Best podcasting gear

Best Podcast Equipment in 2020 [For Beginners & Pros]


Investment in the correct audio equipment is extremely important for podcasting. Your audio setup needs to be correctly selected to ensure:

  • Best possible capabilities to capture great audio and minimize time spent on editing
  • Reach in enough features and solutions to make your audio sound best as possible
  • Fit your recording environment and don’t capture noises
  • Just enough capabilities to ensure great podcasts and don’t be filled with features you won’t ever use. You shouldn’t have to overpay for unnecessary functions
  • Be good enough to last for years so you can focus on your podcast and not on upgrading your equipment
  • Durability and solid construction in case of physical hardware

Microphone – the most important piece of recording equipment in podcasting

Quality of your captured audio, clarity of voice, accurate capturing of audio frequencies all depend on your choice of microphone. If you start off with a correct microphone you are greatly improving your chances of recording great audio and reducing the time required for editing.

Choosing a good quality microphone is essential to sound professional and build your brand as a creator of high quality sounding podcasts. You need to have a mic that is best suited for recording voice and which will best suit your recording environment.

Overall Shure SM7B is the best dynamic microphone for podcasting. If you have a soundproofed recording location with great isolation and acoustics try out Rode NT1-A. If your primary concern is easy setup and low budget buy Blue Yeti Pro.

This is our full list of recommendations, which is in-depth covered in our full guide on choosing a correct podcasting mic Choosing a Microphone for Podcasting – Buyers Guide and Recommendation


Shure SM7BRode NT1-AMXL 770Audio-Technica AT2020 USB PlusBlue Yeti Pro

Shure SM7BRode NT1-AMXL 770udio-Technica AT2020 USB PlusBlue Yeti Pro
TypeDynamicCondenserCondenserUSBUSB
RecommendationNo 1 recommendation – dynamic microphone, extremely good quality for podcastingNo 2 recommendation – condenser microphone, best for quite, soundproofed homemade studioCheaper alternative for Rode NT1-AEasy to use, quick setup, very flexible and affordableEasy to use, very good quality for USB mics, flexible (has XLR connection)

Filter (pop-, wind-, foam-) – diffuse intensive sounds and save time on editing

A good filter is one of the simplest add ons to your recording kit which will greatly improve your audio quality by shielding your microphone from plosive consonants (popping effect is caused by voiceless, consonants like /p/, /t/, and /k/, or voiced, like /b/, /d/, and /g/) and from sibilance (often cause by the sounds /s/, /z/, and /f/).

The strength of those effects on your audio quality depends on your pronunciation, loudness, proximity to the microphone and mic sensitivity – removing the in DAW can be really difficult and time-consuming.

Pop-filter, wind-filter or foam-filter – those names are often used interchangeably and eliminate plosive consonants and sibilance from being recorded in the first place. Some mics like mentioned Shure SM7B or Rode NT1-A will already come equipped with a filter. For podcasting, your requirements are really basic and buy the cheapest filter you can. Use simply the filter which came with your mic. If you don’t have a filter consider some of those very simple and effective recommendations.


Double layer pop filterTriple layer wind filterFoam filter

Double layer pop filterTriple layer wind filterFoam filter

Isolation Filter – shield back of your mic from recording noises

If you don’t have a well-soundproofed recording room, and there are a lot of hard surfaces surrounding your microphone a lot of sound waves will get reflected back to your microphone. If the mic captures them you will end up with a lot of reverberations.

An Isolation Filter is a very effective way to reduce reverberations and improve the audio quality of your podcast. It isolates the back and sides (depending on the size of the filter) from recording unwanted, reflected sounds. The bigger shield protects the wider surface of the 360-degree sphere around your mic from which noises are coming. The best isolation filters cover large surfaces when unfolded and can get heavy so a very robust mic stand should be used to hold the entire setup.

Your actual requirement for isolation filter will depend on how good is the acoustics in your recording room. If it is good and the back of your mic is not facing hard, flat surface or you can use some thick mattress or heavy drape, there is a chance you might not need to invest in isolation shield. If you do need one below are some simple recommendations.


Mobile isolationSmall sizeLarge size

Mobile isolationSmall shieldLarge shield
Dimensions when unfolded13.3″ x 13″ x 12.2″
34 cm x 33 cm x 31 cm
12.6″ x 11.8″ x 4.7″
32 cm x 30 cm x 12 cm
23.5″ x 15.4″ x 11.0″
60 cm x 39 x 28 cm
Weight1.99 lbs (0.9 kg)3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)11.4 lbs (5.2 kg)

Stand – essential piece to hold your microphone and filters

For professional recording, you need to have a stand. By fixing the position of your mic and filters you get more consistent and even-sounding audio quality. Most of the USB microphones (including recommended by us) already come equipped with a stand. If you are going for a more professional condenser or dynamic microphone those won’t come with a stand.

