The HumblePod Gear Guide

 

Introduction

My number one tip for podcasting: DON’T START HERE. Go read and listen to my How To Start A Podcast series first.

Why? Because gear is a distraction from the real work of podcasting. You can sound like the most amazing host in the world, but if you don’t know how to develop a good show, you’ll be lucky to ever record more than a couple of episodes before you throw the gear in the closet never to be used again…and sold at a garage sale years later.

Now, let’s assume you’ve listened to my advice above and you’ve got your show ready and raring to go, or you’re already several episodes into production. What gear should you get? For this guide, I’m going to keep it simple. I could get really complex with all the varying options, but my goal here is to get you back to the art of podcasting and keep you from spending all your time obsessing over gear. This gear guide is broken down into three categories: Beginner, Advanced, and Professional. Additionally, I’m including a section on Online Recording Software and DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) for your reading pleasure. I will give away the good stuff first: All kit links and gear is listed up-top for those of you who just want to know what to get. For those “independent thinkers” that read this and want to read 100 different reviews before clicking buy, I’m including what amounts to a basic buyer guide for each step as well, along with more detailed descriptions of the kit.

Saying the Silent Part Out Loud

Before we dive in too deep, I want to discuss the unspoken truth behind audio gear. That truth is this: we want a clean signal. We want the source without distraction. When it’s silent. We want silence. When there is noise, it should be a voice breaking the silence. And when that voice makes noise it should be the purest representation of the speaker’s voice imaginable. No reverb, no HVAC humming merrily in the background, and sweetened to the point where even if you normally hate the way your voice sounds, you like how it sounds on the mic. This is the battle we fight. It’s never fully perfect outside of a studio setting, and even then you better believe sound engineers are pursuing some higher-tiered version of this battle. The gear guide I have put together is aiming to address this battle. There is plenty of great gear out there that works well beyond what I’ve listed here, but this list is made up entirely of gear that I have used on my journey of podcast production and for which I can personally vouch.

Definitions

Before we dive in too deep, let’s get familiar with some terms and concepts you’ll be seeing quite a bit.

Mics

There are two main types of mics out there for capturing vocals: Condenser Mics and Dynamic Mics. Condenser mics require electricity to run. In the industry, we call this phantom power or +48v power. This electrical charge makes these mics very sensitive to sound. Their sensitivity makes them great for capturing nuanced vocals, which is great for music production and even some podcasts IF you have a place where you can completely control the sound(like a sound booth or full studio). However, I don’t think they’re the kind of mic you should use (especially starting out) for podcasting. That is because these mics pick up EVERYTHING in your room. You’ll find yourself editing out a lot of background noise with a mic like this. Especially if you’re starting out, this is definitely not the route to go.

Dynamic mics, on the other hand, don’t require electricity. As a result, they are less sensitive to audio input, which means you generally have to be closer to the mic in order for it to pick you up. The downside to this is that it often takes more gain (mic volume) to power the mic. The Shure SM7B is a mic that is the perfect example of this. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of the SM7B a lot. But if you’re just starting out, chances are you won’t have a preamp powerful enough to power the mic on its own, which means you’ll end up spending an extra $100+ on a gain booster to get the mic to work properly. The challenge with dynamic mics is finding one that isn’t too “gain hungry” and won’t require a gain booster in order to run properly. That said, in general, the pros of a dynamic mic outweigh the cons. What I have done throughout this guide is provide recommendations for mics that work well on their own and don’t require enhancements in order to work well. Of course, as you’ll see, I’ll also provide information on said optional enhancements if you want to look at those.

Recording Interface

Your recording interface for podcasting is the unit you will use to capture audio for your show. In general, you’ll be looking at one of three options: a recorder with XLR inputs, a mixing board recorder with XLR inputs, or a USB Audio Interface. For each tier, I’ll include an either-or between an independent recorder or USB Audio Interface. When looking for a recording interface, I recommend that you consider the mission that you’re trying to accomplish with the tool. If you travel a lot and need to be lightweight, a recorder with XLR inputs will likely be your best choice. If you want to look cool and want to record some in person and some online, a mixing board recorder will probably be your best bet. If you plan to do everything solo or online, you’re going to be best served by a USB audio interface.

Can I have multiple people using USB Mics on the same computer?

