Podcasting Equipment - Your Home Studio Checklist
If you want to create regular podcasts, one of the first things you need to do is to create the home equivalent of a studio. Don’t worry, the cost of equipment has gone down, largely due to the increasing popularity of podcasting. There are many products available, and you can pick the ones that suit your budget and your needs. Some stores will even sell podcasting packages, which will let you save on the total costs of the equipment.
One of the most overlooked aspects of podcast recording is the environment. Some rooms tend to emphasize certain frequencies, creating distorted sound (such as bathrooms, which cause reverberations, and carpeted rooms which emphasize bass tones). To balance this, use an irregularly shaped room, or install standing screens and incorporate a mixture of surfaces to balance the effects. If budget is a problem, you can hang duvets in the area immediately surrounding your mic, so you can reduce the room’s effect on your acoustic quality.
Other basic tools include a good quality microphone, a sound mixer, an audio interface for your computer, a computer, and studio monitors or speakers. These speakers let you preview your broadcast. Ideally you should have professional quality studio monitors, but an above average computer speaker system may work for the moment.
Some podcasters like to incorporate different sound elements. This is good, since it makes a more interesting audio experience and can truly set apart your podcast from the run of the mill, amateur creations. Consider investing in musical instruments (if you know how play), turn tables, or at least find a way of connecting your CD player with cables.
The majority of your budget should go to your microphone, which determines the quality of signal you get. (You will also need sound monitors to help you check the output.) The quality you get from a bad microphone can’t be fixed, while the quality from a good microphone can make up for problems you have from a less-than-ideal acoustic room set up. The prices of decent microphones start at a hundred dollars, but many professional podcasters recommend XLR microphones priced at about two hundred and fifty dollars. If you have more than one audio source ideally you should have a multiple microphone set up.
Microphones are plugged into mixers, which let you play with the sound levels, adjust equalization and pan your mic signals. Invest in mixers that let you handle several sound sources, even if you’re currently using only one. That way when you buy other equipment you can still use your mixer. It’s cheaper in the long run.
When choosing a mixer, consider the number of channels, the digital features, and the quality of the electronics. Most professional podcasters agree that you should get a mixer with at least 12 channels, and a maxiumum of 16 channels (most home studios don’t need any more than that unless you want to permanently attach certain equipment.) Digital features let you include effects like reverb. But the most important to thing to watch out for is that the mixers should be durable and endure wear and tear, and that it will remove most of the background noise.
All of these items are available at your local electronics store or
another good source where you may be able to grab a bargain is Ebay. See
below for what is currently on offer.