Are you an aspiring content creator looking for new ways to expand your reach? Perhaps you are an avid blogger trying to diversify your audience? Or are you a business owner wanting to make a mark on the internet with content marketing? Irrespective of your target audience and marketing goals, it is high time you turn your attention to podcasting.
Podcasting is an extremely engaging way of connecting with your target audience. The latest statistics reveal that there are 62 million people in the U.S. who listen to podcasts every week. You can use this to your advantage by experimenting with different topics and making your podcasts interactive. It is also a great way to establish authority and win the trust and loyalty of your listeners.
The growing popularity of podcasts is encouraging more content creators and marketers to jump on the bandwagon. 2019 witnessed the launch of more than 190,000 new podcasts in just the first ten months. How do you ensure that your podcast cuts through the noise and grabs the attention of your listeners? Apart from creating top-notch content, it is also essential to maintain flawless sound quality.
That is why it is crucial to invest in the best podcast equipment. While you need not spend a fortune, using the right podcast setup can be instrumental in your journey as a podcaster. Depending on your niche and style, it might be a good idea to build a portable podcast setup.
In this blog, we will take a closer look at the essential equipment required to build a portable podcast setup. Before doing that, let us first understand why it is essential to prioritize portability for podcast recording.
Why You Need a Portable Podcast Setup
One of the main reasons behind the growth of podcasts is the low entry cost. You don’t need a plethora of fancy gadgets to get started. Basic podcast recording only demands a microphone, a pair of headphones, and a laptop with recording software. As long as the content is insightful and the sound quality is crisp, your listeners will remain hooked.
However, as you build your audience, you may feel the need to diversify your content. You will likely want to invite co-hosts and guest speakers. You may even want to interview industry leaders and influencers. It would be wrong to expect all of them to visit your studio every time you want to record an episode.
Instead, you should be able to reach their doorstep with your equipment and start the recording. That is why it is crucial to invest in the right podcasting equipment that is easy to carry around. It gives you the flexibility to record high-quality content anytime, anywhere.
Moreover, depending on your podcasting style, you may have to cover various seminars and conferences. Likewise, you might be invited to participate in networking events. You will likely come across a plethora of interesting and influential personalities at such gatherings. It is a good idea to keep your equipment handy just in case you have to record an impromptu interview or sound bite.
While there is no harm in recording at your home or a studio, you shouldn’t let your equipment restrict you. Simple, lightweight, and easy to use equipment opens a new world of possibilities for you. It lets you record interviews and discussions on-the-go and make the most out of networking events and meetings.
Before we delve deeper, let us take a look at the most crucial tools of your podcast recording kit.
Must-Have Podcast Equipment
As mentioned earlier, it isn’t mandatory for you to purchase expensive tools and gadgets to start podcasting. Even a modest home studio can be enough. However, if you want to succeed in the long-run, it is crucial to invest in the right equipment.
Here are a few essential podcasting tools that are worth buying:
1. External Microphone & Accessories
Here is the thing – you can’t record high-quality audio without a good microphone. Typically, you will find two types of microphones available in the market – USB and XLR. A USB microphone can be directly connected to your computer using a USB cable. An XLR mic, on the other hand, has a three-pronged connection and required an audio interface to connect with a computer.
While XLR mics produce audio of superior quality, they are more expensive. Moreover, connecting an XLR mic to a computer requires additional equipment. This can increase the overall weight and complexity of your recording kit. Thus, if you want to build a travel-friendly recording setup, USB mics are your best bet.
External microphones can also be categorized into a condenser and dynamic mics. A condenser microphone is highly sensitive and great at capturing crisp and clear vocals. However, it requires a phantom power supply and is more suitable for a studio environment. On the other hand, a dynamic microphone is easier to carry around and is, therefore, the ideal choice for live events.
Image via Sound & Communications
In addition to microphones, it is also recommended that you purchase an adjustable mic stand, shock mount, windshield, and pop filter. While a shock mount and windshield protects the audio from sudden vibrations and movement, a pop filter helps remove raspy plosive sounds. A good mic stand can go a long way to make the speaker feel comfortable. It is also advisable to carry a few extra cables just for safety.
Apart from handheld microphones, you will also find a variety of compact lapel mics. These mics are extremely easy to operate and carry around. However, lapel mics are omnidirectional, and therefore, offer poor sound isolation. That is why it is recommended that you use handheld mics for recording your podcasts.
Image via DJ City
2. Audio Interface
An audio interface is an analog-to-digital converter with multiple input and output channels. It is used to connect an XLR mic to a computer. It includes independent volume controls for each input and provides a 48V phantom power supply for condenser mics. Needless to say, you don’t need an audio interface unless you’re using an XLR or a condenser mic.
