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So @haruki_zaemon asked me what to get for podcast production. I’ll throw a few thoughts into this thread, and see where we go. The first think I’ll say, though, is that this is a trainspotter’s rabbit-hole. Everyone thinks they know What You Simply Must Have. They are wrong...
I’ll say up front, therefore, that you shouldn’t get hung up over the equipment. Your content is the important bit, and you just need to record that as best you can with the equipment you have. Same as photography.
I’ll also say up front that @Pollytics talked about this the other day, and this thread and its branches provide some interesting background too.
Right. What you need is:
1. microphone(s);
2. some way to get that mic into your computer (or other device);
3. some way to edit and otherwise prep your audio file;
4. some platform(s) from where to distribute the thing.
There are USB microphones that combine tasks 1 and 2, but everything @Pollytics says in this tweet is true. With the explosion of podcasting, there’s plenty of cashed up geeks who want in, and hey, let’s take their money!
That said, @Pollytics put together this chart, and “Better than your current garbage” is a perfectly good place to start. These are suggestions. You may find equivalent items on special. Talk to your local audio production shop (if they’re still open).
@Pollytics My comments: RØDE gear is held in particularly high regard; you’ll need to vary this if you have 2+ humans; by Instagram-worthy he means it looks cool as well as is good; you can pay a lot for marginal increases in quality; this is where the trainspotters go on and on about mics.
RØDE is also an Australian company, so support your own. (I didn’t when I bought my kit, because reasons, but if I get rich enough to do a refresh at some point then I’ll be getting a RØDECaster Pro.…. Again, because reasons.)
Before I go on, yes, this is a perfectly good setup. The Shure SM58 is THE classic rock’n’roll vocalist mic. Indestructible. You want that when on the road. And as @Pollytics said, any of the $200 interfaces are better than a USB mic.
I know people will ask what I use? I have Sennheiser e835 mics (their equivalent to the Shure SM58, kinda) and a Zoom H6n 6-channel recorder / audio interface (but not the shotgun mic). This allows me to record without the computer present, should I wish.
While we’re still on mics, here’s a comment from an ABC producer. Well, manager now.

(I learned my audio production from an old-school TV audio director and brought that to ABC Radio. I produced a LOT of outside broadcasts back in the day.)
Right, moving on to #3, the audio editor. Again, there’s a lot of choice here. For free options, people swear by Audacity, but I’ve never used it. Here’s a recent review of the free options.…
If you live in the Apple walled garden, all of your devices came with Garage Band, which again is perfectly fine for the job. I haven’t used it because...
I use Reaper. Complete overkill for 99% of you, but it’s a professional environment I’m comfortable working in.

Do not get this if you are a beginner, because trust me you will get lost in it.
Reaper doesn’t have to look that frightening, and usually doesn’t. The second image here is from yesterday’s podcast.
There’s lots of good audio production tools out there, but the free ones are likely to be more than enough for anyone starting with a podcast.
And here’s another comment from a professional broadcaster. Yeah, we like to over-engineer our productions. :)
And now to #4 which is distribution. You need somewhere to stick your finished podcast files. And guess what? Again there’s a bunch of choices...
I use Spreaker as my primary distribution platform for one simple reason: It’s actually an audio livestreaming platform.

It also comes with an app to mix and upload your livestream, and record it, for all of the devices. Including mobile.
The other thing that is handy about Spreaker is that it can automatically cross-post to SoundCloud and YouTube and a bunch of others.
Obviously SoundCloud is an enormously popular podcast platform, as now is Spotify. There are others. Here is a random recent review of the “Top 31” yeah you dickhead just pick three.…
Note that a hosting platform is not the same as an index like Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. Those last two are merely a catalog. Mind you, you need to be in them to get more listeners — but you need to be up and running first. Do that once you’ve got an episode up.
Before I look at the replies to this thread, a recap.
1 & 2. A mic and audio interface, possibly combined into a USB mic. Scroll back for suggestions.
3. Choose an audio editor. Plenty of free options.
4. Choose a hosting platform.

But again, concentrate on the content.
Other things that are important but I won’t cover in this thread:

a. Setting up your recording environment;
b. All the tricks of mic technique and editing;
3. Promotion.