Overall we recommend Pyle Heavy Duty PMKS56 due to its extremely stable base, long boom and weight good enough to hold more heavy isolation shields. Also, the reach of the boom will allow you for more options when it comes to positioning the mic. Heavy stands are great since they are less likely to fall down and damage your mic.

If you decide to go with a desktop stand than the best option to choose would be the Rode PSA1 due to it’s highly adjustable and reliable construction. Desktop stands however usually are not stable enough to hold an isolation shield.

If you want to learn more about mic stands, learn this detailed guide on podcasting mic stands. Before making a purchasing decision, you can also check this guide to help you decide if you should be recording standing or sitting.


Gator Frameworks GFW-MIC-0821Rode PSA1Pyle Heavy Duty PMKS56K&M Telescopic Boom 21090K&M 21021

Gator Frameworks GFW-MIC-0821Rode PSA1Pyle Heavy Duty PMKS56K&M Telescopic BoomK&M 21021
TypeDesk heavy baseDesk swivel standVery stable tripodStanding tripodStanding tripod premium, overhead
Height23″
(58 cm)
33″
(83.8 cm)
51.2” to 78.75”
(130 to 200 cm)
35.5” to 63.1”
(90 to 160 cm)
43.3″ to 79.5″
(110 to 202 cm)
Boom length16″
(40.7 cm)
32.5″
(82.6 cm)
29.5″
(74.9 cm)
30.25″
(76.8 cm)
41.92″
(106.5 cm)
Weight7 lbs
(3.2 kg)
3.84 lbs
(1.74 kg)
8.82 lbs
(4 kg)
7.2 lbs
(3.3 kg)
13.23 lbs
(5.9 kg)

Shock Mount – capture vibrations on your condenser mic

A shock mount is a form of suspension attached directly to your stand and holding the mic. Its role is to absorb the vibrations and prevent them from feeding into the mic and result in recording noises. Those vibrations usually are caused by moving the mic and even by vibrations coming through the floor.

Less sensitive mics can usually be operated without a shock mount. The good news is that good quality condenser mics are sold in bundles including the shock mount. If you don’t already have a shock mount consider one of those simple recommendations. We are not linking to any specific shock mount as their constructions are quite universal and you should buy one which has a size appropriate to the size of your mic.


Mic activator – boost gain of lower sensitivity microphones

If you are using a microphone with a high sensitivity of around -50 dbV/Pa or higher you most likely won’t need a mic activator. Our recommended condenser mic, Rode NT1-A has a high sensitivity of -31.9 dbV/Pa while our overall top pick, a dynamic Shure SM7B has a very low sensitivity of -59 dbV/Pa. With Shure SM7B a mic activator is a highly recommended addition.

The benefit of mic activators (also known as mic in-line preamps) is that they provide clean gain. You can also boost the loudness of the mic by turning up the preamps in your audio interface but by doing so a lot of preamps get noisy and your podcast captures a lot of static.

Our favorite mic activator is Cloudlifter CL-1. Our second best choice is FetHead, which comes in 2 configurations – one is not passing phantom power so it’s safe for a dynamic mic, while other FetHead Phantom passes phantom power and is appropriate for condenser mics.


Cloudlifter CL-1FetHead PhantomFetHead

Cloudlifter CL1FetHead PhantomFetHead
Best suited fordynamic miccondenser micdynamic mic
Form factorstand-alone devicedirect mic plugindirect mic plugin
dB gain added+25 dB+18 dB+22 dB
Phantom power passingnoyesno

Rooms soundproofing and acoustic treatment

To achieve superior audio quality, you can always boost the quality of your recording room. Two key techniques we use for it are soundproofing and acoustical treatment and we describe them in detail in our Silent home podcast studio – detailed and easy soundproofing guide.

  • Soundproofing – is for stopping and limiting external sounds from coming into your room and getting captured by a microphone. The effort here is focused to seal all the walls, windows and doors from sound leakage. Here is a list of recommended products to soundproof your home recording studio.

Green Glue CompoundGreen Glue SealantAdhesive FoamRed Devil WindowDoor TMS Automatic Door Bottom

Green Glue CompoundGreen Glue SealantAdhesive FoamRed Devil WindowTMS Automatic Door Bottom
rolesoundproofingsoundproofingsoundproofingsoundproofingsoundproofing
forbetween layers of wall, floor, or ceilingcracks in drywall componentssealing door and window frameswindow framesdoors
  • Acoustical treatment – is to control and reduce disturbances and reverberations generate inside of the location you are recording in. Your main goal will be to increase absorption and limit reflection of sound waves Here are some of the great products we recommend to improve the acoustics of your recording room.

