So, you’ve decided you want to make narrative podcasts. Great! The next step is to make sure you have the minimum podcasting equipment required to actually record and produce your podcast. As with any electronic equipment, the range of prices and quality can be pretty vast. For our purposes, I will outline the basic necessities needed to start creating podcasts, including the approximate price range for mid-level pieces of equipment. If you have a larger budget, or a desire for higher-end equipment, you can obviously purchase higher-priced options. The same applies if you need to go with less-expensive options. Let’s dive into the pieces of podcasting equipment that are must-haves.
Microphones ($50 to $100)
The most important piece of equipment you need to begin podcasting is a microphone with which to record your character dialogue. There are two main types of microphones podcasters tend to use, dynamic mics and condenser mics. Both have their pros and cons and tend to be helpful for specific tasks.
Condenser Microphone: Condenser mics are the typical microphone used for studio recording. They are usually a little more fragile than some other microphone options, and thus are not the best option for recording in the field. They do however tend to have decent dynamic and frequency ranges, which makes them perfect for studio recording. If you only have one microphone, this is the type to have.
Dynamic Microphone: I refer to these as “rockstar mics,” as they are the microphones you typically see musicians use when playing live shows. Dynamic mics offer sturdier construction than condensers, making them better suited to recording outside of a studio. They tend to have a smaller frequency range than condensers, however, so they won’t pick up quite the range of sound that a condenser is able to pick up.
Headphones ($50 to $100)
It’s also extremely important that you have a quality set of headphones, in order to make sure that you can accurately hear every sound that your microphone picked up. Most consumer headphones are designed to play music or movies, and therefore enhance certain frequencies common in these types of media. For podcasting though, you want a more accurate reproduction of your audio, which is achieved with something called a “flat frequency response.” The key thing to look for when purchasing headphones for podcast production is to make sure the headphones are labeled as “studio” or “monitor” headphones. These headphone types are designed to maintain a flat frequency response and will give you a better idea of what your recorded audio actually sounds like.
Audio Editing Software (Free to $400)
The final piece of equipment required to produce narrative podcasts is the audio editing software of your choice. This is where the majority of your production work will take place. Editing software allows to you combine audio tracks, add in music and sound effects, and clean up background noises from any of the files you recorded. There are a number of products you can use, and which is best for you depends on your comfort level with the software and your budget. Essentially, you just need to make sure that you have access to software that allows for multiple tracks. Some popular audio editing software includes Adobe Audition, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Logic, and Hindenburg. These are all purchased software and have varying cost points. If you are looking for free audio editing software, Audacity is an excellent option, as is Garage Band for Mac users.
Additional Optional Equipment
There are additional optional equipment pieces that are not required to produce narrative podcasts but that can be quite useful if you have the budget to purchase them. The first is either a soundproof studio space or a portable sound absorber. If you have a studio space available, lining the walls with sound dampening panels or egg crate foam will cut down on the audio waves that bounce around the room, and give a crisper and professional sound to your recording files. If you do not have a studio space available, purchasing a portable sound absorber or isolation cube can help to minimize the amount of errant sounds your microphone picks up. These tend to run around $50 to $100.
The last piece of equipment I would recommend, if budget allows, is a portable field recorder. These are basically small, portable condenser microphones that allow you to record multiple tracks. They are excellent for capturing B-roll audio or ambient sounds that you may want to use while creating scenes in your podcast, as well as for field interviews. You can purchase a Zoom field recorder for around $150 to $200.
That wraps up the equipment you need in order to begin creating narrative podcasts. Once you have collected your podcasting equipment, you are ready to begin planning out your podcast. Next week we will look at the skillsets and timeframes you will need, as well as how exactly you can go about planning out your podcast project.