With 30 million episodes in June this year – and counting, more and more Americans are hopping onto the trend of listening to a podcast during their daily commutes, at home, or even at work.
So trust us when we say that this is one of the hottest, most rewarding marketing initiatives for your brand right now.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article – you’re probably considering just how to start a podcast.
It may look simple (and it really is once you’ve got a good game plan) but starting a decent podcast involves much more than just your smartphone’s recorder and earbuds.
Deciding on the type of podcast equipment can be tricky. Especially when you factor in elements like pricing, the number of hosts and features. Just searching ‘equipment needed to start a podcast’ will give you tens of thousands of results. There are tons of shiny, exciting gears out there – and it’s so easy to get sidetracked with what matters.
Critics might swear by it, but you don’t need to start stocking up on every single tool there is. It’s important to just start out with the essentials, and then slowly figuring how you’d want to grow that over time.
But of course, you’re not going to attract quality audiences with subpar recording equipment.
So that’s why in this article, we want to hone in on what’s going to work for you.
Pay close attention. We’ll take a closer look at the very best equipment needed to start a podcast in 2021 – so you’ll always churn out high-quality, professional and competitive episodes with ease.
Minus the jargon and confusing tech features. Do people still read that?
Let’s focus on how this benefits you.
But, before you get started…
If you’re still on the fence about budget and types of podcast equipment needed; you should use that time finalizing your podcast host.
Basically, this is where our podcast channel and all of its episodes live. Everything from data insights, monetization abilities, publishing, and other features can be tweaked and analyzed here.
We recommend Anchor for those in the midst of building your first audiences. But if you want something more power-packed and rich with features, we also summarize the very best podcast hosting platforms you can be on in 2021.
That’s out of the way – so let’s get down to business.
Browse Our Guide:
Here’s a Complete Guide to Every Type of Podcast Equipment Needed (For Any Budget)
1. Podcast Microphones
Mics, in general, come in two categories; condenser and dynamic.
If you’re only just starting out with equipment needed to start a podcast, this doesn’t have to concern you so much. Both of them have the same basic function, operate similarly and can be used in the very exact setting.
That being said, it will come in handy to understand the differences between the two. You might need to one day; when your channel gets more traction and you’re considering widening your podcast knowledge.
Dynamic mics are much lower on the scale of sensitivity. What this means is that they’re generally not equipped for picking up more detailed or lower sounds, which in some cases would give you flatter audio.
This doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing though. In fact, many podcasters opt for dynamic mics as it minimizes the overall feedback – background sounds that could disrupt the audio levels in a podcast.
On the other hand, there are condenser mics. Condensers are built to pick up high-frequency sounds more than any other type of mic. The sensitivity of a condenser makes it the perfect alternative for podcasters/speakers who intend to speak at a further distance from the mic.
You’re all caught up. So which one should you be using?
It’s not about which category of the mic is better than the other.
The driving decision that should influence your mic purchase is the overall setting of your podcast station.
In a nutshell, you should opt for dynamic mics if your environment is somewhat susceptible to background noise. If you’re operating your podcast from the comfort of your own room, next to a people-filled studio or the sorts – we suggest dynamic mics to cancel out that background feed.
If you’re lucky enough to have soundproof walls or to record from a controlled environment, the condenser mics would do the trick.
Just don’t use your computer’s built-in mic. Or the ones from your earphones. Bad idea.
• USB vs XLR Mics
Another distinction that you need to be aware of is the mic’s connections.
A USB microphone connects directly to your computer. Minus mixers, audio interfaces or anything else that needs to play middle man. Perfect for one host.
Meanwhile, the XLR mic has 3 separate prongs in its connection. You need some kind of audio interface here to connect it to your computer – as there’s no way to connect it directly. This is ideal for multiple hosts.
All caught up?
Podcast.co summarizes perfectly how the USB differs from the XLR. Read all about it right here.
As a guide, you can think about it this way:
Perfect if you’re just starting out and experimenting.
What you might need someday if you’re interested in getting more people on board, increasing flexibility.
