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I'm looking to set up a podcast, and want to get started with the right equipment. My problem is I have no idea what I'm looking for in a mic, and what other things I need to record good quality audio.

I would prefer it if I could have some kind of portable set up, but mainly I'm just curious to know what I should look out for when I'm getting started.

If it makes I difference I run Mac OS X. What advice would you have for me when looking for a mic, and is there anything else I need to consider in a recording set up?

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6 Answers

I use the Shure SM58 for basically everything at the moment, it's a real versatile mic and would be great for your podcast. Use a wind protector as well though. I've used it for recording voice auio (like a pdocast, some radio tags), micing up bass drums and amps for live shows and even recording samples from randm household objects! It's a great quality mic, check it out :)

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A great mic, very versatile, you definitely can't go wrong with it –  bot_bot Feb 5 '11 at 21:21
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I used a combination of Audacity and a Samson CO1U USB microphone when I started. From a hardware perspective, that seemed to do the trick. Arranging a useful recording area is vital though, and takes a lot more effort than you might realize. I had success with the Samson, though I noticed that the recording level would vary according to which USB port of my MacBook Pro I selected. After about six months, the Samson CO1U picked up a lot of static and recording an optimal level was impossible. I learned from all this though.

First I realized that I wanted real time audio monitoring, which is something that USB mikes don't allow. Perhaps there are ways to minimized the delay, but I couldn't reduce the lag to make monitoring useful.

Secondly, I wanted a system which wasn't so reliant on USB power to record a good level. I needed an amp that would regulate itself better than the USB bus did. I ended up buying a Rode NT1A and a Mbox2 mini external amplifier. The rig is portable and records much more reliably.

The Samson USB mike may still be enough for you. If you register it with Samson, they will warrantee it for 10 years. I just have to get my act together to send it back to them. Nonetheless, it still wont allow me to hear how a recording session sounds as I record. You'll start wanting that soon, so you might want to start saving up for the external amp and XLR-style mic.

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Thanks for that, it's useful feedback. I'll keep it in mind as we start to make our purchases –  Ciaocibai Feb 8 '11 at 10:10
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I recently posted a question regarding mixing multiple USB microphones as I am launching a podcast that will involve more than just me, requiring multiple microphones. I have tried many different approaches to mixing multiple USB mics and in short, there really isn't a comparatively good approach when trying to decide whether or not to go USB or use a "standard" microphone. SO, the first question is whether or not this is a solo gig, meaning you are the only one in the room, or if there are going to be others there with you; more than one in the room-->go standard...

If it's just you, then there are plenty of USB microphones out there that will give you good quality and maintain the ease and portability you are looking for. The downside to USB microphones is that in most cases, you are extremely limited in options for real-time signal processing functions such as a noise gate, for example.

The conclusion I came to was that going with a standard mic and a hardware mixer/audio interface provides the quality, reliability and predictability that using a USB/software solution cannot as easily provide.

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You need a good mic and a decent mic preamp and a decent USB Audio Interface. This comes both separately and in combinations, including USB microphones that include all in one package.

In podcasts a good sound is essential, and you get that by being fairly close to the microphone, so if you are several podcasters, they should really have one mic each, and then you also need a mixer. In theory you can have several USB mix and mix them in software, but although I never did that and it might work well there is something in my stomach that get slightly worried when thinking about that... :)

If you need only one mic, and you are sure you are only using it for podcasting, a USB mic of some sort would be a good choice. If you want more flexibility get a separate mic and a USB Audio Interface that includes a mic preamp.

To a large extent its a question of budget.

You most likely want either a nice dynamic mic or a large diaphragm condenser, these work best for vocals. I completely agree with Kyle that an SM58 (or SM57, but then you might want a pop filter as well) is a good starter, very versatile and not expensive. You can buy it packages with an XLR to USB adapter for what seems like a reasonable price (

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I would say, start with something not too expensive.. Get used to the workflow, and then you can get a mic good for vocals. Since most of the time the podcasts are gonna be listened on an iPod/iPhone or in the car with loads of background noise so I don't think there's gonna be much difference between listener experience if you use a very expensive mic or something which is simple and works well..

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When you're first starting out, the best thing you can do is get a mic that will serve you on the long road. Bring your best cans to a mic shop and try them out. I too would suggest a dynamic stage mic like the Sure SM58 or the Sennheiser E840/830. That way you will be able to use it in "studio"/recording room and then became a staple part of your kit for more mobile recordings and live shows.

I have stayed away from most USB mic since I still want the flexibility of plugging an analog mic into a desk OR an audio interface. The SM58 is usually about $80-$100 without a big dent on the top. An audio interface will be as cheap as USB dongle sounds card that comes with a pair of Plantronics headphones and as expensive as a Firewire Mackie Onyx desk. Start small with the vision that every piece you ass will become a part of your KIT.

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