If you want to start a podcast, you’ll need a few tools to get started. These days, there are plenty of options out there for those who want to record audio content. However, if you’re looking for the best tools for a mobile podcast studio, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the choices.
There are many different types of microphones, software, and hardware that you can use to create podcasts. In this post, I’m going to share my favorite tools for creating a mobile podcast setup.
Portable Podcast Setup Options
If you want to record audio or video podcasts, you can use any device with a microphone and a camera. For example, you can use the built-in camera and microphone to record audio and video if you have a smartphone. Or, you can use a USB webcam or a tripod-mounted camera.
You can certainly use laptops and other equipment for a mobile podcast setup. However, you may want to consider taking a laptop on the road. USB microphones are fairly portable. Even though you’re using an analog microphone and a digital audio converter, these things are all quite portable.
There are also some situations where a standard studio setup is not practical for a portable podcast setup. Sometimes power may be a problem. You could likely record a whole podcast with everything running off the computer’s battery. But that’s not always more efficient. Some robust external batteries will give your laptop more time. There may be places where a computer isn’t practical because of bright sunlight, a drizzle, extreme heat, or just a flat surface. It may be hard to do quality work if you don’t have access to a good recording environment.
Factors to Consider in Choosing Portable Podcasting Equipment
So, what should you look at when choosing portable podcasting equipment? Here are some factors:
1) The size of the system. A small desktop PC won’t fit in most cars. And even if you did manage to squeeze something into the trunk, you’d probably still need a place to plug it in. It’s much easier to carry around a laptop than a full-sized desktop rig.
2) Battery life. How long does your current setup last before needing recharging? This depends on how often you’ll be moving from location to location. Do you plan to travel frequently? Will you be doing multiple recordings per day? What kind of battery capacity do you need?
3) Audio quality. Is your current setup producing high enough sound quality? Are you getting decent results without having to spend money on expensive gear? Can you afford to upgrade later?
4) Cost. Does your budget allow for buying new equipment? Would you rather buy used equipment instead?
5) Compatibility. Which operating systems, file formats, and applications support your chosen platform?
6) Software compatibility. Your choice of software matters too. Make sure that whatever you choose works well with your preferred editing tool. Also, check out the list of compatible apps.
7) Ease of Use. When you first start working with a new piece of technology, there’s usually a learning curve. With each step forward, you get better at using the product. As you become familiar with the interface, you find shortcuts and ways to improve efficiency.
8) Support. Who supports your chosen solution? Find out who provides technical help, training materials, forums, etc.
Portable Podcast Setup Equipments
Here are the pieces of equipment you need in creating a portable podcasting setup:
Portable Digital Recorder
If you can’t bring your computer and studio gear to your recording location, you must find a different recording method. Digital audio recorders come in handy and are getting better and better. One can record multiple tracks of good quality audio on a device that I can carry in a large pocket. They’re easy to use and inexpensive. Most digital audio recorders include an MP3 player so you can listen back to your recorded material as soon as possible after recording.
A few things to consider about these devices:
1) Size – Larger models produce higher quality audio, but they aren’t always convenient to transport. Smaller ones offer greater convenience but lower quality audio.
2) Features – Look for the number of inputs, headphone jacks, USB ports, SD card slots, built-in microphones, etc.
3) Price – You may have to pay more for a larger model or one with more features. But remember, you’ll also save time by not having to set up your computer and other gear every time you want to make a recording.
Popular Portable Digital Recorder
Here are our top recommendations for the best portable digital recorder:
- Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder
- Zoom H1n Portable Recorder
- Zoom H4n Pro 4-Track Portable Recorder
- EVER 16GB Digital Voice Recorder Voice Activated Recorder
XLR or USB Microphone
The microphone will be a significant consideration, and using the computer’s built-in microphone is not recommended. If you are away from your studio, you are also away from any noise protections you may have set up, and both laptop and tablet microphones are not well-known for their noise reduction capabilities. The easiest way to get started is to use a USB microphone. If you have multiple people or want more flexibility, you will need one or more microphones with an XLR output.
Here are our top recommendations for the best microphones:
- Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone
- Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500 Dynamic Vocal Microphone
- Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
- Movo HM-M2 Dynamic Omnidirectional Handheld Interview Microphone
You can always plug your earbuds into your field recorder. However, I like to have a little more control over what I am hearing. These do a great job of keeping the background noise out without completely isolating you from the world. They also offer a clear representation of your actual audio without any extra bass warmth, so you can hear what is going on.
Here are our top recommendations for the best headphones:
- Audio-Technica ATHM50XBT Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones
- Sennheiser Pro Audio HD280PRO Headphone
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones
- Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
It may seem like a minor consideration, but the carrying case for all of this needs to be debated as well. The ideal carrying case will allow you to use the functionality of your device while keeping it safe from most wear. The case needs to be at least weather-resistant, if not outright water-resistant, to protect the device. It also needs to feel comfortable when fully loaded and ready to go and easy to load and unload if it can work well with your fashion style so much better.
Popular Carrying Case
Here are our top recommendations for the best carrying case for podcasting:
- CASEMATIX 12″ Customizable Foam Case for Portable Electronics
- Casematix Portable Recorder Case Compatible with Zoom Podtrak P4 Podcast Recorder
- Gator Cases Padded Nylon Mixer/Gear Carry Bag
- CURIO Recording Mixer Case Compatible
A computer is essential to podcasting because you’ll want to use a digital audio workstation (DAW) to produce your show. That means using recording and editing software to make the final episode sound cleaner and more professional.
For a portable setup, using a laptop is more convenient and offers better portability. You will also have all of the information you need at your fingertips, and your editing software will be right there when you are done recording.
If you want to purchase a new laptop for your podcast setup, consider its memory space, processor, and type of USB ports. For beginner podcasters, computers with 8GB of Random Access Memory (RAM), some built-in Solid State Device (SSD) storage, and a triple-core processor will do the trick.
Additional Equipment You May Need for Your Portable Podcast Setup
I always recommend packing at least one more cable than you need. This way, you don’t have to worry about running out of them in an emergency. I’ve had many situations where I was forced to record my shows over WiFi or 3G, and having a spare set of cables has saved me countless times.
Recommended cables – 10FT Cable Matters 2-Pack Microphone Cable
You should pack at least two microSD cards. One for your main files and another for backups. Having multiple copies of your data allows you to recover quickly if something happens to your primary card.
You should bring at least three different types of chargers. A standard charger, a car charger, and a battery charger. These are important because they give you options on how you power your devices.
You should pack at least one power supply. A standard wall adapter will only provide enough power for a few hours. And, even then, you will probably run into issues. So, you should invest in a battery charger that provides up to six hours of continuous use.
You should pack at least one dongle. It’s not necessary, but it’s helpful to have one around. Dongles allow you to connect devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones to your computer. They’re especially helpful when you are trying to stream content from those devices.
Tripods and Stands
You should pack at least one tripod or stand. Tripods are great for shooting video, and stands are great for holding microphones. Both are essential tools for any podcaster.
If you plan to build your mobile podcasting setup yourself, you can save money by purchasing used equipment. Make sure that you know how to use all your equipment. It is not that hard to set up a mobile podcasting studio and can even be fun to try at least once, especially if you are looking for ways to expand your podcasting sphere and add audience members. So figure out what works for you and have fun!