There’s lots of guides online. Most of them are bullshit, of course, but what can you do?
Oh good. The categories are indeed A, B, and 3. #headdesk
Right, the replies. Some of them are “Why didn’t you [including replies] suggest Y instead of X?”

There’s lots of options in each cost and performance category. Don’t get hung up on that. I’ll only pull in the replies that allow me to add significant new information.
I use Spreaker for livestreams, but sweeten and mix the audio in an external application before piping it in. I’m happy to provide suggestions on that another time.
This is an important point. Spend some time up front doing test recording and the like to get the right settings, and save them. Maybe do a pilot episode to practice your whole production chain and get feedback on it.
Also, before you launch your podcast, maybe decide that you’ll do a Series 1 of three or four episodes, or whatever. Don’t commit to a tight schedule. Everything will take longer than you thought, and you’ll stress out if you think you’re falling behind.
In another media project back in the day, I even had a Series 0 to make it clear it was a beta.
If you do it as Series 1, Series 2, etc, it also allows you to learn from what you did and add in all the improvements. Or change things completely.
This looks like an interesting beast, and at this stage I should differentiate between an “audio editor” and a “digital audio workstation”. Ardour and Reaper are DAWs. They are EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. You may not need that.
This is one of the devices on @Pollytics’ list of suggestions up at the start of the thread. I’ve heard nothing but good about Behringer’s gear.
That’s all on this thread for now. On Monday night I’ll add some thoughts about remixing at the pub, and why it’s important to draw the curtains and put down a towel.
Oh yeah. This. One for every mic. Even if it says on the specs it has one built-in.
Last night I tweeted a long thread about choosing equipment for starting your podcast.…. As promised, here’s some thoughts about remixing at the pub, and why it’s important to draw the curtains and put down a towel.
Let me say from the start that this is for beginners. People who want to spend thousands on a “professional” podcast studio, this is not for you. My message is that you can do a LOT on a very small budget.
My topic tonight is the environment you record in. No matter how good your equipment, it will simply record the sound of you in your environment. So here’s what to look out for, except the obvious point of telling people to shut up.
Here’s the problem: Sound bounces off hard, flat surfaces. Your desk. Walls. Windows. Your typical home office or corporate meeting room is exactly the wrong space. This article explains the problem.…
If you have no control whatsoever over your recording environment (except that you do, as I’ll explain) then just put the mic closer to your mouth. That way the relative loudness of your voice close to the mic is greater than any reflections, so they’ll be less noticeable.
In fact, though, you have LOTS of control over your recording environment. I’ll list a few things, and the show you some photos of real-world examples.
Your main aim in all of this is to avoid flat hard surfaces, and look for soft irregular surfaces. If nothing else, pull your desk back into the middle of the room. The flat walls are further away, and there’s further and other objects to scatter the sounds.
Don’t put your big-screen computer right in front of your face. That big flat surface will bounce sound straight back at you. Set it at an angle.
Where’s your towel at? To fix a hard desktop or tabletop, spread out a towel or blanket. This is my typical set-up. Close mic, thick towel on the desk, and thick velvet curtains over the windows. And there’s a big space behind me to there’s no reflections from there.
Here’s another (blurry) pic of when I was recording an interview at a conference. I found a room with soft furnishings and curtains, and a carpet. I sat us at an angle to all that, and what you can’t see is that I positioned the mics very close to me and the interviewee.
Oh yeah. Listen out for sounds in the room, like air conditioners or refrigerator motors and the like. Turn them off if you can. (But remember to turn your fridge back on before you go to bed. Trust me on this.)
Here’s the message again. Put down a towel. Have furniture or curtains to deaden the reflections. Get rid of all the hard surfaces.
A lot of radio presenters are working from home right now because they can stream in the audio. Let me run through some of the photos that have been posted and comment on them. Here’s some from BBC News’ entertainment reporter.
Normally I’d say this set-up was bad, with all the hard surfaces, but note the headset mic. It has noise-cancelling features. This goes back to my first point: If nothing else, work close to the mic, and this is designed for exactly that.
