PODCASTING EQUIPMENT TO CONSIDER
By Colin Kelly,
In our full day ‘Introduction To Podcasting’ workshop you’ll have the opportunity to try out a variety of equipment designed for various budgets and receive some personal advice on what’s right for your needs.
Here’s quick look at some of the things to consider.
Yes, you could podcast straight from your smartphone but it’s not always the best solution. Recording the audio is one thing, but when it comes to adding music, multi-track editing and moving beyond the basics of a simple single person monologue, life will probably be easier if you take advantage of a larger screen, proper keyboard and professional audio editing software.
2: USB Mic
A range of these are available and I’d recommend the Blue Yeti or its little sibling the Blue Snowball. The Yeti is big and heavy with a solid base but this makes it ideal for permanent studio settings. It’s omni directional so whether your podcast is an interview between you and one other person, or a roundtable chat with several guests, it will pick everyone up loud and clear.
The Snowball isn’t quite as powerful but offers a more portable solution thanks to its lightweight, removable stand. Any USB mic should simply ‘plug and play’ straight into your laptop.
If you only feature people you can physically get in front of in your podcast you are immediately limiting your range of guests. By using Skype, you can speak to anyone in the world and this opens up the potential for better guests and more engaging conversations. Just be careful about the audio quality — make sure everyone involved has access to a good set of headphones and quality microphone. Don’t rely on the in-built mic and some headsets are a little flimsy and don’t sound good. Do a practice first.
4: Portable MP3 Recorder
Your podcasts will sound more interesting if you’re able to get out and about and record material in different environments. Don’t limit yourself to the office or studio. A portable recorder such as the ‘Zoom’ range gives you lots of options and lets you capture audio from events, along with a sense of the atmosphere that they produce. Be sure to get a windshield too as anything you do outside might lead to interference from the wind or traffic noise. Most portable recorders include a flashcard that can be inserted into a USB card reader to allow the audio files to be transferred to your laptop for editing.
We’ll go hands on and in-depth with this free, open source audio editor in our full workshop but you can get it now and start learning at www.audacityteam.org Various other similar products are available but this is a good place to start.
A proper set of over the ear headphones (not the tiny in-ear headphones that come with smartphones) let you hear exactly what’s being recorded and are essential for anyone serious about podcast production. There’s nothing worse than going to all the bother of recording a great interview only to realise there’s a horrible buzz throughout it all and you can hardly hear your chosen guest. Decent headphones mean you can monitor exactly what’s going on while you are recording.
And that’s it! You don’t need much more than that and it might well be you already have some of the kit mentioned or don’t need some of it – for example you don’t necessarily require a USB microphone AND a portable recorder. As always, shop around and check out the many product reviews on YouTube.
If you come to our full day podcasting workshop you’ll be able to see and use some of the kit mentioned here first hand and be sure to bring any questions too and we can answer your queries on the day.