Here are some alternatives to consider once you’ve made up your mind on the type:
Beginner USB Mic
Blue Yeti is no stranger to making high sound quality, versatile and overall amazing podcast equipment. Their USB mic especially is what many beginner podcasters will swear by! It’s basically the perfect USB mic for 1 person. Here’s why.
The Blue Yeti USB is pretty affordable for its wide range of features. It has 3 different condenser capsules too – for recording under different situations. It also lets you choose between multiple patterns; stereo, bidirectional, omnidirectional and cardioid.
You can take a look at how these patterns affect your audio here.
Much like all USB mics, Blue Yeti’s version will allow you to connect it straight to your computer for immediate recording. Plus, it has a built-in headphone jack! Just in case you’d want to listen to the recording in real time.
Intermediate USB Mic
We agree it might be a little steep in terms of price, but the Rode Podcaster is in a league of its own. With this dynamic mic comes an internal shock mount and a built-in pop filter; to give you close to perfect audio all the time.
Don’t confuse this with the Rode Procaster though.
The Podcaster was designed with the intent to capture accurate speech and to eliminate background noise that would be picked up by your average mics. Its tailored frequency and cardioid pattern is excellent and filtering out the unwanted – focusing on what matters.
Beginner XLR Mic
Affordable and reliable, the Shure SM58s is the perfect beginner mic equipment needed for a podcast. Again, it’s a cardioid XLR that uses built-in features to deliver excellent audio.
For its price, the SM58s does do a whole lot.
Amongst its many features, the SM58s has a spherical filter that minimizes that annoying “pop” noise when you exhale or talk. You can do this by using pop filters too of course (continue reading this article as we narrow down the best external pop filters!), but the SM58s has that totally covered.
It also has the sturdy steel mesh head construction, which protects it against accidental drops. High sensitivity for a dynamic mic. Noise isolation features.
Definitely, something to consider when you’re just starting out.
Intermediate XLR Mic
You can find the C214 in most recording studios; revered by tons of artists and music producers. It was designed to lead the game of high-quality sound, and be the ultimate mic for professionals looking to stand out from the masses.
Yes, that’s an exorbitant price tag. But bear in mind that the C214 comes ready with its own set of accessories including a carrying case, windscreen, and shock mount.
So you’re not just getting one mic – you’re getting the whole deal.
The C214 isn’t just pricey for no reason though. This cardioid-only version is a condenser mic that has a 1” capsule; which allows for your podcast audio to emit a natural sound. It’s the main reason why industry professionals swear by the C214!
We recommend the AKG C214 if you’re absolutely serious about upping your podcast game. $349 is definitely an investment; so be completely sure about this.
How About Best of
We recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR if you’re looking for ultimate versatility.
Why? This dynamic mic comes with a unique feature that supports both USB and XLR connections!
So this means that you’ll eventually be getting both sides of an amazing coin. Start off with a USB connection (for one host) and you can even branch out to include more in the future; without purchasing a replacement mic to support an XLR connection.
You can even find an extended accessory pack to use with the ATR2100 on Amazon – one that comes with a pop filter and awesome mic stand.
Speaking of maximum functionality. HUSTLR uses the Zoom H6 – the ultimate podcast recorder that comes with its own interface.
The Zoom H6 acts basically as an all-in-one recording solution – that even lets you double down on its own audio interface features.
This means that you don’t necessarily need an extra mixer when you’re connecting multiple mics. How cool is that? Plus, crazy useful if you’ve got guests over (it connects up to 6 external mics to run simultaneously!) and records independently without having to share a track.
You’ll even get two different detachable mic capsules included with your purchase. Although it is just a standard capsule, their audio quality is considered extremely wide-ranged. It even comes with low cut filters that help cut out unwanted popping/wind noises.
At a handsome price of $399; you’re actually getting a total deal.
We know it’s definitely an investment – so we recommend the Zoom H6 for expert podcasters who frequently conduct interviews or want to completely omit on an added interface.
