Podcast Recording Equipment and Software

There’s plenty of articles out there on the equipment needed for starting your own podcast but it’s always good to know what equipment your favorite podcast uses. In the beginning, The Cloudcast graciously taught me their tools and process, but we’ve carved our own path at this point. The one piece of advice I can give is that you need to invest in quality equipment early on. We made the mistake here at Bourbon Pursuit by only buying a simple Blue Yeti microphone and huddling around it. It was a mistake and the audio quality shows. We probably lost a lot of listeners because of it. If you like our audio today, it’s because we finally invested in making quality the first priority.

 

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We do all kinds of recordings. We will record on location but we also have guests not in our area so it’s done remotely. We’re also unique in that we do a combination of both Audio and Video podcasts. So the software we use may be overkill for you. I’ll give suggestions for you to use if you’re audio only.

 

On-Site/On-Location

Audio Recording Equipment

The Zoom H6 recorder is one of the best there is. It accepts XLR and has dials for individual inputs. I’ve used the XLR inputs for all kinds of things like plugging in a BEHRINGER XENYX X2222USB Mixer when we had 10 people on episode 105 at the barrel pick and even taking a Line-level input when recording at the Kentucky Derby Museum. The extensibility is great by having it capture X/Y audio when you need room sound, but to be honest, it doesn’t get used much. If you plan on having more than 4 guests consistently, you can splurge and buy the Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Capsule that gives you 2 more XLR inputs. The interface has all sorts of controls for doing audio magic, but to be honest, I never use any of it. The only things I do are start recording, stop recording, mixdown, and format. That’s all.

 

The Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB is awesome because you have multiple functions. It’s a great Cardioid microphone for standard interviews using the XLR input, but when it comes time to doing remote interviews, you can use the USB for recording on your computer. Don’t skimp out on microphone quality, seriously. If you only have a need for XLR and you’re on a budget, you can also take a look at Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500 Dynamic Vocal Microphone, Cardioid. This has some really good reviews and for $20 it’s hard to beat at the price

 

Don’t forget, you need wind screens. These cheap On Stage Foam Ball-Type Mic Windscreen ones do the trick. This helps drown out the noise of heavy breathers or people who stick their face to close to the mic and have loud Ps that pop. It doesn’t do the job of a good Pop filter, but it works for a travel unit.

The stands that come with the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB are short and stubby. We’ve found out that table heights don’t make up for the small range. We like to have our guests about 7-8 inches away from the microphone and sometimes our guests were bending over to talk into them. These Hamilton Nu-Era Tabletop Mic Stands are cheap enough and do the trick. They are great quality and have variable height settings. Oddly enough, I use the bags for storing all the extra cables and haven’t found a need for the mic clip yet.

 

You will want a 32GB or larger SD Card for recording from Zoom H6. We use Sandisk Ultra 64 GB – MicroSDXC UHS-I (SDSQUNC-064G-AN6IA) and this gives us hundred of hours of audio. The Zoom H6 records with .wav files so if you’re talking for an hour with 4 channels and then mix them down into one, you’re pushing the limits of about 4-6GB of data right there. With how cheap these things are getting, might as well go big and never have to worry about running out of space.

A good pair of earbuds are needed and you wear them the entire time you are recording and checking levels. Sometimes you feellike a DJ, but you never want the bars to hit the top red because that’s when you get distortion. I use Shure SE215-K Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver.

 

Video Recording Equipment

As I had mentioned earlier, we are unique that we also record video. Honestly, it’s not much extra effort to record video and it gives you much better presence on Facebook and you can even publish to YouTube for more subscribers. When we were looking into video, I didn’t want something super expensive and I didn’t want something big that I had to lug around. I wanted it to be easy enough that we can take anywhere, use in a pinch, have decent-good but not AWESOME video quality. That’s when Ryan suggested to use a GoPro. After doing some research, the newer GoPros do well in low-light but really shine in the day time. Don’t expect to create killer quality but for the price and form factor, The GoPro Hero 5 worked well for us and the new GoPro HERO6 Black just launched.

 

If you start reading on forums, you will see that anyone that has problem with a GoPro is because of their SD card. Buy the correct card and you won’t have problems. We use a SanDisk Extreme PLUS 128GB microSDXC UHS-I Card – SDSQXBG-128G-GN6MA. We went big because the last thing I want to happen is be somewhere recording multiple episodes and run out of space. It’s easier to keep it all on one card. Also, 128GB means it can store almost 83,000 pictures when it’s clean and near 8 hours of footage @ 1080p 30FPS.

 

Of course, getting audio from the Zoom H6 to the GoPro is going to require a special piece of equipment. The GoPro Pro 3.5mm Mic Adapter is the only thing that fits the bill and there is no 3rd party adapter. Many vloggers complain that it’s too bit, but it doesn’t bother me for my purposes. Not only that, you can still plug in your AC Adapter to USB-C and have full power connectivity so you won’t be reliant on battery power. You also might be wondering why am I recording audio on both the Zoom H6 and the GoPro. Well, just wait until you go to record an interview and something messes up or a SD card becomes corrupt and you lose the interview. It’s a sinking feeling. That’s why we have redundancy built in so audio is being recorded in two places.

 

A standard male-to-male audio cable is also required to go from the Zoom H6 to the GoPro. You probably have these laying around, but I have a few different lengths in my case for different settings. Sometimes you need 3.5mm Male to Male Stereo Aux Cable, sometimes you need 6 inches. Depends on how you are recording.

