How to start a podcast

This weekend I took part in an Olympian event called WordSesh.

I loaded up Google Hangouts to join the discussion with six other hosts that also run their own WordPress podcast. We chatted about why we do what we do and what lead us to make this part of our routine.

Folks in the live chat were asking questions about the equipment and software we were using to produce our content. So here’s a list of software, hardware and advice for taking your show from the cutting room floor to the airwaves.

The best podcasting microphones

Without a doubt, this is the #1 question I get on Twitter and via e-mail.

I’ve read a lot of reviews, watched a lot of YouTube videos and listened to countless hosts  explain their reasoning. There’s plenty of mics out there, so do your research and pick whichever works within your budget. I own all of these mics listed below and they serve their individual purpose. (Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links)

The Logitech C615 – $50

Logitech HD Portable 1080p Webcam C615 with Autofocus

By far the most affordable solution for doing low budget audio and video.

This little USB webcam helped kick off my career in podcasting and video interviews. The biggest shocker of this little baby is the microphone. It does surprisingly well even from 3 feet away. It’s going to pickup a lot of loud ambient noise in your room, so be sure to be as quiet as possible.

Pro: Super affordable for combined video and audio.

Con: If you’re going to  do a lot of podcasting I’d invest in a better mic.

Blue Yeti – $100

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver Edition

The Yeti sits at the sweet spot of 100 bucks. It’s the go to mic I recommend for anyone ready jump into full time podcasting. It’s not that expensive compared to others and it serves as a great backup mic if you ever need it. I also found it’s great to travel with if you want to get your remote podcasting on.

Pro: Best bang for your buck when looking for a dedicated mic.

Con: Audio quality won’t capture all the mids and lows of a higher end mic.

Rode Podcaster w/ Boom and shock mount – $350

Rode Podcaster Booming Kit: Podcaster, PSA1 Arm, and PSM1 shock mount

This is the BMW (or Mercedes) setup of podcasting mics.

If you’re going to get the mic, you’re going to need the complete setup of the boom arm and shockmount. Trust me, it will make your life that much better. It hooks on to my desk with ease and I can move it around as I move around in my chair. Great for podcasting and screen recording.

Pro: Great quality, USB, boom setup.

Con: Still picks up on some ambient noise.

Heil PR-40 – $330 (mic only)

Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone

And this is the Porsche of mics. A solid build, great looking and awesome sound quality. Combine this with a mixer (because you need to) and you can tune every range of your vocals.

Pro: Awesome sound.

Con: Expensive.

Podcasting Software

Here’s some of the software I’m using to create and publish our shows:

Creating

  • Garageband: The defacto audio editor for Mac. I’m not a fan to be honest with you.
  • ScreenFlow: ($99) This is by far my favorite audio+video editing software I use on the Mac. It’s certainly not an over complicated app and gets the job done for basic podcasts all the way to walk through screen recordings.
  • E-Camm Call Recorder: ($20) I use this gem to capture and record audio and video via Skype. This is my go to app for the Matt Report podcast.
  • Google Hangouts: (Free) No surprise that Google is crushing it with Hangouts. You can have private sessions or broadcast live to the world right from your YouTube account. Amazing.
  • Skype: (Free*) Fairly straight forward. Combine this with E-camm call recorder to get the job done.

Hosting

  • Amazon S3I host all of my mp3’s and video here. Each link will be served up to the proper streaming services.

Streaming

  • iTunes: I’m sure you could have guessed.
  • YouTube: Another no brainer.
  • Stitcher Radio: As a publisher, Stitcher offers some great analytics and painless browsing for the end user. They don’t have the largest community yet, but it continues to grow.

Miscellaneous

Here’s some related accessories and such:

Behringer Mixer – $65

Behringer Xenyx 802 Premium 8-Input 2-Bus Mixer with Xenyx Mic Preamps and British EQs

This is the mixer we hook our Heil’s into to adjust recording levels and feed to our iMac. This particular model can hook up 2 mics via XLR — feel free to up that if you need.

