Did you know that around 33% of podcast listeners refuse to listen to shows with low production value?
Sure, the topics you cover and the quality of your conversations are usually the reasons why listeners become fans. But without high production value, it’s difficult to convince people to become listeners in the first place.
That’s why a building a great podcast studio setup is so important. A well-designed studio guarantees professional sound quality and while speeding up your show’s production workflow.
The result? Higher-quality episodes on a more consistent schedule.
In this article, ZenCast will be walking you through the process of building the perfect podcast studio setup for your podcast. For all our suggestions, we’ll give you a range of options designed to work for all kinds of shows and budgets.
What We'll Be Covering
To make this guide easier to read, we've broken it down into three sections:
Choosing a Space for Your Studio
Choosing the Right Equipment
Choosing the Right Software and Tools
Ready? Let's dive in!
Choosing a Space for Your Studio
The first thing we need to cover is studio space, because it's something that a lot of beginner podcasters get wrong. And we don't blame them—acoustics can be confusing!
When choosing a studio space, our first piece of advice would be to avoid large, empty rooms like the plague. Yes, these kinds of spaces can be great for listening to and recording live music, but they're terrible for recording podcasts.
The reverb in these kinds of rooms will make your audio sound muddy and echo-y, which is the last thing you want. Instead, we recommend recording in smaller rooms with lots of soft surfaces (think: carpets, blankets, beds, couches, etc.) that will reduce noise.
Some great options include:
a living room
a rented studio space
a custom-built studio space
Yes! Even a closet can be turned into a studio (as illustrated by Ira Glass recording the award-winning radio program This American Life from his closet).
The key is to make sure the room is small enough that sound doesn't have a chance to bounce around too much, and that there are soft surfaces to damped noise.
Building Your Own Studio Space from Scratch
Planning of building a podcasting studio from scratch? Here are a few things you should consider:
Put down thick carpeting or buy a rug.
Pick a place that won't be affected by external noise (e.g., a basement).
Decorate with soft furnishings (e.g., couches, curtains, etc.).
Optional: consider soundproofing and acoustic paneling.
Choosing the Right Equipment
Once your studio space is sorted, it's time to fill it with all the right equipment. If you're just getting started, we recommend keeping things simple and only investing in the essentials.
And while the options here can be overwhelming, we've broken them down into three essential categories:
Let's take a closer look at each one.
A good microphone is essential for any podcast studio setup. After all, if your listeners can't hear you, they're not going to stick around for long!
When it comes to choosing a microphone, you have four main configuration options (two types of microphones and two types of connections):
Condenser Microphones: These are high-quality mics that pick up a lot of detail. They're great for shows with multiple hosts or for recording interviews.
Dynamic Microphones: These are rugged mics that are less sensitive to sound. They're great for recording in noisy environments or for shows with a lot of movement.
USB Connection Microphones: These are plug-and-play mics that you can connect straight to your computer or audio interface—great for beginner podcasters.
XLR Connection Microphones: These are professional-grade mics that need to be connected to an audio interface. As a result, they're more complicated to set up and come at a steeper price.
You can find microphones in any type-connection configuration, whether it's XLR dynamic microphones or USB condenser microphones. That's a lot of options, so we'll simplfy things for you with a few recommendations:
Blue Yeti ($129.99)
A great, entry-level (yet highly capable) USB condenser mic that's perfect for podcasters on a budget.
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB-X ($169)
Another USB condenser mic that's slightly more expensive than the Blue Yeti but delivers even better sound quality.
Shure SM7B ($399)
A professional-grade XLR dynamic mic that will require an audio interface to run. More expensive, slightly more complicated to operate, but well worth it for the sound quality.
Tip: Want to explore more microphone options? Read our complete podcasting microphone guide here.
Headphones are just as important as microphones for podcasting—after all, you need to be able to hear what you're recording!
There are two main types of headphones:
Closed-Back Headphones: These headphones have cups that completely cover your ears. They're great for blocking out external noise, but can make your own audio sound a bit flat.
Open-Back Headphones: These headphones have cups with small grilles that allow some sound to escape. They don't do a great job of blocking out external noise, but provide a more natural listening experience.
