Getting all this gear won’t magically improve your audio sound, but it will make it possible to get better sound. Think of it as the difference between a DSLR camera and your phone’s camera. Your phone’s processors do a lot of work to make your photos look decent, but a DSLR gives you control of the knobs and knobs so you can take exceptional photos.
It’s also worth noting that most professional audio equipment is long-lasting, and there haven’t been many major seismic changes in the industry over the past few decades. Which means that you can usually find used versions of most of the gear you want on sites like eBay that still work great and are compatible with each other. We’ll list the current retail prices for the equipment below, but if you get a sticker shock, look for used versions. With all of that in mind, here’s what you need to know about every link in the audio chain.
Choose a good microphone
Microphones are such a huge field, explaining them all might be its own guide. But if you’re reading this one, you probably only want a few basic recommendations anyway. Generally, any microphone you get will use an XLR connector. Don’t worry, audio hardware hasn’t changed much in decades, so you won’t have to buy new cables and equipment every few years.
For podcasting or streaming, Audio-Technica AT-2020 is a great starter option. This microphone uses a cardioid recording pattern, which offers great flexibility if you move your head a little while recording. You speak on the side of this microphone, not on the top as it sounds, so you can position it under or next to your head while you broadcast using a simple microphone arm.
If you’re recording from further afield, you might want a micro shotgun like the Audio-Technica AT875R. These microphones have very narrow recording patterns, so they pick up things directly in front of them much better than things behind or beside them. Some interviewers use them as pocket microphones on convention floors where it is very noisy. By pointing one directly at the topic of the interview, he can focus only on his voice while picking up the ambient noise of the crowd.
For interviews you can also see the Shure SM58, a classic hand-held microphone. This mic is often seen in live performances or interviews, and at $ 100 it’s extremely affordable. It also comes in a much more expensive wireless version, but if you’d rather not carry heavy cables during your interviews, this might be the way to go.
Get a preamp … possibly