Getting Started with Podcasting

These days, it seems like everyone is doing their own podcast, and with good reason. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing forms of media today. iTunes alone has over 1 billion podcast subscriptions. If you’re wanting to make your content available to a lot of people, podcasts are a great way to go.

Now that I’ve convinced you of how amazing podcasts are and why you should do one, where do you start? What gear do you need? What are some good podcasting techniques? Here in WebComm, we recently started our own Sooner Stories podcast, and we also have helped the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art record their Galileo’s World podcast. With a number of podcasts now under our belt, we’re here to share what we’ve learned and help you get started on your own podcast.

Now there’s a lot to cover with podcasting, so we are going to break this up into multiple parts. Today in Part 1, we will focus on the gear you’ll need to get started. In the later parts, we will get into with techniques and best practices. So without further ado, let’s talk podcasting.

The first thing you need to look at when you’re thinking about podcasting is equipment. Nothing will turn away potential listeners faster than terrible audio quality. You’ll need to invest in some good gear, but fortunately you can get professional-sounding results without breaking the bank.

 

1. MICROPHONES

First things first, you’re going to need microphones, the number of which will be determined by how many people you expect to be podcasting at the same time. There are two main types of microphones for podcasting: USB and XLR. USB microphones are convenient because they can plug directly into a computer, but the sound quality you get is usually much worse than a comparable XLR mic. For this reason, I’d recommend going the XLR route.

Here are a few of my favorite XLR microphones:

Rode NTG-2 – $269

ntg-2

The NTG-2 is a great multi-purpose mic. We use this microphone for both recording podcasts as well as for videos. So if you’re wanting a mic you can use for more than just podcasting, this is a great option.

Rode Procaster – $229

procaster

The Procaster is Rode’s microphone specifically designed for podcasting. While I haven’t personally used this microphone, it’s gotten overwhelming positive reviews, and is a great option if all you want is a podcasting mic.

Audio-Technica ATR2100 – $53

audio-technica-atr2100-microphone

This mic is by far the cheapest of the bunch, but still has very positive reviews. If you’re just looking for something cheap to get started, this might be the best option. As a bonus, this mic is both has an XLR as well as a USB connection, so you get the best of both worlds.

 

2. RECORDERS

The next thing you will need is something to plug those microphones into and actually record on. The most popular option today is to use a portable audio recorder.

Two brands I trust and recommend are Tascam and Zoom. Both brands offer recorders with either 2 or 4 XLR inputs, so how many people you plan to have record simultaneously will determine how many channels you need.

Here are the 4 options I would recommend:

Tascam DR-60d Mark II (2 Channel) or Tascam DR-70D (4 Channel) – $200/$300

tascam_dr_60mkii_portable_recorder_for_dslr_1084690             tascam_dr_70d_4_channel_audio_recording_1086798

Tascam recorders offer an incredible value for the money. Although they’re very reasonably priced, you’ll still get great audio quality with these recorder. Battery life is not great, but you are able to power the recorder through the USB port while recording. The user interface is also a little clunky, so there’s a slight learning curve in figuring out all the features.

Zoom H5 (2 Channel) or Zoom H6 (4 Channel) – $250/$400

zoom_h5_handy_recorder_1026852      zoom_h6_handy_audio_recorder_967366

Zoom recorders have long been a favorite for people wanting easy to use professional quality recorders while on a budget. The prices are a little higher than the similarly-specced Tascam recorders, but for that extra money, you’ll get much better battery life, as well as a more user-friendly interface. Sound quality between the Zoom and Tascam models are nearly identical.

 

3. OTHER GEAR

Once you have your microphone and recorder, there are few other small items you’ll need before you’re ready to start recording:

SD Card

No matter which portable audio recorder you choose, you’ll need an SD card to actually store your recordings. Unlike choosing a card for photography or videography, nearly any SD will work, regardless of speed. I would choose a 32GB SDHC card, because those are very universal and can be used by most recorders on the market.

Microphone Stand

There are countless different kind of microphone stands to choose from, so choosing one can be a little daunting. For just getting started, I would get something on the cheaper end of the market, because you can always upgrade and get something nicer down the road. There are two main kinds to choose from: table-top stands and articulating arm stands. Either one will work just fine, so it really just comes down to personal preference.

Pop Filter

The final piece of equipment you’ll need is a pop filter. Pop filters are necessary to help reduce popping sounds that arise with speaking of hard consonant sounds. Like stands, there are a million of these available, and they’re all pretty much the same, so I’d just choose something that’s affordable. Remember that you’ll need one for every microphone.

 

4. SOFTWARE

Finally, you’ll need a way to edit these recordings. This is probably the most difficult part, especially if you’re not familiar with audio editing. Fortunately there is some great software out there.

Garageband

For me, this is the software I use to edit. The great thing about Garageband is that if you use a Mac, it’s already installed on your computer. There’s a little bit of a learning curve in learning the interface, but there are tons of tutorials out there on YouTube to help you get started.

Audacity

If you’re using a Windows computer, or if you find Garageband too daunting, Audacity is another great option. This software is open-source, meaning it’s completely free and available on every operating system. You won’t have nearly the same level of control as you do in Garageband, but it will get the job done.

 

Now you’ve got an idea of what gear you’ll need to get started, so go create some amazing podcasts! If you need any help getting started or have any questions, we are here to help so please email us at webcomm@ou.edu.  Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll talk about some recording strategies and best practices.

 

-Drew

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