A mixer is a versatile device that lets you control and manipulate multiple input and output channels. You can use it to process different input signals before they are sent to the recorder. You can add various sound effects, audio transitions, equalization, as well as musical instruments. The biggest advantage of using a mixer is that it minimizes the need for audio post-processing.
Despite its benefits, an audio mixer often complicates the overall recording process. Moreover, most mixers are bulky and take time to set up. These issues become particularly troublesome when you’re recording outside the comfort of your studio.
Therefore, if you intend to regularly move your podcast kit, it might be a wise decision to ditch the mixer. Instead, you can record multiple input tracks using a decent multi-track digital recorder. Moreover, you can use audio editing software to tweak individual audio signals and add various effects.
4. Digital Recorder
It is the device that records different audio signals and stores them in the form of digital files. The choice of the recorder has a significant impact on the overall mobility and versatility of your podcasting kit. It is crucial to select a recorder that is compact, lightweight, and lets you connect multiple input devices. It is also recommended that you consider its user-friendliness, reliability, and battery backup.
Image via RS Web Solutions
If you are a newcomer in the world of audio recording, you will likely question the role of a digital recorder. Isn’t it easier and cheaper to record audio on your phone or laptop? New-age laptops and smartphones even come with built-in recording software. These alternatives, while being usable, come with their set of problems.
Most smartphones, for instance, won’t let you connect external USB or XLR microphones. The built-in mic of your phone doesn’t offer high-quality sound isolation that is critical for recording vocals.
On the other hand, you need a large flat surface such as a tabletop to set up your laptop. The recording environment may not always allow this. For instance, if you’re recording sound bites in a crowded park, you won’t find a suitable space to keep your laptop. That is why it is essential to keep an audio recorder handy to ensure hassle-free podcast recording, even in adverse situations.
5. Headphones & Accessories
Let’s say you record a fascinating interview with an influencer in a crowded cafe. You reach your studio and play the track to realize that the background noise has overpowered the vocals. Apart from wasting time, effort, and money, you also lose the chance to include original and insightful content in your podcast. The only way to avoid this is to monitor the audio in real-time using a pair of headphones.
The abundance of high-quality headphones across different price ranges will leave you confused. It is recommended that you buy a pair of closed-back on-ear headphones to prevent sound from leaking into the recorded audio.
For a portable kit, you should look for compact or collapsible headphones that can easily fit into your travel case. You can also supplement each pair of headphones with a dedicated headphone amplifier. This lets each guest adjust the output audio levels according to their preference. You could also carry an audio splitter to connect multiple headphones.
Recording podcasts on the go isn’t of much use unless you can quickly edit audio files and upload finished episodes. You also have to transfer your audio files from the recorder and take multiple backups. That is why it is essential to always keep your laptop with you. While purchasing a laptop, you should carefully look into its specifications such as RAM, internal memory, CPU speed, battery life, etc.
7. Miscellaneous Accessories
Recording on location doesn’t afford you the comfort and reliability of a studio. That is why it is essential to carry spare batteries and cables. If your recorder works on a rechargeable battery, make sure you keep the adapter handy. Likewise, you should buy multiple SD cards to ensure that you never run out of storage space.
Another critical yet often neglected aspect of podcasting gear is the storage case. It is recommended that you invest in a sturdy backpack or duffle bag with multiple compartments. Make sure the bag has adequate exterior padding to protect your equipment from sudden shocks and adverse weather.
Things to Consider Before Building Your Portable Podcasting Kit
The first step is to analyze where you want to reach as a content creator. Do you want to diligently record interviews, discussions, and live events? Or are you just dabbling with this style of podcasting to check out its scope and feasibility? Your answers to these questions will determine the type of equipment you should invest in.
There are also a few additional factors that you should consider. Firstly, your microphones should be capable of recording crystal-clear vocals, even in a noisy environment. Likewise, the headphones you use should have a wide dynamic range to provide significant isolation from background noise. Needless to say, all your equipment must be compact, light, sturdy, and capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions.
Moreover, you should carefully determine the most essential accessories. There is no point in overcrowding your kit with fancy accessories you’re never going to use. Instead, you should choose them based on the recording environment. For instance, if you’re recording in an open space on a windy day, it is mandatory to use a shock mount and windscreen.
Another crucial factor is the number of mics you need to use. If you’re a beginner, you might be tempted to use a single mic setup to record interviews and group discussions. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that guests will have to keep passing the mic among themselves. Even if you fix the mic in a central position, they will have to lean forward every time they want to speak.
