So, this one is going to be a different from last year. Because everything is different from last year. I know 2020 has been a pretty big change for my own personal podcast. I always prefer conducting interviews in person when I’m able — in fact, around 400 or so episodes were done exactly like that.
But face-to-face interviews are going to continue to be a non-starter for the foreseeable future, so I’ve had to switch the show to a virtual setup. It’s less than ideal for my own creative and aesthetic preferences, but when the world shifts radically, you do your best to adapt along with it.
For me, that’s meant a couple of things. First — and most obviously — shifting from in-person interviews to virtual ones. Another more surprising (for me) aspect has been the addition of a video element. I’ve started doing it less frequently, but I’ve incorporated YouTube live-streaming into my repertoire. After all, most of my interviews are done over Zoom, with the video stripped out. Sometimes it’s fun to do both.
So here’s a good place to start for the podcaster in your life — whether they’re just starting out or looking to make the transition to remote streaming.
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This one is a repeat from last year, mostly because I’ve been using the heck out of it. AKG’s mic has become my go-to for podcasts and meetings alike. I’ve used it for television appearances, Disrupt panels and a recent guest hosting appearance on NPR. It sounds good, has simple-to-understand settings, plug-and-play functionality and it looks great.
Price: Around $140 from Amazon
The thing about webcams is that there are a lot of them. The other thing about them is they’re mostly pretty cheap. Logitech’s StreamCam is pretty pricey as far as the category goes. Many or most of these products can be had for around $100 or less. The StreamCam comes at a premium — but you get a lot of camera for that price.
It’s probably overkill for most scenarios (see also: our work from home gift guide), but it delivers really solid streaming quality in a compact package. That includes 1080p video at 60fps, with face tracking and good low-light shooting.
Price: $170 from Logitech
Yotto Microphone Pop Filter
Okay, this one is less exciting, but man oh man is it important. I suspect most amateur podcasters don’t even consider a wind screen, but after listening to a bit of level-spiking sibilance, you’ll understand exactly why this microphone add-on is so important.
I was using another model until its recent, untimely demise. I just picked this one up for $12 on Amazon and it’s been great. There’s a clamp at the bottom that attaches to most USB mics (including the Blue Yeti and the above AKG). The arm is also super flexible, which is the biggest issue I had with the older model.
Price: $12 from Amazon
GVM Light Ring
This is the light ring that made most of our staff look great during our first-ever virtual Disrupt. It’s been sitting in the corner of my living room for several months now, and I utilize it for both video streams and meetings.
Like anything involving stills or video, lighting is incredibly important, and the GVM is a real powerhouse with a stated 70,000 hours of life. It’s intense and adjustable/dimmable, offering really solid realistic color settings.
Price: $127 from Amazon
Another returning item from last year. And honestly, this one is a bit hopeful that some day soon we’ll all be comfortable talking at each other in cramped spaces again. But the RODEcaster Pro is honestly just too good not to include here.
The RODEcaster Pro is a multi-channel mixing board that saves up to four mics’ worth of input (along with effects and guest phone calls via Bluetooth) to an SD card, which will greatly assist in any post-podcast processing. I’m happy to retire it from my list when another podcasting board can offer similar functionality with such an accessible interface and reasonable price. Until then, the RODEcaster Pro continues to be the best way to quickly up your podcasting game.
Price: $599 from Sweetwater
Your results will vary, but I know a lot of folks who rely on Zencastr for remote recording. The interface is great, recording each track remotely, offering levels in-real time and uploading them to the servicer. Files are saved as lossless .wavs and separated by guest.
Price: $20/month from Zencastr
This is just a great pair of super comfortable and versatile over-ear professional headphones at a reasonable price. Audio-Technica is well regarded in DJ and studio circles, and the $149 price point delivers really excellent quality without breaking the bank.
Price: $149 from Sweetwater