Best Podcast Starter Kits (for Every Situation)

July 21, 2022
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So you’ve got a great idea for a podcast, and you’re thinking about bringing it to life. Super exciting! But before you hit the record button, you’re going to need a few pieces of equipment. 

We believe that high-quality audio is critical to making a successful podcast that your listeners will want to tell their friends about. 

In this blog I'll be sharing 12 different podcast equipment kits, so you can find something tailored specifically to your needs.

Scroll down to the middle of the post if you just want to see the kits, or dive right in below to read it all!

Questions to Ask Before Buying Equipment

1. What Show Format Am I Using? 

There are five core formats that most podcasts fall into. Before you pick your gear you should consider what kind of show you want to make. This will help inform what equipment is essential and non-essential for your setup. 

Show Formats 

  1. Monologue: This is a one-person show where the host speaks directly to listeners (Ex: Creative Pep Talk)
  2. Co-Hosting: This is typically a 2 person show where co-hosts will discuss different topics or themes in each episode together. (Ex: Brook & Connor Make a Podcast
  3. Interview: A host or co-hosts interview guests on each episode, asking them questions to learn about a central theme or topic. (Ex: Armchair Expert)
  4. Roundtable: Also called a panel discussion, this is where 3+ hosts meet together to have a discussion together about a central theme or topic. (Ex: Views by David Dobrik, Pardon My Take
  5. Narrative: A narrative or dramatized podcast is normally narrated by a main host, and incorporates additional interviews and supporting audio clips, sound design, and music to create a documentary-style sound and a more immersive experience (Ex: Up and Vanished

2. How much can I afford to spend? 

Many brand new podcasters may have a small budget for starting a podcast, we totally get that. 

We’re building Resound because we believe that every creator deserves to share their message. The goal of Resound is to give creators an app they can use to start a podcast for free (as long as you have a smartphone and a pair of headphones). 

But with that said, we also recognize the importance of creating a high quality sound. You can get a decent sound straight from your iPhone if you go to a quiet room with lots of sound dampening things like couches and blankets. But you can get a MUCH better sound by investing even just $100-200. And the quality of your sound will have a direct impact on how much listeners enjoy listening to your show, too. 

Check out our kits below to see how much money you might need to get started. We tried to offer a bit of variety so everyone could find something that works for them here.

3. Where am I going to record? 

Will you be recording your podcast at home, in a shared space with your co-host, or remotely from 2 different locations?  The location can affect what method you use to record your audio, and what kind of equipment you need to purchase. 

If you’re recording locally, you might want to record directly into editing software like Garageband or Audacity. If you’re recording remotely we’d recommend using Squadcast or Zencastr

4. Will I be recording video as well? 

If you plan to publish your podcast on YouTube in addition to directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google, then you’ll need to think about recording some video, too. If you’re recording remotely you can use a tool like riverside.fm or Squadcast to record you and your collaborators. But if you’re in-person you may need to consider getting video equipment. 

Resonate Recordings has written a great guide on the best video equipment, so if you need to learn more, we recommend you check that out!  

A Smartphone and Headphones: All You *Really* Need

Photo of a smartphone and headphones
Image sources: Amazon

Before we dive in and give you a detailed rundown of all the gear you need, I have a quick note. 

We’re making Resound because we want everyone to be able to start a podcast with nothing more than their iPhone and headphones. 

And we want them to be able to actually edit that show from their phone too. 

You can dramatically improve the sound of your show by investing in some of the gear we mention below, but you DON’T HAVE TO. 

All you *really* need to make a podcast is your smartphone, some  headphones (any will do really), and a quiet place to record your podcast. 
Right now Resound is under development, so you can’t download it yet, but join the waitlist if you want to be the first to access this free podcast creation tool! 

And one more thing before we dive in: Don’t let the gear hold you back. 
We make so many excuses when we are creating something new, because we’re afraid to mess up. But gear can’t make you a better podcast host, a better interviewer, or a better speaker. It just makes the quality of your audio better. So don’t be afraid to start sharing your message even if you can’t afford to have a studio space like David Dobrik. 

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s dive into the best equipment we recommend if you want to spend some more money.

7 Essentials for Every Podcast Kit (Need to Have) 

photos of 7 tools every podcaster needs
Image Sources: (2)Amazon, (3) Amazon, (4) Apple and Audacity, (5) Amazon and Amazon, (6) Amazon and Amazon, (7) Amazon and Amazon

1. Laptop or Smartphone 

Since you’re reading this, you likely already have access to a laptop or smartphone. But you’ll need either one of these so that you can record your podcast, edit it, then publish it the Apple/Spotify/Google/etc. 