No. Emphatically, no. I say that because most computers cannot handle multiple USB audio inputs at once. And even if they can, the reliability of recording software, your computer’s memory, and even the hard drive space available will all factor into the success (and risk) of recording this way. There’s nothing like getting digital drift 45 minutes into a recording because your computer can’t keep up with your 24-bit 192kbps recording… and then having it all crash as you try to save the file frantically. A USB Interface will handle this setup much better, and it’s why I recommend these over USB mics.

Headphones

There isn’t much to say here, but a little guidance on what to consider with headphones. In general, if you’re recording in person, make sure that you get a unit that allows everyone to hear themselves… or have an audio splitter that will allow you to divide the session into multiple headsets. The headphones should also be over-the-ear (for sanitation reason) and closed back (so that you don’t get audio bleeding from the headphones into the mic).  If you’re recording by yourself, headphones are up to your discretion. The important factor in deciding on headphones will depend if you’re editing the audio or not. If you plan to edit your own show, I recommend starting with “studio-grade” headphones. These headphones are free of the “coloration” of sounds that many popular brands (think Beats, Bose, Sony, etc) will put on their gear to enhance the bass and treble to a pleasing level for your listening enjoyment. When you search for studio headphones, the frequency response should be the main thing you look at. In general, you want headphones that have a top range of 20kHz or higher. The reason being that the top of the human hearing range is 20 kHz, so this gives you the ability to hear almost every frequency in between.

A note on Bluetooth headphones

Many people wonder if they can use Bluetooth headphones for podcasting, and it’s honestly a bit of a “yes” and “no” for me. Yes, they can be great for recording if you are only using them as a monitor. The challenge here is that most Bluetooth headphones include a microphone, and more often than not, you’ll find those mics will want to overtake the mic input on your recording software. So it’s a “no” in that they often introduce more problems than they claim to solve. If you do use Bluetooth, make sure you are NOT using the Bluetooth mic before every recording session. And to that end, if you have a guest on, I would advise them to use wired headphones when possible as well. Even those cheap mics pick up audio better and are more reliable. The only downside there is that inline mics tend to introduce a lot of rustling if the mic is sitting against the person’s hair, beard, or shirt.

Beginner

You’re just starting out. You want to sound great, but you don’t want to break the bank. These two kits will get you well on your way to producing great podcasts, and the mics you’ll invest in are ones that you can use for long after you’ve started.

Beginner Microphones

Shure SM58

This is the most ubiquitous mic in the world. It’s the mic at every karaoke bar. The one at every open mic night… It’s probably even the same mic you’ll see at large arena concerts. It’s everywhere, and it’s everywhere for a reason. It’s a durable microphone. They literally have videos of this mic getting run over by a truck and still being used. At its price point, it’s the same cost as the Rode Podmic, and it delivers a warmer sound and requires less gain input to drive the mic. Some folks like that crisp, clear sound the Podmic delivers, but personally, I think that’s a minor point when you’re recording. So why do I like this mic? It’s tough (as noted). It’s also sensitive to gain input, and it has GREAT noise rejection (aka, it doesn’t pick up background noise). It’s just a cardioid patterned mic, but after a few sessions of recording in a noisy space, you can quickly see why this mic is used at so many different music venues. It does a great job of picking up only the performer’s voice with minimal background noise. Also, if you record on the go, these mics can be handheld with way less rustling noise than their competitors (the ATR 2100 and the Samson Q2U).

Shure MV7

The Shure MV7 is another great beginning microphone that is perfect for recording into a computer either for solo recordings or online interviews. It’s essentially the baby brother of the Shure SM7B. It comes with a great app that will automatically adjust your mic’s volume and dynamics according to your personal preferences. It’s easy to use and produces a great sound if you’re just starting out. It’s also worth noting that the mic comes with an XLR output as well, so as you grow your collection, you can use this mic in a future setup. This is a great investment if you’re still under quarantine and have a co-host you plan to reconnect with once you can record in person again. Since you’ll be using this at your desk, I recommend finding a good mic arm. You can go super cheap to start, like these arms from Amazon, or invest in a quality arm like the Rode PSA-1 that will last you a long time. If you’re going USB only, I understand if you want to consider other mics at a lower price point as well. Personally, I am a huge fan of the ATR-2100. The reason I don’t recommend it out of the gate is that it has become increasingly hard to get during the pandemic, and its price on Amazon jumps all over the place as a result of scarcity. It retails for around $70, but it’s difficult to find it at that price. It’s also harder to use. It’s sweet spot is about two inches into the mic. Yes, you read that right. You have to eat the mic in order to get great sound out of it. Jokes aside, you do have to really stay on top of this mic to get good sound. Folks like Tim Ferriss will say they still swear by this mic though. So it’s definitely not a bad pick. As noted, I really liked mine when I had it, but there are better mics out there at the $100+ price range it currently sits at.

