In-person podcast recording seems a little daunting at first, but don’t let the equipment and setup deter you.
We thought it’d be helpful to have a checklist, detailing all the best in-person podcast recording equipment and setup. (If you’re looking for tips on recording a B2B podcast over distance, visit this guide.)
Thankfully, Jeremy Wellman, Sweet Fish’s A/V Manager extraordinaire, has gathered up all the equipment and setup tips you’ll need. We’ve categorized the gear into Good (affordable), Better (still pretty budget-friendly), and Best (pro-level quality).
Keep in mind that Good recording equipment includes gear we would use ourselves.
In-Person Podcast Recording: Table of Contents
- Digital Recorders
- Headset Splitters
- Surge Protectors
- Recording Environment
- Pros & Cons of In-Person Recording
In-Person Podcast Recording Software
We don’t necessarily recommend recording in-person interviews with your computer — it can get a little complicated with two or more people (we cover this more in Recording Environment). However, if you choose this route, you’ll need the right software.
In the case of recording software, you’ll have some quality freemium options (yay!). The type of software you choose will mainly depend on the kind of computer you use.
Best for iOS: If you use a Mac you’ll be able to access the free version of GarageBand and its add-ons (which you probably won’t need for podcasting). Download GarageBand here.
Best for PC: Using a PC for recording? We suggest using Audacity. It’s free and you can download it here.
Best of the Best: Adobe Audition is the pro-level option for Mac or PC. You can get it here for $20.99/month.
With any of these tools, you’ll be able to multitrack (record individual tracks), as long as you acquire the right hardware.
Pro Tip: Multitracking allows you to record two or more tracks — or voices in this case — edit them individually, and bring them together for a cohesive recording.
In Addition to Software
When you choose to use your computer (as opposed to a digital recorder) for recording an in-person podcast, you’ll need a few extras in addition to software.
USB Microphones w/ Available Inputs: Using your computer for in-person interviews requires at least two USB microphones, as well as the available USB inputs on your computer. In this case, we recommend the TONOR USB Microphone (Good), SUDOTACK PC Microphone (Better), or the Blue Yeti USB Mic (Best).
Digital Audio Interface: Instead of purchasing two or more USB mics, you have the option to use a digital audio interface, for which you’ll still need two mics (not USB). We recommend Behringer U-Control (Good), Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (Better), Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (Best).
You can see how recording in-person interviews with your computer can get a little dicey. We normally urge new podcasters to invest in a digital recorder.
And whattaya know — digital recorders are next in our checklist!
In-Person Podcast Recording Digital Recorders
We recommend using a digital recorder for in-person interviews in lieu of your computer. Digital recorders with at least two XLR inputs make it simpler to multitrack. Below are our recommendations for digital recorders.
Good: The Tascam DR-40X Four-Track Digital Audio Recorder is a quality piece of hardware for doing in-person interviews.
Better: The Tascam DR-60DMKII 4-Channel Portable Audio Recorder is designed for low-noise operations and fits snuggly under a DSLR camera rig.
Best: The Zoom H4n Pro is ideal for recording studio-quality tracks.
Along with your digital recorder, you’ll need to acquire an SD memory card. We suggest getting a 32GB SD card good for multitracking, like this one.
Additionally, you’ll need to get at least two microphones for in-person interview recording.
In-Person Podcast Recording Microphones
For in-person interview recording, you’ll need at least one extra mic, depending on how many people you’re interviewing at once.
[RELATED: Find out how to set up all the podcast equipment Sweet Fish sends our customers.]
The microphone Sweet Fish sends our customers includes both USB and XLR inputs, so it can be used with your computer or with a digital recorder. Here are some other mic recommendations:
Good: The FIFINE USB Microphone offers excellent sound quality and easy-to-use controls.
Better: Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone comes with a built-in headphone jack and a tripod desk stand.
Best: The AKG Pro Audio Lyra Ultra-HD mic comes with adaptive capsule array and on-screen appeal.
Most mics come with an XLR cable, like this one. But if your second mic doesn’t for some reason, you’ll need to purchase one.
In-Person Podcast Recording Headphones
Recording an interview in-person requires all participants to have their own headphones. Your guest(s) can bring their own, but it’s nice to have extras on hand just in case.
Here are some of our favorites:
Good: The Panasonic RP-HT161-K headphones are an affordable option for over-the-ear, no-mic headphones.
Better: LyxPro HAS-10 professional headphones boast several smart features that produce a balanced sound.
