Whether you run a blog and want to add a podcast or just want to start up a podcast from scratch, it’s very possible to set up your own podcast studio for a relatively low budget while still making it sound and look professional. Obviously, you can simply connect a headset to your computer, fire up Audacity and away you go, but if you’re willing to spend just a little more money to get a better-quality podcast, this is for you.
Before we begin, be sure to think about what room you want your podcast studio in. Think about room acoustics, as well as ancillary noise — try not to be close to anything that will be relatively loud (such as the laundry room), and if your room is particularly “echo-y,” hang up some blankets on the walls to dampen the noise and make it more soundproof. Other than that, feel free to do what you see fit to the room, just as long as you have the essentials — a desk and a couple non-swiveling chairs that aren’t squeaky.
This is obviously the most crucial piece of equipment that you need, and there are literally hundreds of mic options ranging from low-end models at discount retail stores all the way up to really-expensive models from Shure, AKG, and Neumann. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a large-diaphragm condenser mic, since those are the best for voice recording. They give you a deep, rich sound that will be great for your podcast.
Since condenser mics are very sensitive to mouth noises like “P” and “Sh,” it’s important to get some kind of pop filter or screen. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this — you can find decent ones for under $20.
Musician’s Gear 6″ Pop Filter – $14.99
The mixer is what will allow us to fine tune the volume, bass, treble, etc. of each mic. It will also act as a device to connect your XLR microphones to your computer. You don’t need anything too outrageous here — a 4-channel mixer will do just fine for your podcasting needs. Just make sure whatever you pick has the same number of XLR connectors as the number of microphones (or more). It should also have phantom power to power your condenser mics.
You’ll obviously need microphone stands to hold up the mics. If you have enough room on your desk, you can get shorter stands that sit on your desk. This is a cheaper option, but if you don’t want to sacrifice desk space, you can get regular boom mic stands.
You’ll need XLR cables to connect the microphones to your mixer and you’ll also need a cable to connect the mixer to your computer. This type of cable tends to be a 1/4″ cable with male connectors on both ends with a 1/4″ to 3.5mm adapter to plug into your computer’s sound input. However, some mixers can connect to computers via USB, so be sure to check the outputs of your specific mixer.
The software that you use to record your podcast with is completely up to you. Budget-minded podcasters would most likely go for the free open-source audio program Audacity, but others may choose a paid program like Adobe Audition or Apple’s Logic Pro.
The only accessory that you’ll really need is a pair of headphones so that you can monitor the audio. They also come in handy if you’re podcasting with someone over Skype — you don’t want sound coming out of your speakers to be picked up by the mic. It doesn’t really matter what headphones you use, just as long as you have something over your ears.
This article is meant to get you headed in the right direction and get started setting up your podcasting studio. Don’t feel that you must take my recommendations whole-heartedly. It’s just what worked for me and it may be different for someone else. Also, keep in mind that the more people you want on your podcast, the more money you’ll have to pay for microphones and such. In any case, good luck and have fun!
Image Credit: Christine Young