What if I told you, you only need 4 things to make a podcast. Yes! Just 4, and you walk around with at least 2 of them in your pocket every day!
In fact, by the end of reading this blog post, most of you will only need to buy ONE thing – the rest you’ll already have or you can get for free!
Before you go on a mad mission to research and buy kit though, figure out exactly what you need for the podcast you’re making. If it’s an interview-based show where it’s just you chatting to folk over the internet, you’re not going to need a load of kit, just a microphone. They’ll be more about ‘just buying what you need’ in a future blog post!
For the purposes of this blog post, we’re talking about traditional podcasts aka audio-only. I’m also not going to recommend specific brands or name-drop models of kit here as there are plenty of websites doing this very well. This is a simple, practical guide to what you need. So, once I arm you with this info – go forth and get the kit that matches your requirements and of course budget!
So what are the 4 things you need to make a podcast?
1. Something to capture a noise
You, your guest or something makes a noise. You need something to capture this.
This is going to be a microphone and they mainly come in the following ways,
- USB – A mic that has a USB connection that plugs straight into the USB port of your laptop / desktop computer
- Analog mic – with an XLR connection that either a) plugs onto a laptop/computer via an interface b) connects to a portable recording device (if it has the inputs)
(you can get some mics that have both a USB and an XLR connection)
- A wired, handsfree mic/earphone set – like the ones you used to get with your phone before fancy wireless / AirPods / earbuds happened
or something with a microphone(s) inbuilt into it
- Smart phone
- Portable recording device
(I’m not listing / recommending a laptop or tablets built-in microphone here because they sound bobbins)
2. Something to hear that noise
If there’s just one thing you remember from this blog post then please let it be this
“Wear headphones please”
There’s a very simple reason why. So you can hear what you’re recording.
Over the years and evolution and that, our ears and brain work together to filter out certain noises, to make them less noticeable to us. For example, you’re in a room with a fridge, you’ll not notice that it’s buzzing. However, if you listen out for it, you’ll hear it.
Try it now.
Close your eyes.
What different noises can you hear?
Maybe there’s a projector in your office that’s got a well noisy fan, the window’s open and there’s roadworks or the aircon keeps clicking on and off…
Microphones will pick up every noise in that room without even having to think about it. If you put a microphone in that room with a fridge and listen back to the recording, the buzz will be clearly audible.
So, wearing headphones will enable you to hear the exact sound your microphone is picking up.
It’s easier to move away / eliminate rough sound at the source than to try and remove it in the edit. Trust me it can be a pain in the arse. More importantly, trying to fix bad sound in post-production can badly affect the audio. The ‘noise reduction’ filters on editing software should be approached with caution, sadly it’s not a magic wand – although I wish it was sometimes *sigh*
The same goes for when you’re editing your podcast – wear the same headphones. They can help your ears hear the detail, minimise the external sound around you so you can focus on your audio, and can let you work in public places. Also and interestingly lots of people listen to podcasts with headphones in, so wouldn’t you want to hear what it’s going to sound like to those listeners too?
3. Something to store that recording
That recording the microphone did – you’re going to need to save that somewhere. So this will depend on what you’ve used to record it and what device you’re going to use to edit it.
- Smartphone – if you’ve recorded it on your phone, you can save it there if you’re going to edit it on your phone or send it to the device you’re going to edit the audio on. You can do this by:
- emailing it yourself from the device – if the file size is too big it might not send
- using an online file transfer website like we transfer – great for big files you can’t email
- save it on a cloud drive like google drive or dropbox
- Laptop / desktop computer – if you’ve recorded it straight into your computer you can save it directly on that hard drive, or transfer it to the device you’re going to edit onto
- you can use the options above,
- or use an external hard drive / usb stick to move it to the device you’re going to be editing the audio on
If you’re anything like me, sometimes you delete stuff by mistake. So I always save a copy of my original, unedited files. This way, if you fluff up, lose a drive, or press delete by accident, you’ll have the original files! Hurrah! Podcast saved!
4. Something to edit that recording
That recording you’ve just saved? You’re going to want to edit this – or put together the other bits you’ve recorded and saved or other people in your team (if you have one you lucky devil) have recorded.
This is most likely going to take the form of a Digital Audio Workspace, or a DAW for short. Now that’s its posh name – what we’re talking about here is some audio editing software. There are a number of ways you can edit audio, it’s up to you how you do it – ask yourself what are you comfortable using?
You can edit audio
- on your laptop /computer using an audio editing program (there are free and paid for DAWs out there), something you’re already used to using whether that’s an inbuilt program on your device or even a video editing program if you’re comfortable using that!
- on your phone / tablet using an app – personally, I find mobile or tablets far too fiddly and small to do any intricate editing.
- By using someone else! You might be reading this thinking, ‘there is no way I have time to learn a new program, never mind editing a blumming podcast!’. Pay someone to do it for you, if you can (you lucky devil)
So there you have it – just need these 4 things to make a podcast,
- A microphone to record noise
- Headphones to hear the recording
- Something to store recording on
- Something to edit the recording
There’s so much more kit you could buy, but these are the basics – this is your starting point. Work this out during the planning stage of your podcast and then only buy what you need.
Just to revisit what I said right at the very start, you probably have 2 of these in your pocket right now (phone and headphones!) and most of you will only need to go out and buy a mic – the rest you already have.
So, you now have zero excuses not to get cracking!
This post is by Vic Elizabeth Turnbull, founder of MIC Media and MIC’s Podcast Club
Looking for support to produce your podcast? Contact MIC here, let’s have a chat about your podcast ideas.