I hate it to break it to you, but I believe you really don't need a ton of gear to get started on your show. In fact when I first started back in 2015, all I had was a smartphone. I then gradually bought more gear over the years to increase the production value.
Today there are apps available where you can literally record, edit, publish and distribute your podcast from your smartphone! So you actually don’t need anything else to get started. But I also get it, it’s scary to launch a show and it’s normal to want to make sure you do it right.
I’m here to tell you that the content and the stories that you share are always more important than what they look or sound like. That said, if you want to step up your production quality, especially how you sound, here's a shortlist of everything I've used to launch my YouTube channel and my podcast over the last few years.
I’ve received so many questions over the years that I decided to create this guide to help you on your journey to broadcast your message to the world!
BONUS: CHOOSING THE BEST MICROPHONE FOR YOUR PODCAST (VIDEO)
THE STARTER KIT
Although it may not seem like the sexiest piece of equipment, this is by far one of the most versatile piece of kit you'll get. Not only do all iPhones come with an integrated Voice Memo recording app, iPhones also film in HD, allow you to make phones calls, check your social media and browse the internet. Need more convincing? You can easily take selfies...
Oh, and the iPhone 5s holds 8 megapixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture, flash, autofocus and exposure control. Sure the audio sound quality won't be half as descent as most professional microphones, but if that's all you've got, start with this. But if you want to up your game, check out the gear below.
Although I still use my iPhone 5s for secondary shots, I’ve since graduated to an iPhone Xs. This enables me to capture high definition footage on top of my audio to turn my audio podcast into a web TV show. I personally bought a 256GB version of the phone because I wanted plenty of space to record and not have to worry about constantly deleting files. That said, if your budget only allows for a smaller version then go for that! Oh, and it has a 12MP dual cameras with dual OIS and 7MP True Depth front camera-Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, and Smart HDR. Nice.
GLIF iPHONE TRIPOD MOUNT
The Glif iPhone tripod mount is the brain child of two designers from New York, who thanks to a few thousands backers on Kickstarter, was made possible. Their customer service is solid as they replaced mine almost a year later because of a faulty problem) and it's a reliable + sturdy iPod mount.
JOBY GORILLAPOD ORIGINAL
It's not the most stable tripod on the market, I'll admit that. But it does the job. It's small and super light. So I can carry it around with me all the time. Plus, as it's a gorilla tripod, you can wrap it around pretty much anything or balance it on awkward surfaces.
This was the first tripod I bought to mount my iPhone using the Gilf tripod mount mentioned above. Which I also used as a selfie stick (although if you're walking it will shake.)
Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones - Black
I also now carry around the Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones as I find it more practical if I’m in a hurry to set up my iPhone. Again, it’s not the most stable and sturdy feeling tripod, but it does the job! All you need to do is slide in your smartphone in and your’e good to go. Although I would double check the dimension of the grip in case your smartphone is too wide for it.
Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Microphone (for Smartphone)
Although I believe the quality of your podcast (and videos) isn't as important as the content of them, I do believe that in the realm of content creation, audio is king. I'll forgive a dodgy video but my patience wears very thin when the audio of a podcast or video is horrible. This super lightweight mic plugs in directly into your smartphone meaning you don't have to mess about with post-production. (Note that you’ll need an Apple adaptor to plug in this mic if your iPhone model is an iPhone 7 or beyond.)
THE INTERMEDIATE KIT
It's almost as if Canon created the compact camera Canon G7X for vloggers. Not only does it film in full HD, you can also flip the screen vertically, which comes in handy when you're trying to make sure your face is actually in the frame. It's small enough to carry around although if you wear tight fitted jeans, you'll struggle to fit the camera in your front pockets. I believe it only films in chunks of 30min at a time. So if you're looking to film for hours, and you’re on your own, this probably isn't your camera. The two things to watch out for are the noise of the auto focus (a simple external mic plugged into your smartphone to record the audio can fix the problem (see above)), and the shutter on the lens is sensitive, meaning it can get jammed pretty easily. By far one of the most used small compact cameras by vloggers word-wide, including YouTuber royalty Casey Neistat. (Close second is the Canon Powershot S120 or Canon PowershotS200.)
