What Gear Do You Need For A Podcast?
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I am doing my podcasts very simply. That may be good for me (pretty cheap) but bad for my listeners if my audio output isn't that good (I actually think it is AOK, but I know squat about audio really).
My primary setup is basically a Plantronics DSP-100 Digital USB microphone for getting my audio voice in, and Audacity for Windows for capture, editing, and output (I am beta testing MixCastLive). This all done on a custom designed Windows XP SP2 system at home.
Others are doing some significantly cooler audio engineering work:
- Hugo Schotman (one of the first)
- PodcastRigs (by Paul Figgiani who does the excellent ThePoint podcast)
- Reel Reviews Setup (with podcast commentary)
- IT Conversations Setup (aka Doug Kaye)
- Bret Fausett's Setup (Internet Pro Podcast)
- Random Bytes
- Phil Windley's Technometria
- Lisa's Mobile Setup
- GeekNewsCentral (Todd Cochrane)
- Podcast Tools
- Dave Slusher (Evil Genius Chronicles)
- Adam Curry
- Michael Lehman's How To Podcast
- Adrian @ Linux Log
Also check out the excellent sites: howtopodcast.org & Behind The Scenes for good "how to do podcasts ... from recording to posting."
UPDATE: Jake Ludington on recording and publishing are good new references. And Eric Mack has pictures and details on his "mobile setup."
Hey Steve, there are four things that can drastically improve any podcast setup, regardless of how good the equipment is:
1. Make sure you record in a space that has as little background noise and as few echos as possible. Some people have suggested recording in a closet. It's not that bad of a suggestion!
2. Use proper mic positioning and technique. The most important tips: Don't talk directly into the mic unless you have a pop filter (a screen that goes between your mouth and the mic...you can use stretched pantyhose if you're on a budge). Stay close to the mic, usually within 4-6 inches. Try positioning the mic above, below, and to the side of your mouth (always pointing the mic at your mouth) to see which gives the best sound. Don't hold the mic or touch it while you're talking. Once you find the best mic position, try to maintain that position while you're taking without shifting around (mics are usually very sensitive to distance).
Here are a few sites with additional helpful information on micing:
3. Watch your levels. Somewhere in your recording software or your preamp (if you're using one) there is a level indicator. You want to make sure that you keep it as close to the red (or 0db) as possible without going into it. If you need to speak loudly to make a point then move away from the mic slightly. If you need to speak quietly then move in. As a rule, you're better off with your levels a little too low than a little too high. (Too low will add some noise into the mix. Too high will clip your sound and sound like you have blown speakers.)
4. Use a compressor. You can use a hardware compressor between the mic and the computer or you can use a software plugin in your editing software if it supports it (Audacity does). There are plenty of free compressor plugins available. A compressor simply brings the the soft and loud sections of your recording closer together (but it won't fix problems with levels being too high).
Follow these four tips and you'll be surprised at how good you can get your budget mic to sound!
The GodCast Network
Posted by: Craig Patchett | Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 04:29 PM
Do you have a list of the best equipment?
Posted by: Gary Trexler | Wednesday, February 09, 2005 at 07:52 PM
In scoping out the equipment needed to podcast with two microphones, it seems like it would be best to go with two Shure microphones and a mixer. Is that correct? And I guess two sets of headphones?
Posted by: Jill Hurst-Wahl | Monday, December 11, 2006 at 07:16 AM
Jill ... at a basic level if you are trying to record a conversation by two people sitting in the same room what you describe is probably sufficient to get started. There may be some more research to be done on the microphones depending on your budget and you should look at the mixer recommendations over at (http://podcastrigs.com/). Once you have the gear and you do your recording like to a open source applicaiton like Audacity, you should be able to output an MP3 that is easy to post. - Good luck! Steve (AztecMedia.net)
P.S. I actually use two microphones in to my Marantz 660 recorder and then I do all post production on an iBook G4 using Audacity + a couple of other tools.
Posted by: Steve Holden | Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 04:58 PM
I will be doing podcasts very soon..
and am very confused about the equipment needed to do the podcast via phone...
Posted by: armywifetoddlermom | Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 09:05 PM
Hello! -- Congrats on starting your podcasts.
Phone recording is definitely a challenging topic.
I use two approaches. One is I use SKYPE to record phone conversations, and second I actually use a phone splitter from radioshack to capture the audio directly from a telephone conversation.
The first version is great if people are comfortable with technology. The second one works better for the technically challenged. The bad news about the second option is that the noise levels can be bad, so you'll probably have to use a tool to post production noise reduction and leveling. I use Audacity and SoundSoap to do post production noise reduction. There is a great new tool called Levelator for doing sound leveling that I highly recommend.
I hope this information makes sense.
I do highly recommend the book Podcast Solutions ... it covers this in detail (including a more high end solution called digital hybrids).
Good luck! -- Steve
Posted by: Steve Holden | Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 01:43 PM
Would you change/update any of your recommendations? I am basically looking to record voice audio (so I need equipment and software) that I could then put on our websites (i.e. reading excerpts from my book, or a short lecture). Thank you and great site!
Posted by: Darien | Friday, April 20, 2007 at 02:37 PM
For getting started ... you can not beat a USB microphone and Audacity (Mac, Windows, Linux). I have matured my basic setup to include a Samson C01 Microphone and Beringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 pre-amp recording into a Marantz 660 recorder. Mostly because I built a recording studio into one of my spare closets for better acoustics. - Steve
Posted by: Steve Holden | Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 05:08 PM
If i already have a behringer djx 700 mixer and 4 turntables connected to it i want to connect that mixer to the other mixer for the podcast is that possible
Posted by: Dj Arsenic | Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 09:12 AM
DJ Arsenic ... You should be able to take the mix'd sound from your DJ mixer into your podcast mixer and then record to computer or other recording device. I am not sure why you need the second mixer. - Steve
Posted by: Steve Holden | Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 08:35 PM