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Podcast Seminar: What equipment/software do you need?

This post continues the Podcast Seminar series. This week, What equipment/software do you need?

I’m not going to go into all the different types of microphones, mixers, software programs, etc. Search for each of those items here on the blog and you’ll find a bunch of links to great podcasting gear and software.

So…my first question is, what do you have?

Do you have an MP3 player with a microphone? You can have a podcast.

Do you have an iMac with a built-in microphone in iSight? You can have a podcast.

It doesn’t take a huge studio full of equipment to record a podcast. Hundreds of people recordDSP-400 podcasts every day and record them with just about every piece of audio and video equipment under the sun. If you’re comfortable doing research and shopping online for audio hardware, check out Musician’s Friend or Music123 and search for podcast. You’ll find some really easy to setup podcasting kits that will get you started right away. Start from there and if you really enjoy it and you’re building an audience, then think about upgrading. Seriously, you might think you would like to podcast and then get into it and realize it’s not for you. Then you have a trunk-load of audio equipment gathering dust in your closet.

Here’s a no-brainer for hardware to use on an audio podcast. The Plantronics DSP-400 USB headset is an excellent place to start and can be used for Skype if you decide if podcasting isn’t right for you.

On the video side, there are so many inexpensive flash, mini-dv, and hard drive based camcorders available on the market today that you could close your eyes and choose a camera that will work for your video podcast. As I mentioned above, you could also start with a web cam. The quality will undoubtedly be inferior to even the least expensive camcorder.

Audacity LogoSoftware wise, if you are doing an audio podcast with Windows, download Audacity and learn how to use it. It’s free and will get you started with no money. When you’re ready to step up to a more full featured editor, consider Soundforge. For video, Windows includes an adequate video editing program called Windows Movie Maker. Start with this and move up to Adobe Premiere, or Sony Vegas if you really get into video podcasting and want to add more effects. If you are using a Mac, you can also download and use Audacity for creating an audio podcast. But if your Macintosh includes Garageband, and most do, that’s the tool for you. For a video podcast on a Mac, if you have iMoveHD, you’re golden. If you don’t have it, you can purchase the iLife suite and get both Garageband and iMovieHD. When you want to take the next step up, look at Final Cut/Express and Adobe Premiere.

Maybe this isn’t the answer you were looking for on this topic. Were you looking for a shopping list? I could tell you to go out and buy brand X mixer and brand Y microphone, and don’t forget brand Z headphones. Any “consultant” who tells you to go out and buy some piece of equipment without first finding out your needs is doing you a dis-service.

What hardware and software you use to produce your podcast depends on:

  • your level of commitment
  • your budget
  • your audience
  • your skill level
  • your experience.

Next time, Should your podcast be daily, weekly, monthly?