Affordable Prosumer Podcast Guide
“Prosumer” is a portmanteau of the words “professional” and “consumer”. In other words, you have moved beyond the needs of the average consumer and are interested in using products on a professional level.
So you’ve developed a taste for the finer things in life… like napping on your parents Tempurpedic mattress and illicitly parking in the gym’s platinum membership spots. How can we get our podcast audio to reflect this new prosumer lifestyle on a meager budget?
Buy What I Tell You
This is the Scarlett 2i2 by Focusrite. It costs about 160 bucks. Yes, there's cheaper stuff out there, but I would advise against going much cheaper if you want to get serious about your podcast. Cheaper electronics have issues with firmware support, and the components fail quickly. Also, notice the Scarlett has 2 mic inputs. 1 for you and 1 for a guest. The inputs look weird because they are actually combination inputs that can accommodate instrument cables as well as XLR cables. You never know when you might need it. Keep in mind there are multiple versions of this product with more channels. If you’re running a larger show, you might want to contact our team so we can give you more tailored advice to best suit your needs.
This is the Shure SM58. It’s $99 and a great vocal mic. Every single person on earth should have one. This mic and its sister, the SM57, are very resilient microphones. They can take a beating and then some. These mics are a staple in the audio industry, and every major studio has at least one SM57, if not the SM58… and usually several. There’s even a popular version of the SM58 with an on-off switch, which is handy for muting yourself when you’re not talking (and saving some time and money on editing)… and it’s only $5 more!
This is 9 bucks, people. If you think you can’t afford it, just skip Chipotle next time or skip Starbucks a couple times. This allows you to put your mic on a desk to record. If you want to step it up, put a pillow-case under it and put the pillow behind the microphone. I’m dead serious. The pillow will act as an acoustic baffle, making your voice bounce around your room a little less and keeping sound from coming at the mic from the back end. Better yet, also glue some cheap acoustic foam to the underside of the stand so it doesn’t pick up any vibrations from your desk… and staple some of that foam to your walls, while your at it, to cut down on your room reverb!
These are XLR cables. You need them to connect a microphone to your interface. I found this deal on Amazon. Its two 6-ft cables for 16 bucks. That’s pretty darn good. You can sometimes find similar good deals at Guitar Center, but heed my warning: I have always had trouble with this style of connector:
If you are observant enough, you will start to notice the “really great” deals on XLR cables offer this style of connector. Its total garbage, so don’t waste your time.
This is a pop filter. It reduces plosives and sibilance in your recordings. USE IT! It will save you A LOT of annoyance, time, and money. I prefer the mesh ones, but there are other effective variations too. In general, though, 2-4 layers of mesh works best, and decent mesh filters average between $8 and $20 . It’s mind-blowing how many podcasters don’t use these and punish their poor audiences with hundreds of little low frequency explosions all throughout their episodes.
These are Audio-Technica’s ATH-M20x headphones. These babies will run you about 50 bucks. I’ve owned a pair of the M50x’s (the flagship of this line) for about 4 years now, and they have seen a lot of use and travel. Audio-Technica’s products tend to have incredible durability. Durability is an important factor in my life, because I can be kinda hard on my gear. The audio quality of these headphones is great for the dollar amount, and I’d honestly stack these up against a pair of garbage-can Beats headphones any day. I highly recommend getting the upgraded version (the M50x’s) if you can afford to splurge a little.
If you want to get something even fancier and comfier, our founder and CEO, Chris Williams, recommends the Beyerdynamic DT770PROs, which are some of the best closed-back headphones you can buy for under a grand, but nowhere close to that price threshold. (They fluctuate between $160 and $180.)
Audacity is a 100% free cross-platform DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that is extremely easy to record 1-2 tracks in. If you have a PC running Windows or Linux and you’re a newbie who just wants to record your podcast and have someone else (like us) make it sound good, then just download Audacity for free, install it, and call it a day. If you’re a Mac user, GarageBand is just as easy to use and comes included on most Apple computers.
In conclusion, if you buy the stuff we suggest here as the minimum, you’ll be out $342 + tax. If you splurge a little, the upper end total of our suggestions is about $546 + tax. It may seem like a good chunk of change, but this stuff will enable you to run a podcast without sounding like an amateur… and it will make running your podcast a lot easier and smoother (and cheaper in the long run) than otherwise. So…
If you are serious about your production value, spend a little money up front.
About the Author
Austin Kirk is a US Air Force veteran and an audio production graduate from the Art Institute of Austin. He spent his teenage years overseas in Japan and now works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Podsworth Media. His love for audio has driven him to produce music for many local artists in the Austin, TX area, including his own band, MACRO.