Podcasting, hypothetically

DMZ · February 11, 2009 at 12:44 am · Filed Under Site information 

If, say, we were going to try this, and we really had zero experience and were finding internet recommendations for simple things like microphones etc plentiful, contradictory, and confusing, what would you, the USSM reader with some experience in this area, point us to?


40 Responses to “Podcasting, hypothetically”

  1. DaveValleDrinkNight on February 11th, 2009 1:43 am

    I’m a pro musician, the mic thing is actually pretty cheap and easy for what you’d be doing. In all honesty, I know that a lot of people would push you towards condenser mics, which are great! They are also expensive and more tailored to studio work, in the sense that you’re trying to record your golden voice onto a golden record.

    To get a talk-radio quality sound with a home recording budget, get a 4-track powered Behringer board and several Shure 57 mics. The Behringer board is “powered”, which means that it can push through a decent speaker or recording device without a powered amplifier.

    This rig would not only be effective and cover your scope of need, it would also, depending on how many mics you bought, ( let’s say three), cost you under or around $400 brand spankin’ new!

    But seriously, buy used mics.
    Get used Shure 57’s and soak the screens in Listerine for twenty minutes, wash the screens off in water, let them dry out.

    You may have just taken your equipment cost down by several hundered dollars.

    Hope that helps.

  2. DaveValleDrinkNight on February 11th, 2009 2:18 am




    Do not let some stooge of a Salesman get you to pay for these mics for what you are trying to do. These mics are not only expensive, they’re omni-directional, which means that they will pick up your neighbor mowing his lawn 6 miles away.


  3. Robo Ape on February 11th, 2009 2:36 am

    Get a cheap audio technica microphone or two on eBay. If you’re going directly to your computer you won’t need any sort of fancy XLR or anything. I recommend the Audio Technica ATR50 or ATR55. In my experience (admittedly with digital video) this mic gives you the most bang for your buck and it’s usually about $40 on eBay.

  4. Robo Ape on February 11th, 2009 2:40 am

    Also, for your recording and post work use Audacity; it’s free. The only time you’d run into trouble was if you wanted to do a lot of weird, T-Painesque manipulation to the sound, which I’m guessing you wouldn’t.

  5. lewis458 on February 11th, 2009 4:40 am

    I think it’d be hard to do better than the Blue Snowball for podcasting. It runs about $75, and it’s a USB microphone, so you don’t need any other hardware to have it working. It’s also one of those fancy condenser mics!

  6. Todd S. on February 11th, 2009 5:25 am

    All I can tell you is a friend of mine has some radio experience and he uses Apple’s Garage Band software to record and edit his podcasts. I’d be happy to ask him what microphone he used if you’d like, and can even point you to a sample on the web if you’d like to check the quality.

  7. Dave on February 11th, 2009 6:02 am

    Keep in mind, folks, that Derek and I live about 3,000 miles apart. So it kinda needs to be able to work with phones, too.

  8. coffee on February 11th, 2009 6:21 am

    You could easily use Skype to connect everyone together. That’s what a lot of the professional podcasts I listen to use.

  9. Replacementlvlposter on February 11th, 2009 7:26 am

    Used Shure 57 mics are awesome and can be affordable. Definitely going to want to go the Skype route rather than the ordinary phone route.

  10. galaxieboi on February 11th, 2009 7:40 am

    DVDN is right. No not get Shure Betas. We use them for playing live and recording and they’re badass. But for your purpose it’d be overkill.

    The 57s are great.

  11. Nat Irons on February 11th, 2009 7:43 am

    I’d start with Dan Benjamin’s advice:


    He’s been podcasting for a good stretch, entirely across great distances and with high technical quality, so his record-locally technique is probably even more valuable:


    Good luck with it.

