What are the staples of a good podcast? What qualities make you want to listen or keep listening? Of course there is content, consistent scheduling, personality and passion. Podcasters and listeners may have different opinions on what they identify as the single most important element of a podcast. But everyone can agree that there is one element that is absolutely necessary to the making of a podcast: sound quality.
“Good sound quality is essential,” said Heather Brooker of Motherhood in Hollywood. “Your listeners have to be able to hear you comfortably otherwise they will turn it off. You can be an amazing interviewer with a fantastic idea but if no one can hear what you’re saying they won’t listen.”
To record good audio content you need good equipment. We reached out to more than 35 podcasters to see what their favorite tools are to record their shows.
Unsurprisingly, the response we received was not unanimous. Each podcaster is different, so their equipment choices are different as well. There are several elements that factor into the choice of equipment for producers, including price, location of recording and personal preference.
We asked specifically about microphones since the mic is the key piece of gear to ensure the best possible sound quality.
For mics, opinion varied widely. However, one stood out from the rest. Several podcasters including Tin Man TC of Fried Bologna, Sarah Rhea Werner of Girl in Space and Write Now, Price Johnson of Got Damn Mondays, Scott King of The Scott King Show and Randolf and Cecilla of Happily Never Equal all said that they have been using the Blue Yeti mic to record their shows. The Reasons I’m Broke podcast also uses a Yeti mic, a Silver Yeti, that they’ve been using for five years now.
The Yeti mic sells at $129.99. It’s a USB microphone which allows users to eliminate mixing steps. Additionally, it has different settings to provide flexibility and allow the microphone to serve the same purpose that would usually be completed by multiple microphones. It can be found here.
While Werner personally uses the Yeti for her two shows and recommends it to others, it’s not the only mic she would suggest. “I am a podcast enabler, so my first answer is any mic that you have access to!”
She said that if you have a bit of a budget, in addition to the Blue Yeti mic, she also recommends the Blue Snowball ($60).
Marissa Jones, of The Vanished Podcast said that she uses a Mic96k but agrees that there isn’t one perfect microphone for every situation. “I think that different microphones are better for different recording situations. A lot depends on the amount of noise you have in your recording space.”
Mic96k is available on Amazon for $229 and includes features such as a studio cardioid condenser and USB adaptabilities.
Anthony Hayes, host of the Emotional Technology Podcast, chose yet a different mic. “The most highly recommend and best bang for your buck, versatile mic is the Audiotechnia ATR 2100.” Audiotechnica ATR2100 is available on Amazon for $64.
Kyle S. of Everyday Superhumans uses that mic as well. “It’s fairly affordable and it can use both XLR and USB inputs.” Alternatively, he recommended that for podcasters using multiple microphones during an episode to look into using a Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD.
Hayes said that a step up from the Audiotechnica ATR2100 would be the Shure sm85.
The Flicks XRayed Podcast team said that they have multiple mics in their studio, but they mainly use a C1 mic because it works the best in the environment that they have set up– a roundtable conversation.
A C1 model is made by Behringer and is available on Amazon for $49.99. It is a large diaphragm condenser microphone for studio use as both a main and support microphone.
All the microphones that have been discussed are good quality, but it ultimately depends on what features best suit the podcaster. Different characteristics from one podcast to another including budget, the number of people that need to be able to speak into the mic at a time, what kind of show is being produced, what kind of studio space podcasters are working with, and other considerations that shape the experience of the podcaster should play a pivotal role in informing the microphone choice.
If you are looking for some other great options here are just a few that other professional podcasters recommend:
Nick of Progressive Podcast Australia: iSK BM-900 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
ArtCurious Podcast: Zoom recorder (looking to upgrade soon)
Dana Buckler of How is this Movie?: AT-2020 Microphone
The Big Geek Show: Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone. When they are on the road they use a Rode VideoMicro and a handheld recorder.
Inconclusive Breakdown: Blue Nessie
Redemption Podcast: MXL 990 (mostly & Rode Procaster)
Attention HellMart Shoppers!: MXL 990
Heather Brooker of Motherhood in Hollywood: Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
Danielle Jones of Between Us Girls: Shure SM58