In case you didn’t know, podcasters can be a tad obsessed with gear sometimes. Even if we have everything we could possibly need, Shiny Object Syndrome is no stranger to us when it comes to new tools in podcasting.
Those who love us may ask what we want for the holidays and sometimes it’s just easier to say “socks,” rather than explain what the difference is between a Zoom H5, a Zoom H6, and Zoom.us. But now you can just share this post with them, instead!
The obvious gift choice for podcasters would be microphones, but you may have a few questions about which one is a good starter microphone, or maybe you’re looking to upgrade. Or, you may not necessarily want a new microphone as much as you may want some gear to kick it up a notch with your podcast.
I’ve broken this gift guide down into categories for different levels of podcasters, from those just beginning to those who have been at it for a while. If you have more suggestions for this gift guide, I’d love to see what you have to say in the comments!
The Beginning podcaster
Maybe you’re looking to get someone started podcasting in the new year or you’re hoping to start a podcast yourself soon! (Congratulations, by the way!)
Here are a few things that’ll get you started:
I could sing the praises of this microphone all day. Less than $100, lifetime warranty, USB and XLR compatible (meaning it can plug directly into your computer or mixer/interface). Plus, it comes with a stand and cord!
There are also deals with ATR2100s, like the one listed to the right, that come with boom-arms and pop filters!
This probably wouldn’t be what most podcasting experts would recommend for podcasting, but I’ve found them to work great, especially for travel. For less than $10, they’ll do in a pinch or until you decide to take your production up a notch.
Plus, they have a 3.5mm AUX Cable that will plug right into the ATR2100 for monitoring. I also haven’t heard a lot of bleed from them, meaning if you’re talking to a guest and their audio is coming through the earbuds, the microphone won’t pick up the guest’s voice leaking from the earbuds.
For about $20, this is a good boom arm and a better alternative to the smaller stands microphones usually come with. I like that it comes with a pop-filter, which is one of the last things new podcasters think to buy, but can really make a difference when it comes to sound quality.
The mount is also easily removable so your set-up can collapse and stay out of the way when you’re not using it (until you become obsessed with podcasting and it’ll just stay up all the time).
It’s not a necessity for your podcast to have a website, but it really, really helps! Most podcast hosting services offer a page for your podcast, including Libsyn, which is what I use for my hosting and podcast’s website! I set up my website on the Libsyn Podcast Page and had them redirect my URL I bought from Hover, so it’s easy for me to tell people “Find all my information at TheStoryBehindPodcast.com.”
When you’re just getting started, you’ll need to start telling people about your podcast, which can be scary for us Introverts.
But luckily, this soft shirt that comes in a number of different colors, can help break the ice when marketing your show.
You could do what I did when I first started and spend weeks listening to podcasts about podcasting and reading every article (and trying to figure out which ones were still relevant) to learn how to podcast. Or you could learn from one of the best instructors out there, Academy of Podcasters Hall of Famer Dave Jackson, who provides tons of support, and has an incredible amount of patience.
He offers courses, a mentorship program, or individual courses that you can purchase a la carte.
When new podcasters are looking for ways to get into the podcasting industry and want some great, free advice and resources, these links are great resources for them to get started with:
The Podcaster Looking to Upgrade
You maybe already have been podcasting for a while and are looking to shake things up a bit. I will say that a lot of times, upgrades aren’t really a necessity if you’ve found what works for you. I still use the same ATR2100 I bought when I started my first podcast more than three years ago!
That said, it’s always fun to get new things!
This has been on my wish list for a few years now, but I haven’t felt really compelled to upgrade. Although I would never say no to having this show up under our tree.
Another dynamic mic (spoiler: they’ll all be dynamic microphones), and priced under $300. However, because it’s not standard size, it makes more sense to buy the package seen to the left with the shock mount and broadcast arm for a little bit more.
What could a podcaster possibly do with moving blankets, right? Aside from the scenario in which your significant other makes you decide between themselves and your podcasts, and you choose the latter …
But, no, moving blankets are great to hang around your recording space to absorb some of the noise, giving you a cleaner sound with less room noise and reverb.
If you’re looking to record more than one person in a room, getting a mixer or interface is a good mood. This means both tracks will be recorded separately, making clean up and edit much easier in the long run.
This isn’t necessarily something you’ll need if you’re a solo podcaster, but it definitely helps when you want to bring more guests to record with you.
I went back and forth where to put this. It could be a really, really great gift for the beginning podcaster, however I am almost glad I didn’t discover this until I had already learned how to do noise reduction and level audio on my own, so that I have those skills for editing for others.
But, if you’re worried about uneven voices in your podcasts between you and guests, Auphonic is perfect for fixing that, as well as bringing your podcast up to the optimum volume (even though there’s no specific “standard” for podcasts, I like to be able to listen to podcasts while getting GPS directions, and have both those volumes be about the same).
