I’ve been meaning to make videos about my audio and video recommendations for years, but they always seem to get pushed down the list. So I tend to just write new little gear snapshots like this and send them off whenever asked.
But as this one ballooned I figured I might as well turn it into a post for ease of use and to hopefully help others as well. It will obviously be refined over time to be a better read and will change as my recommendations evolve, but if you’re interested in starting a podcast or just leveling up your video and audio, here’s a good place to start!
All of these recommendations are premium level, but I also included top of the line options just for context as you’ll see different mics on Rogan and other podcasts, for example.
Rode PodMic – $99 (My Recommendation)
- Despite the low price point, this is my mic of choice and recommendation for anyone looking for a studio quality mic. It’s stellar, all metal, and, in my opinion, stands up against the SM7B for 1/4th the price.
Shure SM7B – $399
- This is the mic that you see on Rogan and almost every major podcast. Much of the reason is that people tend to follow the pack even when it’s overkill for their needs.
- It’s your classic studio mic used for decades, even on Thriller.
- It’s also notorious for its very low gain, so you need to have a Cloudlifter ($149) or some other preamp between it and the mixer.
- In my opinion, only serious audiophiles will be able to note any difference between this and the PodMic despite the price difference.
Rodecaster Pro II – $699 (My Recommendation)
- This mixer is the secret sauce of sorts to streamline production. You can configure audio processing on the board, use sound pads for live edits, etc. And it also exports at -16LUFs, which just means any recordings you make on this board are fully processed, normalized to a standard volume level, and ready to go the moment you’re done recording. This was my first major upgrade in terms of podcasting and I’ll never go back to processing in post.
- I have the original model, but the II is all around improved. There is a change worth noting when using it for Twitter Spaces or something through the phone, but that’s something I can walk you through if needed.
Elgato Wave XLR – $159
- I haven’t used this personally, but Elgato’s products are top notch. This isn’t going to record and process like the Rodecaster, but it will serve as the interface between your microphone and computer, which you’ll need with either of the choices mentioned above.
On my show I use the ZV-1 as the rear camera (over my shoulder) and the A7iv as the main camera pointed at me.
Sony ZV-1 – $698 (My Recommendation)
- The quality that you get out of this little thing is phenomenal. It may be a little less impressive now that phones have such good software processing, but there are advantages to having a proper camera in terms of low light performance and general optics.
- This camera can also be used as a webcam for Zoom and any sort of calls. But it is currently limited to 720p when used as a webcam. Typical HD is 1080p. It’s not a big deal for webcam stuff, but if you’re recording the videos on the computer rather than the memory card you may want a capture card. I do this for my show since I have Amara sitting in to do all the cuts in real time. The Elgato Cam Link ($99) is what you’d use for for full HD or 4K capture.
Sony A7iv – $2698
- This is way overkill and really only if you wanted to go all in on photos or video. I only mention it as I mention the SM7B mic. It’s sort of the gold standard of prosumer level cameras.
- This is the kind of camera where you’d be buying different lenses and things, so totally unneccesary, but I wanted to at least mention it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of lighting. In our episode I ran into a separate technical issue right before we started so I didn’t have time to get the lighting dialed in correctly, but in this episode you can see it better dialed in for my main camera. The rear camera actually wasn’t set right in that one either though…
So lighting. The specific light that you use isn’t as important as the softness it can provide. Usually that requires some sort of diffusion (a softbox, umbrella, etc), but Elgato makes some low profile lights that appear to do a great job without requiring additional diffusion.
Elgato Key Light – $199
Lighting is arguably more important than the camera itself and there’s a ton that I could dive into about lighting, but basically you just want it hitting your face around 45 degrees off center and 45 degrees above your eyeline. This gives you flattering shadows and shows your jawline. Many times when lighting is unflattering it’s either too low or not softened and just too harsh.
So I know this is a ton to take in all at once. And you absolutely don’t need to grab all of this to get started. Even just using a recent phone with soft lighting will provide excellent video results. And I could even recommend a wireless microphone that would keep things super compact, but I figured I’d lay it all out with a focus on audio and then we can take it from there!
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