how I podcast

Over the last few months I have been getting questions from people about how I podcast, what equipment/programs/services I use. I wanted to write up a post detailing all of that.

First-if you are thinking about podcasting, the answer is YES. You should absolutely jump into this. If you are in ministry, I think it is an imperative to explore the format. Ask yourself the question “How can I greater influence people in my community with a podcast?”

My Podcast Toolbox

Podcasting is a pretty basic enterprise. All you need is something to capture the sound (mic and a recorder) and something to edit (software). Let me show you a cheap way to get into it (cheap), what I use and then I will let you know what the pro’s use.

Many people start out with a USB microphone and a free audio program called Audacity. Just plug it into your computer and start recording. If you have a Mac, with GarageBand, I still recommend Audacity. It is that much better. Here are a few options for a USB Microphone.

Blue Yeti
Blue Snowball
Audio-Technica ATR2100 (This is the HOT podcasting mic right now. It actually uses both USB and XLR)

What I Use:
I spent several years doing professional sound engineering and I even dabbled in opening up a recording studio. After my first few podcast episodes, I knew I needed to step up my game. What I currently use is a modified version of the “Ravenscraft Rig” (which I will link to below).

SM58 Microphone. This is the industry standard vocal microphone. For podcasting, a dynamic microphone (vs. a condenser) works much better. Many USB microphones are large diaphragm condensers. They work great for singing, guitar playing, etc…but not for spoken word.

Soundcraft mixer. I plug my microphone and iPad into the mixer. If I do a Skype interview, I also route the audio through the mixer. (NOTE: you need to order have a mixer with inserts for compression.)

Behringher Compressor: This is the secret sauce. I run my microphone and the outputs of the mixer through the compressor. It levels out my audio and gives it a broadcast punch.

Tascam Recorder: This is a flash based hard disc recorder. It records everything that goes through the mixer. It allows me to do the Productive Pastor “live”, with little to no editing needed in post-production. (EDIT: I recently bought the Zoom H6N. It was a substantial upgrade, but I produce so much different audio I needed the flexibility. If you want to get into the cadilliac of hard disc recorders-I highly recommend it. It can record 6 tracks at the same time, has AMAZING onboard microphones and can function as a stand-alone audio interface connected to a computer.)

I use my iPad to play all of the audio clips during both shows. It helps me make a seamless recording instead of tons of audio edits.

Software: Currently, I use Adobe Audition for final mastering and mp3 exporting. You could just as easily use Audacity.

When I record an episode of The Threshing Floor, I record my audio through my podcast rig. The other hosts use different options and send me a file with just their audio. I mix them all together in Audition and export the final mp3.

Hosting: I use Libsyn for both shows. For a minimal amount of money, Libsyn hosts the files and sends them to iTunes. There are other ways of doing this, but I love how Libsyn doesn’t limit the amount of downloads. If 1 podcast is downloaded or 1,09987,0987234,9007932, it costs me the same amount of money. They also offer a great embed code for the blog posts.

If you just want to produce a sermon podcast, I still recommend Libsyn. Just upload your sermon file instead of an individual show.

The Pro Rig:
You might be wondering how you can make podcasting more complicated than the equipment I just outlined! The fact is, it really isn’t. Professional podcasters use almost the same setup, just with nicer microphones and mixers. Cliff Ravenscraft (the Podcast Answer Man) uses and sells a very similar setup. I just modified it a little bit and I think I am getting around 85% of the quality the pro’s get, for a fraction of the cost. The great thing is, I can add piece by piece and slowly upgrade my whole setup.

This is what I use to podcast. If you have any question-feel free to ask!