Additional Gear

I recommend you pick up the SM58 package with the 10′ XLR cable. Beyond that, you’ll need a mic stand and a foam cover pop filter. This mic will definitely need the pop filter, too. If you want to go crazy, you might consider a shock mount, but I wouldn’t waste your time trying to carry that around if you plan on doing in-person recordings. It’s much easier to just ask people to keep their hands and phones off the table.
Beginner Recorder

Zoom P4

First off, this is Zoom the recording company. It has no affiliation with Zoom the conference calling company’s sub-par audio that everyone seems to think is okay to use for podcast recording sessions. You may be wondering, so I figured I’d set the record straight there. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to see a recorder come to market. For only $200, you can have up to four XLR Inputs, a Bluetooth connection (additional hardware required), TRRS inputs, FOUR headphone outputs, AND it doubles as a USB audio interface. If you’re just getting started in podcasting, I couldn’t recommend a better device. Did I mention it has a mini soundboard, too?

Beginner Headphones

Audio Technica M20X

These are great basic headphones. They’ve got everything you need to monitor audio and even edit your shows. They’re pretty durable as well. The only downside here is that these cans aren’t as compact as some of Audio Technica’s higher-end headphones. They’ll do great, and if you continue to upgrade your gear, they make great guest headphones. If you’re looking for alternative headphones, just recall what I’ve mentioned in the buyer’s guide above. You can find cheaper headphones, and the gear you’re using at this level only requires 1/8″ headphone jacks. The big thing to avoid here is headphones with an inline mic. Inline Mics use TRRS (Tip Ring Ring Sleeve) cables, which phones and laptops read as a stereo cable with a microphone, versus the TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) cable which is just a stereo cable. That extra ring (and yes, you’ll notice the third ring on TRRS cables) will cause impedance on the line and, in most cases, will mean that you’ll find yourself cranking up the volume to compensate for this. So, sure, you can use them, but in my experience, that impedance can be significant, so be warned.

The Beginner’s Kit for In-Person Podcasts

This is the setup I wish I had when I started podcasting. I started with a co-host, so the gear wasn’t cheap from the outset. It was always at least 2 microphones PLUS a guest mic. If you’re just doing one on one interviews, you’ll be really pleased with this lightweight setup. In fact, I’ve even recently used almost this exact setup for some production work where I couldn’t pack a ton of gear, and I liked it a lot.

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
Shure SM58 Microphone for podcasting. This comes in a bundle with a pop filter, XLR Cable, and shock mount. 2 $109.00 $218.00
Foam Pop Filter Pop filter for the microphone to reduce plosives (popping p’s) 1 7.99 $7.99
XLR Cable XLR Cables are included with the SM58 2 (SM58 Bundle)
Microphone Stand Deluxe Desktop Microphone Stand 2 $30.00 $60.00
Zoom P4 Recorder for up to 4 XLR channels. Also can work as an Audio Interface 1 $199.99 $199.99
Audio Technica ATH-M20x Headphones for use with the Zoom P4. 2 $49.00 $98.00
Total
$583.98

The Beginner’s Kit for Online Podcasts

If you’re on a budget or just want to test the waters of podcasting, I’m including two beginner options here. The reason for this is that I think podcasting should be as accessible as possible to anyone wanting to get into this either as a hobby or business without sacrificing quality.

Reasonably Priced Podcaster

The first option below is the “reasonably priced podcast kit” for beginners. It’s going to get you started without breaking the bank.

