At HelloCast, we didn’t just aim to develop an app for podcasters because we knew we could build something. I podcast too, every week. It was my own workflow pain points that led to us building the app to begin with. But like many podcasters, I’ve had pain points regarding podcast gear as well.
I’ve hosted several podcasts in my past. Currently I host Freelance to Founder, with a second one under final development. Freelance to Founder is a joint production with Preston Lee, founder of Millo, and The Podglomerate podcast network. (Side note: I’m a big believer that the future of podcasts lies in podcast networks.)
My Current Podcast Gear In-Studio
I record from a home office. It’s not built to handle podcasting. And as long as I want to remain married, it’s not going to be retrofitted to handle podcasting, either. So, I work around the problems of recording in a 14 x 12 foot room with nine-foot ceilings. It’s spacious.
I’m a RODECaster Pro convert. It has attracted both ends of the spectrum in its short amount of time on the market. Those who love it, those who hate it. I’m in the former group.
Settings: Change all of your settings at the podcast- or individual button-level, from audio quality to bluetooth, to multitrack vs. stereo recording mode. With an impossible-to-ignore Record button.
Faders: Control each channel separately, including volume faders, mute buttons, and solo buttons
USB In: This fader controls the audio level of your USB connection to bring audio in to your RODECaster Pro. For use with Skype calls, VoIP, etc.
3.5mm Connection: This fader controls the 3.5mm input source. You can use this input for an iPad, your smartphone (if you don’t prefer bluetooth), or any other input via 3.5mm cable.
Bluetooth: This fader controls the audio level when you connect your smartphone via bluetooth to bring callers onto your show. Use your mic as the output to your phone.
Sound Pads: Control 8 different sounds on-the-fly, with a dedicated fader. Pads can be configured for: Start/stop, Start/pause, Start/start again, which is handled through the companion software.
Headphone Controls: Individual volume controls for each of the four headphones you can connect. One extra dial for main output volume.
The RODECaster has given me the confidence to completely change my podcast workflow, saving me HOURS of time in post-production. It’s been tremendous. I record live-to-tape now, muting when I’m not talking, and recording my intro and other show elements as I listen to my own episode during final post-production.
In the feature photo at the top of this blog post, you can see three of the four pieces of podcast gear I outline below, including that RODECaster Pro. My microphone and my shortcut machine are the other two.
Sennheiser e835, $99
Rode RODECaster Pro, $599
Hindenburg Journalist Pro, $375
Elgato Streamdeck, $149
You can also see in the top left corner of that featured image above my makeshift soundproof booth. It’s three sizable cardboard box pieces lined on the inside with sound-absorbing tiles (that you can’t see), connected by industrial-strength velcro (that you can see). It’s enclosed on four sides, only open on the front. I prop it up onto my desk when I need it, and put it back in the corner when I want it to look like a mini-homeless shelter in the corner of my office.
It makes it quite dark when I’m recording. Good for focusing.
That is SquadCast that you see on my screen.
This is my podcast setup. I’m not changing. No new endorsement by This Podcasting Guru or That Podcasting Guru is going to cause me to change at this point. No need to. It’s not about the gear, right?
But it has taken me a grand total of 14 years to get to this point from my first days podcasting into a PC with a Samson CO1U mic.
Studio aside, here’s…..
My Mobile Podcast Setup
As for how I record on-the-go, my podcast gear is more streamlined, and it may surprise you.
Centrance Mixerface R4
Ferrite Recording Studio
Gone is the RODECaster Pro. While it could be used on-the-go, and I’ve done it once, I don’t like lugging it around. I’s replaced by the CEntrance Mixerface, which is an incredible audio interface. While everyone else records to a portable recorder — the Zoom H5, Zoom H6, or the SoundDevices MixPre-3 or MixPre-6 — I’m over here drooling over my Mixerface.
Here’s why I chose it.
I wanted something slightly more sleek than those recorders, with even better preamps, an even smaller form factor, that I could use with my iPhone or iPad.
For the longest time, it didn’t exist. But then I saw the Kickstarter for it, then I waited, and waited, and waited until I had a need for a more mobile podcast setup. And the time was right to make a change for my new, upcoming podcast.
Here’s an audio sample.
Past Podcast Gear Choices
How about my past podcast gear choices?
Maybe we’re similar. I’ve used so many pieces of equipment over the years. I’ve always been in pursuit of a minimalist setup that still produces great sound, but doesn’t break the bank. When I used to find a new piece of equipment, I’d sell the old and upgrade.
Podcast Microphones I’ve Owned
- I’ve had the Samson CO1U
- I’ve had the Audio-Technica ATR-2100
- I switched over to the virtually identical Audio-Technica AT-2005
- I switched to the Rode Procaster for short stint (too sensitive for my taste)
- I switched again to the AKG D5 (loved this mic)
- I switched to the Heil PR40 (loved this mic too despite it rarely being recommended any longer)
I can’t explain some of these decisions. As a podcaster, you stay aware of what’s going on in the industry and hear great reviews about a mic that you could reasonably upgrade to, and you change. But I’m genuinely content now.
Audio Interfaces I’ve Owned
- I’ve owned the Art Dual Pre
- I’ve owned the Focusrite 2i2
- I’ve owned the Behringer UMC404HD
- I’ve owned the IK Multimedia iRig Pro
I’ll recommend each of those audio interfaces without hesitation for different situations, though I don’t use them any longer. Focusrite is Focusrite. Everyone loves them. Durable. Clean preamps. Great build quality. USB output obviously.
The Art Dual Pre is a super, less-recommended interface for mobile setups in particular. I recorded an in-person interview with someone straight into Ferrite Recording Studio on my iPad Air using mine and it sounded great. It runs off a 9V battery. If you want lightweight and you intend to record into your Mac or PC, this is a solid, $80-100 choice.
For just $30 more, the Behringer UMC404HD is the best audio interface I’ve owned before the CEntrance Mixerface. Clean preamps that add nothing to the microphone’s tone before passing the audio on to my MacBook Pro. 4-in, 4-out capabilities (many audio interfaces output as stereo, not separate channels). It’s not as portable as the Art Dual Pre since the UMC404HD needs to be plugged in to get power, but it was my workhorse for a year and a half.
Portable Recording Devices I’ve Owned
All are phenomenal. Even the H2N, though it doesn’t directly support XLR mics, produces great sound.
If you want a reliable way to record your XLR mics without lugging your laptop around, or rather than trust in software that can crash, the Zoom H5 or H6 are top choices. Clean preamps, great software on-board, and they can act as audio interfaces as well. Plug your XLR mics into the Zoom H5 and on you’re on your way.
What’s Your Podcast Gear Setup?
How streamlined is your podcast setup? Is it lean and mean, or are there cords flailing all over the place? I’m not here to judge, but I’m fascinated by how podcasters — even some of the more prominent ones — have to be creative to make their setups work.
Feel free to share in the comments how you’re doing things!