 

The GoPro needs to have a stable surface and we’ve chosen to ways to make that happen. For table top use (which is 75% of the time), the GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm, Tripod does the trick. It works as a tripod, selfie stick, and hand grip. There are also times when you need an Lightweight Tripod for your GoPro. So get one that is height adjustable. The bottom of the Zoom H6 has a threaded bottom, so it can be mounted to a tripod for standing interviews which is nice.

 

I’ve made the mistake before buying cheap GoPro accessories. Don’t do it. Buy GoPro branded ones or high quality ones. The three I can recommend are the:

  1. GoPro Chesty for getting some interesting first person footage
  2. GoPro Handlebar Seatpost Mount which can be mounted to the extension pole of a tripod for your GoPro which leaves room to mount the Zoom H6 on the Tripod screw. This setup was used for filming at expos.
  3. A metal tripod mount. The plastic ones will break if screwed too tight. I’ve used<Smatree Aluminum Tripod Mount Adapter for GoPro with great success

 

The last thing you are going to need is a GoPro HERO 6 SHOOT Side Open Aluminium Alloy Metal Housing that doesn’t require you to permanently remove the lid that encloses the USB-C port and keeps it water proof. Because if you lose this piece, it’s going to cost you $25 to replace it. I decided that since I wanted this to be versatile, I would get the this case that is all metal, has a lens cover to prevent scratches, and has a cold-shoe mount (for the next part)

 

 

Mobile Audio/Video, B-Roll, Extra Footage, and Facebook Live

Sometimes you may need to get B-Roll footage or perhaps you need to record quickly on the go. This is also used for doing Facebook Live footage. I contemplated many times getting a nice gimbal like Feiyu G5 3 Axis Gimbal but the more I read about them, the stabilization is great for footage but not my need of also having good audio. It seems to be a big trade off. So I haven’t made the purchase on a gimbal yet but will update if I do.

 

So you already have a GoPro Stick or a GoPro 3-Way at this point, how do you make it mobile with great audio? This is where the Rode VideoMic Pro comes in. It’s a shotgun style microphone that picks up great audio. There is also a great cat cover that comes with it for wind reduction and it truly does work.

 

Now here’s the crappy part, if you are filming your GoPro in any mode other than Narrow, you are going to see the Rode VideoMic Pro in the field of view when it’s mounted on the cold shoe of your SHOOT case. To mitigate this, it needs to be just another inch higher and the best thing I’ve found is the Eynpire Triple Mount Hot Shoe V Mount Bracket.

 

So you want to be cool and use Facebook Live! Going Live gets you put to the top of a Facebook newsfeed so it’s a great way to be in front of your fans. The GoPro doesn’t have the capabilties so you need to rely on your phone, there are a few different grips that have cold-shoe adapters like the Aoonar Smartphone Grip Handle ($18) or a more stable two hand system like Neewer Smartphone Video Rig ($15). This allows you to use your Rode VideoMic Pro but you still need one more critical piece. The Rode SC4 TRS-to-TRRS Adapter ($15) is designed to allow microphones with a 3.5mm output to connect to TRRS smartphones and tablets.

Remote Recording Equipment

 

If you’ve already made an investment in the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB then no worries, you can continue to use that for your remote interviews. However, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a renowned killer USB microphone for computer usage. It has fantastic reviews and it’s what I use when I do my interviews.

 

Of course, you need a windscreen like we used before. But if you are going to be doing remote recording a lot of the time, make the investment in a Auphonix Premium Pop Filter. I haven’t done this yet but it’s proven to be a valuable tool for proper distance and removing those hard Ps.

 

Software

Again, we’re unique that we use video so our needs are going to vary to yours and I also use a Mac. If you’re a PC person, then I’m sorry but you’re on your own from this point forward.

 

One of the most critical tools is also one of the oldest ones out there. I mean, this software hasn’t been updated in YEARS but many podcasters use it. Levelator (both Mac and PC) will take your mix down WAV file from a Zoom H6 and make sure there aren’t dips in the volume and it sounds even. Believe this is a tool no podcast can live without.

After you have a level audio file, you can go the audio route and do some quick edits and cuts using Fission and then do multi-track mixing with Garage Band.

If you’re like us, then it’s time to move all the media into Adobe Premier and begin the cutting and editing magic. Align the video and level audio together while removing the GoPro audio. From there begin editing everything together. Adobe Premier is not a simple program to use, but I had a great teacher that showed me the basics.

No matter which method you use to cut your files, I always export my MP3 using 128kbps. I used to use 192 and 256 kbps but I couldn’t tell the difference and your files will be much larger. Depending on your hosting plan, that will be a big factor so you won’t have to pay for more storage. For me, 128kbps was best.

 

Publishing

  • LibSyn Podcast Hosting Advanced @ $20/month

LibSyn has become one of the leading podcast syndicates to host your podcast. The interface is simple (a bit archaic) but gets the job done. It does everything you need for publishing to multiple endpoints including iTunes, Google Play, and even to WordPress or YouTube. We use a different WordPress integration which I will discuss here and we use Video for YouTube now.

Of course, your podcast probably has a blog or your using a blogging platform like WordPress. LibSyn has a greatWordPress Plugin that will take the WordPress post information and turn it into your podcast for the title, show notes, scheduled released, and more. This has streamlined our process more and we don’t even touch the LibSyn website anymore which is great.

 

Well that’s the information you need to get started. It’s not all the process and how-tos of editing but it’s a great start. If you want to read more, check out the next article that talks about Setting up the GoPro and ZoomH6 for Recording and then Post Process Editing.