2. Podcast Audio Mixers
It’s not impossible to operate a podcast without an audio mixer. But for a lot of reasons, many podcasters still insist on getting one.
Here’s exactly when to consider buying an audio mixer:
If neither of these requirements apply to you – feel free to skip this step.
However, at the end of the day, the logic remains the same. Audio mixers provide you with much more control over the delivery of your audio content; in terms of music levels, sound adjustments, inputs, and outputs.
If you’re interested in the very basic version of a mixer but with quality features; look no further than Roland’s Mixer.
The GO Mixer Pro allows you to create + stream your audio directly to the Internet. Best part? It’s tiny and portable – making it super easy to set up on the go.
Case in point, the GO Mixer is perfect for vloggers and podcasters just interested in the essentials of a sturdy mixer. You’ve got your 9 audio inputs to connect all of your sources (guitar and bass lines, condenser mics, etc) as well as powered perfectly with apps like Garageband.
Roland’s mixer uses 4xAAA alkaline batteries that go on for up to 4 hours. Everything about its ease of use and simplicity is also highlighted by just how affordable it is – so you’ll never have to worry about shelling out too much.
We promise; the Rodecaster Pro isn’t anything like you’ve seen before. As a venture by the Rode team – one of the podcast industry’s most notable equipment companies – the Rodecaster mixer is developed as a one-stop solution to a solid audio interface.
For starters, you’ve got your 8 smooth faders to adjust audio levels, 4 headphone outputs and inputs specifically, USB, phone and Bluetooth options that allow you a plethora of connectivity options.
Essentially – these mean that you can stream music through your mixer on wireless connections as well. There are even trigger pads that can be set up to play your podcast’s jingles and other sound effects.
Rode really outperforms the competition with this one. The Rodecaster’s huge variety of features is also probably why this mixer is priced as such. But we promise it’s worth it.
It’s so badass that The Verge actually published a whole review piece on it. Check it out here.
We know that we categorized this under the ‘professional’ capacity, but the Rodecaster is simple enough for beginners to understand as well. If you’re lucky enough to have the budget, go for it!
3. Podcast Mic Boom Arms
Okay, let’s face it. Whilst you might want to record your podcast by hand (to save budget, or for lack of space, etc.) it’s not the most viable long-term option.
For starters, it’s wildly uncomfortable. If your podcast is anywhere upwards from 20 minutes and longer –it’s a really bad idea to keep any mic in your hand. In the end, your audio will definitely pick up the sounds of you moving your hand around, and other rustling noises that come with it.
Because of this, it’s definitely an investment to get a mic boom arm.
A boom arm’s job is straightforward. You clamp your mic down through its retractable mechanism, positioning and adjusting your mic to suit you in any position.
Here are some great boom arm options for those looking:
You don’t have to go crazy with a boom arm if you’re just a beginner. One that performs the standard functions – clamping down on your desk and positioning the mic is perfectly fine!
For this, HUSTLR recommends the Neewer NW35 Adjustable Boom Scissor Stand. The stand extends up to 2.5 ft, easily set up and includes a table mount clamp with each purchase.
Almost every part of this stand is adjustable to a position that best suits you.
The bonus is, of course, its price. Neewer’s stand is affordable for its really high-quality and features. That’s probably why it’s so popular across the industry; ranging from beginners to recording professionals!
There’s definitely a step up from the Neewer’s price tag – but let us explain.
It’s impossible to compare the Heil PL-2T with any other basic boom arm. It’s simply in a league of its own.
This boom arm rotates 360 degrees, features a built-in channel to hide your microphone cable and 20 inch long arm segments for the ultimate experience.
The PL-2T is solidly built, strong enough to hold heavy mics (Blue Yeti ones included!) and hides any springs to give off a clean look. This is especially handy if you’re operating from a podcast studio – where you frequently have hosts and visitors over.
HUSTLR recommends the PL-2T for more intermediate to professional podcasters who want all the goodies of a boom arm minus the clutter and bulky design.
