a webcam, and therefore use your 920. I have a couple of 920 aswell, but I discovered the software ExtraWebcam that enables you to use your Canon DSLR as a webcam, without using screenrecording hacks et. It simply installs itself as a new webcam device: http://extrawebcam.com/
Of course you can’t use the webcam for more than the 30 minutes or so (because of the sensor overheating), but for most youtube video recordings this should be quite enough 🙂
I had seen and used a similar program before that worked with Firewire cameras. But this app is Windows only and I’m on OS X.
I would also wonder whether I can continue recording on the camera while using this software.
Long time listener, first-time caller, yadda yadda yadda…
You’re spot-on with the suggestion about the ID3 Tag Editor. My co-host does the recording and editing and then sends the file to me to tag and upload. I spent the meager $15 and it’s made a huge difference in the podcast and listenership.