Build Your Own Podcasting Studio
You can just add a mike to a PC and use Microsoft Sound recorder. But if you want to get started doing quality podcasts check out these recommendations:
1. The single best item to start off with is the podcast starter kit from BSW. It has the Audio Technica AT-2020 mike, an Alesis USB mixer (expandable to 8 inputs), some starter software, a mike desk stand, and the book Podcast Solutions by Dan Klass.
You can check out some pages of the book at Amazon.
Take a look at BSW’s other podcasting kits. They are nice upgrades, but not necessary. I still drool over the Marantz digital recorder. I met an ex-BBC producer turned podcaster who carries something similar around with him for man-in-the-street interviews. It’s awesome.
2. We purchased boom mike stands, music stands (for scripts), and pop screen filters from the Guitar Center… inexpensive and work well. Hint: Boom stands and pop screens prevent unwanted noise. Hint: Get a second or even third AT2020 mike from BSW. You will almost always want to record at least two folks.
3. Of course you need a PC, but it doesn’t have to be a barn burner. A recent vintage 1 Gigiaherz CPU or faster with 1 gig of RAM running Windows XP will do nicely. Tip: Get 2 gigs of RAM for longer recordings. See below.
4. Software-wise: Download Audacity from sourceforge.net. It is free and works well for simple productions. Its recording and editing length is limited by memory, so here’s where you might want to have 2 gigs of RAM instead of 1 gig. It’s a great backup “studio” if you need something to do a quick recording with, too. Just add an $8 PC mike from Radio Shack and you can do an audio interview anywhere. Tip: Scan software for viruses before using. Should be clean from Sourceforge, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
5. For professional style recordings, we like SONY ACID PRO 7. Whoever becomes your audio engineer will love its power and capability. It even has filters to clean up dirty recordings, sound effects, and a music production capability. You can download an older demo copy at download.com Tip: (It’s supposedly checked for viruses, but I would scan it anyway.)
Tip: I brought in my synthesizer (CASIO or YAMAHA 76 key) to create little musical ditties and sound effects. However, SONY Acid Pro now replaces most of those functions.
6. If you don’t have a professional music library, I recommend Killer Tracks – used by corporate and commercial broadcast stations everywhere. Their website allows licensing by the “drop”. Hint: If you are doing any kind of quantity, though, license the whole library.
These six items will get you up and running with professional results. You can do it all for less than $1,000 plus the cost of a PC.
– Rick Darby