How to Start a Podcast

#3 The best microphone for podcasters

October 08, 2018 Season 1
How to Start a Podcast
#3 The best microphone for podcasters
Chapters
00:01:00
Story from Tom about podcast gear
00:03:28
XLR vs USB
00:05:03
The best microphone for podcasters is...
00:11:04
How to do online interviews
00:14:26
The best software for podcasters
00:18:27
Download the Podcast Checklist
How to Start a Podcast
#3 The best microphone for podcasters
Oct 08, 2018 Season 1
Buzzsprout
The best microphone for podcasters
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode we cover:

  1. The best USB microphone for starting your podcast 
  2. The software you need to record and edit your podcast 
  3. Our favorite online interview software 


Stuff we mention in this episode:


Download the “How to Start a Podcast Checklist”, a FREE, step-by-step guide designed to help you get your podcast off the ground without feeling overwhelmed. 

Start your podcast for FREE with Buzzsprout



Tom:
0:00
So now we have a whole group of podcasters that are intimidated by the tech when the reality is that's not what's important.
Travis:
0:14
Hello and welcome to episode three of "How to Start a Podcast," the podcast that teaches you how to create a podcast from scratch. I'm your host, Travis Albritton, and helping me again today with this episode is a man who has perfect 20/20 vision. Unless you care about seeing the color red, Alban Brooke. Hello Alban.
Alban:
0:33
Or any other color, color blindness covers the spectrum.
Travis:
0:38
In this episode we're going to tell you which microphone to buy and which software to use because it's really easy to get overwhelmed just by the sheer number of options when it comes to microphones and software. And you definitely don't need this uber expensive pro level setup to have a great podcast. Here is one of the co-founders of Buzzsprout, Tom, and his perspective on gear with podcasting.
Tom:
1:01
I was at a conference and we were talking to different people. And I was just surprised at the number of people that I talked to that had ideas for podcasts. They had content. And yet they hadn't launched their first episode and I, I just had no idea because Buzzsprout was always built around being very simple and so I was talking to a friend of mine who has a very successful podcast, a blogger, and I was asking him that question, why is it that there is this barrier that people put up around the tech? And he told me, he said, man, I'm embarrassed at how, how easy my setup is. He said, I've used, I've used Buzzsprout. I record it on my phone with ear buds and I don't, whenever anybody asks about my microphone, I'm just, I just avoid it because I don't want to talk about that because I'm, I'm embarrassed by it. And I think there's this atmosphere that's been created around maybe the technology people that started in podcasting where it's lingered on. And so now we have a whole group of podcasters that are intimidated by the tech. When the reality is that's not what's important. What's important is the content. The tech is great. It might make it sound perfect, but people are listening because of the content and if you can produce good content, you should never let the type of microphone get in the way and that's exactly what he had experienced because he had phenomenal content and just wasn't a technology guy.
Travis:
2:27
So that's just a really cool story. You know, that somebody was able to have a successful podcast and they were just using the free apple earbuds that came with their iPhone to record it. And so I think that just goes to show again, that you don't need the super expensive pro level setup in order to have a podcast, but microphones are important. And so we're going to talk about the budget microphone that's absolutely perfect for first time podcasters, but before we reveal what that master mic that rules everything is, we want to kind of walk you through our thought process so you understand why we chose this microphone. We weren't just picking names out of a hat. There's a reason why we landed on one in particular. So as we're thinking about what the best microphone is for you to purchase, we're doing it under the assumption that you have a really important piece of technology at your disposal. What is that Alban?
Alban:
3:19
You've got, I mean you probably need to have a computer, so as long as you've got a PC or a Mac, you're going to be pretty much set. And so I think we're, we're going to tell them what they need beyond a computer.
Travis:
3:29
So assuming you have a computer, the rest of your microphone setup is going to be utilizing your computer as your recording device, as your main recording device. And the reason that's important is because there's two main kinds of microphones styles or microphone outputs or connectors. The first one is an XLR connection. So Alban, talk about what an XLR is.
Alban:
3:54
An XLR is pretty much the industry standard. That's what you're going to see anytime you go to a concert or something, that's where they're going to be using it. They use the cables for pretty much everything.
Travis:
4:04
Yeah. So XLR microphones are absolutely the industry standard, but you can't just plug an XLR microphone right on your computer so you have to buy extra gear to make it work. But there's another kind of microphone and that is a USB microphone.
