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How to launch a podcast: the equipment

How to launch a podcast |

Launching The Girl Next Door Podcast is one of the funnest projects I've taken on. It's fun to record (I'm having a cocktail and chatting with my friend!) but I have also loved the challenge of figuring out how to podcast (although it's been frustrating at times!).

In the hopes of helping another budding podcaster, or just giving our listeners a peek behind the scenes, I wanted to share what I've learned in the process of launching a podcast. Over three blog posts in the next few weeks I'll share what equipment we use, how we publish our show online and on iTunes, and some tips for recording a show. Today, I'll share the equipment we use.

For the first few episodes of The Girl Next Door Podcast, we didn't have all the equipment figured out and the sound quality wasn't where I wanted it to be. At the same time I didn't want the lack of perfect sound quality to hold up launching our show and regularly publishing new episodes. It was incredibly frustrating and I had to remember that "done is better than perfect".

What I've learned from wading through many, many podcasting articles and videos online is that there's no one right equipment set-up for podcasting. Which is awesome but also overwhelming; I just wanted someone to tell me how to do it! Our particular set up reflects our situation which is that both Erica and I can be in the same place when we record. While this set-up might not be right for your podcast (if you are recording interviews over Skype, for instance), I hope it will still help orient you to a general understanding of how podcasts can be recorded and you might be able to modify our set-up to fit your needs.

Here's the set-up and equipment for The Girl Next Door Podcast:

How to launch a podcast | 

1. Microphones + windscreens. Erica uses a Shure and I use an Electro Voice, which was recommended to me as the mic that Molly uses on Spilled Milk. So this mic has street cred! Windscreens are the clown-nose looking things that we each have on our mics. These reduce breathy-ness and vocal pops from staccato words, such as those that start with "p". 

2. Tabletop microphone stands. The base of this stand is heavy so it won't shift around and the height and angle adjusts. It's basic but does the job. The clip that holds the microphone came with the microphone and it screws on to the top of the stand.

3. Five-foot microphone cables. Microphone cables also come in a 3-ft length but it was explained to me that you never want the cable to be stretched and so I opted for a slightly longer cable. Originally we were using cables that Chris has for his guitars. They were 25 feet long! I felt like a roadie dragging them out to record. Realizing that mic cables came in shorter lengths was an epiphany. 

4. Audio mixer interface. This little box takes the sound from our microphones and puts it into Garage Band, which is the program we use to record. Each mic is plugged into an input and the audio mixer plugs into my laptop with a USB cable. I co-opted the mixer from Chris's collection of music equipment.

5. Mac laptop with Garage Band. We record and edit our podcast in Garage Band and then export an mp3 file that can be published online. I've never used music software before and so there is a definite learning curve. It really helped me to sit with both Chris and Erica's musician brother and have them show me recording and editing techniques. So if you can recruit a friend who knows Garage Band to show you a thing or two I'd highly recommend it. There are also many tutorials online. If you have a Guitar Center in your area they sometimes have workshops on Garage Band or podcasting in general; I love learning directly from someone else and being able to ask questions.

If you are interested in launching a podcast, I would recommend finding an excellent quality podcast with a similar format that you will use, whether it's three people recording in the same place, conducting recorded interviews or just you and a mic, and figuring out how they create the show, even if that means reaching out and asking.

I am so grateful to Matthew Amster-Burton of Spilled Milk who answered many, many of my questions about podcasting and recommended much of the equipment that we are using. I also found the sales people at my local Guitar Center helpful and I was able to negotiate the price down on equipment that I purchased.

If you have any questions about podcasting equipment or podcasting in general please feel free to leave them in the comments or email me, I'm happy to share all that I've learned!