What is the first thing that you notice while listening to a podcast? Is it the quality of the content or the tone of the host? Perhaps it is the profile of the guest speakers that will catch your interest. However, the first thing that will hit you when listening to a podcast episode is audio quality.
Clear and crisp audio can go a long way to keep your audience engaged and keep them hooked to your podcast. Alternatively, bad audio quality puts listeners off even if your content is top-notch. Various factors such as background noise, interference, etc. influence the sound quality of your podcast. If you are planning to start your podcast series, it is crucial to invest in a good podcast starter kit.
When it comes to podcast starter kits, you will find a plethora of options in the market. However, it is essential to look closely at the technical specifications as well as the pros and cons. It is equally important to understand if a particular podcast equipment kit is suitable for your content and your final objective. In this blog, we will take a look at some of the best podcast starter kits that will take you a step closer to becoming an ace podcaster.
However, before we delve deeper, let us understand why podcasting is so important, after all.
Why Podcasts Deserve Your Attention
In recent years, podcasts have emerged as a popular format of consuming content. It is not surprising that 31% of people in the U.S. listen to podcasts at least once a month. Additionally, 51% of Americans above the age of 12 and above have listened to podcasts. This further emphasizes the need to integrate podcasts into your content marketing strategy.
Unlike lengthy blog posts, podcasts are fun and engaging. They are a great tool for conveying crucial information in a light-hearted format. You can even make them interactive by conducting audience polls or answering listeners’ calls during an episode. This can go a long way to help you build a loyal audience.
It is also worth pointing out that people can listen to podcasts at their convenience. Unlike videos, podcasts don’t require you to completely focus your attention on content. This means you can listen to podcasts when you are on the move, even while commuting to and from work. It is a great way to consume educational and informational content when you don’t have plenty of time to spare.
Podcasting is also a relatively less competitive content format. Many bloggers are still waking up to its importance. If you kickstart your podcasting journey now, you will get an edge over other content creators. Additionally, it gives you an avenue to expand your audience beyond the reach of your blog and social media.
Moreover, the production cost of a podcast is often less than that of other formats like videos. Even basic podcast equipment on a budget can yield impressive results if you make the most out of it. Additionally, you can host a podcast all by yourself, thereby eliminating the need for other crew members. All you need is a strong grasp over your subject to make each episode equally engaging.
Lastly, podcasting is a great way to establish your authority in your niche. The hassle-free setup and low production cost also help you maintain consistency. When you regularly publish engaging and insightful episodes, your listeners will perceive you as an industry expert. This will boost audience loyalty even further and help you reach out to more listeners.
Now that you are convinced about the importance of podcasts, you must be wanting to get started right away. However, before you commence your podcasting journey, it is crucial to ensure that you have the right podcast equipment kit. If you are a beginner, you likely don’t want to spend a fortune buying expensive gear that you will never end up using. Instead, you should invest judiciously and purchase only what is necessary.
Let us now take a closer look at the equipment that you must include in your podcast starter kit.
Must-Have Podcast Tools
If you want your podcast to hit the right ears, the key is to ensure that it is crisp and clear. The beauty of podcasting is that you can get started without burning a hole in your pocket. As long as you have a few essential tools, you can build a recording studio at home and host your podcast series.
The equipment you have to purchase also depends on your podcasting style and overall content marketing objective. Do you want to become a regular podcaster, or are you just experimenting with the format? Do you plan to invite guests to your podcasts in the future? Your answers to these questions will influence your podcast setup.
Here are a few essential tools that you will likely need in your podcast starter kit:
1. External Microphone
Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the concept of sound recording will vouch for the importance of a good microphone. The model and make of a microphone will have a significant impact on audio quality. It is unarguably the most important equipment of your podcast starter kit.
If you are a beginner, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of microphones available in the market. Broadly, microphones can be categorized into two groups: USB and XLR. USB mics, as the name suggests, can be directly plugged into the USB port of a computer. XLR mics, on the other hand, have a 3-pin connection that can be connected to a computer via a sound mixer and an XLR cable.
Image via YouTube
USB mics are relatively cheaper and easier to use than their XLR counterparts. Moreover, they eliminate the need to use an additional audio interface. However, the sound quality of XLR mics is slightly superior to that of the USB ones. XLR mics also give you more liberty to control and tweak the audio using the mixer.
Most novices will prefer USB mics because of their simplicity and low cost. These mics are ideal if you want to try your hand at podcasting and see how it goes. However, if you are serious enough and have already worked out a plan, you should go for an XLR mic. While USB mics are more affordable and user-friendly, XLR mics offer greater flexibility and utility in the long run.
