Welcome to part one of my podcast equipment buying guide. This guide covers all the basics for a great sounding, low-budget podcasting setup. I’m calling it the “Bare Bones” podcasting studio but I promise it’s a solid start.
A truly bare bones setup would probably just be you, your iPhone and a voice recording app, but let’s not stoop that low. No, this setup will get you going with everything you need to do a show with a guest or co-host and sound great while doing it.
Bare Bones Podcast Studio
For this setup I chose a solid but simple Alesis MultiMix 4 USB mixer. This 4-channel mixer can take two XLR microphones and two more analog inputs through TRS jacks. It also has USB to connect to your computer. It might be cheap but it isn’t a chump.
While this mixer can technically handle four people at once, I wouldn’t recommend it since it only has three volume controls (inputs 3 & 4 share a knob). There are no audio effects and it lacks any type of compressor but it’s under $100 so we can’t get too picky.
These Behringer XM8500 microphones are truly bare bones dynamic mics. They get the job done and will sound good but don’t expect too much out of them.
Since these are dynamic mics, which require a shorter mouth-to-mic distance, we’ll want to add some cheap foam windscreens to prevent any aspirated plosives (p, t, b etc sounds). On the plus side, dynamic microphones are less likely to pickup room noises (fans, shuffling around, etc) than condenser microphones.
These AKG K 44 Studio Headphones are almost always 50% off retail so don’t pay more than $30 for them. They are super light and sound great but might get a little warm on the ears for longer shows. Their closed design won’t leak sound and they honestly sound good enough to use as your primary music headphones.
A ton of people use Sony MDR-7502 or MDR-7506 headphones ($50 and $100 respectively) for their studio listening. I also have them and while they may be accurate headphones, they aren’t enjoyable in the least. If you ever see yourself listening to music with these headphones go with the AKGs and save a bundle. These famous Sony headphones roll off on the low end around 60Hz which means no bass.
If you have your own headphones you can totally use them to start just know that down the line, dedicated headphones that are matching pairs will be important. A headphone that accentuates one frequency over another might cover up, or exacerbate audio problems.
I always recommend scissor-arm microphone stands. They make placing the microphone close to your subject easy all the while decreasing the chance of picking up desk vibrations or those when adjusting mic placement during a show.
There many better microphone stands like these but if you ask me, the cost of a microphone stand shouldn’t be five times the cost of the microphone. That’s just wrong.
Shock-mounts & Pop-filters
The selected MECO C-2 shock-mounts and pop-filters are standard fare and just fine for podcasting. But don’t think for a second though that you don’t need them.
Without a shock mount you risk picking up every tap on the desk as it shakes the microphone. Reach for a glass of water and bump the mic? Better restart your recording! Ok, that might be a little dramatic but considering the costs of these guys, just buy them.
One thing missing from this setup that is present on every other setup? A portable digital audio recorder. This bare bones setup requires you provide an existing audio recorder such as your computer. The mixer’s USB output will work just fine in GarageBand but be weary, if your computer crashes mid-recording, you risk losing your entire show.
2014 Bare Bones Podcasting Studio Setup
|Mixer||Alesis MultiMix 4 USB|
|Headphone||AKG K 44|
|Headphone splitter||Hosa GPP-359 Dual 1/4-Inch|
|Mic stand||NEEWER Scissor Arm Stand|
|Shock mount||MECO C-2 w/ Pop-filter|
|Mount adapter||5/8-inch Male to 3/8-inch Female|
If you aren’t so sure you’re going to stick to the whole podcasting thing but you don’t want to limit yourself to your iPhone or even a Blue Snowball microphone setup, give this one a go. It might be bare bones but its quality will surprise you.
I’ve put together a complete shopping list for everything you see above on Amazon. If this setup sounds like it fits the bill just click here and you can get your show on the road! Plus by using my affiliate links I get a tiny kickback from Amazon which helps me keep this blog going, and invest in fun gadgets to review for you here!
Not convinced that this will cover you? Why not try the next studio setup above this one?