  12. childsrevolt on February 11th, 2009 7:46 am

    additionally, here’s matt haughey’s guide to doing this with the metafilter podcast, which is mac only, which may not be help to you, but probably could also be done with free PC recording software like Audacity just as well:


  13. PhilKenSebben on February 11th, 2009 7:51 am

    Going the Skype route would allow wiggle room with quality of mics and such, because Skypes sound quality is utter garbage 60% of the time. When it is not dropping out or crashing on windows boxes. As for using Garageband to edit, I do not use it if there are a lot of edits to be made to the voice track (call drops, mistakes, ect.) I use a neat app called Amadeus Pro.

    Just a random scattering of thoughts, but doing it cheap was my main concern and but this route can yield good results. Just be ready to wrestle with static.

  14. realsmack on February 11th, 2009 8:08 am

    Guys –

    I’ve written books about this. Hit me up offline if you’d like to discuss. Lots of options here, particularly if you’re going to do it long distance, which makes it tricky.

    smack (at) luxmedia (dot) com

  15. Carson on February 11th, 2009 8:29 am

    Derek/Dave, check out BlogTalkRadio

    BlogTalkRadio is the social radio network that allows users to connect quickly and directly with their audience. Using an ordinary telephone and computer hosts can create free, live, call-in talk shows with unlimited participants that are automatically archived and made available as podcasts. No software download is required. Listeners can subscribe to shows via RSS into iTunes and other feed readers. Our network has produced tens of thousands of episodes since it launched in August of 2006.

    This would be a great solution since you guys can’t exactly be in a studio together. You don’t have to pay to archive it anywhere, as they do that for you also.

    Has a live chat room during the show, should you choose that route. Of course, you guys could just do it on your own time and point people to the archive if you would prefer.

    I’ve participated in several shows. It’s simple, free, and sounds just fine even if you’re on a phone.

  16. vb1138 on February 11th, 2009 8:32 am

    I just heard an ad on KEXP that they are sponsoring a podcast 101 class. Check out:


  17. Carson on February 11th, 2009 8:40 am

    By the way, we have a “Largest selection of microphones” adsense ad on the right panel now, heh.

  18. Tuomas on February 11th, 2009 9:11 am

    I would suggest getting in touch with one of the bloggers out there that do podcasts and asking them about their experiences. I know River Avenue Blues does one, and, if you’re willing to talk to NBA bloggers, The Basketball Jones is one of the best podcasts around.

  19. johndango on February 11th, 2009 9:24 am

    Skype and ANY (including an on board microphone) will give you the kind of quality you need.

  20. section331 on February 11th, 2009 9:35 am

    I’ll put in another vote for Shure 57s or 58s. Best mics for the money. Behringer does make a fine mixing board, as well, though my experience with mixers is limited. If you need a good electronic drumkit, though, I can definitely point you in the right direction….

  21. drm1125 on February 11th, 2009 9:36 am

    BlogTalkRadio is the way to go. They cover all kinds of podcasts. I personally listen to 5-6 podcasts that go through BlogTalkRadio.

  22. Beniitec on February 11th, 2009 9:41 am

    I listen to a few and I really like the quality of sound/video they have at geekbrief.tv. The link will direct you to an old show that has a list of their audio/video equipment. You might also contact them for advice as they really like to help people get started. They’ve been doing this for a while.

  23. scotje on February 11th, 2009 9:47 am

    If you decide to go with a Skype conference, I’ve used the PowerGramo plugin with pretty good success for recording the conversation. It’s a Windows app, I believe there are plugins that let you do the same type of thing on the Mac as well though.

    I really haven’t had any big issues with Skype call quality recently, but that is definitely something to keep an eye on.

    Ah, here’s a nice list.

  24. Andren on February 11th, 2009 9:52 am

    BlogTalkRadio is the perfect solution.