This also does a great job with noise removal and general cleanup of raw audio files.
Even if you don’t plan on taking your podcast on the road, having a backup recording of your show is so helpful! You can also use this for mix-minus recordings (this video from Ray Ortega from The Podcasters’ Studio is a great walk through for using the Zoom H4/H5/H6 for this).
I have the previous model, a Zoom H5, which works wonderfully and I love taking it with me when I’m on the road. I even used it to record my side of an interview when I had to take the baby for a nap-drive last minute!
Show that you eat, sleep, and breathe podcasting in this incredibly soft and stylish shirt from designer Mark Des Cotes! Should you flat line, just plug the mic back in!
Resources and information for those looking for dive even deeper into understanding the space and stay on top of what’s new.
The Seasoned Podcaster
Those who have been around the podcasting space for a while probably has a lot of podcasting equipment already, but I haven’t met a single one who wouldn’t mind receiving even more. The gifts mentioned in this section are definitely more expensive and something those just starting out in podcasting will probably not find worth it, unless they already knew they’re in it for the long haul.
In case anyone is looking for a gift for me, this is my dream mic. ;)
That said, it can be a bit finicky in the wrong environment. You’ll need to add extra gain to this. I’ve seen many podcasters who use it recommend the Cloudlifter preamp or the Triton Audio FetHead Phantom preamp to go along with it, making this combo at least $500. But, if you’re willing to spend the money and patient enough to make it work, the sound from these microphones is beautiful.
But if you’re looking for a good comparison of the higher-end podcasting microphones, check out my friend Stephen Jondrew from GonnaGeek comparing the Electro-Voice RE320 vs Shure SM7B vs Heil PR40 vs Audio-Technica BP40 vs Procaster vs Art D7 in this video.
This also makes my own wish list, although I have a feeling this will make it into my own Amazon cart sometime this year. One of the best ways to get a great sounding finished podcast is to start off with clean, raw audio. This helps create that warm, rich sound, all while keeping the volume consistent.
I’ve had guests send me audio they’ve put through this processor beforehand, and I haven’t had to do a single thing to clean it up — and they’re not recording in professional vocal studios, but I couldn’t have noticed the difference.
Do you need it? Probably not. Do you want it? OH YEAH!
Make recording interviews super-easy with this audio interface. Your voice will be cleaned up, you’ll be able to record audio from Skype calls or your computer, and all with this space-friendly unit. It also has enough gain for any microphone that may need some boosting, thanks to its preamp.
Have more than one mic? The MixPre-6 is the upgraded version with 6-inputs, including 2 XLR.
For those who are more into the phrase “fix it in post,” this software has made my editing clients swoon over their voices. There is so much you can do with this software, like the basics of noise-removal and EQ, to more advanced, detailed editing like taking away plosives (the hard P-sounds in recordings) to removing mouth clicks to my personal favorite, De-Essing (because my S’s whistle, otherwise!).
I have the previous version, RX 6, which I was able to finance through Sweetwater, and I got it around this time last year on sale, although that version is no longer available, but look for deals on RX 7!
The nice thing about Izotope is if you already have software from them, a lot of the times, there’s a discount if you want to upgrade.
This may seem like it has nothing to do with podcasting. But one of the best ways for your audience to get to know you better is to be able to provide them a face to go with a name. Either by going Live in your podcast’s Facebook group, making videos to go on YouTube of behind the scenes, or even when video chatting with other podcasters.
It really does help to have a camera that’s much better quality than the ones usually built into laptops. I love my C920 and it’s also incredibly affordable at around $50.
Take your podcast production and marketing up
Extra Bonus Gift idea for any level
This may sound completely out of the blue for a podcaster, but if you regularly engage with your listeners (that’s you, right?), you may want to start collecting physical addresses of the listeners who reach out the most. I just finished putting together thank you cards with podcast stickers in them for those listeners who were kind enough to send in pictures when they pre-ordered my book.
But I felt awkward reaching out to some of them because I knew I had sent them things in the past and had already asked for their addresses. Don’t be like me. Have a central location whenever you get a listeners address. You can randomly send them holiday cards or notes of thanks and think of how awesome that is as an extra step to show your appreciation for them.
The one I listed is about $5 from Amazon, so it’s easy to throw in with the rest of your orders. You don’t need anything fancy. As much as I always want to go digital with addresses, I find myself using the same address book I’ve had for friends and family since the first time I got married — 10 years ago!
Phew! Did I miss anything?
Have you gotten some ideas for your favorite podcaster (or yourself)?
I was so excited to put this together and didn’t realize what a task it would be to come up with my podcasting recommendations and wish list items. This is basically the closest I’ll get to being Julie Andrews, when it comes to listing some of my favorite things.
Let me know below what you would have added to the list! Hope you all have a lovely holiday season, and don’t forget to take a break from behind the microphone and spend time with your loved ones. They’ve missed you!