I have been running and producing a podcast for the past three years. My podcast is a fortnightly podcast called Publish, Perish or Podcast. When we started I was doing some research on what equipment works and what doesn’t work. I wanted to keep it simple but not sacrifice the quality. Here’s the 2 person podcast kit that I recommend based on over 100 hours of published podcast content.
Click here to download a checklist that includes all of the recommendations made in this blog. Once you have everything ordered push record!
I like to think about the equipment you need from mouth to computer – after all, that’s the order that the sound is produced and captured. We’ll start at the first thing that sound from your mouth should encounter:
Pop filters are a largely overlooked part of the podcasting set up. They are inexpensive but make sure your podcast is nice to listen to.
Pop filters stop the harsh sounds from human speech (known as the plosives) from making that annoying “wind on a microphone sound”.
Below, is a video of the difference a pop filter can make on the audio captured by a microphone. In this case, they have used a simple foam cover to stop the plosives. Although, foam covers are not the only or best way to stop plosives.
I’d recommend looking into a dedicated pop filter like the won on the right.
The reason I recommend one like this is that it allows for a little bit of space between the back of the pop filter and the microphone which further disperses the plosive.
The good news is that these are incredibly cheap and a really efficient way to get professional audio.
The current price on Amazon hovers around about US$15 – 20. Click here to have a look at today’s price on Amazon.
If you are in the field and looking to do vox pops. These are what people do in the street with a single microphone to get interview recordings. In this case, a foam windshield is a perfect solution.
If you are in the field regularly and it is absolutely blowing a gale consider getting a hairy windshield (known as a dead cat). This is what they look like:
These “dead cats” are quite effective but it’s better to find a non-windy location to record if you have the choice. You can buy one for under US$20. Check out the current price on Amazon.
The next thing our sound encounters is the microphone.
The broad advice that I need to give here is that you should buy the best microphone that you can afford. That said, don’t buy the most expensive microphone just “because”. There are many cheap but professional options for your podcasting journey.
We purchased three of these microphones for Publish, Perish or Podcast and really recommend them:
The reason I like this microphone is that it can be plugged into a computer via USB AND it also has an XLR connector. An XLR connector is what you see on most microphones – there are three pins in a circular enclosure:
This allows you to use this microphone at your computer and also connect it to a sound desk, portable recorder or other more traditional sound equipment.
These are very affordable and the current price hovers at around US$70. Click here to check out today’s price.
Expensive (but professional) option
If I had the money and the opportunity to set up a permanent recording studio in a room these are the microphones that I would purchase:
These microphones hover at the US$400 mark and you can check out today’s price here. At this price point, I probably wouldn’t be carrying them around in my podcasting bag. Rather, I would be using this sort of set up for a home recording studio and podcasting room.
Once the sound enters the microphone it needs to go somewhere. Leads are the thing that carries the electronic signal generated by the microphone to your sound desk or recorder.
Cables and leads
Don’t get too precious about leads in the early days. In my experience I have never had a bad lead – no matter if I purchased it separately or it came with the microphone. In over 10 years of using microphone cables, I have only had to open one up to re-solder the connections.
The cheapest on Amazon at the moment is in the Amazon Basics category. It is less than US$10 for six-foot of cable. Check the latest prices on Amazon by clicking here.
If you need something longer or special about your cables consider soldering your own. I bought a very cheap soldering iron from Aliexpress and, after a very quick youtube search and binge I soldered my own cables with ease.
You’ll be able to spend a lot of leads but, just like tools, buy some cheap ones and then buy better ones if you break them. This is kind of a nice rule for a lot of things, podcast-related or not.
You probably don’t want to be holding your microphones during recording, either. Not only will it tire your arms and hands but if it’ll very easy pick up sounds of movement such as hands rubbing on the outside and small knocks and bumps as you are moving the microphone around.
There is a whole array of options for microphone stands and you’ll have to work out which one works best for you.
I have used floor standing microphone stands for all of my podcasting work. It means that I don’t have to worry about having a table nearby. The only downside is that they are very long and a bit of a pain in the arse to carry. Any more than two and it becomes a mission to get anywhere with them.
This is the sort of stand that I use:
These tend to go for around US$20 and you can check the latest price at Amazon by clicking here. Make sure you get a microphone stand with a boom section so you can swing it over stuff to your face. The mission with every stand is to choose one that makes it able for you to record in your natural position. You don’t want a situation where you are leaning unnaturally to be able to get your face close to the microphone.
If you’d like to set up your podcasting equipment around a desk then I have seen some excellent desk stands. Both for on top of the desk and versions that clip to the side of the desk like this one:
This type is also very inexpensive and is around the US$20 mark. Check out the latest price on Amazon here. Whatever you decide make sure that it results in a comfortable recording position that you can adjust with ease.
Okay, back to your sound journey. Getting the electronic signal from the microphone to a recorder is the next step in the recording pipeline.
Here’s the trick with actually recording your podcast – make sure that every microphone you record is editable separately. What I mean is to make sure that each person is recorded on a separate track. That way, in the editing stage you’ll be able to adjust volumes and EQ on each person separately.
I’ve seen it all too often when producers put microphones into a mixing board and record the output of the board not the individual channels.
Getting to my recommendation: I use the Zoom H4n.
This nifty bit of kit comes in at about US$220. Check out the latest prices on Amazon by clicking here.
The reason I love it is because I can take it anywhere and two AA batteries give me over 6 hours of recording when using the microphones above. It records each microphone on a separate channel. Also, it is able to record input from up to four microphones for when you have guests.
The set up is very simple – connect two microphones to the recorder via the two XLR inputs in the bottom of the recorder.
I’ve also heard that the Tascam Portable recorder is very good. However, it doesn’t have as good reviews online as the Zoom H4n.
So, that is everything you need to actually record your podcast but making it sound excellent will require a little bit of editing. So, I consider editing software as an essential part of a 2 person podcast kit.
There are plenty of free editing options for you. However, do yourself a favor and spend US$50 and get what the pros are using – Reaper.
Their license conditions are very relaxed and can be used on multiple computers. I love the interface, built-in effects, and support, should you run into trouble.
There we have it there are my 2 person podcast kit recommendations! If you’d like some more tips and tricks head over to my other blog post to find out more podcasting tips – click here.
Do you want help with starting your podcast? Contact me for help! I’d love to work with you on developing your podcast ideas and steer you away from the biggest mistakes people make!