Nikon D7000 – $$$

Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens

This isn’t the only HD DSLR body out there, but it’s the one we use to film PressThis, SEOLunch and FreshDev. (see: youtube.com/slocumstudio)

Our web shows are less than 20 minutes each and also involve using our higher end Heil mics. There’s more post production to be done with a format like this, but the end product is much more refined.

Pro: High Definition goodness.

Con: Expensive and not a mic.

Zoom H4N – $230

Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder

This is a great hand held recording device that I take with me to conferences. It actually has 2 XLR inputs so you could plugin your Heil’s right to the device and hit record. Audio is stored on an SD card and operates off of 4 AA batteries.

Pro: Compact with great audio recording.

Con: Expensive.

Starting your podcast

The greatest piece of advice I can offer: just hit record.

Sounds cliche I know — but that’s the best thing you can do. Don’t sit there spinning your wheels asking yourself if people will listen or not. Grab a mic, hit record, spill out your thoughts and post it to your blog.

The longer you wait, the more disinterested you might become. So stop hiding behind text and tweets — jump into creating your new age media today!

9 Comments

Good advice. For those that stumble on this, probably one of the number 1 things to keep in mind is about how well your mic eliminates outside noise. If you don’t have a quiet area to record in, that becomes very very important. The Rode Podcaster and the Blue Yeti are so popular largely for this reason in my opinion. I’d totally plus one these recs as someone that went a long time with a mic that did not do this well (the AT-2020 – a good USB mic, but not for a noisy environment.)

As for analog, I ended up going with the RE-320 by Electrovoice. It’s the little brother of the RE-20, which is basically a radio standard, even for the likes of ESPN and NPR. But the catch is it’s still cheaper than the Heil. I got mine used for $200 and couldn’t be happier. But, before you consider analog, know that there are more expenses. Even with a $200 mic, you will spend closer to $500-$600 once you buy the audio interface or mixer, the boom and the shockmount.

Anyway, here are a couple posts I really liked when comparing:

http://recordinghacks.com/2011/06/02/ultimate-podcast-mic-shootout/
http://recordinghacks.com/2013/02/20/usb-dynamic-mic-shootout/

And here’s a newish video review of what I ended up going with, and it does a good job highlighting the features I ended up choosing it for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XBBSfPnKa8

Great article and equipment list, Matt! I’ve been thinking about getting an xlr mic recently, and the pr40 seems to be the goto mic for podcasters. Will have to look into this and a mixer.

One thing I think is important, which you touch on a bit, is that not everyone is going to need a high quality or expensive mic, or even anything more than what is built in to your laptop. If someone is just starting out or even just experimenting, start with what you have. A laptop mic, an iPhone or android, or the gaming headset you already have. Just hit record, like you said, and start putting your thoughts out there.

If you find you like this and want to improve your audio quality, then you can think about a more expensive mic than what you have now.

Another point that most people miss, is the quality of the room that you’re recording in. If your sitting in a small room with hard walls all around you, it can sound terrible with lots of echo, even with a great mic. Mic placement and the room you’re in can have as much of an impact on your quality as the mic you are using.

I’ve got a podcast episode that demonstrates the effects of mic placement and room, here: http://blog.signalleaf.com/blog/2013/11/20/episode-2-the-mic-positioning-and-room-is-more-important/ the difference in room and position can be staggering. 🙂

Hi Matt—Thanks for the article. It is very informative and helpful.

Do you recommend a WordPress plugin to create/manage the podcast feed? Any recommended plugins to display the podcast in a player on your posts?

Great minds think alike Matt. I just published this article and then found yours.

My article is less technical and related more to the process we go through to create an episode of the podcast. I cover how we secure guests, scheduling and our questions template.

Between the two articles you’ve pretty much got everything you need to start your own podcast.

Keep up the great work you champion.

http://www.wpelevation.com/2013/12/create-wp-elevation-podcast/

Hi Matt nice list of podcasting equipment I’ve been doing my research because I’m starting up my podcast as well and this list will come in handy.

Most of us don’t have tons of cash to pour in to it right now so may I recommend placing a price list on some of these items so we would know if it was out of our budget. Thanks so much for the tips Matt very helpful

Leave a Reply to Troy Dean (@troydean) Cancel reply