EXTRA BATTERY FOR CANON G7X
This is without a doubt one of the best investment I've made. When I'm out and about filming, and depending on the weather, my battery seems to run out pretty fast. So having a spare battery is really handy when you don't want to have to wait for your "one" battery to charge up. Make sure to always have a back up battery charged up and you'll be good to go.
JOBY GorillaPod ZOOM (with Ballhead X Bundle)
This has quickly become the go-to tripod for vloggers as it has a level on it to help you see if you're shooting straight or not. It's slightly lighter than the FOCUS version (see below) but it's small enough to carry around in a backpack. A solid choice if you're looking to up your "selfie-stick" game...
BLUE YETI USB MICrophone (BLACKout edition)
This is one of the most versatile and used microphones for both podcasters and vloggers alike. The sound quality is pretty amazing for a USB microphone. It's not flawless but it does the job. I haven't tried it for interviews but there is an option to record 360 or bi-directional, meaning you could potentially use for interviews. Although I've never tried this function... This is the microphone I use for all my solo-round podcast episodes (and what I use to record my intros and outros on most of my episodes).
THE ADVANCED KIT
CANON EOS 70D
The Canon 70D has quickly become a cult camera in the world of vloggers as it is the go-to camera Casey Neistat. It's a DSLR camera with a screen that flips horizontally and its autofocus makes your job as a vlogger, very easy. Probably the best bang for your buck at the moment. Depending on what lens you get though you'll want to make sure you have an external audio recording device as the auto-focus can be quite noisy. (If you want to buy a newer version, grab the 80D, which is basically an upgrade from the 70D.)
RODE VIDEOMIC PRO
This is a directional mic that mounts on top of the Canon 70D (or 80D) and is plugged into the main camera body. Meaning you won't have to spend time syncing up the external volume in post production. It basically makes it sound much better than with just the mic on the actual camera itself. That being said, I find that a lapel mic plugged in a Zoom H4N or Zoom H6N for example is still better quality, but takes more time to sync up.
RØDE Deadcat Furry Windshield Microphone
If you are planning on filming outdoors, you're going to want to get yourself this gem. It doesn't get rid completely of the wind noises but it definitely helps!
JOBY GorillaPod FOCUS (with Ballhead X Bundle)
This is by far the most reliable and sturdy tripod of the entire Joby family (at least as far as I'm concerned). It's also the same "selfie stick" that Casey Neistat uses. Make sure to get the bullhead bundle too as it enables you to pivot the camera in multiple directions as well as quickly dismounting the camera if you need to change batteries.
ZOOM H4N Handy Recorder
I bought this 2nd hand bad boy off my childhood friend Mickey, who is a film maker. Fun fact, this is the same Zoom H4N we used to film my video CV back in 2011 that went viral in 2012. In short, this is the business. Tim Ferriss used it to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger and my film-maker friend still uses it. You can plug in two XLR microphones or remote wireless lapel microphones. Meaning you could use it both for your podcast or/and your vlogs. However, you may want to consider getting the upgraded version Zoom H5.
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder
If you're looking to co-host a podcast or have multiple guests, then you'll definitely want to get your hands on the Zoom H6 (as you can have up to four XLR microphones plugged in at the same time). It’s the same set up that Gary Vaynerchuk’s audio wizard uses, as well as what Jocko Willink uses for his podcast. It’s slightly more technical than say the Zoom H4N, but again, it allows you to have more than just one other guest on the show. It’s what I use today.