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
Audio Technica ATR2100x-USB Microphone for podcasting. Great starter USB mic that can also work with XLR inputs. 1 $99.00 $99.00
Microphone Stand Deluxe Desktop Microphone Stand 1 $30.00 $30.00
Sony Over-Ear Portable Headphones Basic headphones. Make sure to get the “No Mic” version. 1 $16.99 $16.99
Total
$145.99
Recommended Beginner

The second option listed is the “better” option for a beginner, but still reasonably priced. Please note that I consider either of these options superior to the Blue Yeti as well.

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
Shure MX7 Microphone for podcasting. Great starter USB  mic that can also work with XLR inputs. 1 $248.00 $248.00
Rode PSA1 Sturdy microphone arm. Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 1 $99.00 $99.00
Audio Technica ATH-M20x Headphones for use with the MX7. Also great for editing. 1 $49.00 $49.00
Total
$396.00

Advanced

If you’re a hobbyist and looking to take your podcasting game to the next level, this section is full of some great gear to help you do that. This is gear for when you’re ready to “Advance” to the next level. The good thing about your investment here is that most of this gear you will want to keep around for a long time and works well with the gear available at the professional level as well.

 

 
Advanced Microphone

ElectroVoice RE320

Once you find yourself wanting to move beyond a basic mic setup, this is the mic I recommend. It’s got a solid, albeit bright, sound, and in some ways, it’s easier to use than most other dynamic mics. Like every mic in the RE range, it has these special coils on the side of the mic that actively combat what we know as the proximity effect. The proximity effect is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The closer to the mic you are, the louder you are. As noted briefly with the mics above, both of them have “sweet spots” for where you’ll sound the best and prevent the most noise rejection. For vocals in music or voice acting, this is sometimes vital to creating a character or song. But for spoken word podcasts and interview-style shows, this isn’t necessary. The RE mic line fights the proximity effect. In essence, this gives you a broader sweet spot on the mic. You may be practiced in podcast recording, but your guests probably aren’t, and the forgiveness that this mic gives is great. Plus, it just sounds good. The alternative here is the Shure SM7B or the Rode Procaster. Both of which are great choices. They just don’t have quite the crisp, clear sound that the RE320 does, in my opinion. The Shure is also notoriously gain hungry, which means you’ll be spending another $100+ on a gain booster to even get the thing to work. And now I get to be a bit of a hypocrite. The RE320 can handle well on its own without a gain boost, but, if you do want to get the most out of this mic, a gain booster is definitely recommended. I personally recommend the Cloudlifter CL-2 if you’re recording with guests (has two inputs, versus the CL-1 which has one).  And for our solo section, I’ll provide more details on why you should use the DBX 286s instead of a Cloudlifter. So stay tuned!

Advanced Recorder + Audio Interface

Recorder

Zoom H6

There are plenty of recorders in this range that are great options, but this is the unit I most passionately recommend. In fact, I would venture to say this unit is the last thing you’ll ever need for podcasting unless you just have to upgrade to a fancier-looking soundboard. If you’re recording in person, there is nothing as powerful and compact. You can record for hours on just four AA batteries, and it has the ability to record an onboard mic, which can be swapped out with a phenomenal mid-side shotgun mic, or even more XLR inputs. You can even record 5.1 surround sound with it. Not that you’ll need that for a podcast, mind you, but the option is there. The biggest downside is that you’ll need to split out audio to separate a separate headphone splitter. This isn’t that hard, but by the time you’re done setting up, you’ll have a ton of cables all over the place. This setup ends up looking like you have an octopus splayed out across the table. It’s not very good-looking. But it gets the job done, and if you don’t need video, it’s great. The Zoom H8 (its successor) took this octopus look a step further and just made it look even more like a creature on the table. It also has some solid preamps. I’ve noticed that most mics that other recorders have trouble powering do swimmingly on the H6. This is especially true of the RE mics and Shure SM58s. This is a cost-saver in the long run, so just keep that in mind. All that said, I sometimes find myself doubting where to place this unit. Yes, there are soundboards at this price range that would be just as good. The Zoom L8 comes to mind… and the Rodecaster Pro, too… but I still feel like that belongs in the “Pro” since it’s got Pro in the name, right? It’s also almost twice as much as the H6. If you’re going for the “I’m a podcaster” look, then the L8 is definitely more your style, but the H6 does the job and it does it well. This was my first “upgrade” from using a basic handheld recorder, actually, and I only (resentfully) put it aside for the Rodecaster Pro, which, as you’ll learn, I have a longstanding love/hate relationship with.