Moreover, recording multiple audio signals on a single track limits the scope of post-processing. That is why it is crucial to keep at least two or three microphones handy. The final count depends on the maximum number of guests you’ll likely host in one episode. It is also crucial to ensure that your digital recorder supports multitrack recording.
It is now time for us to take a look at the best equipment for a portable podcast setup.
Portable Podcast Essentials in 2020
When it comes to audio recording equipment, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead of blindly following the latest trends, it is wiser to select your equipment based on your goals and budget. Here are a few of the best options for portable podcasting equipment:
Selecting the right external microphones is one of the most crucial decisions you will make as a podcaster. For a travel-friendly kit, it is recommended that you use rugged and lightweight mics. Here are our top picks:
If you’re looking for a sturdy and versatile handheld mic with impeccable sound isolation, this is one of the best options. Priced at $99, it has both USB and XLR outputs, making it ideal for a portable setup. The built-in headphone jack lets you monitor the recorded audio in real-time. (Price – $99 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
If you want to buy a durable all-in-one mic kit, this package by Blue Yeti is a good bargain. It features a plug-and-play USB mic with a multipolar pattern selector and built-in volume and gain controls. You also get a mic stand, adjustable boom arm, pop filter, and a pair of decent headphones. (Price – $159 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
2. Digital Recorders
A reliable handheld recorder is an indispensable part of your portable podcasting kit. It should support different types of input devices and be easy to carry around. Here are the best options available in the market:
• Zoom H6
This is a versatile six-track digital recorder with sophisticated mic preamps that ensure crisp and clear audio. It comes with two interchangeable built-in mics and a 48V phantom power supply for condenser mics. Weighing less than 10 ounces, it is one of the best recorders to use while traveling. The higher price point, however, makes it unsuitable for beginners. (Price – $329 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
Weighing less than 3 ounces, this is one of the best recorders for a portable kit. Apart from three high-quality built-in microphones, it features seven different pre-programmed recording scenes. (Price – $169 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
If you’re recording in an uncontrolled environment, you must monitor every audio signal in real-time using a pair of high-quality noise-canceling headphones. Headphones are also useful when you’re recording interviews or discussions. Each speaker can listen to themselves as well as others without straining their vocal cords. If you’re looking for a sturdy pair of headphones, here are a few options:
Featuring a collapsible design and detachable cable, it is one of the best headphones for monitoring your podcasts. It does a good job of eliminating background noise and replicating the actual audio without any added warmth. (Price – $163 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
While on-ear headphones are the norm for podcasting, they can be bulky and uncomfortable to wear for longer periods. If you are looking for a high-quality in-ear alternative, the Panasonic RPHJE120 is a good option. (Price – $18.49 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
You need a laptop for editing multiple audio files and stitching them together to bring every podcast episode to life. You can also use it to record the audio. If you already have a laptop, you can simply upgrade the RAM and internal memory. In case you want to buy a new one, here are the best options:
Featuring a quad-core 8th Gen Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, this laptop is a powerhouse for audio and video editing. It also comes with 256GB of SSD storage and offers up to 10 hours of battery backup. The sleek design ensures that it weighs less than 3 pounds. (Price – $1499 on Amazon)
Image via Amazon
If you’re looking for a more reasonably priced option with all the features of a MacBook, this laptop is a good bargain. The rugged and ultra-slim aluminum body makes it ideal for editing on the road.
Image via Amazon
5. Other Stuff
Apart from the essential tools and devices, it is crucial to purchase the right accessories. The most important one is a protective case for storing and carrying your equipment kit. The Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II is one of the best choices. It features a flexible divider system and separate compartments for a 15” laptop and a 10” tablet. Another great option is the Zoom PCF-8n Protective Case that comes with a transparent rain cover.
It is also recommended that you carry spare XLR cables and SD cards. You should also keep a few extra batteries that are compatible with your recorder. These are relatively inexpensive investments that can go a long way to make your recording hassle-free and uninterrupted.
The popularity of podcasts is reaching an all-time high. Therefore, it is no longer enough to lure your audience with mediocre content. You must venture out of the comfort of your studio and record interesting conversations, interviews, live events, etc. That is why it has become crucial to build your own travel-friendly podcasting kit.
External mics, digital recorders, and headphones are the most essential components of a portable recording setup. You will also need a laptop to edit and upload your episodes on the road. It is also recommended that you invest in a sturdy storage case as well as accessories such as shock mounts, mic stands, XLR cables, etc.
What equipment have you used to take your podcast on the road? 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.