Alban:
4:18
Yeah. And so USB mic, you're going to plug it in. It's kind of like a mini USB port on the back of the microphone. You plug it right into the side of the computer and you're good to go and you can get some pretty nice ones and we think it's really a pretty easy way to do it. So that's kind of our recommended way of doing it.
Travis:
4:36
So the benefit of having a USB microphone over an XLR microphone is you don't need anything else. The USB microphone is going to come with everything you need to start recording. And so that's why when you're first starting out, we really recommend you get a USB microphone. Okay. And so, so now that we've kind of narrowed it down that we're not getting an XLR to start out, we want a USB microphone. Which one does the best job of recording your voice without costing a lot of money or costing an arm and a leg. So Alban, now that we know we want a USB microphone, what is the best bang for your buck USB microphone that's available on the market?
Alban:
5:12
So the best one on the market. It's got to be USB, it's got to be good at recording voice and it's got to come in at a pretty reasonable price point is, you want to do a little drum roll for this bad boy?
Alban:
5:25
The ATR2100. It's what I'm talking to right now. And it's what you're using.
Travis:
5:32
Yes. That's what I'm using as well.
Alban:
5:34
Yeah. This is an awesome mic. It's pretty cheap. It's like 75, 79 bucks, right?
Travis:
5:39
Yeah. Current list price on Amazon is about $79 US.
Alban:
5:43
And it's an awesome mic. It's something could definitely grow with you. You can use it for years and to be honest, when I've done kind of sound tests until you start getting into the $700 mics, there's not a whole lot that's better.
Travis:
6:00
This microphone, the ATR2100 that we're using right now is going to get you like 85 percent of the way towards a perfect microphone. That extra $700 is to get you to 94 percent of the way to a perfect microphone. So at a certain point it doesn't make sense to spend more money until you're really willing and able to invest. And we're not getting paid to say any of this. We legitimately believe that this is the best microphone for you to buy. And there's all kinds of stuff that comes in the box. It's not just the microphone, you also get a stand so you can have it on your desk or your table. You don't have to hold it when you're recording. It comes with both the USB and XLR cable because that's the cool part, it has both connections.
Alban:
6:42
And then it's really easy to do little upgrades on it as well. So right now we're using a boom arm and so you can add that on later. You can get a shock mount later, but you can kind of start a little bit more basically just the mic and then as you kind of get into it, expand your setup a little bit.
Travis:
6:58
There's only one thing that's not great about this microphone. You can't get it if you don't live in the United States.
Alban:
7:04
Really?
Travis:
7:05
Yes. Something about international trade law or some kind of, you know, government thing. You can't get it if you live overseas. But there's another comparable microphone that is a very similar setup that has very similar features and that's the Samson Q2U. And that one retails for about $60 US. And uh, and we'll leave links to both of these microphones in the show notes so you can go and check them out. But uh, but if you live outside the US, you can get the Samson Q2U. That's not Samsung, like the phone. It's like Samson, like the dude that was super jacked. So Samson Q2U you can get that outside the US, but if you're in the US, you can get your hands on one. We absolutely recommend the ATR2100.
Alban:
7:51
And the Samson is pretty similar it's still got the USB and the XLR setup as well, right?
Travis:
7:55
Yes it does. There is one accessory that we're going to recommend that you get with each of these microphones. And that's a pop filter. So Alban, talk about what a pop filter is and why it's important.
Alban:
8:08
Pop filters are like the kind of foam ball on the end of a microphone, right? And so the piece inside the microphones, it's actually picking up the sound. It can create a weird sound if you get a lot of air on it all at once. So when you make a p or sometimes an s sound, you get kind of a weird thing in the recording. So pop filter makes it a little bit easier to disperse the, wind coming out of your mouth so that you get a little bit better of recording quality.
Travis:
8:37
That was a very good explanation, Professor Alban. Absolutely. Yeah. So the pop filter is just going to help cut down on the really strong p's and s's that come out of your mouth naturally. So the listener doesn't feel like you're assaulting their eardrum. That's basically don't punch your listener in the ear. It's just a good rule of thumb.
Alban:
8:56
This thing is right near your mouth. I mean you wouldn't talk at normal volume if someone was three inches from your mouth. So yeah, pop filters, kind of making it a little bit softer for people.
Travis:
9:07