Audio Interface

Scarlett Solo

If you’re just recording on your own, I recommend getting the Scarlett Solo. I have personally used the 2i2 for some time, and it’s a great unit. If you don’t need more than one input though, then the Solo is the best solution. It’ll record in up to 24-bit audio and up to 192 kHz. Way more than you’ll ever need for a podcast recording session. There’s not a ton to say on this unit other than to let you know it does its job well, and it’s worth getting if you want to use any XLR microphone. Also, it’s worth an FYI to let you know to use the monitor button on the unit and don’t rely on the software monitoring. The latency is bad at almost any speed and you’ll find yourself getting lost in your own words quickly. If you can’t find the Scarlett (thanks, COVID), the Onyx makes a good alternative as well.

DBX 286s

I have to take some time to explain this one. This is a rather obtrusive piece of hardware, so why should you have it? Simply put, it’s not much more than getting a Cloudlifter CL-1, and for that money, you get a piece of gear that will boost your gain and has a compressor, de-esser, and noise gate/expander. It does introduce a tiny bit of line noise, but if you manage the equipment correctly, it should be minimal. This is where you can set yourself apart on Zoom calls, online recordings, and livestreams. Since there is hardware doing the work, it doesn’t eat up any memory on your computer, and it gives you a great live sound. The other advantage is your audio will be pre-edited (to a degree), which will save you (or your producer’s) time in post getting the audio cleaned up. The only drawback to this unit is you really need to make sure it’s set properly. I recommend testing this gear as you learn it by recording the Harvard Sentences. This will make it apparent where you’ve got issues in your setup. Also, there are tons of nobs… so if you have small children, make sure this is out of their reach or you’ll find yourself constantly re-adjusting the positions.

Advanced Headphones

Audio Technica M50X

If you’re looking to up your game and get some higher-end headphones, look no further than these babies. They are great and can become really compact for travel. They’ve got great frequency response (up to 28 kHz), and a solid bass, which is great for personal enjoyment. These are my on-site headphones to this day, and I really like them. Aside from the warm fuzzies, again, there are PLENTY of headphones at this price point you could purchase. There’s even one pair that I consider the “pro” set below that is just as good. In all honesty, for podcast production, this is the line where you go from studio-quality gear into the realm of Audiophile. As noted in the buying guide, as long as you avoid heavily colored (think “ENHANCED BASS” marketing callouts on the box) and Bluetooth headphones, you’ll be in a good place here.

Advanced Kit for In-Person Podcasts

At first glance, you’re probably thinking, “This looks a lot like the Professional setup!”  And, yes, to some degree it is. The difference between this gear and what you’ll find in the professional section is that it’s a little less glamourous and more budget-friendly while still getting you great sound. You’ll also more than likely end up carrying at least some of this gear with you to the Professional stage should you decide to follow this guide… so consider it an investment in your future as much as an investment in your present.
Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
RE320 Microphone for podcasting. This comes in a bundle with a pop filter, XLR Cable, and shock mount. 2 $350.00 $700.00
Pop Filter Pop filter for the microphone to reduce plosives (popping p’s) 2 (RE320 Bundle)
XLR Cables (Additional) XLR Cables are included with the RE20 bundle, but you will need 2 more for using the CL-2 below. 2 $20.00 $40.00
Shock Mount Shock mount to reduce noise from table bumps and vibrations 2 (RE320 Bundle)
Rode PSA1 Sturdy microphone arm. Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 2 $99.00 $198.00
Zoom H6 Recorder that can handle up to 4 XLR inputs & additional microphone accessories. Great for audio and video production. 1 $330.00 $330.00
Behringer Micromix MX400 This headphone splitter allows you to split off headphones to everyone who will be recording. 1 $38 $38.00
SanDisk 128GB SD Card You don’t need a huge SD card when recording, and this will be more than enough for the Zoom H6. 1 $34.00 $34.00
Audio Technica ATH-M50x Headphones for monitoring the recording. 2 $150.00 $300.00
Total
$1,640.00

Advanced Kit for Solo and Online Podcasts

This is a great setup if you’re just starting to get serious about solo and/or online podcast work. As noted with the in-person recording work, this is very much a less-glamorous version of what you get at the Professional level. More cables, but a much better price if you’re on a budget or just looking to move up from a Blue Yeti.

