The Christmas season is, it seems, also the season for people to begin starting up new podcasts. New Year’s resolutions and goals and the beginning of new ventures, you know?
Whatever their reason for launching the podcast, whatever the goal of their new podcast, I have been reached out to a few times inquiring about the equipment that Tri Bourne and I use on our podcast, SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.
Rather than answering everyone individually, and rather than continuing to do so, I’ll just lay it all out here.
For starters, none of the equipment we use is fancy, or even close to the most expensive, top of the line equipment. We are tinkering with the idea of upgrading our mics and camera setup, but we’ve gone four-plus years without missing a week, and SANDCAST is currently the most popular volleyball podcast in the world.
Sometimes, good enough is.
When I was researching where to get our podcast equipment when we launched in 2017, I looked into what Tim Ferriss uses, and basically bought everything he has. Some things have changed – many of our podcasts are virtual, largely thanks to COVID, but also thanks to the fact that Tri and I are both playing full international schedules now – but most have stayed the same.
So, when we are in person, our setup looks like this:
In-person Podcast setup
We use the ZoomH6 portable recorder. It’s nifty, relatively cheap, and easy to use. You simply plug in however many microphones you need via XLR cables (most mics will come with them), make sure your SD card — we use a 32G for audio, which is more than enough, and 64G for video — has enough memory, hit record, and voila, you have begun your podcast.
My favorite part about the Zoom is how mobile it is. It can fit easily into a backpack or my duffel when I’m on the road, and it also easily fits a few of our lav microphones, which clip right onto our shirts, as well.
We’ve gone through a handful of different microphones for when we record in person. We began with four Audio-TechnicaAT2005 mics, which I highly recommend. They’re cheap, less than $100 apiece, sound great, and plug into the ZoomH6. Easy peasy. As I mentioned above, there are plenty of other microphones that are likely far better, and deliver cleaner, crisper sound, but if you’re just starting your podcast and want to keep your startup cost relatively low while delivering a quality product, I’d go with the Audio-Technicas.
However, when we rebuilt our studio, moving out of Tri’s kitchen and into a SANDCAST-specific setup, we switched to the lav or lapel mics, which are more casual and allow you to lean back and be more comfortable while speaking. The audio isn’t nearly as good as an XLR mic like the Audio-Technicas, but the vibe is better, and we’re all about the vibe on SANDCAST.
Virtual podcast setup
This is as simple as it gets: We use Zoom. That’s it. It’s easy, cheap, everyone has it. Zoom comes with a record feature that records both video and audio, it saves directly after the meeting, and bam, you have yourself a virtual podcast.
I just plug my Audio-Technica into the USB port on my computer and yeah, that’s it.
A lot of other podcasters will use Zencastr or a variety of other similar programs. Honestly, I don’t know what they offer that Zoom doesn’t, and since most everyone is familiar and comfortable with Zoom in the wake of the pandemic, Zoom is what we use.
Podcasting on the road
With how much Tri and I are on the road — I traveled upwards of 82,000 miles this year — we’re scrambling. A lot. As I mentioned above, the ZoomH6 is really easy to travel with — but it can still take up valuable real estate in your bag if you’re on the road for six to eight weeks at a time. And there’s also the fact that Tri and I only have one of them. So, instead of doubling down on the ZoomH6, we left that in our studio, and we now each pack our own ShureMV88 microphones with us when we go.
These microphones are AWESOME!
It literally plugs STRAIGHT INTO THE LIGHTNING PORT OF YOUR PHONE and records studio quality sound. Seriously. It’s about the size of a golf ball, so it will fit in any bag, couldn’t be any easier to use, even for a technically challenged dummy like me, and records fantastic sound.
Tri recorded an episode in Cancun with Evie Matthews using the MV88, and I recorded three episodes in Bulgaria — two with Canada’s Jake MacNeil and Will Hoey, and one with Yariv Lerner — another in Sochi with Corinne Quiggle and Allie Wheeler, one in Brazil with Javier Bello and Joaquin Bello, and we’ve used it as a backup mic when we’ve accidentally run out of batteries in the ZoomH6.
If you’re doing a podcast, and you’re going to be on the road a lot, the Shure MV88 is an absolute must.
Best Podcasting hosting service: Podbean
I’ll continue to mention this: Tri and I don’t need a ton of bells and whistles with our podcast. We just need the basics. And Podbean delivers all of the basics we need, for the cheap price of a little more than $100 per year.
You simply upload your audio, write a few show notes, add an image, and there it goes, delivered to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play — wherever you listen to podcasts, Podbean will send it there. It’s cheap, reliable, keeps fantastic stats and metrics, and is easy to use. You can also link it to your social accounts — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress — to simultaneously publish everywhere you’d want it shared.
I honestly don’t even know what other premium hosts offer that Podbean doesn’t.
How do we edit our podcasts?
Garageband. It’s free, easy, and does everything you need.
I hope this helps. Again: We’re a simple, barebones podcast. We don’t do a ton of bells and whistles. Maybe we’ll get there. Maybe not. But whatever equipment we’ve used has been good enough to keep our show going for four-plus years as the most downloaded volleyball podcast in the world, so I’ll take it.
The cheap beauty of podcasting
You might do the math and begin to do the numbers, figuring in close to a grand in start-up costs. It isn’t all that bad, especially when considering almost all of the costs of running a podcast are fixed at the start. The only recurring costs we have at SANDCAST are Zoom and Podbean, and those combined are less than $300 per year. It’s one of the lowest barriers to entry you can have in an entrepreneurial pursuit, and the benefits — both monetary and social — far, far outweigh any of the costs.
If you have any questions, I’d love to help. Shoot me an email: email@example.com