Last year I stepped out of my comfort zone and went from only writing my opinions to recording them audibly as well.
When the budget is tight, you have two choices: 1. wait it out until you have the funds to “do it properly” or 2. make it work and improve as you go. The first podcasting episodes I was a part of were recorded via Anchor.fm using my cell phone. I’m still a regular user of the fantastic platform that has helped countless people get their podcasts going, it just serves a different role for me now.
Outside of still using Anchor to distributing podcasts, the rest of the process has changed…a lot.
I wanted to share the recording set up that I have now in case anyone is looking to improve their podcast quality. The great thing about this set up is that it can be used in several different ways including music vocals. Oh, and it won’t cost you thousands of dollars like you may think.
I’m going to take you through the acquisitions I have made in order as I believe that it allows for a natural sequence of growth.
Tascam DR-40 Digital Recorder with Accessory Kit
The first step is to have a device that will record your audio. While a computer is certainly an option, there are still some needed items such as interfaces to purchase in order to do so.
The Tascam DR-40 is a handheld digital four-track recorder.
I will swear by this bad boy and it is at the heart of my recording setup. Here is why.
Not only does the DR-40 store your recordings, but it also gives you flexibility with how exactly you record. When I first got the DR-40 I did not have a mic option. However, that was no issue. The DR-40 has two onboard mics (on top of the device) that give you a good quality audio recording, certainly a big step up from using a cell phone. The mics can be set in an XY or AB format to give you either a directed recording or a more stereo sound. There are also two external plugin options where you can connect microphones, instruments, phones, etc. via your choice of XLR or 1/4 inch plugins.
Without going into too much detail, just know that there are a wide variety of onboard options included with the DR-40. Effects, limiters, overdub (which is an amazing option for music recording), and an easy to learn user interface all make this a powerful recorder at an affordable price. Add in the fact that you can literally take it anywhere, and record on the spot, and you have your studio on the go.
Marantz Professional MPM-1000 Cardioid Condensor Microphone
My next step was to find an affordable mic that would produce quality audio.
I gave the Marantz Professional MPM-1000 a shot. I settled on this mic for one main reason. Sure it was in a price range that fit the budget at the time but was also one of the only mics in the price range that featured full metal construction.
The accessories that come along with it are a nice bonus as well. They include shock mount, windscreen, XLR cable, and tabletop tripod. I was impressed enough with the quality of sound from the MPM-1000 that I purchased a second one (remember, the DR-40 includes two XLR inputs). So far I love what this mic can do and I truly feel like it is a great option for someone who is being budget conscience.
*Another pro for the DR-40 is that it can produce phantom power which is something you will want for this microphone.
Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield
The final item that I feel is a must have, and until I used it I may not have argued about it, is a quality isolation shield.
I had been keeping an eye on the Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield for a while and when I noticed that it went on sale for roughly half price I jumped on it. This particular shield had been in the top five of several lists that I had read and once I received it I understood why.
The construction of this shield is very good. It is solid and appears as it will last for a very long time.
Essentially the purpose of an iso shield is to keep your vocal around the mic and not bouncing off of other surfaces. It also helps keep unwanted noises away from your mic. It will not eliminate everything, but it makes a noticeable difference.
The reason I like the Monoprice is that it can be used on a tabletop as well as be attached to a mic stand. For podcasting, the tabletop option, via the feet you can see in the picture, is a great option. (Hardware needed to attach to a mic stand is included as well.)
Behringer Xynex 1202FX Mixer
This is the newest, and probably last (at least for a while), addition to my set up.
The Behringer Xynex 1202FX mixing board. I legitimately just received this today and have not yet been able to use it yet. However, while I cannot speak to the overall quality and results yet, I can tell you why I wanted to get this item.
A primary reason was to have more control over the quality of call-in guests for podcasts. This also will give allow for EQ adjustments on my mics as well. I am excited about set this board up and seeing how it can help take my recordings up another notch.
For the price point, I feel like this has excellent value as I can double the number of microphones used during the recording process if needed.
There are a few other items that I have in my set up that are not absolute necessities, but I am glad that I have them so I want to make you aware as well.
Behringer Microamp HA400 Ultra-Compact 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier
$24.99 — Amazon
If you have more than one person involved in your recordings, they may need to hear how things sound.
The Behringer Microamp HA400 allows you to send your audio to up to four different headsets with individual volume control for each headset.
So far so good with this little guy. The one negative I can share is that at times you have to get your input in just the right spot or you get a degraded sound.
I also have a desktop microphone scissor arm. Nothing special, but it does the job. It was around $13 on Amazon.
So there you have it. For less than $500.00 you can have your own, quality, recording set up.
For podcasting I love it. If I was an artist who was trying to cut down recording studio costs, I feel like this would be a great way to go. You get a good quality vocal that any engineer can work with. It also allows you to focus your dollars on getting a good mix and master which is often an area of issue, especially for independent artists.
If you have any questions or want to talk about any of these items in more detail, hit me up on Twitter @EricBoston3