  25. 14limes on February 11th, 2009 9:53 am

    My only bit of advice is not to worry about equipment first. If you both have headsets, that’s all we are going to care about. You’re not going to sing arias (are you?), so what’s important is working out how you’re going to interact with one another, while also being audible and understandable to your listeners. Lots of first-time podcasters have great equipment and still manage to suck because they didn’t think for a second about the actual show they’re putting on.

    It’d be much worse for you to lay out all that cash, even if it’s just for a couple of Blue Snowballs (which I was going to recommend as well, btw), and then hate it, or be intimidated by using it.

    Once you have the basics down, you can worry about details like whether you should be doing a double-ender (where both of you record your voices locally, then sync it together for the best sound quality) and what kind of hardware you need or want. For now, just pick a place without a lot of hiss (e.g., away from your 20-year-old console TV) and echo (not your wood-floored dining room), keep your voices from clipping, and don’t talk over each other. Everything else flows from there.

    Just do the damn thing already. I’ll listen! 🙂

  26. scotje on February 11th, 2009 10:12 am

    Also, if you end up hosting the files yourself, I’d recommend something like BingoDisk to save yourself a lot of bandwidth. Thousands of people downloading your new, multi-megabyte podcast simultaneously, etc.

  27. Sportszilla on February 11th, 2009 10:14 am

    I agree with the other commenters about BlogTalkRadio, I used it for my podcast for over a year, and it let me host the show with myself here in Seattle, and two friends in Charlotte (oddly enough, almost the exact same configuration as DMZ and Dave)…plus it easily lets you have another caller or two on the line, so you could either have guests, or take calls from readers, or whatever. The show airs live, but also archives, it’s easy to set it up to be available through iTunes, and there are some basic (but useful) soundboard tools.

  28. gwangung on February 11th, 2009 10:24 am

    Personally, I like the Samson USB mikes, but the Snoballs work for USBs and the Shure 57/58s are great and cheap.

    Audio software is dime a dozen, can’t go wrong there.

    And do think of a good place to record. Doesn’t have to be a sound studio, but think about surroundings, and make sure you don’t clip. (And maybe a pop screen–my biggest problem is over-articulating consonants…)

  29. skeets35 on February 11th, 2009 11:22 am

    To make it really simple, go to Broadcast Supply Worldwide (http://www.bswusa.com/proditem.asp?item=PODCAST-STARTER) and buy their starter package for $250. It gives you more than what you need and you can upgrade from there. Comes with a nice book on podcasting too. I am starting a HS radio station and have been working with them on podcasting stuff, they make it real easy.

  30. msb on February 11th, 2009 11:42 am

    hmm. I think I might find this thread of recommendations for simple things like microphones etc plentiful, contradictory, and confusing.

  31. Kid_A on February 11th, 2009 11:55 am

    If you’re looking to make simple, “archived” (i.e. not live) podcasts, you can an Olympus audio recorder. You just plug it in to any computer (via USB) and use Audacity to make a basic mp3 file, then upload it to the website. It’s also good for doing interviews.

  32. payday0023 on February 11th, 2009 12:54 pm

    Serendipitous indeed!
    I’m literally about to record 4 podcasts today in preparation for a big Gardening podcast launch for my work… (exciting, I know)
    I’m an audio engineer (aka geek) and I’ve prepped systems for people before so hopefully I can help.
    The standard response to a request like this is: what do you have already and what is your budget?
    The easiest and most convenient system is utilizing your current computer for recording and editing your podcast. What kind of computer do you have/will you be using?
    How complex are you trying to make this? Lots of bells and whistles with music and sound effects or just two dudes talkin’ baseball? (I’m guessing the later…)
    If you’re looking to link up from coast to coast, Skype is a great option. JK Audio makes a small box that is perfect for interfacing a phone line into your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), but you will need a hard-line phone to patch into it. Skype is nicer, though, because it doesn’t sound like a phone line.
    As far as microphones, there are a hand full of USB mics available now that are designed for podcasters. I wouldn’t use one to mic an acoustic guitar, but mics like these and these are generally compact, efficient, and designed to be plug-and-play.
    In the recording software department, Apple’s Garage Band is suprisingly capable for recording and processing your audio and getting it up to podcast quality standards. Other than that, you can purchase a software package but it could run you about $500.
    A small mixer might be neceassary, too. But Behringer makes them for dirt cheap and you can probably find one that will fit your needs on craigslist for about 60 bucks.