2. Microphone 

You’ve got to have a microphone. I can tell you with firsthand experience that I’ve tried recording a show on my phone before using the built-in mic, and while it worked, the audio sounded terrible. It sounded like I was listening to… well, a phone call! 

But even just spending $69 to buy a USB microphone like this Samson Q2U, and a little bit of editing, can make your voice sound like a professional podcaster or radio broadcaster! The difference will blow your mind. Trust me. 

There are two main types of microphone connectors: USB and XLR. 

USB microphones connect directly to your computer with a single cable, plugging in with either a USB C adapter (for newer laptops) or the classic USB A (the larger square-looking adapter). 
XLR microphones can only be hooked up to a computer through an audio interface, like the Scarlett 2i2, which makes them require more cables and more money up front.  

There are three types of microphones: 

  • Dynamic (*Recommended) 
  • Condenser 
  • Ribbon 

We recommend most podcasters start with a dynamic microphone with a USB connection like the Samson Q2U to plug directly into their laptop or smartphone. 

3. Headphones

You don’t need to have the latest pair of noise-canceling headphones or Beats by Dre to be a professional podcaster. But even if you use a cheap $20 pair of earbuds, your listeners will thank you. 

Why? Two reasons: 

  1. Using headphones lets you monitor the sound of your recording to make sure you don’t sound terrible. You might not notice that slammed door when you’re sitting in a recording session, but it can sound jarring to your listeners.
  2. Using headphones removes audio bleed from remote recordings. If you are recording a podcast remotely and not using headphones, then the sound of your guest's voice coming through your phone/computer speaker can get picked up by your microphone as well, creating an echo in the recording which makes your audio sound worse. 

4. Recording and Editing Software 

There are several different ways to record a podcast. 

  • Built-In Recorders: You can use the built-in software on your computer or smartphone to record (Ex: QuickTime on Mac, Voice Recorder on iPhone). 
  • Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs): Garageband, Audacity, Logic Pro, Reason, and ProTools are all frequently used podcast editing software that also allow you to record audio directly into their program. 
  • Remote Recording Software: If you’re recording a show over the internet you can use tools like Zencastr, Squadcast, and Riverside to record the same high-quality audio you’d get on your local computer, but 
  • Handheld Recorders: You can use a handheld recording device like the Zoom H6 to record onto an SD card, then pop that card into your computer to retrieve the file. 
  • Free Online Voice Recorders: If you’re recording a single track (like an intro or a monologue podcast) you can use tools like this free voice recorder from Resonate Recordings. 
  • Resound (Coming Soon): Disclaimer, this is our tool. Resound is building a podcast editing tool that will be able to record your podcast and edit out the umms and other mistakes in seconds, all powered by AI. You can join the waitlist now if you want to be the first to try it out when it launches. 

For most beginners, we recommend simply using a free tool like Garageband (Mac), Audacity (Windows) if you’re recording locally, or Zencastr if you’re recording remotely. You can also use these tools to edit your podcast if you’re getting started. 

5. XLR or USB cable(s) 

Depending on the type of microphone you use (see above), you’ll either need a USB cable or XLR cable to connect to your computer. Most of the USB microphones we recommend will come with all the cables you need included. 

6. Mic Stand or Boom Stand 

Many of the USB microphones we recommend include a simple tripod stand for setting up on your desk/table/kitchen counter. But the problem with these stands is that anytime you bump the table or desk it records a loud thud sound in your podcast, ruining the audio. To record a cleaner sound, we recommend purchasing a mic stand with a boom arm (extension) so you can set the microphone on the ground and not record every sound you make when you bump into the table or desk that you’re recording at. 

7. Pop Filter or Windscreen 

A pop filter is a thin cloth covering that goes between your mouth and the microphone to reduce the amount of air going into the microphone, and to reduce the sound of those exploding “P” and “B” sounds that happen when you are speaking into a microphone. It also helps remove the sibilance from your voice so all the s and t sounds don’t hurt people’s ears. 

A windscreen accomplishes the same goals as a pop filter by covering the microphone entirely with a foam padding that is the same shape as the microphone itself. 

7 Optional (But Nice) Tools to Improve Your Podcast  

Photos of 7 optional tools every podcaster might use
Image Sources: (1) Amazon, (2) Amazon, (3) Rode, (4) GIK Acoustics, (5) Amazon, (6) Amazon, (7) Amazon

We’ve already covered all the essentials, but this section goes out to all the overachievers out there: You know who you are. Here’s a short list of some nice-to-have items to take your podcast setup to the next level. 