XLR to XLR Plug Microphone Cable
This is to plug your microphone into an external amplifier / audio recorder. Depending on what you intent to use it, I reckon 6m should be fine. I also recommend that you buy a few in case for whatever reason you misplace one before your big interview…(I’m not saying it’s happened to me before…but maybe I am…)
Behringer XM8500 Microphone
This is a really cheap microphone that has worked for me like a treat. Sure, it's not a premium microphone and if you're an audio snob you may thrown upon it, and, I think it's the best microphone money can buy. It’s what I used for almost four years on the show and it did the trick.
SoundLAB G122CA 35 mm Foam Microphone Windshield
I mostly record indoors so realistically I don't really need this windshield protector. However, when I interviewed Danny Bent we were outdoors and I was so happy I had my mics wrapped up in these furry dudes.
Audio-Technica 20 Series AT2035
Although the Behringer XM8500 Microphones have been great for me, I decided to invest a bit more and upgrade to using the Audio-Technica 20 Series AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Side Address microphones. I first came across them on Jocko Willink’s podcast and then saw that Penguin Book studios in London also use them when I interviewed a guest there. They’re definitely at a higher price point than the Behringer XM8500 microphones but I’ve been enjoying the crisper sound quality to them and they also look really nice!
If you’re looking for the Ferrari of microphones then look no further than the Shure SM7B Microphone. Sure it might involve you having to remortgage your house…but if you’re the kind of person who loves to invest in the best, then this mic is probably for you. It’s the same microphone that Joe Rogan uses for his show The Joe Rogan Experience and is often used in professional recording studios. I personally have never used this microphone so I can’t share my experience of it, but I thought I’d mention it in case you were looking for the big dog of microphones.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Professional Headphones - Black
I’ll be honest, you could use any old headphones or even your smartphone earphones to plug into your Zoom H4N, H5 or H6, but the truth is, I always get asked what do I use for my show. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Professional Headphones were the first pair of high-quality headphones I invested in. They came recommended by a bunch of podcasters online and they’ve been a great fit for me. I haven’t felt any particular discomfort from wearing them for long periods of time. They are quite chunky though, so if you’re carrying around a few of them for you and your guests then just know that you’ll need a bigger bag!
Sony MDR-7506/1 Professional Headphone, Black
As I transitioned from being an audio only podcast to becoming a web TV show too, I was looking for a lighter option than my Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones. After looking online and reading a bunch of different reviews, it became clear that the Sony MDR-7506/1 was the most common cited pair of headphones used by the vast majority of broadcasters (including traditional radio).
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
This is the latest addition to the family, so I'm still getting to know its full potential. Lewis Howes, the host of The School of Greatness (one of iTunes's top podcast), uses this USB amplifier as part of his set up. I'm still struggling to figure out how to make the volume sound as crisp as Lewis, but I'll get there! Oh, and if you want to have multiple guests on your show then you'll want to get the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, as it has four microphone input slots.
AUDIO-TECHNICA BPHS1 BROADCAST SERIES BROADCAST STEREO HEADSET
If you can get over the fact that these look totally ridiculous, I've started using these more and more in my interviews. And I'm loving them. You can focus on the conversation rather than how close the mic is from your mouth. The cable seems to knock about when you move, making an impact on the quality of the audio if you’re not careful, but it's just a matter of figuring out how to avoid that. Again, this is the same set up that Lewis Howes used on his podcast .
ZOOM H1 HANDY RECORDER
This is another new piece of gear I've added to my kit bag. When I was Country Manager at the Movember Foundation I used to get interviewed by journalist quite a lot. And I first came across the Zoom1 when a radio journalist interviewed me with it. And I was impressed by how small it was and how good the quality was. What I love about it is how light it is. I can literally take it in my coat pocket and forget it's there. The quality is good too.
Logitech C920 HD Pro USB 1080p Webcam
When I interviewed Philip McKernan, I noticed that his video on my screen looked 10x crisper than mine. So it was no surprise that when I published the interview with him a client of mine suggested I buy a higher grade webcam to improve the visual quality of my web interviews. And she was right! Although it's not built for Apple it does work with my MacBook. The only problem I've had with it is that the little screw base at the bottom to mount the tripod broke pretty quickly. Which sucks... But, as you can clip it to your screen you don't need the tripod mount.
