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Lesson 3: Podcasting Technology
Something that most people getting into podcasting want to focus on is the technology and equipment. It is very easy to get distracted and stuck looking at all the different options:
It doesn’t haven’t to be expensive
I have heard of many people getting into podcasting and jump in, buying a ton of expensive equipment. While I can admire the desire to get “the best” right away, many times it’s not necessary. Hopefully, I can help give you a better understanding of what is available and what you might actually need. As we go through, I’ll mention several options at varying price points. But you can also count on the fact that I won’t recommend anything that I either haven’t used personally or have had good reviews from podcasters I thoroughly trust.
I want to start with headphones because these can make or break your podcast if you are doing anything but a solo show. And headphones can be either over the ear, over the head, or even earbuds – just something to bring the sound straight to your ears.
If you are doing a solo show, this may not be as critical, other than being able to monitor your volume levels.
If you have other people and your all in the same room, headphones also may not be necessary. But, again, it can help you all monitor the volume levels and be able to hear what sound is making into the recording.
If you are talking with guests remotely (Skype, Zencastr, or other online service), headphones are a must. If you don’t use headphones of some sort, the other person’s voice will get into your microphone and create an echo that is difficult or impossible to remove.
Microphones are probably the most popular piece of podcasting equipment for people to obsess over. And for good reason. It’s the microphone that lets you be able to get your voice recorded.
There are basically two type of microphones – condenser microphones and dynamic microphones.
From the Shure website:
- When it comes to microphones, you often hear debate over which type is better: dynamic or condenser. This comes down to two technical characteristics: output level and frequency response. Condenser microphones usually are more sensitive and provide a higher output level. A higher output level can be useful because the signal doesn’t need to be amplified as much by the mixer. Amplification adds hiss, and less-expensive mixers generate more of it.
- Condenser mics have better response to high frequencies than dynamic mics. This gives condensers a crisp, detailed sound; however, it can be a problem for podcasters who record at home. When you use a condenser mic, you risk picking up too much of the shhh sound from air vents or extra noises from the lips and tongue. Dynamic mics naturally mask these irritants just like a soft-focus filter on a camera hides blemishes.
Generally, I and many other podcast consultants recommend dynamic microphones. This is due to the fact that most podcasters record from a room in their house and their rooms are usually not professionally sound-treated. Another reason for this is because of mic-technique – dynamic mics are a little more forgiving.
Here are some of my recommendations for dynamic mics:
- Audio Technica ATR2100 USB – $65
- Audio Technica AT2005 USB – $80
- Samson Q2U – $60
- Heil PR-40 – $325
- Electrovoice RE320 – $295
Audio mixers and audio interfaces
If you are doing a solo show you may not need an audio mixer. Usually a mixer is used to bring in multiple microphones or sound sources.
Also, depending on the microphone you are using, you may not need a mixer or audio interface. Some microphones can plug directly into your computer, so there would be no need for another device.
Basically, don’t worry about getting one unless you really need one.
There are different sizes of mixers by companies like Behringer and Mackie. Some of these also have the option of connecting to your computer via USB.
The Scarlett Focusrite audio interfaces are also really good if you have a microphone that doesn’t have a USB connection.
A digital record is a device that allows you to record and then transfer the audio file to your computer either via a USB cable or an SD card.
This is another piece that is optional. If you don’t use a digital recorder, you’ll need to be able to record into software on your computer.
Zoom makes some really good digital recorders. I would recommend:
- Zoom H4N Pro
- Zoom H5
- Zoom H6
There are several different pieces of software that you may consider using.
- For recording
- Hindenburg Journalist
- For editing
- Hindenburg Journalist
- For ID3 tags
In the next lesson, we will talk about hosting options, both for your podcast audio and for your website. We’ll look at the differences between the two and why you need a dedicated media host.