Can you give some real equipment recommendations? What is GOOD, what is BETTER and
what is BEST?
Sure, let’s look at some realistic rigs that offer both quality and value. After
all, any idiot can put together a great Podcast Station for $10,000. Unfortunately,
most folks don’t have that kind of money
The Shoestring Rig
The least expensive way to record decent audio is by using an USB style headset.
There are many to choose from. The headset provides a microphone to record, headphones
to edit and an USB sound interface. This option offers great portability and super
easy set up. When you are done, unplug and toss the headset into a drawer. Naturally,
there are also some limitations. The sound quality will be quite acceptable but
not as pristine as more expensive options. In addition an USB headset is only for
a one-person show. This option does not easily adapt to a co-host or a guest.
The Logitech Deluxe USB Headset
I have tried many headsets; including some expensive ones and I have often been disappointed
with their woolly sound. This headset sells for under $40 locally or under $30 on
the Internet and it sounds great. One caution: The first one that I used had a
loud hiss that was absent on its replacement. This fact may make it a better choice
to buy locally so you can exchange it easily if you get a bad one.
The Basic Rig
It only takes a little more cash to upgrade your Podcast station to an USB microphone.
By doing this you not only improve your sound but also increase your stations versatility.
There are many choices that range from under $50 to well over $200. When it comes
to Podcasting the value sweet spot is around $100 as these microphones offer both
excellent sound and good value. An USB microphone easily allows you to create a
show with more than one person. In addition you can record other venues like lectures
and music. I have used all of the microphones listed below without a pop filter
(see Pearls of Wisdom). On the downside you are limited to one microphone (typically
mono) and that may compromise both your style and creativity.
Samson CO1U studio-style microphone.
This USB mic sounds great and it is suitable for both voice and music. It is very
solidly built from metal and resembles the type of microphone that you would see
in a recording studio. It comes with everything you need, except a microphone stand.
This is a directional type microphone. Highly recommended.
Alesis USB Podcasting Kit
This kit gives you a desk style microphone, a stand and even some nice headphones.
Sound quality from the mic is excellent and it tends to have a lighter, crisper
sound than the Samson mic making it great for voice. This is a directional type
microphone. Because you get more stuff, the build quality is lessened and the microphone
is constructed mostly of light weight plastic.
Blue brand, Snowball USB microphone
Although made of plastic this oddly shaped microphone clearly has a professional
feel. You can switch it from being directional to omni directional making it more
versatile than the other two microphones. It sometimes comes with a microphone stand
as a bonus. I always have to add a little EQ when I use this microphone. Usually,
the resulting sound varies from very good to outstanding.