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
RE320 Microphone for podcasting. This comes in a bundle with a pop filter, XLR Cable, and shock mount. 1 $350.00 $350.00
Pop Filter Pop filter for the microphone to reduce plosives (popping p’s) 1 (RE320 Bundle)
XLR Cables (Additional) XLR Cables are included with the RE20 bundle, but you will need 2 more for using the CL-2 below. 1 $20.00 $20.00
Shock Mount Shock mount to reduce noise from table bumps and vibrations 1 (RE320 Bundle)
Rode PSA1 Sturdy microphone arm. Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 1 $99.00 $99.00
Scarlett Solo Audio Interface for use with your computer 1 $120.00 $120.00
DBX 286s A gain booster, compressor, expander/gate, and effects rack all in one 1 $239.00 $239.00
1/4″ to XLR Male Cable Cable to connect DBX 286s to Scarlett Solo 1 $56.00 $56.00
Audio Technica ATH-M50x 1 $150.00 $150.00
Total
$1,034.00

Professional

Before we dive into gear at this stage, I want to take a minute to note the importance of finding a microphone that fits your voice. When you hit this phase and are willing to invest in higher-end microphones, I strongly recommend finding a microphone that fits your voice. The one I have recommended below works well for most voices, but if you’re looking to be distinct in your podcast audio, you might find yourself wondering if there are other mics that will fit you better. The short answer is, yes, there definitely are other options than what I have below. You may find yourself building a sound booth at this stage, too, which is where you could start testing out more condenser mics that would work equally as good (or even better) than the mic I recommend below.

Professional Microphone

ElectroVoice RE20

This is the microphone most synonymous with radio and spoken word production. You’ve probably seen one on TV or even in a movie. It’s my favorite dynamic microphone, and I use it for my personal voiceover recordings as well as in-person podcast production.
The reason it’s my favorite mic is because it molds to my voice well. My voice is naturally a little on the deeper side, and this mic pulls that out while still keeping the highs. It’s a mic that’ll make you happy with the sound of your own voice even if you normally hate it.
From a technical standpoint, it’s not nearly as gain-hungry as its competitor the Shure SM7B, and it has all the bells and whistles of the RE320. The big difference here is that this mic is a bit warmer and not quite as focused on the “highs” as I find the 320 to be.
When you get into this price range, you’re going to find yourself really wanting to try microphones before you commit, and I definitely encourage that if it’s possible to do where you live. Alternatives I haven’t mentioned but deserve your attention here are Heil, Neumann, and Rode.

Accessories

If you’re getting the RE20, you’ll want to be sure to get the shock mount for it. If you’re traveling on the road a lot, you’ll probably want to skip using this as it’s very bulky, but be prepared to ask people to keep their hands off the table. It’ll pick up thumps and bumps pretty easily. The Tie-Fighter-esque cage it comes in is great for mitigating shocks though.
As for pop filters, you can easily find some large foam covers that will work well for this to start with. Although personally, I recommend getting this pop filter and mic kit from BSW. It is phenomenal, and they’ve got a good combo price that you can’t even beat on Amazon (without being scammed).
As with the RE320, you’ll need the appropriate Cloudlifters here. If you’re buying more than one to record with, I recommend the CL-2, and if you plan on doing solo recording, the CL-1 is always a safe bet. The RE20 & RE320 both work fine without these gain boosts, but you’ll be reducing the line noise by keeping that preamp gain low.
Professional Recorder + Audio Interface

Recorder

Rodecaster Pro

Shock! It’s not a Zoom recorder! Why would I ever diverge from my allegiance to the Zoom? I ask myself that every time I plug in the Rodecaster Pro (RCP). As alluded to earlier, I have a love/hate relationship with this unit. I will eventually be doing a video on the RCP and why I feel the way I do, but I’ll give you the reader’s digest version for now.

Loves

This unit always looks good on camera or in front of a client. It doesn’t have that Cthulhu that the Zoom H6 & H8 give off, and it doesn’t look as industrial vibe as Zoom’s L8. It is easy to use and  once you’ve got things dialed in, it just works. It does a great job of handling phone calls, and you have access to all tracks from the board on your computer when you go to record with it there. If you do some travel and some at-home/office work, this is a great starting unit for both. I prefer this unit for in-person recording for the reasons listed above. It just works for podcasting, and I like that.

