Podcast Equipment

My Podcast Setup July 2012

Since 2006 I have been podcasting, on and off, about gaming and New England gaming. I hosted one of the first gaming podcasts in the iTunes directory. For many years I used bare bones equipment that didn’t cost much. As I took podcasting more seriously I updated my equipment and continue to do so.

You can podcast using your computer, its internal mic or a cheap external mic, the free software Audacity, and free blog host WordPress.com. I don’t claim to have all the answers about podcasting. What I don’t know I find out. There are many great podcasts about podcasting that you can and should listen to. Two of my favorites are The Podcast Answer Man with Cliff Ravenscraft and The Audacity to Podcast with Daniel J. Lewis.

Below you will find the gear I use for my podcasts. I try to explain why I chose each piece of equipment and give my thoughts on its usefulness. Along the way I’ve made mistakes. A little at a time I’ve fixed the errors.

I wish you the best of luck in your podcasting endeavors. If you ever want to talk, please drop me a line at cwfgamecast@wargamingforums.com or leave me a voicemail at 347-470-GAME (347-470-4263).

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Hardware

Computer

iMac (Mid-2007) – Newer models starting at $1,199
iMac (Mid-2007) credit to http://apple-history.com/imac_mid_07

Macintosh computers are not cheap. But, they just work and it almost feels like they’re made for podcasting. I’ve used Windows machines, Linux machines, and Macs.

Only Macs have ever truly been plug and play for me. They come equipped with Garageband, which is great audio software, internal mic and camera. With a Mac you can start podcasting right out of the box.

Newer models come out all the time. Visit the official iMac website to learn more about this affordable Macintosh option.

Macbook (Mid-2012) – Newer models starting at $1,199293794-apple-macbook-pro-13-inch-mid-2012-light

Macintosh computers are my favorite to work with for podcasting. This Macbook Pro will be used to record live from conventions and other events. Previously, I needed to borrow my wife’s Macbook in order to record at a convention. Now, I have my own full of the programs and material I need to fully produce a show on the road.

Newer models come out all the time. Visit the official Macbook Pro website to learn more about this affordable Macintosh option


Microphones

Blue Snowball USB Microphone – $66.23 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to Flickr user drubuntu

You can start podcasting with a very cheap microphone. You could buy a cheap desktop mic starting at $8.39 but it won’t sound great. If you’re just starting off it is a cheap way to get going.

I used an older headset mic similar to the Altec Lansing AHS-6021 (affiliate link) headset mic from 2006 to early 2012. Some podcasters still use it. It is a decent mic. However, if you are going to be serious about podcasting you should get a studio microphone.

Many of my podcast episodes have been recorded with the Blue Snowball USB microphone. It has some positives and negatives. It is a USB mic that just works. Plug it into your computer and you’re good to go. The downside is it is a condenser mic, which means it picks up lots of background noise. That is not ideal for a studio setting. It also plugs into your computer, which means you’ll pick up the sound of your computer running or its fans blowing.

After waiting for about a year I picked up an XLR microphone that plugs into a mixer. That allows me to avoid computer noise, most background noise, and can expand into recording with other people in person. If you’re looking for something that just works, then the Blue Snowball USB microphone is a decent option.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone – $43.60 (Affiliate Link)
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone

The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is one neat microphone. It is both an XLR and USB mic. This means it can plug directly into a computer to record or you can plug it into a mixer. You get two microphones for the price of one.

The audio quality is good and the mic is considered one of the best dynamic mics at its price point. Leo Laporte did a comparison between this and his beloved Heil PR-40 (retailing at over $300). There is a difference, of course, but not as big of one as you’d expect.

I use this in conjunction with my new mixer.


Mixer

Behringer XENYX 802 Mixer – $60.16 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to Flickr user travisccook

Behringer makes some nice and affordable mixers. If you’re starting out and you want to buy a mixer then getting a Behringer is a good decision.

The XENYX 802 is nice because it has 2 XLR inputs meaning you can have a guest with you in your studio. The Behringer XENYX 502 mixer is great if you record on your own and is very cheap.

The mixer’s purpose is to combine many things together in an easy and accessible way that also should limit your post-production.

The microphone and headphones connect into the mixer. The mixer then connects out of it and into a digital recorder or into your computer.


Digital Recorder

Zoom H2 – $189.99 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to Flickr user zigazou76

The Zoom H2 is versatile. You can use it as a microphone. The device is also an audio recorder.

Talk into its integrated microphone or plug a separate one in and start the show. This is also fantastic for recording in the field.

I bring it with me to conventions, gaming events, or anywhere that I may get the urge to podcast in the real world. The H2 comes with a windscreen/pop filter, stand, adapter to hold the recorder, and much more.

Most podcasters have one of these to record in the studio. Export the mixer to the Zoom H2, record the audio, and then you can take that audio and do your editing on your computer. You never have to worry about the computer corrupting your audio while you record if you use a digital recorder.

The newest version is the Zoom H4N that many podcasters love. You can buy the H4N for $268.22 on Amazon (affiliate link).