1. Handheld Recorder  

If you don’t want to simply rely on software recording options like the ones we mentioned above, a handheld recorder like the Zoom H6 is an excellent choice. Buying a handheld recorder means you don’t need to use a laptop or phone to record your podcast and you don’t need a wifi connection. Plus, if you’re conducting interviews in-person, or capturing sound in the field (on a train, in an office, etc), handheld recorders will sound leaps and bounds better than your old smartphone microphone. 

2. Audio Interface  

Like we’ve already mentioned, we recommend most podcasters start with a simple USB mic that plugs straight into their computer or phone. But if you want to get a higher-end mic like the Shure SM7B (used by Joe Rogan, Michael Jackson, etc), then buying an audio interface opens up many new options for you since it allows you to connect an XLR cable into your computer. 

Audio interfaces receive inputs like microphones and electric guitars then convert those analog signals into a digital recording through a USB cable to your computer. Our favorite budget-friendly interface is the Scarlett Focusrite 2i2

3. Podcast Mixer 

A podcast mixer like the Rodecaster Pro is the best way to record multiple hosts all at the same location plus one or more guests over the internet (via Squadcast or another remote recording tool). In addition to acting as a recording device, this tool also lets you load up sound effects (music beds, applause, laugh tracks, etc). In other words, this simple tool lets you create a radio broadcast experience with sound effects, recording multiple speakers at the same time, all without even needing to use a laptop. The main downside of this tool is simply the price tag, which is $599, but it’s a high-quality product that can serve as a very useful tool for many podcasters with a multi-person local recording setup. 

4. Sound Panels  

If you’re on a tight budget then sound panels (aka acoustic treatment) can be anything from pillows and blankets to simply a well-carpeted room or your parent’s walk-in closet. But if you’re looking to upgrade, then you can go all out and buy sound dampening panels for your walls.

I asked Dayton Cole, Resonate Recordings’ Lead Mixing Engineer what he thought about acoustic treatment and he told me a few key things: 

  • Stay away from anything that is advertised as ‘studio foam’
  • Choose sound paneling that has a minimum of 1" thickness made of fiberglass
  • For best results you’ll want 2/3 of the walls in your room covered to minimize flutter echo.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that panels won’t make their room less noisy. They will just make fewer early reflections.

If you’re thinking about investing in some sound treatment, we recommend checking out  Acoustimac, GIK, Primacoustic, and Auralex

5. External HD 

We live in a world where everything is stored in the cloud, but no matter where you record your podcast, you want to keep more than one copy of it in the world, just in case of an emergency. An external hard drive will give you all the space you need to back up your RAW recordings, the final edits of your podcast, and any other assets that make up your show. Just make sure you don’t only save it on a physical drive, in case of a fire. 

We recommend any of the LaCie drives (highly durable), the Samsung SSD (compact), or the Glyph Atom portable SSD (fast, compact).  

6. Portable Charger (For Your Smartphone) 

If you’re trying to podcast from your iPhone and you’re not going to be at home, or sitting down in a quiet place with access to power, then grabbing a charge brick might just save your recording! Plus, this is just a nice thing to have for when you’re traveling and your phone dies halfway through a flight, and halfway through your favorite episode of that podcast or TV show. 

Check out the Anker PowerCore 20 to get started. 

7. Headphone Amplifier/Splitter

A headphone splitter like the Behringer MICROAMP HA400 allows you to connect multiple headphones up to a single source of audio, like your handheld recorder or laptop. This gives everyone the ability to listen to the audio as you’re recording and lets each person set their own custom volume level. If you’re recording a roundtable podcast with 3-6 people in person, this can be a great way to make sure everyone has a great recording experience and can hear each other clearly. But for most beginners, this is really overkill to buy. 

Ok, we’ve covered all the basics, so now let’s get specific. Below you’ll find kits we’ve put together with our favorite equipment for each of the main podcast formats. We’ve even included links and a price so you know what you’re getting into. 

Kit #1: The Lone Ranger, Smartphone Edition  

Best For: Mobile-first creators looking to do everything on a smartphone 

Other Use Cases: 2 podcasters recording remotely over the internet can each buy a copy of this kit to collaborate together. 

Beginner ($159)

The lone ranger smartphone podcast starter kit - beginner
Image Sources: (Mic) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Riverside, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon

Intermediate ($215 iOS, $252 Android)

The lone ranger smartphone podcast starter kit - intermediate
Image Sources: (Mic) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Riverside, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon and Amazon

Pro ($406)

The lone ranger smartphone podcast starter kit - professional
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Riverside, (Interface) IK Multimedia, (Accessories) Amazon

Kit #2: The Dynamic Duo, Smartphone Edition 

Best For: Co-hosted podcasts (aka 2 friends sharing commentary on a topic) 

Other Use Cases: Co-hosted interview podcasts where 2 hosts record an interview with a guest (participant #3) remotely over the internet. 