Bass traps for corners (wall-ceiling-wall)Bass traps for wall joints (wall-wall)Wall acoustic foam

Bass traps for cornersBass traps for wall jointsWall acoustic foam
roleacoustical treatmentacoustical treatmentacoustical treatment
forcubes to be put in room cornerswall-wall or wall-ceiling jointssquare walls panels

Audio Interface – Recommended audio interfaces for podcasting

Audio Interface is a physical device allowing you to connect your XLR podcasting mic, capture the sound, and translate the analog signal to digital before recording it to your computer. All condenser and dynamic mics require an audio interface, but USB mics already have a form of an interface built-in.

Audio interface also allows to connect headphones and monitor the recording, it provides phantom power for condenser mics, improves gain levels with built-in preamps and acting as an external sound card greatly improves your audio quality.

For both beginners and experienced podcasters, we recommend 3rd generation of the Focusrite Scarlett family of devices. In our opinion, the Scarlett 2i2 offers the best value and capabilities. This device has good quality preamps, professional audio codec, low latency and offers an efficient headphone amplifier. It also has 2 mic XLR inputs allowing to conduct interviews comfortably. Its solid design and offered audio quality will be a good investment for years.

If you want to learn more about audio interfaces we recommend our article Best Audio Interface for Podcasting – Detailed Guide & Buyers Recommendation.


Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (3rd Gen)

Podcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett SoloPodcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2Podcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
ConnectivityUSB Type-CUSB Type-CUSB Type-C
Mics XLR Combo124
Mic Preamps built-inYesYesYes
Ins / Outs2-22-218-8
MIDINoNoYes
OpticalNoNoYes
Max sample rate192kHz/24-bit192kHz/24-bit192kHz/24-bit
Phantom PowerYesYesYes
Direct MonitorYesYesYes

Headphones – monitor your podcast sound quality and prevent sound leakage

Headphones are essential to better understand noise, setup gain levels correctly and improve your overall skills as a podcast host. Good closed-back headphones will also block sound leakage during recording, remote interviews or playing audio clips during the recording. They are also essential during editing to capture all the imperfections and eliminate them from the final recording.

Our favorite headphones for podcasting are great, dynamic closed-back headphones Sennheiser HD280 Pro. Those circumaural (around the ear) headphones have a great frequency response, high sensitivity and low impedance allowing for a loud and clear sound when you work on your podcast. They are comfortable and very effective at preventing sound leakage and shielding ambient noise.

We wrote more about great headphones for podcasting in our detailed guide: Best Podcast Headphones – Detailed Guide & Recommendations.


Sennheiser HD280 PROSony MDR-7506Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80Focal Spirit ProfessionalShure SRH-1540

Sennheiser HD280 ProSony MDR-7506Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80Focal Spirit ProfessionalShure SRH-1540
Summary recommendation#1 – an industry standard for working on podcastsLightweight and great for podcasting remotelyThe perfect combination of quality and luxuryHigh-end combines the quality of closed and open back headphonesHigh-end audiophile grade headphones
Gold-plated adapterYesYesYesYesYes
Carrying BagNoYesYesYesYes
Zippered Hard Travel CaseNoNoNoNoYes
Detachable CableNoNoNoYesYes
Additional Pair of Ear PadsNoNoNoNoYes
Impedance64 Ω63 Ω80 Ω32 Ω46 Ω
Frequencies range8Hz – 25kHz10Hz – 20kHz5Hz -35kHz5Hz -22kHz5Hz -25kHz
Sensitivity SPL/mW113 dB106 dB96 dB102 dB99 dB
Ambient noise red32 dBAnot specified18 dBAnot specifiednot specified
Weight10 oz
(285 g)
8.1 oz
(230 g)
9.5 oz
(270 g)
9 oz
(255 g)
10.1 oz
(286 g)
Cable StyleSingle-exit,not detachableSingle-exit,not detachableSingle-exit,not detachableSingle-exit,detachableDual-exit, detachable
Cable Length9.8 ft
(3 m)
9.8 ft
(3 m)
9.8 ft
(3 m)
13.1 ft
(4 m) &4.6 ft
(1.4 m)
6 ft
(1.8 m) – two cables

XLR Cable and USB Cable – recommended upgrades to improve audio quality

Some of the mics (usually low to mid-budget) may come with a cable. But regardless if you already have a cable or not getting higher quality cable, premium cables improve the quality of the captured audio.

If you have a good quality mic and audio interface it makes sense to further improve your audio setup and improve the quality of recorded audio by upgrading your audio cables. We have covered a lot of aspects of upgrading cables in our article Best XLR and USB Cable Choices for Podcasting.