And pop filters are super cheap. You can get them for less than 10 bucks, you know. And, and we'll leave a link to some pop filters you can look at in the show notes as well. So there are links to everything that we talk about today. Now there is one caveat to this microphone and that if you're going to do an in person interview, the question is, well, should I just buy two of these? Should I just buy two ATR2100s. But there's a problem.
Alban:
9:32
Yeah. The problem is going to be when you try to plug into USB mics into the same computer, it gets really intense trying to get it all to work.
Travis:
9:42
It's not easy to record two USB microphones into the same computer because when you go to select which microphone you want for each audio track, the computer doesn't know the difference between one ATR2100 and the other ATR2100. So it looks like you have the same microphone plugged in twice. So that's going to make recording difficult. And so if you're going to be in an in person interview, where you're in the same room and you're talking to each other, we recommend you going with the Blue Yeti USB microphone. So just like the ATR2100, you can plug it straight into your computer. It comes with everything that you need to get started. And it even has some different audio recording patterns. So depending on what you're recording, if you're doing a face to face interview, there's a specific setting to optimize that conversation. So it's not picking up a ton of stuff from the sides. But it also has settings for if you're in like a round table environment and you have more than two people and you're trying to pick up everybody at once or if you're just doing a solo talking into the microphone, there is also a pattern for that. And so it really is a good jack of all trades USB microphone. And so if you're going to be talking with more than one person, that's the one we recommend getting. And it actually comes in for less than the cost of two ATR2100s, usually retails around $130 US on Amazon.
Alban:
11:04
And so the other setup that we see a lot is one person here and one person over the Internet, right? And so what's the setup that you recommend for that?
Travis:
11:14
Yeah, it's not always practical to be in the same place when you're doing an interview. And so you want to conduct that interview over the Internet and record your audio. So, but there's one, there's one software that we recommend that is tailor made for podcasters that's really going to give you the best audio quality and Alban, what is that software that we like to use?
Alban:
11:31
Yeah, I'm a big fan of Zencastr. And so we've met these guys at conferences and we've tested out their software, so what it does is it gives you a link you can share with someone and then they join you for almost like an audio call, so it sounds a lot like maybe Skype or something. The benefit is it's built for podcasters so it's going to record your audio to your computer and then it's going to record your guest's audio to their computer so you've got pure lossless audio which you could never have over the internet and then it will send all the audio files to you.
Travis:
12:07
And so lossless just means that it hasn't been processed at all, that it's the pure audio, the highest quality audio you're getting for the recording.
Alban:
12:15
Yeah. So even if while you're having the conversation, it's kind of dropping in and out. There's like stuff going on when you're listening. The recordings you're going to have are going to be perfect. They've also got a free tier. So similar to Buzzsprout, you start off on a free tier and then you can upgrade to paid if you want to, and so they'll let you do up to two guests and I think you can record like eight hours of content in a month before they asked you to pay anything and so for 90 percent of podcasters it's basically a completely free setup.
Travis:
12:46
And then a really quick pro tip before we move on to the next segment here. When you're doing an internet interview with someone who doesn't have their own microphone, don't let them use their computer microphone, the built-in computer microphone, you're going to get terrible audio quality with that. What you want to do is ask them to use Apple EarPods that come free with every single iPhone and if they don't have a pair, they know someone who has a pair and the built in microphone that comes on those Apple EarPods is going to give you significantly better audio quality than using the built in computer mic.
Alban:
13:19
So that's just the standard Apple headphones that I'm going to get with anything I buy.
Travis:
13:23
Absolutely. I would say about 95 percent of my online internet interviews have been with the other person using Apple EarPods and I've never had anyone say, man, it sounds like they're just talking in a really echoey room. Never have any kind of comments about audio quality and they're just using the free Apple EarPods. Just like our buddy from the beginning of this episode. And just remember if you're asking the person you're interviewing to use those Apple EarPods. Make sure they have the little dongle that allows it to connect to the headphone jack. The new EarPods are the lightening connecter EarPods and so you just want to make sure that they can connect it into the headphone jack of their computer when you're doing your interview. So we talked about microphones that if you can get it, if you're in the US, get an ATR2100. If you're outside of the US get a Samson Q2U and if you are doing more than one person in the same room and you're interviewing them or having a conversation with them going for the Blue Yeti microphone. Because each of those are going to be tailor made for exactly what you need and you're not going to have to buy a bunch of extra gear to get started. So next thing we want to talk about is the software. Again, just like with the microphone, you don't need professional audio editing software to have a great podcast.
