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Gear That Has Helped Me

Environment and Microphones are important parts of sounding great on your podcast or webinar. I recommend a recording or broadcast setting that has fabrics, carpet, and drapes to reduce the amount of echo that space creates. You want as much sound-absorbing material in that space as possible to give you that studio-like effect without the studio-like pricing.

PM22 Posing with my set up
My gear is chosen to be affordable, lightweight, portable, and professional quality so I can record in my studio or on-the-go like I did at Podcast Movement 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Everything in the background was enough to capture interviews with two people on microphones and fit into a backpack.

Below are the microphones I have used in my podcasting life. All three of these microphones are cardioid dynamic microphones. That means they pick up sound from only one direction and for a short distance. Ideally, if you are recording 3-to-6 inches away from a dynamic microphone, it’s only you that the microphone picks up. This is very different than a cardioid consdensor microphone like the Blue Yeti. Condensor microphones are great if you are a musician recording in a professional booth, because they pick up everything. If you’re recording at home, you may not want a microphone that picks up everything, especially if all you need is to record your voice.

Samson Q2U, Average Price $69.99

Interviewing Ken Carfagno

The Samson Q2U was the starter microphone for Beyond the Rut in 2015 and it is still a tried and true option today. This cardioid dynamic microphone can be plugged directly into a computer with a USB connection or into a mixer such as the Zoom Podtrak P4 or Rodecaster Pro with an XLR connection. This microphone also tends to come with a starter kit that includes a desktop stand, foam windscreen, and headphones.

One great feature of the Samson Q2U is the ability to plug headphones into the microphone itself so when you are plugged into a computer, you can monitor yourself as well as hear the people on your call on Zoom or other communication software.

I’m not a fan of any of the desktop mic stands that come with, so I bought these lightweight telescoping tri-pods for less than $15 each. You can see one in use in the picture above and below.

PM22 Mobile Setup
The desktop stands that come with these microphones tend to be too short to give you the right distance you need for good microphone technique, so I replaced them with what you see in this picture. Click on the image to see it on Amazon.

ATR-2100x-USB by Audio-Technica, Average Price $94.99

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The ATR-2100 was my second microphone. It has long been a staple microphone for podcasters new and old, especially back when I got started in podcasting in 2013. Similar to the Samson Q2U, the ATR-2100 is a cardioid dynamic microphone that can be connected to a computer with a USB connection or to a mixer or interface with an XLR connection.

I purchased my microphone by itself, but it looks like there are kits available like the one linked above.

What I love about the ATR-2100 is that it does not record as “hot” as the Samson Q2U, so I don’t have to worry about picking up extra sounds from neighbors mowing their lawns, dogs barking, etc.It does require that I amplify the loudness of the recording in my editing software in post-production if I don’t have the gain adjusted just right at the time of recording.

Electro-Voice RE-320, Average Price $299

Ken Carfagno interviews Jerry Dugan about his own ruts in life.

The Electro Voice RE-320 is the microphone I use in my podcast studio today. It is a broadcast quality microphone that I upgraded to in 2019. Whenever someone like Joe Bogdan from The Llama Lounge tells me that my “voice sounds like butter”, this is the microphone that I’m using.

The Electro-Voice RE320 is a professional-grade dynamic microphone designed specifically for recording and sound reinforcement applications requiring extremely low noise and the best possible tonal and transient response. Ideal for applications requiring extreme detail, clarity, and transparency, the RE320 provides smooth extended lows, natural midrange reproduction with a warm presence peak, and detailed extended highs. The Variable-D pattern control minimizes positional and off-axis tonal shifts. Integrated humbucking coil and integral pop filters provide virtually noiseless performance.

The downside is that this may not be the right microphone for a beginning. There is no USB connection from microphone directly into a computer, so you would need an interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or the Zoom Podtrak P4 discussed below.

Zoom Podtrak P4, Base Price Average $199

Zoom Podtrak P4

Looking to take your audio production up a notch? Zoom’s Podtrak P4 may be just what you need. This powerful and portable recorder packs four inputs with microphones, as well as computer and smartphone compatibility, making it the perfect tool for any audio producer. And at a fraction of the cost of other comparable devices, it won’t break your wallet.

But that’s not all. The P4 also comes with a sound pad, which can help you create a more complete episode on the first take with preset theme music and sound effect.

The device shown is the bare bones, base model. I had to purchase the extras like SD memory card, XLR cables, USB-C to USB, and 3.5mm TRRS-to-TRRS cables needed to connect everything I wanted to connect. (Note: I got the 10-foot TRRS-to-TRRS cable so I could record audio directly into my phone that doubles as a video camera. You can see a sample here.)

Gear Start-Up Packages

If you’re planning to record only remote interviews with you solo on one end of the call and all your guests connect virtually, or you have a solo show, then I recommend either the Samson Q2U or the ATR-2100x. Either of those microphones will give you the sound quality you need to have a professional level of audio.

Once you add a second person locally or decide you want a microphone that is professional quality but only has an XLR connection (no direct USB connection), that is where the Zoom Podtrak P4 comes into play.

Below are some starter packages that can help gather all the gear you need if you decide you want to start with something similar to my set up.

The Solo Show, $259-$299

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This package includes the following:

  • Zoom Podtrak P4
  • Samson Q2U microphone
  • XLR cable
  • USB connection
  • Small desktop stand
  • Stereo headphones
  • 64 GB SD card

2 Friends and a Podcast – Two Hosts On-Site, $345

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This package includes the following:

  • Zoom Podtrak P4
  • 2 Zoom M-1 dynamic microphones
  • 2 XLR cables
  • 2 Small desktop stands
  • 2 Zoom brand stereo headphones
  • (SD not included in this one)

Here is a slightly cheaper alternative that switches out the microphones for a less expensive but rugged Samson R-21S.

Podcast Party – 4 People in the Same Room, $559

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This package includes the following:

  • Zoom Podtrak P4
  • 4 Zoom M-1 dynamic microphones
  • 4 XLR cablex
  • 4 Small desktop stand
  • 4 Zoom brand stereo headphones
  • 128 GB SD card

Here is a cheaper alternative to the above package at $399 that swaps out the microphones and headsets.

Services I Recommend

Podcast VA Association

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Buzzsprout

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Buzzsprout is hands down the easiest and best way to launch, promote, and track your podcast. Your show can be online and listed in all the major podcast directories (like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more) within minutes of finishing your recording.

Sign up with Buzzsprout to host your podcast audio using this link, BeyondTheRut.com/buzzsprout, and you may qualify for a $20 Amazon Gift from them as well when you sign up for one of their paid plans!