Heil is of course, yet another monster company that produces equipment needed to start a podcast. So you’re definitely getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to anything they do.
4. Podcast Mic Pop Filters
Remember when we talked about annoying “pop” sounds? That’s actually produced when you pronounce words starting with “P” and for certain breath exhales in between sentences.
You want to avoid this happening frequently. It diminishes the quality of your audio and can be frankly irritating to the ears of your listeners.
Pop filters are aimed at reducing these unwanted sounds. You might think that the little marshmallow cover on your mic could do the trick – but it’s extremely minimal.
To notice a real difference, a decent pop filter is advisable.
You might be wondering why we’ve divided pop filters into beginners and professionals. This is because even though their functions might be pretty direct, the durability and sensitivity of various pop filters are different from each other.
Beginners should generally opt for a pop filter that has decent functions without the frills. You can find this in the Nady MPF-6!
It’s got about 1,000+ reviews on Amazon and is rated a stellar 4 stars. We think it’s probably got something to do with just how unbelievably cheap it is – and for such amazing quality.
Most cheaper pop filters tend to break apart within the first few weeks, but the Nady is one that has yet to disappoint. It comes with an easy swivel, flexible gooseneck holder and built-in clamp.
As we mentioned above, there are usually different varieties of pop filters.
Whilst the Nady MPF-6 is a total catch in terms of pricing, these types of filters are commonly known as “panty-hose” screens and have a shorter shelf time compared to pricier, metal mesh filters.
Cue Stedman’s Proscreen XL pop filter is a unique piece of gear that takes a slightly different approach to solve the problem of “pop” sounds.
The Proscreen XL in fact channels the exhaled air downwards through angled slots, moving it away from the mic. It’s a patented design that allows for smoother, nearly flawless audio in the end.
It’s definitely steeper in price compared to the Nady MPF-6. But then again, it’s a total game changer if you want to distinguish yourself from the rest.
5. Podcasting Headphones
You might think that a decent set of earphones would do the trick for podcasting.
But if you really want industry-grade audio quality, a good pair of headphones are probably due here. Why? Well, the simple answer is because you want to minimize as much of background noise as you probably can. This is so difficult to do with earphones! Plus, headphones will have your speech come out much clearer – especially if you’re interviewing someone off the Internet.
So what are the features of headphones you should opt for?
Well, first of all, you’re going to want to lean towards closed-back headphones. Open-back ones (and earbuds especially) are more likely to pick up unwanted feedback from your surroundings, so that’s a no-no.
Now it might sound the same, but noise-isolating and noise-cancelling headphones produce different results. So while noise-cancellation might work better in other situations, opt for noise-isolating headphones for a podcast. Headphones that isolate noise are wayyy better at equalizing your audio and frequencies, so you’ll have a better chance of balancing your audio levels for a natural sound.
Affordable innovation, sleek body design, and full functionality; you can’t go wrong with these pair of Sony headphones.
The Sony MDR5706 is a wired headphone set that is amazing at dampening background sounds. It’s also super lightweight and easy to carry around – so when you’re not podcasting, feel free to use them elsewhere as you wish!
Padded headpieces also make it super comfortable for long-time use. All in all, the set comes with its own carrying case and a ¼ inch adapter. Just in case you need to plug them into an audio mixer.
The ATH-M50x from Audio Technica has been all the rage since their release in 2014. 5 years down the road and critics are still raving mad about just how perfect they are.
Just check this piece out from The Sound Guys. It’s rated an 8.5/10 and has over 1,400+ user reviews!
So what’s the deal?
We can assure you it’s not without reason. The ATH-M50x is exceptional at noise-isolation and blocking. We’re also big fans of its wide frequency range that allows it to pick up on more low frequencies of sound that not many headphones can do so well.
These headphones were also designed to be circumaural. This essentially means that it contours around your ears to provide awesome isolation in loud environments. The entire build is made from lightweight plastic, and the ear cups rotate 90 degrees to adjust as you see fit as well.