Alban:
14:36
Yeah. So we've got a handful of different options and I think all of these are free as well.
Travis:
14:41
Yes. Every software that we're talking about is going to be free.
Alban:
14:45
Cool. And so we'll start with Mac. Super easy to use is just GarageBand and it's pretty easy to edit and record voices. And so that's kind of my go-to.
Travis:
14:57
Yes. If you own a Mac is probably already going to be installed on your computer and it's going to let you record directly in the software. It's gonna let you edit your recordings and export or save your podcast episodes all in one software. And that's the software that we're actually using for this podcast. You know, so it turns out pretty good and that's the software I've used for every single one of my personal podcasts as well. GarageBand works fantastic if you have a Mac.
Alban:
15:25
Yeah, it's pretty easy to pick up. So I mean, I think most people within 30 minutes they're starting to learn the basics and, there's a pretty, you know, it's not a pretty steep learning curve or anything.
Travis:
15:36
Yeah, it's really totally easy to learn compared to other options that are out there on the market and few of the Mac it's free. It's already installed on your computer. We're going to dive deeper into how to actually edit your podcast using GarageBand in a future episode. And so we'll dig into those details a little bit more about actually the process of editing. But at this point, just know that if you have a Mac or if you're an Apple person, just make sure that you have GarageBand in your applications folder. That's all you really need at this point. So, but if you don't have a Mac, if you're like 95 percent of the world, what should you use, Alban?
Alban:
16:09
Yeah, so if you're running Windows or Linux, there's something that's out there. It's totally free, called Audacity and it's open source software. When you open it up it looks a little intimidating, but there's so many tutorials online, you know, with any open source software, there's tons of people that are working on it and are posting cool stuff to YouTube, but it's a little bit more of a little bit steeper of a learning curve, but it's pretty much pro level audio recording, editing and exporting completely for free. So you can't really beat the price.
Travis:
16:42
Yeah, like GarageBand it's gonna let you record audio, edit audio, export your podcast episodes all in one software and it does pack a lot of the advanced features that you would get in a paid software product. It does take a little getting used to like Alban mentioned, you know, it's not as intuitive as GarageBand, which is why if you're a Mac person, just stick with GarageBand, but there are a lot of different resources available to help you get started. So if you own a PC or if you're one of the, you know, 10 people that own a Linux machine or if you just have a personal gripe with GarageBand, you just don't like it for personal reason, you can download Audacity on your computer and use that as a free audio editing software to edit your podcast episodes.
Travis:
17:25
So just to recap this episode, we talked about microphones, we talked about software, but specifically that you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars to start your podcast with the microphones and the software recovered in this episode. You also won't need to upgrade anytime soon. These are the microphones that you can grow with that you can use for years and years before you ever need to get or invest in anything more expensive. And so just to recap, most of you guys should be getting the Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone. If you're not in the United States, a similar style microphone's going to be the Samson Q2U. It's gonna be a very similar functionality, very similar style and for a very similar price point. And then if you are recording with two or more people in one room, we recommend getting the Blue Yeti microphone that's going to be the best all around microphone for that specific kind of podcast. And then software-wise, if you have a Mac, use GarageBand, which is already probably installed on your machine. And if you have anything else you can download Audacity for free.
Alban:
18:27
Make sure you've downloaded our guide, the "How to Start a Podcast" checklist. It's everything you need to really to launch a podcast without forgetting anything. And if you follow it, it's gonna walk you through the whole process so you could launch a successful podcast.
Travis:
18:45
In the next episode, episode four, we're going to walk you through how to record your first episode.
Story from Tom about podcast gear
XLR vs USB
The best microphone for podcasters is...
How to do online interviews
The best software for podcasters
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