Podcasting in a kit
When I first started out in podcasting, the very first thing I purchased (after embarrassing myself with my crappy Microsoft Lifechat headset), was a condensor microphone. That worked fairly well for a few shows, but I realized I needed more control. I was on a mission to find what I needed, something preferably already put together for me. I found such an item in the Behringer PODCASTUDIO USB.
This kit comes equipped with everything a novice podcaster needs to produce a good quality show.
The kit comes with a 5 input 2-bus mixer by Behringer. The XENYX 502 is a nice, small form factor mixer that is portable, allowing you to take your studio on the road if you need to. The mixer is limited on functionality with only 5 inputs and no mix-minus setup (it doesn’t have any aux ports on it). In my experience, though, if you are using Skype to bring in a co-host, then Skype’s built-in echo cancellation seems to work pretty well making it acceptable to use this mixer for at least one co-host on your show. This mixer is about $45 outside of the kit.
USB Sound Adapter
Before I purchased this kit, I never really used a USB sound adapter. I had always opted for the built-in sound on a computer motherboard or an add-in card. The UCA200 changed my mind and I went on to purchase additional versions of the device. The UCA200 that comes with the kit has the USB connection and RCA in and out ports on it. With this kit, the UCA is connected to the CD/Tape In and Out on the 502 mixer via RCA cables. On both the Mac and Windows platforms, it just shows up and works in your device list (tested with OS X 10.5 and Windows 7).
I haven’t been able to find the UCA200 by itself outside of this kit, but the UCA202 runs about $30.
I prefer dynamic microphones over condenser microphones, but it really depends on how your voice sounds. If your voice sounds better on a condenser microphone, then that is what you should use. This kit comes with a dynamic microphone – the XM8500. Purchased separately, the microphone goes for about $25. There are plenty of dynamic microphones from $25 to $50 that sound great! The frequency response of the XM8500 is 50Hz to 15Khz with a two-stage pop filter. Even with the pop filter, I recommend that you use a windscreen or an external pop filter on this microphone.
The Behringer HPM1000 headphones are considered multi-purpose headphones. They are classified as having an ultra-wide frequency response, but to me that’s just marketing that is widely used on many headphones. They do come with a 1/8″ adapter to adapt the 1/4″ connector for use with many devices. As far as headphones go, they aren’t bad. Don’t expect the same results out of them as you would get from a $100 set of headphones as these are about $10 by themselves.
For $129.99, you can get a kit that has everything matched and ready to go for recording your podcasts. The software that comes with the kit, unless it’s been updated since I purchased the kit over a year ago, is garbage. The Mac versions of the software won’t run on any version of Mac OS X that doesn’t have the Rosetta emulation component in it. You’re not buying the kit for the software, but rather the hardware that has been picked to work well together. If you’re using a Mac, you can easily record and edit your podcasts in GarageBand. On the Mac and PC platforms, Audacity is free and is very powerful for recording and editing audio.
Once you have several episodes of your podcast under your belt, you will probably outgrow this kit. However, the mixer is something that is always handy to have around the studio in case you need to set up something special or take your show on the road. I’m still using the XM8500 microphone as my guest microphone as well as the HPM1000 headphones for the guest headphones. The UCA200 is one of three that are an integral part of my podcasting studio.