Hates

The two things I really don’t like about this unit comes down to preamp distortion and effects processing. Preamp distortion is what I’m using to refer to the fact that sometimes you’ll hear distortion on the mic without your mic ever peaking on the level meters. It’s a weird sound that is hard to fix if you don’t know where to find it. Essentially, this is the result of your mic exceeding the volume levels in the preamp, which is not displayed on the main screen. To manage this, you have to go into the levels screen. From there you need to ensure your mic levels stay within the green bars. You’ll need to pay attention to this across all microphones when you’re recording. If you’ve hit this phase and invested in the gear listed here, please do yourself a big favor and have someone help you with managing the sound. This is where it becomes very tedious and distracting if you’re the host. It’s like a mini game that’s actually the main game for balancing audio and capturing a clean sound. A mini game that shouldn’t exist. Hence my dislike for it. As for effects processing, I’m sure many folks will see that this unit has a compressor and noise gate and decide they MUST have it. Well, I may be speaking only for myself here, but their onboard effects still need a lot of work. Any time I’ve used them, they make things sound worse, not better. At HumblePod, we prefer to do our processing in post and focus recording on getting clean audio during the recording session. For this reason, we advise you turn your processing off when recording. I know, it seems like more to hate than there is to love, but if you do decide to move forward with this unit, I think you’ll understand why I like it so much pretty quickly. It does really deliver in a simple and straightforward way. But I won’t blame you if you stick with your Zoom H6. Really.

Interface

UAD Apollo

So, let’s say you don’t need the RCP because you rarely record in person, but what you do record, you want to sound amazing so that you can save yourself time in post-production. Well, for that reason I would recommend you look at the UAD Apollo / Arrow lineup. Universal Audio has done a tremendous job developing hardware with built-in processing so that you can run effects in real-time. Their plugins emulate hardware you normally find in the recording booth at a studio with painstaking detail. Yes, I know that there are other post-production software plugins you can buy that are a fraction of what UAD offers, but they just don’t do it as well. They’re great for day-to-day edits, but if you really want the most out of your own voice, then I don’t think UAD’s plugins can beat outside of the real thing. Cost-wise, this presents a problem, of course. If you think you’ll just buy the interface and use the existing plugins, you’re probably mistaken. In my opinion, finding a good expander / noise gate is crucial for in-home recording (especially without a dedicated recording booth), and that is not available with the bundled plugins. So you’ll need at least one channel strip (I recommend the API Channel Strip as it has a super fast expander/gate option). You may also want a De-Esser, and guess what’s not included in the plugins? That said, this unit and its accessories are not cheap. But, dangit, they’re worth it if you are serious about podcasting and know you’ll use the unit for a long time. It’s also worth noting this is what I would deem a true “Professional” device. You must have an understanding of how to use not just the unit but for the plugins, too. Rode tries to make their effects as easy as turning a switch, and with the UAD interfaces, you’ll find none of that. They do provide some great manuals, but… you must READ the manuals. You can’t skip the details and “just use it.” It’s not plug-and-play. At least not until you get everything dialed in. If you already use effects processing in your own post-production work, this won’t be rocket science. But if you’re just looking to buy a unit because it’s expensive and I talk glowingly about it, just don’t. Get what’s easy to start with and learn from there… or buy this and take the time to learn it. If you don’t, you’ll be very frustrated. One last note on this interface, assuming you do get this, I highly recommend getting Loopback. This software will help make it easier to ensure you’re broadcasting your mic in stereo when you’re on a Zoom call. The standard audio output for the UAD will output computer sound as well, and with Loopback you’ll be able to isolate your output to just the microphone, ensuring nobody hears all your Slack notifications.

