Recommendations for recording hardware - from professionals for beginners

If you want to start podcasting, sooner or later you have to deal with the technology behind it. The right equipment is the basis of every quality podcast and ensures a pleasant introduction to the world of audio. Before you dive into the floods of Google research - just let three industry professionals recommend their favourite starter packages here.

Recommendations for recording hardware - from professionals for beginners

There are no limits for podcast equipment. Audio technology and its products cover all requirements of podcasters. Fortunately, there are also special remedies for podcast beginners, which makes your life a lot easier and forgives the one or other beginner’s mistake.

How does a basic podcast setup actually look like?

The basic equipment in terms of podcast hardware consists of a microphone, possibly an audio interface and good headphones.

The most important thing for podcasters is the right microphone. There are countless types of microphones. At the beginning, robust and therefore less sensitive microphones are best suited, because they don’t expect you to be perfect in handling. Microphones also differ in their connections. Here you can choose between a USB or XLR connection. In USB microphones, the interface is already integrated, which serves as an interface between the microphone and the computer. However, they are more likely to cause noise than XLR microphones - however, they are a good, uncomplicated way to get started, especially for solo podcasters.

(If you want to learn more about the different types of microphones, you can read about them in our blog or just listen to our “Innenhof-Podcast”).

However, not all noises can be attributed to the recording setup. Sometimes it is the podcasters themselves who are responsible for unpleasant noises on the recording. Audible beginner mistakes are mainly caused by the wrong distance to the microphone. But don’t worry! With the right equipment, inexperience can be easily handled.

What do our experts recommend?

“For beginners without a trained microphone technique, it should be a hearing-talking combination. Then the microphone always stays in the right place and the room does not play a major role. Furthermore, the costs are manageable. The interface should have all important settings on the device in addition to good preamplification, and preferably be usable without driver installation on the Mac”. Sebastian Simmert, BosePark Productions GmbH

Sebastian is, next to Su Holder and Christopher Guse, CEO of BosePark Productions. In addition to video productions, the company has also specialised in audio productions.

Starter Menu á la Sebastian Simmert

  • The headset Beyerdynamic DT-290/M200/H80 headset combination MkII (approx. 240 €) with integrated dynamic microphone offer well balanced sound quality.
  • For this purpose he recommends the appropriate connection cable (approx. 59 €)
  • And finally the interface SSL 2+ (approx. 299 €). Thanks to its impressive preamplifier, its easy setup on the Mac and its second port, this audio interface makes it onto Sebastian’s list.

“For the purpose you describe, I would rather recommend a USB microphone It’s the least likely to go wrong. The new Rode NT USB mini sounds good, is affordable, rugged, and offers live monitoring. With a headphone that plugs directly into the back of the mic, you can get started right away. The only thing that’s a bit impractical is the short supplied table stand. You might have to buy a more suitable one in order to be more flexible in terms of height. - Christian Conradi, Viertausendhertz

In 2016 Viertausendhertz was founded as the first German podcast label. Since then their content has been setting innovative impulses in the audio world.

For more tips from Viertausendhertz on Equipment & Co, you should definitely listen to the “Frequenz” podcast. In the current episode the guys explain everything about home studios.

Starter Menu á la Christian Conradi

Solo Variant

  • For solo podcasters, Christian suggests the Rode NT USB mini (approx. 120 €): “In addition to being user-friendly and good value for money, the built-in pop protection prevents too loud “P’s” and prevents you from being exposed as a podcast newbie.

Group variant “Deluxe”

  • If there are multiple participants, Christian recommends using Shure SM7Bs (approx. 430 €) in combination with the
  • Mixpre 3 (about 700-799 €) or Zoom F6 (about 600 €). Both are characterized by their practical size, robustness and good preamplifier. The two audio interfaces can also be used as local recorders and give you the possibility to record in 32-bit float. At rock concerts, the desired effect of sound distortion (overdriving), is unfortunately a sign of technical insecurity in the podcast world and is therefore prevented.

Group variant “Regular”

  • To get a cheaper version, you better go for the Rode M3 (approx. 89 €) microphones.
  • For this purpose an interface from the Focusrite Scarlett range is recommended. The Scarlett 2i2 (approx. 165 €) is particularly suitable for beginners due to its uncomplicated handling.

Unfortunately, it’ s not possible to make a recommendation in podcasting in the same way.

“Depending on the application case (local vs. remote, solo recording, conversation situation) I recommend different setups. Daniel Sprügel -Maniac Studios.

With his company Maniac Studios, Daniel advises brands on audio strategy, conception and production of high-quality podcasts

In our entry-level scenario, Daniel has chosen the following options:

Starter menu á la Daniel Sprügel

  • For mixing, our audio expert recommends Over-Ear headphones, such as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (approx. 120 €), which are convincing both in sound and wearing comfort.

Solo Variant

  • As for the microphone, Daniel recommends the USB microphone Rode NT USB mini (approx. 120 €) just like Christian.

Group Variant

  • There is also a common winner in a discussion situation. Daniel also suggests Shure microphones to all beginners: Especially the Shure SM7B (approx. 430 €) or as a cheaper alternative the Shure SM58 (approx. 105 €). Both microphones shine in their insensitivity and also fit the hand particularly well.
  • These microphones are complemented by the required audio interface. The Zoom H6 (approx. 430 €) is the first pocket recorder that has an integrated interchangeable capsule system and thus adapts to any recording situation at lightning speed. If this is too expensive for you, then you should go for the Focusrite Scarlet Solo 3 (approx. 115 €). The price/performance ratio and its ease of use make it perfect for getting started.

Podcasting ToGo

  • For all those who are on the move when podcasting, we recommend the Shure MV88 + Video Kit (approx. 229 €). Turn any iOS smartphone and tablet into a fully functional recording device.

Beware of delivery in Corona time

As we have already shown in our data analysis, podcast production is rising sharply during the corona crisis. Similar to the impact on the toilet paper resource, this also has an impact on the podcast world. However, an improvement is also in sight here.

“My current recommendation is rather something like: Take what you can get, because in many places the good equipment is currently sold out or with long delivery times.- Daniel Sprügel -Maniac Studios.”

Conclusion

Before you invest in audio technology, it doesn’t hurt to give some thought to your requirements. In order to make the right choice of equipment for your podcast, it is therefore helpful to be clear about a few questions:

  • How much budget is available to me?
  • How professional should my podcast sound?
  • What is the recording situation of my podcast? Do I record at home? Do I have to be mobile? Do I “stand” alone in front of the microphone or are several people involved?

USB microphones like the Rode M3 are especially useful for solo.podcasting as they do not require an audio interface. If you tend to long podcasts, you should look at headphones with integrated microphone like the ones from Beyerdynamic. They keep your hands free and provide a smooth sound. Depending on the price range, the Shure SM7B and SM58 microphones are recommended for podcasts in combination with the Focusrite Scarlett audio interfaces or the SSL 2+ interface. Mobile podcasters are provided with the necessary flexibility through special attachments on smartphones and tablets. Of particular interest here is the Shure MV88 + Video Kit.

You already have your equipment? All you need now is the right audio software to edit your podcasts. Use our decision helper to find the software that suits you best.