Best Podcast Multitrack Recording Equipment in 2020

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Podcasting is finally grabbing the attention of content creators and bloggers across the globe. Podcasts are extremely engaging and help you connect with a wide audience. It isn’t surprising that 2019 saw a 27% surge in podcast creation from the previous year. This figure is expected to grow further as more content creators hop onto the podcasting bandwagon.

One of the key advantages of podcasting is that you can get started even on a shoestring budget. Unlike video production, you don’t need a plethora of expensive equipment to record a podcast. Armed with a microphone, a laptop, and the right recording software, you can create a podcast series from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is consistently publish insightful content that compels your listeners to come back.

Having said that, it might be a good idea to invest in some essential podcasting equipment. For instance, a good external microphone ensures superior audio quality than the in-built microphone of your computer. Likewise, if you intend to have a co-host or invite guest speakers in the future, buying a high-quality mixer is recommended. The type of equipment you need will depend on your overall marketing goals and budget.

In this blog, we will take a look at the best podcast equipment for multitrack recording. Before doing that, let us delve deeper into the must-have tools.


Podcast Essentials: What You Need to Get Started


When it comes to podcasting, there aren’t any strict rules about the type of equipment you should use. However, a few things come in handy when you want to record clear and crisp audio. Here are the different types of equipment that you will likely need on your podcasting journey:


1. External Microphone


Even if you are a novice podcaster, you likely already understand the importance of using a good microphone. It is one of the most effective ways of achieving top-notch audio quality. While there are a plethora of microphones available in the market, most of them can be divided into two categories: USB and XLR.

USB mics can be directly plugged into a computer using a USB cable. They are less expensive and easy to use. XLR mics, on the other hand, have a 3-pin connection and need an audio interface to connect with a computer. Despite being more expensive, their audio quality is better than that of USB mics.


2. Audio Interface


It is an analog-to-digital converter that is used to connect an XLR mic to a computer. Audio interfaces usually have multiple input and output channels. Additionally, they provide 48V phantom power for condenser microphones.


3. Mixer


Mixers have been widely used for music recording and live concerts. Podcasters have also started realizing the importance of using audio mixers. Simply put, a mixer has multiple input and output channels and is used to control the levels and quality of audio signals. You can use it to add various effects and transitions. Many mixers also come with in-built audio interfaces.


4. Recorder


It is any device that records and stores your audio files. Many podcasters carry a dictaphone with themselves to record interviews. However, you can even use your laptop or smartphone as a sound recorder. All you need to do is install a recording software/app and run it when you want to record the podcast.

It is, however, worth mentioning that using an external recorder offers various advantages. It is portable and doesn’t restrict you within the confines of your home/recording studio. Moreover, multi-track recorders let you record more than one track simultaneously. This is particularly useful when you invite guest speakers or want to add sound effects, background music, etc.


5. Headphones


A good pair of closed-back headphones lets you monitor and control the sound. Keep an extra pair handy for co-hosts and guests. It is also a better idea to buy on-ear headphones instead of in-ear ones to maintain personal hygiene.


6. Computer


Even if you use an external recorder, you still need a laptop or desktop to edit your podcast. You can either upgrade your existing laptop or buy a new one. Watch out for specifications such as RAM, processing speed, and internal memory while selecting your podcasting laptop. You will also need audio recording software such as Adobe Audition and GarageBand.

Additionally, you can use various accessories such as microphone stands, shock mounts, and pop filters. While shock mounts absorb shocks and vibrations, pop filters help eliminate harsh plosive sounds from the audio. Before you hit the market to purchase your podcasting equipment, here are a few things you should consider.


Is it Mandatory to Use a Mixer for Podcasting?


The short answer is no. You don’t need a mixer to record your podcast episodes. A good microphone and recorder are enough to get started. As a beginner, the sheer number of channels and knobs on a mixer may even seem overwhelming.

However, if you want to take your podcasting journey to the next level, investing in an audio mixer is a good idea. The biggest advantage of using a mixer is that it lets you control the quality and level of each audio signal individually. This is particularly useful when you want to record multiple tracks and host live podcasts.

Moreover, using a mixer often eliminates the need for a separate audio interface. Most new-age mixers also let you connect your phone via Bluetooth. This, in turn, helps you include real-time telephone conversations in your podcast. It is a powerful way of making your podcast interactive and more engaging.

A mixer also lets you connect a remotely-located speaker via Skype. You can even add different opening/closing credits, background music, and transitions. You can also add effects such as reverb, equalization, and compression. It eliminates the need for audio post-processing and helps you achieve superior audio quality.

It is, however, worth mentioning that you should consider getting a mixer only when you have mastered other aspects of audio recording. You should also analyze your vision and goals as a podcaster before taking the plunge. For instance, if you want to continue as a solo podcaster, you may not benefit as much from using a mixer.


Does Podcasting Even Require More Than One Mic?


As a beginner, you might be tempted to record multiple speakers, ambient sounds, and music using the same microphone. It is easy to execute and requires less equipment. However, the biggest problem with this approach is that you lose the ability to control each audio signal independently. For instance, audio levels of different speakers may not match.

Moreover, speakers might talk over each other and cough/burp while another person is speaking. Recording all these audio signals using a single microphone doesn’t let you get rid of any unwanted sounds. It limits the scope of post-processing and, in turn, affects the audio quality.

That is why it is recommended that you use a multitrack setup for podcasting. Such a setup uses multiple microphones to record different audio signals. Each microphone is connected to a separate input channel of a mixer/recorder. It lets you manipulate individual audio signals and control various parameters such as gain, equalization, compression, etc.