See the first box on @Pollytics’ recommendation? A Plantronics headset. Fantastic value for money if your environment is shit.
Check this one. Just throw cloth over everything! Thicker and softer stuff like towels and blankets is even better, but if you don’t have anything else then sheets and the like will do. A little loose cloth makes a big difference.
This is excellent improvisation. Pull all the soft furniture together into a soft little audio-cave and work hand-held. (You may need to practice working hand-held because it’s easy to forget where your mouth is.)
This is good. Not only has he laid down a towel, he’s put a couple of cushions further down that lovely wooden table. Also notice that the mic is on an angle, mainly to prevent pops I guess.
This one is a bit specialist. Eleanor is a sports presenter. See that mic? It’s full of noise-cancelling cleverness. See that ridge at the top? You press that against your moustache and it holds the mic in exactly the right spot. Also, curtains.
Note also that Eleanor doesn’t have a moustache, which goes to show just how far sports broadcasting has come. Anyway, that mic is what you’d use if you have to broadcast from a stadium filled with 80,000 screaming fans. You probably don’t need that one. Unless you have kids.
Excellent mattress work here from Corin. The dog is optional, but the spare mattresses make awesome sound absorbers.
There a few more in this BBC story.… The best one is this cushion work from Nick Robinson. Nice red.
I reckon that’s enough to give you an idea. So let me finish this part of the thread with two suggestions...
1. Keep your used egg cartons and glue them to backing boards. No, really.
2. There are no sound reflections outside. People worry WAY too much about ambient sounds, that is, the sounds of the environment. Location sounds can create a mood. Try this podcast that I recorded in a park (skip in two minutes).
This reminds me of a set-up I saw on the weekend. Sitting in front of a wardrobe in your bedroom? No, you don’t want the hard surface of the door behind you. Open it up! All that clothing on coat hangers makes a great acoustic baffle.
Also, seriously, it’s an audio podcast. No one even knows what it looks like, let alone cares.
This can also work. And check the random photos I just found.
So that’s the end of this thread for tonight. The aim of it is to remind you that there’s a LOT you can do before spending money, and that with very little effort you can vastly improve the sound quality of your podcast. Get the room right, because nothing can improve it later.
This thread started at and is unrolled at…. If you want me to add more bits and pieces about podcast production please let me know. I may reply to some of your replies shortly.
Oh yeah. If you want to hire me to sort out your podcast production, you know where to find.
This is a great question. Most voice recordings can be improved with some audio compression (not data compression) and that’s another whole thing. But personally I shove it all through Auphonics’ multitrack software for an automated mix. This is overkill.
I should add that “What do you use?” isn’t necessarily a good question because I have [REDACTED] years of experience, producing thousands of hours of radio including more than 100 live outside broadcasts, so I approach these things in a certain way that’d be bad for beginners.
Since everyone is starting a podcast now, over the last two nights I’ve done a long thread on the gear and services you’ll need, and how to prepare your recording environment. I may add to it in the coming days. Here’s the whole thing so far.…
EXCELLENT ADDITION TO THIS THREAD: “Tips and Tools for Improving your Remote Meetings and Presentations on a Budget” by @aaronpk… It includes video and lighting, not just audio. Really good tips.
Another excellent addition. There’s really SO much you can do to improve your audio and video while spending zero or very little money.
Further to this ridiculously long thread on podcast production basics (you can start at…) here’s a good “How To Record A Podcast In Audacity: A Beginners Guide” post from DJ City.…
Also, they have the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio 3rd Gen Complete Recording Package for AUD 499.… Apparently a big seller, but I have to experience with it so this is not a recommendation. Use @Pollytics’ chart for comparison.
Is it worth mentioning that I’m available for podcast production and consulting services? I should probably put together a rate card.
Yet another addition to this ridiculously long thread about podcast set-ups. “The Best Podcast Starter Kit (For 1, 2, 3 & 4+ Hosts)”… HT @carolduncan.

The whole thread is over here.…
I should say again that this can go down into a trainspotter rabbit-hole. There’s a lot of alternatives at each price and quality point, so don’t get too hung up over that. One you’ve got the basics it’s more important to focus on your content.
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