To record a podcast all you need is a digital recording device, a decent sounding microphone and a nice pair of headphones.
The recording device can be a laptop, tablet, smartphone or a designated digital recorder. You can spend some more time choosing your headphones but you can easily start with what you already have. The microphone, however, requires slightly more attention.
#1 Choosing the right microphone
You need to be aware about the two main types of mics – Condenser and Dynamic.
In short condenser mics are significantly more sensitive and will pickup almost every sound I your surroundings. They are great option for controlled environment, solo podcasting, and/or remote conversations with your guests. Additionally, the majority of this type offer a usb connection as opposed to a XLR connection (the professional option), which will make your life easier. All you need is to plug it in your laptop or tablet as every other USB device and you’re good to go.
Some of the best options out there:
These mics on the other hand are picking up sounds only very close to the microphone capsule. This is the reason why dynamic mics are the “go to” option for live performances.
Some of the best options out there:
Hand down the best budget option.
Professional sound on a budget
Simply the best of the best
You cannot go wrong with either option but in my experience getting a dynamic microphone for your podcast will save a ton of problems in the post production setup. Whether your dog is barking, the fire alarm next door goes off or you experience a traffic noise nearby, the dynamic mic will not pick it up and even if it does, it’ll be easy for you to fix it in post production.
What makes the dynamic mics more complicated to use is the fact that almost all options use XLR connection. This will require you to have a digital interface to convert the analog signal from the mic to a digital one for your laptop or other mobile device. I do have, however, a secret weapon to combat this issue. This mic is the best of both worlds and it’s easily the winner when it comes to best microphone to start your podcasting journey.
This is a dynamic mic which offers both USB and XLR connection so it’s essentially a great investment. You can use it when you’re starting out as well as at a later stage when you are looking to up your game and upgrade to a digital interface control setup.
#2 Your Recording Device
Most of us will already have some kind of recording device that will do, but your setup can become more complicated and expensive as we go over the more high quality, specifically designed for podcast recording kits. One very important thing to consider when recording your podcast is having separate recording files (or one file with separate recording tracks) for each of the podcast participants. This is essential for good results when editing your podcast. This will also need to be a significant factor when deciding which recording option you are going for.
Tablet / Smartphone
For smartphone and tablet users you can start as simple as recording your podcast using the build in voice recorder or any app that will give you similar functionality. Your main goal is to be able to then export your recording in an audio file which you can then edit in your editing platform of choice.
Mac and PC
The good news is that there are some amazing software options for both Mac and PC. The even better news is that the best starting options are FREE. Both of those will allow you to have separate tracks for each host / guest.
For Mac my recommendation would be to use GarageBand (also available for iPad and iPhone)
For PC I highly recommend a software called Audacity.
Dedicated recording device
Of course if you want to keep things separate, you don’t want to use your phone, tablet or even use your laptop for the recordings, you can always go with a tool specifically designed for this.
Below we go over some very popular options, from the simples and cheapest to the more professional and expensive ones.
From left to right:
- Zoom P4 PodTrak – Amazing portable recorder for up to four people. It has XLR inputs so you don’t need to worry about separate digital interface. It also records separate tracks for each participant. SD Card Recording.
- Zoom H6 – Very well established as the go to podcast recorder for under £400. Some prefer it over the Zoom P4. Relatively the same features. SD Card Recording.
- Zoom P8 – A professional grade recorder and digital interface. You can conect it to your laptop for live streaming and recordings, as well as record on an SD Card.
- RØDE RØDECaster Pro II – The second version of probably the most popular and versatile recorder/digital interface for creators. In my opinion the best of the best.
Online based recording
Regardless of you using a kit with a digital interface and a nice mic or you simply use your headset, you can record your podcasts in what I dare saying is one of the best option for podcast recording out there.
Simply said Riverside’s recoding environment is like a Zoom meeting but specifically designed for podcasts.
Some of the main benefits of using Riverside FM:
- You don’t need to be face-to-face with your guest. It’s great for remote recording.
- It records high-quality video as well as audio, no matter if your internet connection is slightly laggy. This is because Riverside records locally on the device you (or your guests) are using and then uploads it to the recordings section in your account. You can then download a high-quality video, audio, or both depending on your needs.
- It has bunch of added options, such as noice reduction, on-the-platform editing and templates for side by side video both for full episodes and social media snippets.
This has been a game changer for the GR Media Team and for our clients.
#3 Your Headphones
Last but not less important are you podcasting headphones. Many people wonder why podcasters wear them. Apart from being a standard and loudly shouting “Hey I am a podcaster now” they have some very important functions.
- Monitoring your audio during recording it. For a beginner and by that I mean before you can afford to have a producer or a dedicated sound guy, it’s essential for you to monitor your (and your guests’) recording levels. There’s nothing more frustrating to record an episode only to realise that your guest’s mic wasn’t turned on at all, or the levels were too high and now the recording is useless.
- During recording, especially when recording remotely, you need to avoid your microphone picking up what your guests are saying e.g. your mic picking up sound from your speakers. This will result in a clean audio instead of hearing an unpleasant echo all the time. By the way, Riverside FM has a build in function to prevent that, just in case you or your guest forget to wear headphones.