Both types of headphones come in wired and wireless options. For podcasting, we recommend wired over wireless since they tend to be more reliable (no battery life to worry about) and provide better sound quality.
As for specific headphone recommendations, we like the following options:
AKG K72 ($45)
A great option for closed-back headphones. The sound quality is impressive, especially considering the low price tag.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x ($149)
A great, all-around pair of closed-back headphones that are perfect for podcasting and come at a decent price.
Shure SRH1840 ($499)
A pair of premium open-back headphones that are perfect for those who want the absolute best when it comes to audio reproduction and sound quality.
3. Recording Equipment
If you’re opting for a USB microphone, you won’t need any extra recording equipment. Just plug the microphone into your computer and start recording! If you’ve opted for a higher-end XLR microphone, you'll need an audio interface.
Audio interfaces can be fairly complex. There's also a huge amount of variety depending on what you need the audio interface to do—different kinds of connection, different numbers of connections, and so on.
In this guide, we'll keep things simple and give you one recommendation for the best beginner audio interface (in our opinion)—the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 ($175).
This interface has two inputs that you can use to connect two separate microphones to your computer. It also produces that clean, warm sound that listeners are looking for.
Choosing the Right Software and Tools
Last but not least, no studio setup would be complete without an amazing stack of software and tools. There are a lot of options out there, but beginner podcasters will want to start with three kinds of tools:
Let's take a look at each of these in turn.
DAWs (or, digital audio workstations) are the software programs that you'll use to record, edit, and mix your podcast episodes. The three most popular DAWs for podcasters are Audacity, Riverside, and Adobe Audition. All three are great tools, but they're very different.
Audacity is a free, open-source program that's great for beginners. It offers podcasters a basic DAW with all of the features they need to get started, including the ability to record, edit, and mix audio.
That said, Audacity doesn’t offer much in the way of effects and tools to edit recordings—and editing an entire show using this program can be frustrating once you develop an ear for audio imperfections.
Reaper is a paid DAW that's popular among podcasters for its low price (just $60 for a license) and its excellent editing features. Reaper also has a very user-friendly interface, which makes it great for beginners.
However, Reaper doesn't offer much in the way of mixing tools—so if you're looking to create a polished, professional-sounding podcast, you'll need to supplement Reaper with a separate mixing program—more on those in a bit!
Audition is a paid DAW from Adobe that offers podcasters an all-in-one solution for recording, editing, and mixing audio.
It's a great option for those who want a powerful, professional-grade program—but it comes at a price tag of $349.
2. Editing Tools
Many editing tasks can be done in-DAW. For example, if you want to remove a small section of dead air from your recording, you can use Audacity's “cut” tool to do so.
However, there are some editing tasks that are best done in a separate program. Here are two great tools that should definitely be on your radar:
Cleanvoice is an AI-powered tool that cleans your audio files by removing annoying imperfections, like:
uhhh's and ummm's
The service starts at $0.80 per hour of processed audio, so it's definitely affordable enough for podcasters on a budget.
iZotope RX 7
iZotope RX 7 is a paid tool that's designed for audio restoration and repair. It offers an impressive suite of features that can help you clean up your audio files, including:
RX 7 is available in three different versions, ranging in price from $129 to $1,199. So, it's expensive, but we think it's worth the price if you're serious about podcasting.
3. Hosting and Distribution Tools
Once your podcast episodes are edited and mixed, it's time to host the audio files somewhere and distribute them to your listeners!
Traditionally, you'd need two tools to handle hosting and distribution—pretty annoying! That's why, at ZenCast, we've simplified this process by offering both podcast hosting and distribution through one easy-to-use platform.
With ZenCast, you upload your podcast episodes once and automatically publish them to any podcast directory you'd like, including:
Plans include built-in analytics, integrations, unlimited storage and downloads, a website and custom domain, and a beautiful embeddable player—so, you're killing a bunch of birds with one stone!
Start Simplifying Your Podcasting Workflow Today
If you're ready to streamline podcast production and save yourself time (and money), ZenCast is the perfect solution for you. We offer both podcast hosting and distribution in one easy-to-use platform, so you can focus on what's important—creating great content for your listeners!
Sign up today and see for yourself how ZenCast can simplify your podcasting workflow!