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Example of a typical podcast setup

Example of a typical podcast setup

People often ask  “What gear do you use for your Podcast?”

On this page I will share with you the equipment I use or have used, and some i might even recommend with an overview of each.

As a “Disclaimer” some links might be affiliate links where I may make a small amount of money if you choose to purchase an item through that link. It wont cost you any more to use them, I just make a small amount from using them. It helps to offset the cost of web and media hosting for this site which as you might have guessed, isn’t free.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets get into the gear.

Microphones:

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone

The Shure SM7B is a broadcast quality dynamic microphone used primarily for broadcast but has found its way into recording studios as a vocal microphone as well. This mic has a built in shock mount system, two additional switches on the rear of the mic provide a “base roll off” and a “presence boost” that boosts the mid to high frequencies a bit.

Opinion: I think it has a warm vintage sound to it and when used, I run mine in its “flat” mode with neither switch engaged. The audio does have a nice clear presence to it and it works a little better for my audio because I have a lot of lower end dynamics.

The SM7B retails for about $399.00 but you can find a good used one on places like Amazon, E-Bay or Reverb.com.

As a important note about this mic, it has a signal strength of -59 db, meaning it will need a good pre-amp or audio interface capable of delivering around 60 decibels of gain to get this mic to line level and make it come to life. Without it, you will be disappointed with the 7B because its signal and input level will be too low.

Its also a XLR microphone and that means it will require an audio interface and XLR cables in order to use it.

Electro-Voice RE20

Probably one of the most well known microphones for broadcast, the Electro-Voice RE20 has been around since the 1960’s and will most likely be found in just about any radio station across the US. Designed as a broadcast microphone for spoken word, the flat characteristics of the RE20 make it a superb choice for the broadcasting and podcasting arena’s and is the primary microphone I use for my podcast.

The Electro Voice RE20 Dynamic Microphone

The RE20 also requires a considerable amount of clean gain for a good signal response, but the amount required is a bit less than Shure’s SM7B. The RE20 has a single attenuation switch at its base that reduces the low end response or presence by a few decibels which might be desirable for some users.

The RE20 retails usually around $449.00 new, but again, they can be found used for less, but be cautious when purchasing used microphones as some are broken or damaged and unfortunately, not all sellers are reputable so just be careful when buying used.

Opinion: I like the RE20 probably the most because of its variable-D characteristics. This means the microphone is more forgiving when moving in close up or farther away in that the tone of your voice doesn’t change much and you wont get that severe base proximity effect when your up close to the mic.

It does have a very small amount, its just not very recognizable at all though. You will also enjoy a more forgiving microphone that does not demand that you are directly in front of it at all times. While there is a sweet spot, there is with all microphones, you’ll be able to move around a good bit more with the RE20 than you can with some other dynamic mics.

As a important note about this mic,  it will need a good pre-amp or audio interface capable of delivering around 60 decibels of gain to get this mic to line level and make it come to life. Without it, you will be disappointed with the RE20’s performance.

Its also a XLR microphone and that means it will require an audio interface and XLR cables in order to use it.

Audio Pre-Amp:

The audio pre I use is a DBX 286S audio processor. Over the years I’ve become somewhat of a “gear head”, trust me, its not hard to do, and Ive accumulated several pieces of gear for audio processing just for podcasting.

The DBX 286S offers everything you need in one single unit to produce a great audio sound with five different features.

  • Pre Amplifier
  • Compressor
  • De-Esser
  • Enhancer
  • Noise Gate

DBX 286S Audio Processor

The DBX also has a 20 Hz hi pass filter that cuts out unwanted low rumble noise or exaggerated low end dynamics. The Pre Amp provides 60 decibels of gain for the microphone with light meters to avoid clipping. Each effect has its own indicators so you can dial it in just right.

The next stage is the compressor, it has 2 knobs, one for drive or the amount of compression to apply, and another for density or release time of the compression.

The third option is a de-esser, it controls those high pitched “S” sounds. Some people have more trouble with those than others. If you don’t need it though, don’t use it because if you apply too much you can make your audio sound nasally and unnatural. No more than 4k for most will suffice.

The fourth option is the Enhancer, it has 2 knobs, one for lows and one for highs, its kind of like treble and bass or low end and hi end frequencies. This option is another area where a little goes a long way but its a great option to get the sound you want.

The last stage is the expander /noise gate. This is a cool function as it helps to control unwanted noises in your recordings. When set correctly, the gate is closed until you speak and it doesn’t allow any sound to get into the microphone. Simply put its like a switch that opens while your talking and closes when you stop talking, limiting the noise in your recording. It works very well, just be aware if you have a lot of environmental noise around you, some will get in while you are speaking and when the gate is open, so creating a quiet recording space is still the best idea.

Opinion: While there are more expensive pre-amps out there, you’ll be hard pressed to find one geared for the consumer level home studio that will out do this all in one unit, and at a average retail price of $199.00 it’s a great value for those of us that have smaller budgets.

Interface:

Yamaha MG12XU Mixing Board

Because I add in music and Skype calls occasionally into my podcast, I use a mixer instead of a audio interface because I need several inputs available for different sources of audio. The mixer I’m using is a Yamaha MG12XU.

This mixer is also USB so in effect, it is the interface instead of something like a Scarlett 2i2 or solo which also work great. This Yamaha mixer has 12 channels, many more than I will use but it allows for expansion if I need it. It is a very quiet mixer and so far I only have two complaints about it and that is the USB output signal is very low so gain levels must be high going in to this particular unit.

The other one is, and it’s not the mixers fault but rather mine as an oversight at the time of purchasing this model, is that this model has no insert jacks for using say an outboard compressor or other processor/s.

Other models do have inserts and those are the ones I would recommend for podcasting, but still the MG12XU sounds great and has a very good headphone amp. Special effects are built in and work great if you have a need for those. Since I’m using the DBX 286S which has compression and a noise gate I’m not as concerned about the inserts on this setup because the DBX already provides those functions.

Headphones:

Audio Technica ATH-M50x Headphones

While a lot of podcasters are moving away from headphones and are opting for ear buds instead, I’m old fashioned and I like the headphones much better than any ear bud out there.

The headphones I currently use are Audio Technica ATH-M50x. They are Professional Monitor Headphones which means they don’t color the sound as much as other headphones do.

While low dynamics are still present, they aren’t overbearing and “boomy” as stereo headphones can sometime be due to the fact that they are designed to enhance the overall experience when listening to music.

I find studio headphones that are more “flat” to be most desirable for listening to podcast or spoken word.

 

Software / DAW:

Audacity – Free Digital Audio Workstation

For recording your podcast you’ll need a digital audio workstation or DAW for short, which simply means audio recording software. There are many out there to choose from, some free and some paid versions. I use a free one called Audacity. I also have a paid for software called Reaper which is a great DAW, but honestly for Podcasting I find Audacity will do just about anything you need to produce your podcast with professional results.

Digital Recorder:

Roland R05 Digital Audio Recorder

Another thing worth mentioning is that it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan just in cast your recording software crashes or fails during recording. A good option is to use a digital audio recorder to capture your audio also while recording. I use a Roland R05 Digital Audio Recorder. There are many others out there but this simple recorder works fine for my application as I do not do any remote podcasting. The Roland R05 retails for about $199.00.

Opinion: This little recorder captures excellent audio even with its built in microphones. It has a rehearsal function where it “listens” and sets levels automatically which works great. It is battery powered or used with an AC Adapter. It has a fairly easy learning curve for functionality and the only drawback is that it does not have XLR inputs.

 

 

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