Moreover, it makes post-processing easier by letting you remove undesired portions of individual audio tracks. This helps you edit out any mistakes/background noise without affecting other tracks. However, multitrack recording can be expensive and is only recommended for serious podcasters.

It is now time for us to take a closer look at the best equipment for multitrack recording:


Best Podcast Equipment in 2020


The sheer variety of audio recording equipment available in the market can overwhelm beginners as well as professionals. From microphones and amplifiers to mixers and recording devices – you will find a plethora of options for each. It is, therefore, crucial to select the right equipment that fits your budget and helps you meet your goals.


1. Microphones & Accessories


The first decision you need to make is whether you want to use USB or XLR microphones. You should also analyze whether you need any accessories such as boom arms and shock mounts. Here are a few of the best microphones available in the market:

Audio-Technica ATR 2100x

Priced at $99, it is one of the best podcasting microphones for beginners. The versatile includes both USB and XLR outputs, as well as an in-built headphone jack. Its cardioid polar pattern helps eliminate unwanted sound and background noise. It also comes with a sturdy tripod stand and three connecting cables.

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TONOR Professional Studio Condenser Microphone

Featuring a sturdy XLR mic, rugged scissor arm stand, table mounting clamp, shock mount, windshield, and pop filter, this is an all-in-one microphone kit. The best part is that it is easy to set up and is available under $50. The kit also includes a sound card that lets you connect the mic to your laptop.

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Audio-Technica AT2020K

This compact microphone kit includes a sturdy XLR mic and an adjustable boom arm with 360-degree rotation. The cardioid polar pattern improves sound isolation and eliminates interference. The wide dynamic range further improves the audio output. The kit comes with a pair of ergonomically-designed ATH M20x headphones. Priced at $149, this is one of the best microphone kits to take you to the next level of your podcasting journey.

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2. Digital Recorders


While you can always record audio on your computer, it is recommended to buy a portable digital recorder. Just like microphones, you will find different types of sound recorders across various price ranges. Here are the best digital recorders that deserve your attention:


Tascam DR-40X

Priced at $179.99, this sophisticated four-track recorder is suitable for mid-level and professional podcasters. It comes in-built USB microphones and works as a USB audio interface as well. The layout is an upgrade from its previous version (Tascam DR-40) and is designed to make the recorder easier to use. It also has a dual recording mode that can be used to record a safety track to compensate for any distortion.

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Zoom H5

This versatile digital recorder features a set of high-quality internal microphones as well as diverse external mic connection. What sets it apart from its predecessor (Zoom H4n) is the modular mic system that lets you replace the in-built microphones with other Zoom capsules. It is, however, priced on the higher side and may not be a good bargain for beginners.

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Zoom H6

This premium six-track digital recorder is the best recording equipment for professionals. With a diverse range of microphone inputs and in-built microphones, it is ideal for multitrack recording. The latest model features revamped mic preamps with ultra-low noise floor. Moreover, you can mount it directly to DSLR cameras and camcorder, making it suitable for all types of content creators.

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3. Audio Mixers


A mixer is a crucial part of your recording equipment and influences that influences sound quality. The first thing you should consider is the number of input/output channels you currently need. It is better to buy a mixer that has more channels than you need at present. Here are some of the best audio mixers:


Yamaha MG10

This feature-rich 10-channel analog mixer is everything that the phrase “value for money” embodies. Apart from XLR inputs, it has an Aux Out that lets you run a mix-minus setup for remote guests. It is compact and easy to use, making it one of the best mixers for home studios. The mixer also boasts an excellent noise floor and ensures that you get crystal-clear audio output.

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Behringer Xenyx 1204USB

This 12-channel mixer is an upgrade of the Xenyx 1202 and is suitable for hosting podcasts with multiple guests. Its best feature is the set of four high-quality phantom-powered Xenyx mic preamps that give you crisp and noise-free audio output. It also includes an in-built audio interface that is compatible with most operating systems. The sophisticated features make Xenyx 1204USB one of the best mixers for mid-level podcasters.

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Rodecaster Pro

This is not your average audio mixer. Aptly called the “Podcast Production Studio”, the Rodecaster Pro takes care of all your podcasting needs. Apart from its versatile mic inputs, the compact mixer includes an in-built sound card. This means you can use it as a recorder as well. It also connects to your phone via Bluetooth and lets you include real-time calls from listeners. However, pricing is on the higher side.

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4. Headphones


Headphones are one of the most essential yet neglected aspects of audio recording equipment. It is crucial to understand that you can’t use any average headphones while recording podcasts. Cheap and low-quality headphones often leak sound back to the original audio signal. It is equally important to ensure that the headphones are comfortable to wear.

While some microphone kits include headphones, it is better to keep an extra pair handy. The good news is that you will find a plethora of high-quality headphones at reasonable prices. If you are looking for an affordable pair of headphones under $100, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x is your best bet. The superior sound quality gives most professional headphones a run for their money.

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Another good option is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x with detachable cables. Apart from the high-quality audio output, it is also easy to carry around. If you’re looking for professional studio headphones with a wide frequency range, try the Shure SRH1540.

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Conclusion


There are a plethora of factors that influence the fate of your podcast series. Apart from top-notch content and high-profile guests, the quality of your audio plays a vital role. Sub-par audio with background noise and interference drives enthusiastic listeners away. The only way to achieve crystal-clear audio is to use the right podcasting equipment.

The key is to find the right type of equipment according to your budget. You should also outline your goals and analyze where you see yourself as a podcaster. All these factors will influence the type of equipment you purchase.

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