Beginner ($220) 

The dynamic duo smartphone podcast starter kit - beginner
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Rode, (Interface) B&H, (Accessories) Amazon

Intermediate ($393) 

The dynamic duo smartphone podcast starter kit - intermediate
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Rode, (Interface) Sweetwater, (Accessories) Amazon

Pro ($525)

The dynamic duo smartphone podcast starter kit - professional
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Rode, (Interface) Sweetwater, (Accessories) Amazon and Amazon

Kit #3: The Lone Ranger, Laptop Edition  

Best for: 1 podcaster recording a monologue show on their computer. 

Other Use Cases: 2+ podcasters can each individually buy this kit and record remotely over the internet together so that everyone has a consistent high-quality sound. 

Beginner ($108)

The Lone Ranger laptop podcast starter kit - beginner
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Apple and Audacity, (Accessories)

Intermediate ($317) 

The Lone Ranger laptop podcast starter kit - intermediate
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Garageband and Audacity, (Accessories) Amazon 

Professional ($946) 

The Lone Ranger laptop podcast starter kit - professional
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Garageband and Audacity, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon and Amazon and Amazon

Kit #4: The Dynamic Duo, Laptop Edition 

Best for: 2+ podcasters recording a co-hosted podcast together in person. 

Other Use Cases: 2+ podcasters recording together locally into an interface can record themselves in Garageband then ask their guest to record over Zencastr or on their own computer using something like Quicktime. This is known as the double-ender method.  

Beginner ($222)

The dynamic duo laptop podcast starter kit - beginner
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Garageband and Audacity, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon

Intermediate ($514) 

The dynamic duo laptop podcast starter kit - intermediate
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Garageband and Audacity, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon and Amazon

Professional ($1,689) 

The dynamic duo laptop podcast starter kit - professional
Image Sources: (Microphone) Amazon, (Headphones) Amazon, (Software) Garageband and Audacity, (Interface) Amazon, (Accessories) Amazon and Amazon and Amazon

What Else Do You Need to Start a Podcast? 

Editing Software

Editing your podcast is one of the most important steps to make sure that your listeners pay attention and don’t drop off after a few minutes. You don’t make a successful podcast by accident. You have to be thoughtful about the content you create. But you also don’t have to get a master’s in Audio Engineering in order to clean up your show. 

There are several free editing programs we recommend: 

  • Resound (Coming Soon): Resound is building an AI podcast editing tool that will remove your umms in seconds automatically, saving you hours of painstaking work. Join the waitlist now to get access as soon as it launches. 
  • Garageband (Mac): This tool is free, comes pre-installed on most Apple computers, and any questions you have can be answered on YouTube with a quick search
  • Audacity (Mac, Windows): Audacity is essentially the free and open-source equivalent to Garageband, available to both Macs and Windows users. However, the one downside of this tool is that it uses “destructive editing.” This means that any time you delete contents with Audacity you are deleting them from your original recording. If you’re looking for a free solution for Windows this is a good place to start, but make sure you always save an extra copy of the original file before you start editing. 
  • ProTools First (Mac, Windows): Best for professionals. ProTools first is a simplified and free version of the industry-standard digital audio workstation (DAW) used in studios, radio stations, and podcast networks around the world. 
  • Reaper (Mac, Windows): Best paid option. Reaper is a one-time cost of $60 for lifetime access to the app. It’s a beloved DAW in the podcasting community online, and offers tons of flexibility. 
  • Ferrite (iPad, iPhone): Ferrite is one of the most loved apps for editing a podcast on iPhone or iPad. It’s a simple software that lets your record audio and also chop it up during post-production as well.   

Podcast Hosting  

A podcast hosting platform is like the home for your podcast. It’s a service (free or paid) that stores the audio files and data for your podcast and generates an RSS feed which then notifies platforms like Apple Podcasts when you upload a new episode of your show. 

The best hosting platforms include Buzzsprout, Podbean, Libsyn, Transistor, and Simplecast.

Every podcaster big and small needs a hosting platform in order to get their show on podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, etc. 

Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need to set up a hosting account: 

  • Show Name 
  • Show Cover Art (typically 3000x3000 JPG or PNG) 
  • Show Description 
  • Podcast Category 
  • Public Email

Conclusion

You only *really* need four to five things to start a podcast, but as you can see, there are THOUSANDS of different companies, makes, and models for those few things. It’s a bit overwhelming. 

I really hope this guide helped to ease any anxiety you have about the process, and helped you to see that even with as little as $100 you can make your podcast sound professional and highly polished. '

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