LaCie Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt & USB 3.0 Portable
Video files take up a LOT of space. Before you know it, you're out of memory on your laptop. That's why I absolutely love this battle-ready external hard drive as I travel a lot. So when I'm on the road I need to make sure it won't break and I throw it in my backpack everywhere I go. You can also buy its big brother the Lacie Rugged 4TB Thunderbold, which has 2x the amount of available storage space, but is also twice as big.
I rarely used my GoPro Hero3 to be honest, but I enjoyed using it for additional camera angles. Especially when I'm giving talks or hosting live events. The GoPro Hero3 is an old model so you may want to upgrade to a new GoPro model (see below).
GoPro HERO7 Black
I was given the GoPro Hero7 Black edition for Christmas and what I’ve really enjoyed about is just how versatile and super light and small this piece of kit is. Meaning I can throw it in my bag and just turn it on during an interview to capture high definition video footage for my show. It’s also waterproof so a great option if you’re looking to have an action show!
GoPro Rechargeable Battery
Again I think you can’t go wrong with investing in an extra battery (or two). Especially if you’re traveling or if you’re on the go. They’re super small and lightweight so shouldn’t take too much space and they can be a life saver too if you suddenly run out of battery mid-way through an interview.
JOBY GORILLAPOD MINI MAGNET
The cheapest and cutest member of the Joby Gorillapod family. The great thing about it is that it's tiny, fits pretty much anywhere and is magnetic! Meaning you can stick it on anything metally. Magic.
RØDE SC3 iPhone Accessory
If you're looking to use your Rode SmartLAV+ Lavalier Microphone (see above) with your Zoom H4N, you're going to need this adaptor to make it work.
Universal Headphone Splitter
I can’t believe I hadn’t thought about buying one of these sooner! In short, if you’re using a Zoom H4N, H5 or H6 then by default you can only plug in one pair of headphones (or earphones). Meaning your guests can’t hear themselves, which I’ve found is a problem sometimes when they don’t realise they’re too far from the microphone. Enter the Universal Headphone Splitter! This allows you to plug in as many as five different pair of headphones. Although it diminishes the volume of the audio you hear in your headphones, it’s cheap and does the job! You can find a bunch of different options online but this is the one I bought.
Neewer® NB-35 Black Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand with Mic Clip Holder and Table Mounting Clamp
If you’re lucky enough to have a space where you can set up a pop-up studio and sit down and record your podcast then one of the options you might want to consider is having a suspension boom arm stand clipped to a table. I’ve been playing around with these for my YouTube channel. Now they’re cheap and cheerful, as in they’re not that sturdy, don’t feel like amazing quality and I’m sure you could find a more expensive and better quality version online. But these have done the trick for me, they’re light to carry around and give the conversation a sort of “studio” feel. And did I mention they’re cheap?
Frameworks GFW-MIC-0821 Compact Base Bass Drum and Amp Mic Stand
If you’re looking for a more mobile-option than the bulkier microphone suspension arm then these compact base mic stand might be a good option for you. What I like about them is that they don’t feel too big or invasive as you’re still able to see your guest across the table. They’re quite easy to set up and adjust and feel quite weighty too. They’re hard to come by though so you might need to buy them from a vendor in the USA.
If you’re just starting out and are looking for an easy option to get you started on your journey to becoming an expert podcaster, then Audacity is for you. It’s the audio editing software that 90% + podcasters use online and to be honest, I’m surprised it’s not higher. In fact, Lewis Howes still records and edits his show The School of Greatness using Audacity. And you know what’s even more amazing about Audacity? It’s FREE! That’s right, Audacity is an easy-to-use, free open-source, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. It’s more than what you need.
Now go launch your show!
I hope you found this comprehensive guide that I created for you helpful!
If you did, I’d love for you to let me know over on social media, you can find me over @markleruste.
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Thanks for keeping the lights on!