It’s a short list but here is the gear and software I use to create podcasts. The hardware is relatively inexpensive and I’m assuming you already have a computer. The main computer I use is a 9 year old Dell XPS 9300 series running Windows 10. If I’m on the road I’ll use my 2019 Dell XPS 13 laptop and/or my first generation Microsoft Surface Go.
Not counting the computers, for less than $400 you can have a pretty decent set up that is portable and expandable should you want to have more than one host or add guests to your podcast.
For mixing inputs and recording separate tracks I use the Zoom PodTrak P4. This handy little device accepts up to 4 XLR microphones, has 4 programmable sound pads, and can accept input from your computer and cell phone, You can take calls, play clips from your PC, and record everything as separate tracks.
My microphone is the Rode PodMic. It’s a relatively inexpensive dynamic microphone and I use it with the desktop telescoping stand. It does a pretty good job of limiting pops with its built-in pop filter and shuts out background noise.
My headphones are the Sony MDR7506 over-the-ear headphones. They are very comfortable with ear pads that aren’t too big and can be removed for cleaning. The sound quality is excellent. Although, keep in mind that I’m not an audiophile by any means.
The software I use is either free or very cheap. With the software below I’m able to add background music, do voice-overs, produce video podcasts, and even live stream to YouTube.
To record, not only do I record to the SD card in the PodTrak P4, I use the open source software Audacity. I’m using the current version 3.1.3. There are more features in Audacity than I can use and I’m still learning.
In the pic on the left I just found out I could easily line up different tracks end-to-end and label them which made editing the individual tracks easy. It also provided the information I needed to easily produce my chapters file for the podcast.
Audacity is free.
ManyCam is a virtual multi-camera video production studio-in-a-box that is somewhat magical. I’m using ManyCam Premium version 18.104.22.168. This software is capable of utilizing multiple video sources from my webcam, to YouTube, still pics, and even my cellphone. Using only equipment I have I can easily create a multi-camera shoot and insert video and audio clips into the production. The software has lower thirds virtual backgrounds, other special effects, and records so you can use this as another redundant audio source should something go wrong with your other recordings.
ManyCam Premium currently costs $99/year, although I used a special offer to purchase a lifetime subscription for $120.00. They currently offer three pricing tiers starting as low as $39/year that includes everything you’ll need to get started including live streaming.
Adobe Photoshop Elements
I use Adobe Photoshop Elements for creating podcast album art. It’s lightweight and has all the features I need. The full version of Photoshop is a bit much for my needs. I’m currently running Photoshop Elements 2021 and it cost me about $100. They’re offering the 2022 version for $99.00 or $79.00 for an upgrade.
VLC Media Player
When I live stream on YouTube I usually play a pre-show music playlist while I’m preparing to go live. I use VLC Media Player. It’s simple open source software. I choose to use this because I play music I purchase from Artlist.io. I have an annual subscription that allows me to use any song from their catalog in my podcasts, videos, and other productions. VLC makes it easy to set up playlists for different podcasts.
Artlist.io is my go to for music. They have a lot of variety that fit just about any need. I find it perfect for intro and background music. Once you download the song you have a license to use that song in perpetuity, even if you stop subscribing.
They have two tiers. One is perfect for an individual user. It’s $10/month if you pay annually or $15/month if you pay month. If you’re not sure you’ll use it extensively you can pay for one month, download as many songs as you think you’ll need, and then unsubscribe. Re-subscribe if you need new music. That is a way to cut down your costs. But if you think you’ll be using it a lot across multiple channels the annual fee is the way to go. The other is perfect for someone creating content across multiple channels. That goes for $16.60/month but is only available as an annual fee.
For transferring files from my PC to my web site I use WinSCP. It has a user friendly interface and makes it stupid simple to drag and drop files. I use this to upload the XML file for my RSS feed, edit my .htaccess file, and fix problems with WordPress from time to time if I have a rogue plugin or need to remove themes. The file editor is super handy when needing to make a quick fix to a file and you don’t want to download it.
WinSCP is free to use but they do request donations. This software is worth the donation.
The best tool created for making your podcast RSS feed is Sovereign Feeds. To date there is nothing else I’ve found that makes it easy to create your feed and still be able to customize it the way you want. Sovereign Feeds takes advantage of the new Podcasting 2.0 standards by integrating a lot of the new tags like funding, value, live item, and more. In addition, if there is a tag you want to use that is not included you can add it manually and Sovereign Feeds leaves your customization alone. It only edits or adds what is not already there. Genius.
Sovereign Feeds is free to use. They do ask for donations and if you’ve ever tried to customize an RSS feed you know how valuable this service is.
The Split Kit
The Split Kit (TSK) is the easiest way to insert valueTimeSplit (VTS)tags for music podcasts. TSK allows you to search for value4value enabled music tracks, enter in their start times, create the VTS tags and automatically insert them into your RSS feed. It’s integrated with Sovereign Feeds but can also be used stand alone if you create your feed yourself. It’s a must have tool when inserting music into your show.