When you’re starting a podcast, it can get overwhelming! There are a lot of moving parts, gear to get, and tools to try. But fear not! Here’s the best podcast setup for beginners. I had 2 important goals when putting this list together:
- It needs to be affordable (ideally less than $100 with low monthly costs)
- It needs to offer an easy path to start.
Let’s get started!
Microphone: Samson Q2U
A good mic is the first step in producing a quality podcast, and starting out you don’t need to break the bank. A good USB mic (one that plugs right into your computer) is all you need. I recommend the Samson Q2U for that reason. It’s widely recommended by professional podcasters, is versatile, forgiving, and it also has an XLR for when you’re ready to upgrade. Plus, you can usually find it for less than $80.
Helpful (Optional) Accessories
Another great thing with the Samson Q2U is that it comes with a windscreen/pop filer, cables, and a stand. If you’re looking for a couple more accessories, I recommend:
- Pop Filter – This will prevent hard ‘P’ sounds, called plosives, from making it into your recording.
- Shock Mount – This will prevent shakes from hitting your desk or other small vibrations from making it onto the record. It varies by mic.
- Boom Arm: This will keep the mic out of your way.
You also need headphones if you’re recording. This will prevent echo from your speakers making it into the recording. If you have a guest, insist on them using headphones as well. It will make editing much easier.
You probably already have some, but if not, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X are great and affordable.
Pro Tip: Your Room Setup
Often, your recording environment has more to do with your sound quality than your mic. Check out this guide on room acoustics to make the most of your space!
Audio Host: Buzzsprout
You need someplace to upload your podcast, and it will likely be your biggest investment. While many people choose Anchor, I’m against picking a free host…especially if you’re planning to use the show as a revenue generator. However, Buzzsprout offers the best of both worlds: there’s a limited free plan to try it out, and when you’re ready to upgrade, there is stepped pricing depending on how much you use the hosting.
Plus it’s got lots of great features, from beautiful stats and dashboard, to dynamic pre-roll and post-roll recording. That means you could easy add an intro and outro, and change it at any time without a bunch of editing!
My favorite feature is that you can publish right to Buzzsprout from Descript, which we’ll talk about later.
Solo Show: Descript
I’ll make this simple: if it’s just you, I recommend recording and editing with Descript. It’s fast, easy, and auto-generates transcripts. You then edit by deleting text. And it has a feature called studio sound, designed to clean up your audio. It could not be easier. I use it for my solo shows and love it.
Oh…and it does video too.
Interviews / Streaming: Riverside.fm
If you’re doing interviews, I recommend Riverside.fm. It’s got a free plan to get started and then tiered pricing after that. It records high quality, local audio and video for you and your guests, and gives you synced separate tracks. It’s like you’re recording in the same room, and it meets my high standards for audio quality.
Pro Tip: Your Podcast Format
When you’re starting your podcast, I recommend the path of least resistance, and doing interviews has inherent resistance and complications. Instead, I strongly recommend starting a Mini Podcast – they are short (less than 20 minutes), solo, and you can record a bunch at a time.
Before You Start
There are also a few things you should consider, before you start:
- What is your show’s mission statement? This will be the guide for you to create content, serve your audience, and make money. Speaking of…
- How will your show make money? It’s fine if you don’t right away, but if you want it to be a part of your business, and not just a hobby, you need to make that consideration now.
My final piece of advice is to get your reps in! The best way to become a better podcaster is to record podcast episodes.
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