Professional Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro

As we get into pro-level gear, we’re really teetering towards a realm where the options are highly opinionated. With headphones, it’s no different. In order to mitigate that, I’m recommending the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros solely based on two factors 1) comfort and 2) dynamic range. As an editor, you’ll want headphones that you can wear for a long time, and these things are furry earmuffs. They can get hot, but they won’t get sticky thanks to their microfiber ear cups. They also don’t fit me (personally) as tightly around the head as the Audio Technica M50x headphones do. So they are comfy. The big advantage to these is their dynamic range. They go from 5-35,000 kHz. So you will be able to hear a lot with these. They also have good sound isolation (better than the M50X’s, from what I can tell), which is important whether you’re editing audio or just listening to music. The impedance on these goes all the way up to 250 ohms, which is a fancy way of saying that you can listen to a lot of loud music without these getting distorted. So these double as good entry-level hi-fi headphones too! You can also find 35-ohm and 80-ohm versions with less impedance. This is important if you plan on these being your only pair of headphones. To that end, the biggest drawback to these is that they aren’t as compact as the M50x’s. Between the fact that I own the 250 Ohm version and that, I use these strictly for my home studio. My M50x’s still accompany me on all recording sessions.

Professional Kit for In-Person Podcasts

For in-person recording, we’re assuming that you’ll need at least 2 microphones. The details below will help you better gauge pricing. Please note here that Rode does not sell the Rodecaster Pro or PSA1 directly on Amazon. Anyone that is selling it on Amazon is unauthorized to do so, and you should use caution when purchasing from such sellers. Per Rode, “If you purchase any RØDE microphone from an unauthorized dealer or via Fulfilled By Amazon or any other method you will not receive any US warranty or technical support.

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
RE20 Microphone for podcasting. This comes in a bundle with a pop filter, XLR Cable, and shock mount. 2 $529.00 $1,058.00
Pop Filter Pop filter for the microphone to reduce plosives (popping p’s) 2 (RE20 Bundle)
XLR Cables (Additional) XLR Cables are included with the RE20 bundle, but you will need 2 more for using the CL-2 below. 2 $20.00 $40.00
Shock Mount Shock mount to reduce noise from table bumps and vibrations 2 (RE20 Bundle)
Rode PSA1 Sturdy microphone arm. Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 2 $99.00 $198.00
Cloudlifter CL-2 Gain booster for increased volume and performance from RE20 microphone 2 $249.00 $498.00
Rodecaster Pro Recorder & audio interface for podcast production Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 1 $599 $599.00
Micro SD Card Lexar 256gb High-Performance Micro SD Card (more than one recommended) 1 $50.00 $50.00
TRRS Cable TRRS Cable for high-fidelity phone calls 1 $9.99 $9.99
Lightning Adapter Lightning adapter for iPhones 1 $13.99 $13.99
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro – 32 Ohm Headphones suitable for use with the Rodecaster Pro, smartphones, and laptops 2 $170.00 $340.00
Total Cost
$2,806.98

Professional Kit for Solo and Online Recordings

The gear recommended below is solo production. The key thing to note with this setup is that the Universal Audio interface packs quite a punch for the price. Compared to the advanced solo kit, the difference here is that you get all the functionality in real-time that you get from the Scarlett Solo + DBX 286s in a much smaller footprint… with better-emulated gear to boot!

Gear
Brief Description
QTY
Per-Unit $
Total
RE20 Microphone for podcasting. This comes in a bundle with a pop filter, XLR Cable, and shock mount. 1 $529.00 $529.00
Pop Filter Pop filter for the microphone to reduce plosives (popping p’s) 1 (RE20 Bundle)
XLR Cables (Additional) XLR Cables are included with the RE20 bundle, but you will need 2 more for using the CL-2 below. 1 $20.00 $20.00
Shock Mount Shock mount to reduce noise from table bumps and vibrations 1 (RE20 Bundle)
Rode PSA1 Sturdy microphone arm. Note: NOT Sold on Amazon 1 $99.00 $99.00
Cloudlifter CL-1 Gain booster for increased volume and performance from RE20 microphone 1 $249.00 $249.00
UAD Apollo – Heritage Edition Audio interface for podcast production that also can run virtual effects (compressors, channel strips, etc.) in real-time. Great for both live and recorded content. 1 $699.00 $699.00
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro – 250 Ohm Headphones suitable for use with the Rodecaster Pro, smartphones, and laptops 1 $170.00 $170.00
Total Cost
$1,766.00

Living Document

This document will be updated as we try new gear that we like and as you, the reader, provide recommendations. For that reason, I’m including a simple form below to provide us with recommendations. If you have something you’d like to see included (or even changed) on this list, let me know! We value your input and will do our best to respond in a timely manner.

Let us know what questions or recommendations you have on gear!

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