2. Microphone Stand & Boom Arm
Microphone stands, despite being relatively affordable, are often ignored by novice podcasters. However, it is crucial to understand that you can’t host a podcast while holding the mic in your hands. Even if you try, it may add more noise to your audio. Additionally, it will make you more conscious and hinder your focus on the topic.
When it comes to selecting a mic stand or boom rod for your podcast starter kit, there are various factors to consider. The first thing you should take into account is the weight of the microphone. The stand or rod should be capable of supporting the mic. Additionally, you should consider other factors such as size, adjustability, strength, etc.
Flat-based mic stands and boom scissor arms are suitable options for beginners. They are compact and easy to use. This makes them ideal for a home recording studio setup.
Image via SoundsMate
3. Shock Mount
A shock mount is designed to protect a microphone from shocks and vibrations. Most mics used in home recording studio setups are overly sensitive to such disturbances. This, in turn, can affect the bass of your sound. Therefore, it is recommended that you use one to retain the tone and texture of your voice.
While some mics come with an attached shock mount, others don’t. The best option is to buy a dedicated shock mount from the mic’s manufacturing company. It is, however, crucial to ensure that the check the mic’s diameter and ensure that the shock mount fits it perfectly.
Image via Neumann
4. Pop Filter
A pop filter is made of nylon or thin metal and is used to safeguard your audio against plosive sounds. A plosive sound, also known as stop sound, is the raspy popping sound produced by consonants such as P, T, K, B, D, and G. If a recording has too many audible plosives, it will ruin the listening experience and drive your audience away. That is why it is essential to place a pop filter between the mic and the speaker.
The purpose of a pop filter is to catch these plosives even before they hit the microphone. This, in turn, ensures that listeners have a pleasant experience. It is particularly crucial for podcasters since they talk directly in front of the mic and are prone to throw plosives at the mic.
Image via Voices
5. Audio Interface
It is an analog-to-digital converter that receives the audio signal from a mic and sends it to a computer. It is usually required when you are using an XLR mic because it can’t be directly connected to a computer. The input side of the interface is connected to the mic using a three-pronged XLR cable. The output side has USB ports that can be connected to a computer using USB cables.
An audio interface usually has multiple input and output channels, with independent volume controls for each input. This makes it suitable for interviews and podcasts with guest speakers. Each speaker can have their own mic, and you can control the individual audio levels.
Another advantage of using an audio interface is that it provides 48V phantom power. This is required when you use condenser microphones. However, you should only invest in this device if you have long-term podcasting plans.
For podcasting purposes, you don’t need a fancy interface with too many input and output channels. Make sure you select a device that is easy to use and don’t get lured by fancy mixers with a plethora of unnecessary features.
Image via GearNews
A good pair of headphones is an indispensable part of your podcast starter kit. It helps monitor the audio and get rid of noises/disturbances, if any. The most crucial factor to consider is that the headphones shouldn’t leak any sound back into the microphone. That is why it is recommended that you opt for closed-back headphones instead of open-back ones.
It is also advisable that you buy an extra pair, just in case you want to invite any guest speakers later. Moreover, you should get on-ear headphones instead of in-ear ones to ensure the comfort of guest speakers. You will find various affordable headphones in the market. Make sure you purchase one that is durable and doesn’t exhaust your bank balance.
Image via Android Central
7. Headphone Amplifier
It is a low-voltage amplifier that boosts the audio signal coming out from a computer. While it is not mandatory to use one, a headphone amplifier is extremely useful when you invite guests or interviewees. Using a headphone amplifier lets each guest control the audio level of their microphone without affecting the others.
However, if you plan to continue as a solo podcaster, you won’t derive much value from this device. You should only purchase it when you are absolutely sure that you will invite one or more guests on your podcast.
Image via Sweetwater
Needless to say, you need a computer or laptop to connect these devices and record your podcast. Any standard Windows or Mac device is good for beginners. Additionally, you have to use software to record and edit the audio. Instead of purchasing specialized software right away, you can get started with free tools like Audacity (for all devices) and GarageBand (for Mac only).
It is now time for us to take a look at the best and most affordable podcast starter kits available in the market.
Best Podcast Starter Kits (On a Budget)
Building a podcast setup can be time-consuming and complicated for beginners. Moreover, you might end up buying equipment that you won’t be using in the long run. That is why it is recommended that you look for a podcasting kit that fits your budget and meets your requirements.
Here is a list of our favorite podcast starter kits:
1. TONOR Pro Condenser Microphone Kit
If you are looking for a beginner-friendly podcasting kit under $50, TONOR Pro Condenser Microphone Kit is your best bet. It features a condenser mic (XLR), scissor arm stand, table clamp, pop filter, windscreen, XLR cable, and 48V phantom power supply. The mic has a cardioid polar pattern to improve sound isolation, making it ideal for podcasting. The package also includes a sturdy shock mount made of metal.