  33. coffeemonkey on February 11th, 2009 1:01 pm

    There is a podcast called Systm, in episode 4 of that podcast, which you can find here, they talk about the basics of podcasting and how to get started. Real good stuff.

  34. BrianL on February 11th, 2009 1:57 pm

    Well you can’t go wrong with the good old Shure 57s or 58s. Good standby microphones at a fair price. Personally I’m rather fond of Electrovoice microphones

    Combine that with a fairly cheap Behringer Podcast Studio device and you’ll have just about everything you need to put a podcast together.

    I know Mills Music in Bothell and Lynnwood has sold all of this stuff in the past and at a decent price, but I haven’t worked on the sales floor for a while so I’m not sure if they still stock it.

  35. Xteve X on February 11th, 2009 2:15 pm

    BlogTalkRadio I think is your best option for what it sounds like you want…

    You don’t really need a microphones, IMO. If so don’t bother getting any kind of vocal or instrument mic, it’s more than you need for a podcast … payday’s link has lots of good suggestions.

    I did guest shots on various NBA podcasts when I was at SonicsCentral and each time I did my portion over the phone. It was easy. You basically conduct it like a phone interview, recording the conversation on digital tape recorder. Then if you have a Mac you can dump the MP3 into GarageBand which has a virtually idiotproof podcast setting and wouldn’t require a separate stand-alone mixer, or you could go the Skype route.

  36. thesinators on February 11th, 2009 3:38 pm

    You guys should totally do a podcast. I would definitely listen.

  37. dw on February 11th, 2009 5:15 pm

    Looks like most everyone took my ideas, but:

    I do podcasts at work. I use a Marantz digital recorder and edit with Audacity. I wouldn’t recommend that setup for you, since I’m riding on PA systems and boards, although Audacity is ridiculously powerful for a free/open-source audio editor.

    Other podcasting folk I know use USB mics, notably the Blue Snowball.

    I talked to an audio guy a couple years ago at a conference about upgrading our system, and he said to go with decent sub-$100 mics. You’re going to downsample to 64 or 32kbps, anyway, so you’re looking for radio-quality, not quadraphonic.

    Definitely look at Matt Haughey’s stuff for his podcasts — he has a similar issue with people on opposite coasts, and you really can’t tell Jessamyn is in Vermont and not in Portland.

    End of the day, though, you can podcast with a USB mic and a laptop. That’s all you need if it’s one person. If you need a 2+ mic setup, then you start getting into the tough stuff. But a cheap USB mic will set you back $20. And a setup like Haughey’s is probably $100 at most.

  38. MCinBoise on February 11th, 2009 6:34 pm

    I would like to endorse the Blue Snowball and the idea of a U.S.S. Mariner podcast. I have the first and love it. I hope for the second and would love it, even if Dave used his radio robot voice.

  39. wadswerth on February 12th, 2009 3:27 am

    On a website i work on we do podcasts, i have just used like a 20 dollar headset mic, we record it on skype with a add on program called Pamela.

    This setup does an ok job of it, allows multiple people to talk or be called up during the podcast and such. The drawbacks have been, a slight delays in responses (this seems dependant on the persons internet connection) and we have also had to record it in mono because stereo would cause one persons voice in the left speaker, and the other persons voice in the right speaker.

  40. dgustav on February 12th, 2009 11:34 am

    http://www.blogarithms.com/index.php/archives/2007/12/23/skype-for-interviews offers great advice for using Skype to record interviews and podcasts of talkers at very distant locations

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