How to Start a Podcast, Part 2: Hardware / Software
Podcasting can be daunting for a number of reasons. Some people don’t have time to mix together, edit, and publish their podcasts. Others simply hate hearing the sound of their own voice (I honestly fall into this category at times). And still others are bound by technical or financial limits. While I can’t help you with the first two reasons, I can say without a doubt that it is both extremely easy and (depending on how you do it) somewhat cheap to use what you currently have to get your podcast online.
This tutorial mainly covers audio podcasting – video podcasting is an entirely separate animal. Suffice it to say that will need to be another post, but if you have the equipment to record your sermons, read on to find out what format to save them in.
The Bare Hardware Essentials
There’s a few purchases we can’t get around making. Luckily, most of the basic equipment can be found online very inexpensively by visiting this page
Desktop Hardware Options
First and foremost: you want to pick up a good USB Mic. Any mic will do, but keep in mind you do get what you pay for. Blue Microphones has a Snowball Microphone for $50-$70 that is highly recommended on Amazon, and plugs into the USB port. This mic will cancel most background noise, and actually has processors built in that reduce distortion. The result is an amazing, studio-quality audio file that should work for whatever you can throw at it. This is the one I personally use on the Binary Podcast and I am extremely happy with the results.
Rumor has it you can even record music with it, but I’ve never personally tested it. All of the drivers should be plug-and-play compatible, so you won’t have to mess with installing anything unless you have an older machine.
Mobile Device Hardware Options
If you’re on an Apple Device, you’re in luck – there’s quite a few devices that actually work with your phone or iPad to deliver an amazing podcast experience. If you’re on an Android device, however, the options are a bit more limited. Nevertheless, the de-facto standard seems to be the iRig device. Despite the name, it will work on all Apple and Android mobile devices. It comes with an output for your headphones so you can hear what you’re podcasting (as a bonus, it also works with phone calls!)
Once you’ve gathered the necessary hardware, you’re ready to start recording… almost. Your last challenge is to find software on your mobile device or desktop that will save your voice to an audio file to be uploaded, shared, and loved by the rest of the world. People or businesses with larger budgets will more than likely have mixing software and recording software available. If not, once again, there are a few different options depending on your hardware of choice.
Desktop Software Options
Audacity is the hidden gem of podcasting. It’s absolutely free (no strings attached), but tends to be daunting to use because of its high learning curve. Still, once you figure it out, it’s just as feature-packed as any paid software package, and therefore is still my go-to choice for recording. It’s got versions for Mac, PC, and Linux, so no matter your operating system of choice you’re covered. If the learning curve is too much you can use Garage Band on the Mac, but for Windows Audacity is pretty much the standard.
If you are an Adobe Subscriber, then by all means use Adobe Audition. I’ve been using it for the Binary Podcast and was able to pick it up with zero experience (and cut the first episode) in about 2 hours.
Mobile Device Software Options
Apple iDevice users have Garageband on their phones now, and for 5 bucks it’s going to be the best option, especially since you can mix your levels straight from the app. You can also use Griffin’s iTalk App if you want something more no-frills. Android users have Hi-Q, which is a steal at $4.
Regardless of your platform or software, your end goal is simple: Record your podcast, and save it to either an MP3 File (Audio) or an Mp4 File (Video) . That process will vary depending on what software you use. Go ahead, take a few days to record a few and get a backlog going. Our next post will cover getting your podcast online, sharing it to the world, and getting it onto various directories (like iTunes).
Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Also, if you’d like to see an Audacity screencast teaching some of the ins and outs, let me know that as well!