For when only the best will do.
There’s a lot of ‘pro’ podcasting gear out there, and it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here we present our pick of the best top-of-the-line gear that offers premium sound quality, while still not breaking the bank.
Covered in this article
Best Podcast Gear
- The best microphone for you
- Audio interface: do I need one?
- A new pair of headphones
- A good USB mixer
- Pop filter for clean audio
- A soundproof recording space
Best Podcast Software
- Recording / Editing Software
- Podcast / Website Hosting
Best setup for you
Advanced podcast gear
The two most important factors that affect your computer’s ability to process sound are the amount of RAM (memory) it has and the CPU’s speed (processor).
We recommend for professional podcasters that your computer has at least 16GB of RAM.
Concerning the CPU, you will probably need a quad-core processor to run the latest digital audio workstations (DAW). A dual or triple-core processor might not cut it.
Apple computers are used by most people when it comes to audio and video editing since it’s known for building some of the most powerful for that purpose. We recommend: 16’’ Macbook Pro, or the iMac
Let’s move on to the next most important item of our list: a microphone.
The best microphone for you
A microphone is a necessity in any podcaster’s toolkit, but you already know that. Although you probably own one, microphones today are evolving into being more precise and aesthetically pleasing than ever.
There are two types of microphones: dynamic and condenser.
Dynamic microphones are better for loud, strong sounds (like drums) and are the go-to during a live setting.
Condenser microphones capture more delicate sounds and higher frequencies (studio vocals, for example), which is why they are mostly used for podcasting.
XLR or USB?
XLR microphones are the standard in the audio industry; they are used by performers on stage, radio stations, and podcasts worldwide. Most microphones on the market are XLR mics.
USB microphones feature the same capsules and condenser elements as XLR mics - they have the same character and sound quality - but what makes them different is that you can plug them directly into the USB port on your computer, so they’re easier to use. XLR mics plug into an audio interface, which you need to purchase separately.
USB mics are "plug and play" and work with both Macbook and Windows computers. They make recording new podcasts simple and straightforward without you having to be an audio engineer.
Here are some options for:
XLR Mic: Blue Spark Blackout.
USB Mic: Blue Yeti USB Mic.
These are some of the best microphones, but how do you connect them to your computer?
Audio interface: do I need one?
If you buy an XLR microphone, you’ll also need XLR cables and an audio interface to connect it to your computer. Audio interfaces convert the analog signal from the microphone into a digital signal that the computer can use. You just plug the XLR cable into the audio interface, then plug the interface into your computer.
Note: If you buy a USB mic, you don’t need an audio interface.
Get one here: Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Interface, Behringer U-PHORIA
Whichever mic you decide to go with, you will definitely need a mic stand so that it doesn’t distract you during interviews.
An indispensable microphone stand
To avoid unwanted vibration noises, or having to continuously adjust your microphone position, you will need a stand. A microphone stand is an excellent addition to your setup as it lifts your show’s sound quality and protects your gear simultaneously.
Below are two great stands that we think you will appreciate.
Table Stand, Arm Stand.
Even though you may not be ready to give up your favorite pair of headphones, there are always new options that come along that might make you change your mind.
A new pair of headphones
Headphones are essential to prevent you from making mistakes and having to record retakes.
Closed-back headphones are highly recommended to record podcasts because the open-back ones will cause your microphone to pick up the sound coming out of the headphones, reducing your audio quality.
Here are our favorites: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Now that you are all set, you’re going to want to offer your guest a proper new setup as well.
If you want to have several podcast hosts and guests in the same room, a headphone amp is needed so that each person can have a pair of headphones. It's like a headphone splitter and amplifier all in one.
Recommended headphone amplifier: Behringer HA400 (you’re going to need a TRS cable to hook it up)
With all of this plugged equipment, a device that controls them all will allow everyone to get the most out of this experience.
A good USB mixer
A good-quality USB mixer will help balance the sound levels, EQ, gain, and give you a better overall grasp of your audio output, so you can continue creating a great podcast. It's not a necessity, and not every podcaster owns a mixer as they can get a bit expensive, but different options fit every budget.
We recommend Yamaha MG10.
However, none of these will certainly give you clean audible content free of unwanted noises.
Pop filter for clean audio
Pop filters were created to prevent plosives (the pop sounds you make while you are speaking) by adding a filter layer that slows the airspeed. Musicians and podcasters swear by them as they tend to improve audio sound without adjusting the way someone speaks.
Without a pop filter, your podcast episodes may contain plosive pops and ultimately degrade your sound quality.
Here are some recommendations: Neewer, Elgato Wave
A soundproof recording space
If you haven’t already invested in a soundproof recording space and your setup room has a lot of echoes, some acoustic treatment can go a long way to improving your sound quality.
Check this out: LyxPro Sound Absorbing Acoustic.
Professional podcast software
There are many different programs that you can use to record and edit podcast audio, but here are the best of the best for you to use in 2021.
Recording / Editing Software
Once you’ve recorded your audio conversation, you may need to edit it to remove unwanted parts and just keep the best bits.
Adobe Audition is part of the Creative Cloud suite, so you have access if you already have a subscription to the full suite. You can also get it for $20/month separately. It is made explicitly for podcast production and has advanced tools just for that. We highly recommend Audition for podcasting – and there are a ton of easy-to-follow tutorials online to help you get started.
You can purchase a 1-year subscription from Amazon here or click the button below to sign up directly through Adobe: Get Adobe Audition.
Avid Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools has been around since 1989; it is a very well-known DAW, especially when it comes to music production or anything that has to do with audio. It has changed and improved a lot over the years and has been used by almost all field professionals. It costs a lot - the perpetual license version of Pro Tools Standard costs $599 and comes with a free one-year upgrade. To get your copy of Pro Tools up to date in the second and subsequent years, you will need to spend $99 per year on an upgrade plan- but if you are looking for a premium sound quality, you can’t get better than this.
Podcast / Website Hosting
Podcast hosts are essentially file servers that provide an RSS feed of all your audio files, which are used by podcast player apps. Podcast hosts often provide other things too, like download analytics and sharing tools, so you’ll need to invest in the best one if you want your podcast to succeed.
If you need to keep your audio content private and grant selective access to individuals or groups, then Transistor is the podcast host for you. With a range of properties catering to business needs, it's a great podcast host that's worthy of consideration.
The best professional setup
Optional: Acoustic Treatment: Headphones Amplifier (Behringer HA400), Acoustic Treatment (LyxPro Sound Absorbing Acoustic)
Estimated total price range: $2000 to $4000
Podcasts are very trendy right now, and perhaps a lot of people around you are launching their own. It’s understandable, considering that podcasting offers the opportunity to both be heard and to use your voice for something that matters to you.
Great sound quality is ‘table-stakes’ now in the podcasting world, which is why upgrading your equipment can be a quick-win towards creating excellent audio content.
If the prices above are a bit high for you, or you want to try before you buy, you even could consider renting the equipment.
What’s your podcast setup today? Are you thinking of an upgrade soon? Let us know!