Accessories

Blue Ringer Shock Mount – $43.79 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to Flickr user benhinc

Every time you tap your foot, touch the desk, move the mouse, or shift in your chair you send vibrations into the microphone.

It might pick up on them and distort the audio. To avoid this you need a shock mount.

Think of the shock mount as a cradle for the microphone. It suspends the mic in a cushion away from harm. The Blue Ringer shock mount is especially designed for the Blue Snowball. Not only does it fit perfectly with the microphone but it also works with any mic stand that has standard threads.

There are many shock mounts out there but the Blue Ringer is the best if you have a Snowball mic.

NADY MPF-6 Pop Filter – $18.16 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to Flickr user imyourbazz

You need a pop filter for your microphone. It goes between the microphone and you. When you speak you will use letters B and P that make harsh popping sounds.

Try this out. Put your hand in front of your mouth, palm to your mouth, and say the letter “B” and “P.” You should feel feel air hitting your hand. That is the same force that hits your microphone.

These harsh popping sounds are rough on listener’s ears. A pop filter absorbs the hard sounds.

It is possible to make your own with pantyhose and a coat hanger at little to no cost. Watch this Youtube video for some ideas.

I chose the NADY MPF-6 pop filter because it is affordable, clamps onto a mic stand, and sufficiently covers the microphone. It is very study and should work with any microphone.

RiteAV 6 Feet 3.5mm to Stereo RCA Male Cable – $3.69 (Affiliate Link)
RiteAV 6 Feet 3.5mm to Stereo RCA Male Cable

This may not look like much. Its only a cable after all. However, this cable connects my mixer to my digital recorder. Without this cable I could not record my podcast and the mixer would be a very expensive paperweight.

Be sure to find out what kind of cables you need for your equipment and then buy them. They won’t come with anything unless the box specifically says so.

On Stage Stands MS7701 Tripod Boom Microphone Stand – $27.31 (Affiliate Link)
Credit to www.onstagestands.com
The On Stage MS7701 Tripod Boom Mic Stand is the newest addition to my setup. It is very affordable and compatible with my existing gear.

The stand works with just about any microphone out there. The boom arm adjusts to provide the perfect counter-weight for your microphone. The tripod base is a sturdy foundation that minimizes vibration.


Headphones

Apple Earbuds – $29
Apple Earbuds Credit to Flickr user bcymet

Headphones are very important. A good pair allows you to hear your podcast how your listeners hear it. You can catch background noise you may have missed.

I am not using good headphones. The Apple Earbuds came with my iPhone. Better headphones are on my list of equipment to upgrade.

You could do worse than Apple Earbuds and you can do a lot better. If you wanted, you could buy yourself a headset mic that combines your microphone and headphones in one device.

Check out the Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic ($29) on the Apple Store.


Software

Audacity – FREE
Credit to Flickr user spo0nman

Audacity is fantastic, free, cross-platform software. It works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. You can easily record into the program and edit your recording.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been podcasting for ages you can be sure that Audacity is useful.

Please listen to The Audacity to Podcast to learn more about Audacity, and podcasting. In particular check out their Audacity focused content.


Garageband – FREE (with your Mac)/ $49 (part of iLife ’11)
Credit to http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/

Garageband is another great option for podcasters. If you have a Mac, then a copy of this came free when you bought your computer. Or, you can buy a newer edition from Apple.

It is easy to record and edit your recordings. I have a confusing workflow where I record into Audacity, use Daniel J. Lewis’ secret sauce, import my file into Garageband, piece together the various bits of intros, music, promos, and then release the episode onto the world.

Instead of doing that it is possible to use only Garageband, or only Audacity, for all of this.


WordPress – FREE!
Credit to Flickr user bobbigmac

WordPress is the most widely-used blog software on the planet. It is free, easy to customize, and just works regardless of platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile device, etc) or language.

With little to no programming knowledge you can easily install a WordPress blog and get it operational. They even have WordPress.com, which is hosted on their servers. That is the most affordable way of bringing your podcast to life (limited free options).

WordPress has revolutionized the way I use the web. It enabled me to put behind me the days of manually coding a website. Now, I can easily and quickly add new content to my blog. Each time a new podcast episode is released it takes me little time to write my show notes with WordPress.


BlueHost – $6.95/mo (Affiliate Link)

There are many web hosts out there and each of them wants your business. BlueHost isn’t like every other web hosting company though. They are one of 3 companies recommended on the WordPress website. BlueHost can get WordPress installed in less than 5 minutes. They are very affordable, provide tons of bandwidth and storage space.

BlueHost also has the distinction of providing live 24 hour, 7 days a week, support via telephone or live chat with real people here in America. They are based out of Utah and readily give support.

I’ve been with them for years and have been very happy. In fact, I’ve been so happy that I have joined their affiliate program to help spread the good word about BlueHost.

Updates

This list will be updated with my new equipment as I obtain it. Think I forgot something or found something better? Let me know by posting in the comment section below.