The best part of this kit is that it is easy to set up and comes with a handy instruction manual. It is ideal when you don’t have a lot of experience in handling audio equipment. It is also impressive how so many tools have been included without hiking the price. It won’t be wrong to say that the phrase “value for money” was coined for this TONOR Pro kit.
The only problem is that the audio, despite having commendable clarity, lacks warmth. This means you have to do a few minor tweaks post-recording. It isn’t something that can’t be fixed; however, you should consider if you are comfortable with audio post-processing. Otherwise, you won’t be able to make the most out of this podcasting package.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: All-in-one podcasting package, XLR condenser mic, 48V phantom power supply, all-metal shock mount, scissor arm stand
Pros: Value for money, easy setup, and installation
Cons: Recorded audio lacks warmth and requires post-processing, XLR mic requires an audio interface (not included in the package)
2. MAONO USB Microphone Kit
It is one of those podcast equipment packages that are ready to use right after you buy them. The kit comes with a USB condenser mic that is compatible with Windows and Mac computers. It also includes a sturdy and adjustable boom arm, pop filter, foam windscreen, table mounting clamp, and a metal shock mount.
The biggest advantage of the MAONO USB Microphone Kit is that it is built for instant use. You just have to fix the boom arm and connect the mic to your computer. This makes it the ideal podcast kit for newcomers. Additionally, the mic is compatible with a wide range of recording devices.
However, if you want to connect the mic to your phone, you will need an OTG converter (not included in the package). The audio, although crisp and clear, is prone to background noise. This requires you to pay extra attention and make your studio or home completely noise-free. The kit doesn’t come with a storage case; you have to make additional arrangements to safely store your equipment.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: USB condenser mic with a cardioid polar pattern, compatible with a wide range of Windows and Mac devices, adjustable boom arm, metal shock mount, foam windscreen, foam windscreen
Pros: Plug-and-play USB mic is made for instant use, beginner-friendly
Cons: Recorded audio is prone to background noise, USB mic requires an OTG converter to connect with phones (not included in the kit), no storage case
3. Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio Kit
This sophisticated podcasting kit features a CM25 XLR condenser mic, mic clip, XLR cable, and the USB Focusrite Interface. You also get a 48V phantom power supply, a pair of RCA unbalanced outputs, and a pair of HP60 headphones with gain control. The best part is that the audio interface is compatible with most Windows and Mac devices.
The XLR mic produces high-quality audio that retains the natural tone of your voice. It also includes a mic preamp with a musical instrument input. Priced at $249, this package is more expensive than other podcast starter kits in the market. However, if you have long-term podcasting plans, the Focusrite Scarlett Studio Kit is worth the investment.
The kit, however, lacks essential tools like a mic stand, shock mount, and pop filter. If you don’t have these already, you’ll have to purchase them separately. Moreover, the HP60 headphones, despite being closed-back, are of inferior quality.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: CM25 XLR condenser mic with mic clip, a pair of unbalanced RCA outputs, 48V phantom power supply, USB Focusrite interface
Pros: High-quality and natural audio, ideal for solo podcasters with long-term plans, microphone preamp
Cons: Doesn’t include mic stand, pop filter, and shock mount; headphones are of inferior quality
4. AT2020K Microphone Pack
This useful podcasting kit by Audio Technica includes a durable all-metal XLR condenser mic and a flexible boom arm with 360-degree rotation. Additionally, it includes a pair of high-quality ATH-M20x headphones for monitoring. The simple and compact package comes in a delicate storage pouch and is a good bargain for podcast enthusiasts.
The highlight of the AT2020K kit is its microphone, which has a cardioid pickup. It has excellent audio reproduction capabilities with low noise and negligible ambient interference. However, the kit doesn’t include a pop filter or XLR cables. Additionally, you have to purchase an audio interface to connect the mic with your computer.
Image via Amazon
Price: $169 (on Amazon)
Key Highlights: XLR condenser mic, 360-degree adjustable boom arm, ATH-M20X headphones
Pros: Excellent audio reproduction capability, durable mic
Cons: Doesn’t include XLR cables and an audio interface, fragile storage case
5. Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Mic Package
This state-of-the-art podcasting kit by Rode is the perfect fit when you want to up your podcasting game. It includes a robust all-metal XLR condenser mic with excellent audio output. It also features a metal shock mount with an attached pop filter and an XLR cable.