Audio Technica’s ATH-M50x went viral initially because of the YouTube community; solely for the reason of just how versatile it was. Likewise, it has been praised for being A+ as podcasting headphones because of its frequency abilities.
It also helps that they look just freaking epic. A total conversation starter!
V-Moda is a legendary brand when it comes to producing excellent equipment needed to start a podcast. They’ve over 10 years in the game; catering to the masses of podcasters, gamers, artists and other creatives that emphasize on quality every time.
One of their most popular headphones would be none other than the Crossfade LP2.
Let’s just start off by saying how solid the build is. It’s designed out of Kevlar-braided cable and metal shields. Even their plastic elements are just weighty and luxurious.
So why do you need all of these features as a podcaster?
Well for one, the Crossfade LP2 isn’t just all glitz and glamour on the outside. It was built for extremely long-term usage, with ergonomic cushions that mold to your ears and neck for ultimate comfort. Yes – this also makes it an excellent choice for those who spend hours on end editing podcasts. Then you’ve got their elements of powerful noise-isolation techniques, equipped with 50mm diaphragms that highlight even the lowest of sound frequencies.
To put it quite simply – the Crossfade LP2 is simply endgame. Sure, there are flashier (not to mention expensive!) options out there for podcasters, but this V-Moda piece is definitely top notch when it comes to the balance of sound quality and affordability.
6. Podcast Shock Mounts
If you’ve made it a habit of moving your hands around, slamming it down on the table or just typing during a podcast – you’re going to need a shock mount.
Shock mounts are there to absorb sudden vibrations, gestures or movements that can be easily picked up by your mic.
There are tons of shock mount options to choose from. However; their functions are pretty standard when it boils down to it.
The easiest way to decide on a shock mount is to get one from the same brand that you buy your mic from. Sometimes, your mic set would even include a shock mount!
Doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate or professional podcaster here.
The Rode PSM1 does its job efficiently, and without much setup knowledge necessary. Just hook it up to your boom arm via an adapter (that should come provided) and then clamp your mic down! Done and dusted.
7. Podcast Recording Software
Proper recording gear is important, but so is its software.
You have two options here; local recording and cloud-based ones.
To simplify things, local recording allows you to work with applications; either already installed or ones that can be downloaded on your computer. Files, audios and alike would be stored on your terms.
Whereas cloud-based recordings are stored 100% online. Live recordings, edits, and postproduction are all done on a web browser – which makes it the perfect solution for podcasters who are low on space too.
Both alternatives to recording software have their own power players.
Audacity is by far one of the most well-known local recording software out there. It’s a classic, straight to the point and 100% free option for everyone to use.
Adobe Audition is priced at $20 a month – for a wide variety of features. They do still have a 7-day free trial however for those interested in just starting out!
Zencastr comes with free and paid plans. Once you’ve outgrown the basic features, their plans are priced at $20 for professionals and $250 for large networks.
Cast is divided into recording, editing and hosting podcasts from all around the world. Their online editor, however – is one that’s mostly raved about. It helps you adjust audio levels, eliminate background noise and all the stuff that makes your audio flawless. Cast’s most popular plan is priced at an affordable $10/month.
Wrapping It Up
Choosing the equipment needed to start a podcast shouldn’t have to be complicated.
To avoid thinking yourself to death about the little details, you want to narrow down your options on what works best right now and maybe in the near future.
With every passing month practically, someone’s going to come up with a new “holy grail” podcasting mic or shinier audio mixer; so don’t worry about missing out on the latest deals. The faster you get to building your mini-studio or set up your podcasting base, the faster you’ll be able to grow your business and podcast audience.
Also, while we’ve covered most of the equipment you’d need for your podcast, you would still require a podcast hosting platform to get your podcast online. We’ve got that covered in our guide for the best podcast hosting platforms – which you should check out before subscribing to a hosting plan.
We’ve also got a comprehensive guide on podcasting for beginners that covers the exact steps to kickstart your podcasting journey.
If you’re an active podcaster, feel free to share your absolute favorites with us. Or even let us know what you think should be included in this list!