Great cables will have gold-plated connectors, low resistance, will be made out of high-quality materials (like oxygen-free copper) and have good shielding. The best ones will have implemented a star-quad design.

Our favorite cables for a podcasting recording setup are Mogami Gold Studio XLR cables. Choose the shortest cables possible to connect your devices to minimize interferences.


LyxPro QuadMogami SilverCanare L-4E6S XLR-FMogami Gold Studio

LyxPro Quad XLR cableMogami Silver XLR cableCanare L-4E6S XLR cableMogami Gold Studio XLR cable
ConnectorGoldSilverGoldGold
AWG Resistance24232124
Number of conductors4244
ConductorOFCOFCOFCOFC
ShieldingBraidedServedBraidedServed
Star-quad designYesNoYesYes
Strands per conductor40n/a40n/a
Overall evaluationbudgetmid-rangemid-rangepremium recommended

The last item on the audio setup upgrades list is the USB cable connecting the audio interface with your computer. Best value and noticeable audio quality improvement will be provided by AudioQuest Cinnamon cable. Audio quality will be improved due to the usage of gold-plated connectors, high quality of material used for conductor and type of used insulation.


AudioQuest PearlAudioQuest CinnamonAudioQuest Carbon

USB cable AudioQuest PearlUSB cable AudioQuest CinnamonUSB cable AudioQuest Carbon
ConnectorGoldGoldGold
Conductorlong-grain copperlong-grain copper with 1.25% silverlong-grain copper with 5% silver
InsulationHard-Cell Foam (HCF) insulationHard-Cell Foam (HCF) insulation; braidedHard-Cell Foam (HCF) insulation; braided
Overall evaluationmid-rangemid-range recommendedpremium

DAW – software to record and edit your podcast

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the music software to record and later edit your podcast. There are a lot of DAWs on the market developed for music producers and creators not all of them are best suited for podcasters.

With all DAWs there will be a learning process where at the beginning each type of software will appear complex. Hindenburg Journalist is probably most friendly for podcasters while Adobe Audition overall has a familiar UI which many people know from other Adobe software.

If you decide to go with paid software make sure you fully test it during the free trial period. We have an in-depth article about those 4 DAWs, so if you want to review their pros and cons just visit Best Podcast Editing Software – detailed recommendations for detailed descriptions and highlighted features.


AudacityReaperHindenburg JournalistAdobe Audition

Audacity podcasting DAWReaper podcasting DAWHindenburg Journalist podcasting DAWAdobe Audition podcasting DAW
PriceFreefrom $60from $95from $239.88 / year
Software typegeneral audio editorfully-featuredprofessional, radio/podcast dedicatedprofessional, fully-featured

Summary

  • Microphone – as the most important piece of recording equipment buying a great mic should be your priority. Dynamic mics are generally better if you don’t have a professional studio and still want to achieve this warm, professional radio sound
  • Filter (pop-, wind-, foam-) – key upgrade to have which will protect your recording from plosive consonant and sibilance and save you hours if you would be removing them in the editor
  • Isolation Filter – protects the back of your mic from unavoidable reverberations
  • Stand – have a solid and heavy stand to hold your entire setup (mic and filters)
  • Shock Mount – highly sensitive mic should be put into the shock mount to additionally protect from mechanical vibration
  • Mic activator – lower sensitivity mics require mic activator to have a clean gain and not to overload the preamp
  • Rooms soundproofing and acoustic treatment – fixing acoustics of your room is a big project but effect in the form of lower noise floor and low reverb are worth it
  • Audio Interface – essential equipment for every XLR mic owner. You need to buy an interface with just enough functions for podcasting
  • Headphones – essential to comfortably spend hours recording and editing, shield from ambient noise and prevent sound leakage
  • XLR Cable and USB Cable – last tier of upgrades are premium audio cables to get maximum audio quality out of your audio setup
  • DAW – choose a digital audio workstation rich with professional features and design for podcasting
About the Author
Chris Land

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.


Comments 10

  1. Avatar

    What about the Zoom UAC-2? I’ve heard it’s a good audio interface complete with USB 3. Is it suitable for recording in any home studio for podcasting?
    How important is the fast USB 3 connection?

  2. Avatar

    Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the clarity and good explanation of what is the best gear. I will follow your recommendations regarding microphone, audio interface, and headphones for sure!

  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

    Really a solid review! Thanks for your opinions on the best podcasting gear. Those recommendations are really helpful and informative!

  6. Avatar

    It was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. This will help me with putting together my podcasting gear set up! Thanks!

  7. Avatar
  8. Avatar

    For long time I was looking for such a comprehensive podcasting equipment summary. I will share this and recommend it further. Good job.

  9. Avatar
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