The only slight drawback of the NT1-A Anniversary Package is that it isn’t exactly beginner-friendly. Novice podcasters will need time to get the hang of the equipment. Additionally, the XLR mic requires an audio interface that isn’t included in the package. You will also need a preamp because the kit doesn’t have a phantom power supply.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: All-metal XLR condenser mic, metal shock mount, pop filter
Pros: Sturdy and durable mic, low noise, extended dynamic range, includes XLR cable
Cons: Not suitable for beginners, requires additional hardware such as audio interface and preamp
6. Blue Yeti Blackout USB Mic Kit
This sophisticated podcast starter kit is suitable for beginners as well as intermediate-level podcasters. The simple plug-and-play USB microphone is what sets this kit apart from other podcasting equipment packages. The sturdy mic has a multipolar pattern selector and various on-body controls, including a Mute button and a Gain dial. This helps you control the sound while recording it and eliminates the need for major post-processing.
It is also worth mentioning that this is an all-in-one podcasting kit that includes a mic stand, a boom arm, and a pop filter. You also get a pair of quality closed-back headphones. If you are looking for a versatile podcasting kit that can be used in the long run, this is the perfect fit.
The only catch is that the Volume and Gain buttons are flimsy and cheap. Some reviews also mention that they are mic doesn’t properly fit into the boom arm. It is recommended that you check this before you start using the Blue Yeti Blackout USB Mic Kit.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: Sturdy mic with on-body controls and multipolar pattern selector, adjustable boom arm, mic stand, pop filter, closed-back headphones
Pros: Versatile mic that lets you control the audio output and eliminates the need for post-processing, plug-and-play package
Cons: Cheap Volume and Gain control buttons
7. PreSonus StudioBox Studio Ultimate Bundle
If you want a complete podcasting solution and don’t mind spending a bit, the PreSonus StudioBox Ultimate Bundle will enthrall you. It includes all the hardware and software you will need to get started with podcasting. From a large-diaphragm mic and audio interface to audio editing software and studio monitors – this kit has it all.
The package also includes XLR cables and a pair of good quality headphones. The best part is that the rugged hardware is compatible with most Windows and Mac devices. The only catch is that the software isn’t beginner-friendly. You will have to spend some time and dig up some tutorials to get used to it.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: Large-diaphragm mic, USB audio interface, XLR cables, two-way active studio monitors
Pros: All-in-one audio recording package, wide compatibility with Windows and Mac devices
Cons: Software isn’t beginner-friendly
8. Samson C01U Pro Podcasting Pack
This is another one of those pocket-friendly and ready to use podcasting equipment packages. It includes a USB microphone with a 19 mm diaphragm and a pair of closed-back headphones. The large diaphragm ensures that the audio quality is at par with studio microphones.
The Samson Podcasting Pack also features a flat-based mic stand with a swivel mount, a USB cable, and a sturdy storage case. However, it lacks other essential equipment like a pop filter and shock mount. The inclusion of a flexible boom arm would also have been a nice touch.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: USB mic with a 19-mm diaphragm, flat-based mic stand with swivel mount, USB cable, closed-back headphones
Pros: Easy-to-use plug-and-play mic, high-quality audio, robust storage case
Cons: Lacks basic tools such as pop filter, shock mount, and boom arm
9. Behringer Podcastudio USB Bundle
This podcast starter kit by Behringer offers everything you need to record high-quality audio at home. It is the ultimate out-of-box solution for first-time podcasters. The kit includes a 5-input, 2-bus mixer with a preamp and 2-band EQ. It also includes the XM8500 microphone, HPM1000 headphones, and a USB audio interface with two inputs and two outputs.
Additionally, you get a downloadable podcasting software that is compatible with most Windows and Mac devices. The only things missing are a pop filter and shock mount. Moreover, the kit includes a tripod mic stand that requires relatively more space than a boom arm.
Image via Amazon
Key Highlights: XM8500 microphone, HPM1000 headphones, 2 in/2 out USB audio interface, 5-input 2-bus mixer, downloadable podcasting software
Pros: All-in-one podcasting starter kit, the mixer includes a 2-band EQ, compatible with most Windows and Mac devices
Cons: Tripod mic stand require more table space
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of podcast starter kits available in the market. From compact mic and stand kits to elaborate hardware and software packages – there is an endless ocean of options. However, you should carefully analyze what each kit offers and how useful it will be for you.
If you intend to become an avid podcaster, investing in a slightly expensive all-in-one package is a good idea. However, if you just want to experiment with the format before making any long-term plans, you should go for an affordable plug-and-play kit. Selecting the right podcast kit can go a long way to influence your future in podcasting.
Have you used any podcasting equipment package? Did we miss out on your favorite podcast kits? Share your views in the comments section below.
Richa describes herself as an avid dreamer and a curious soul! She is a certified Content & Search Marketing Specialist from Digital Marketer, USA. With an experience of 5+ years as a content marketer and researcher, she is in love with Digital Breakthroughs, Content Marketing, Startup Strategies and so much more.