Podcasting Equipment Guide
My plan is to update this page frequently as I get more gear and use more stuff for podcasting. Also, I have Amazon affiliate links, and you can click them probably.
Like any hobby, you can get adequate equipment very cheaply, with diminishing returns to follow. I am using some entry-level gear that seems fine, but Marco Arment can really recommend some high-end stuff if you're into that. Right now, I'm using:
- Microphone: I use an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB as my microphone. It's very affordable and has USB and XLR outputs, enabling some useful functionality. It's also highly recommended by Marco. The one downside is that you have to make sure you are really close to the mic when you talk.
- Windscreen: This extremely affordable windscreen is basically good enough.
- I use Audio-Technica ATH-M50 for monitoring while I record (although mine are not the newest X-version). Relative to their great sound and noise isolation, these are really affordable, but not everyone will find them comfortable to use for long sessions. The comfort is greatly improved by these Brainwavz red velour replacement earpads, but it will reduce the bass, leaving you with a slightly more laid-back sound. Another popular affordable option is these Sony MDR7506. I had a pair of these in college (well, actually, the functionally identical MDR-V6), and eventually they deteriorated from years of abuse. I miss them sometimes.
- For editing, I use my favorite headphones in the world, the Grado SR60 (although, again, mine aren't the newest E-version). These are among the most comfortable headphones in the world, but the totally open design makes them not ideal for studio monitoring.
- Mic stand: I've been using the Heil PL-2T as a desk boom arm. The Heil mount seems pretty sturdy, and the covered channel that hides your mic cable from view is nice. The desk clamp is also pretty sturdy. I recommend using a boom arm because it clears up space on your desk. It also helps you keep a consistent distance and angle on the mic without you having to learn forward over your desk. I'm using the same extremely affordable Neewer shock mount that Marco Arment recommends.
- All software in the world is awful.
- I use Logic Pro X for editing. Garageband is free and basically good enough, but denoising and particularly the strip silence feature is worth the price to me.
- If you add markers to the timeline in Logic Pro X and export to .wav, you can use Marco Arment’s Forecast app to convert the .wav file to .mp3. The resulting .mp3 file will have chapter markers corresponding to the timeline markers inserted in Logic Pro X, which certain podcast apps support, including Marco Arment’s Overcast app. In apps that support chapter markers, folks can skip easily from segment to segment of the audio file, which is nice for quality of life.
- One thing I do recommend is SoundSource or Piezo or Audio Hijack for allowing you to monitor the audio from your mic regardless of whatever app you are using to record.
For Everything We Know About the American Heartland, we've been using several services for different aspects of the show.
- We use Skype for conducting the Internet call. Tom and Ruchit each use Piezo to record their individual audio tracks, and I use Audio Hijack to record my individual audio track as well as the combined Skype call at the same time. The Skype audio doesn’t sound great, but it’s good for redundancy and is something to synchronize the individual tracks with. Another option is Zencastr, which is a web app (that only works in Chrome for now) that provides IP calling and recording functionality. At the end of your call, .wav and .mp3 versions of each person's audio track are automatically added to your Dropbox account, making double-ended recorded extremely easy. We also tried Cast, but Cast wants you to use their browser-based editor for editing podcasts, and getting individual audio tracks out of it is kind of a chore.
- We use Linode for hosting our website. Tom manages our website mostly. If I had to do it myself, I'd probably use Squarespace.
- We use LibSyn for hosting our podcast audio files and generating our RSS feed. It's about $17 per month. There are tons of other options, including Dan Benjamin's Fireside.fm. I'm not sure I could confidently say one is better than any other one.
Other Podcast Gear Guides
Here are some other podcast guides I've found useful.
2018-01-16: Added Marco Arment’s Forecast app. Updated the paragraph discussing the software we use for recording.
2017-02-25: Added some thoughts on Brainwavz velour headphone earpads. They add a lot of comfort to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50, but do change the sound profile to be even more laid back. Also added some thoughts on the Heil PL-2T boom arm and this Neewer shock mount.
2017-02-21: Updated the services section to discuss the compression on Zencastr files and added Logic Pro X to the software section.
2017-02-18: The guide is live.