Best: Sennheiser HD280PRO headphones are made for professional monitoring applications.
It could also be useful to pick up a few cord extenders to give you and your guest(s) additional length from the recording device.
In-Person Podcast Recording Headset Splitters
A headset splitter allows two headsets to be plugged into one port simultaneously. So, two participants with headphones can hear themselves and each other clearly while only taking up one audio jack of the recording device.
Headset splitters are normally pretty inexpensive, so here are two made for 3.5mm jacks that we recommend:
If you want something more advanced than a headset splitter, you could look into getting a headphone amp.
For additional length and individual volume control, you can go with a headphone amp as opposed to a headset splitter. This is a more “pro-level” approach. Below are some headphone amps that we suggest:
Good: The Behringer Microamp HA400 is an ultra-compact headphone amplifying system made for studio and stage use.
Better: The Behringer AMP800 headphone amp provides the highest quality sound to virtually any type of headset.
Best: ART HeadAmp4 comes with 8 outputs and is ideal for any home or project studio.
Some amps — like our Good option — come with 6.35mm ports. Standard headphones come in two sizes: 3.5mm and 6.35mm.
Although your headphones might have an adapter that allows you to plug into either size, a 6.35mm Male to 3.5mm Female Headphone Stereo Audio Connector will help you switch between the two seamlessly. (And they’re relatively inexpensive.)
A Level Up
If you really want to level-up the recording experience for your guests, you could go with a Behringer MicroMON MA400 Ultra-Compact Monitor Headphone Amplifier.
This headphone amp allows your guests to adjust their microphones and the feed sent from the source. The drawback is that you need one for each participant as well as the proper cables for each.
In-Person Podcast Recording Surge Protectors
With all of the equipment needed to record in-person interviews, you’ll definitely need a surge protector to plug everything into.
Here are a few that we suggest:
Good: GE 6 Outlet Surge Protector is your standard power strip with a variety of cord lengths and twist-to-close safety covers.
Better: The Bototek Surge Protector comes with 10 AC outlets and 4 USB charging ports.
Best: The AiJoy Surge Protector Tower is designed to save space and comes with a 10ft extension cord.
Hate the look of a power strip with a billion cords tangled around it? We suggest one of these cable management boxes.
In-Person Podcast Recording Environment
Recording high-quality audio in a live setting with two or more participants is no easy task. It’s much easier to get individual tracks from participants over an online conferencing app.
There is good news though!
Setting up for an in-person interview is a lot simpler after you’ve done it the first time.
Setting Up Your Gear
For all the Sweet Fish customers out there, here’s a tutorial video from Jeremy, setting up all the nifty recording equipment we send you.
This video covers a lot of the setup you’ll be doing for your podcast. However, it doesn’t hit on the extra gear you’ll need for in-person interviews.
Recording an in-person podcast interview means you’ll need either your headphones to be set up to monitor the audio while you conduct the interview…
a third party to monitor the recording.
Jeremy warns self-monitors that it’s easy to have an entire recording go wrong when there was something simple that could have been detected by a third party in the beginning.
This brings up another key element to successful in-person recordings: DO A TEST RUN FIRST.
Make sure all your equipment is operating properly before you start the interview. ‘Cause that would really suck if you did a whole interview and then realized that a cable was loose.
Avoid Microphone Audio Bleed-Over
Maybe the biggest drawback of doing in-person recordings is dealing with audio bleed-over. Basically, because you’re in the same room as your guest, there’s a chance your voice will get picked up on their track and vice-versa.
There are several things you can do to avoid microphone audio bleed-over. First off, keep your distance.
Record at a distance: Try to get as much distance between you and your guests. You will likely need longer cables to do this. You could also try a cable extender, like this one.
Decrease echo: If you’re recording in a room with a lot of echo, you’re much more likely to have audio bleed-over. To decrease the echo, record in a room with a lot of furniture, drapes, etc. — things that absorb the sound. And, if possible, record in a room with non-parallel walls.
Dampen the sound: If you’re in a particularly resonant room, sound dampeners like these can help with the quality of the recording. Foam panels also help muffle any unwanted background noises.
Keep microphone gain LOW: A microphone’s gain is the breadth of sound it picks up. The higher you turn up the gain, the more area around the microphone that sound is picked up. So, keep the gain low and get close to the mic. (Gain isn’t a feature enabled by most video conferencing apps, but most digital recorders and recording software have it as an option.)
In-Person Podcast Recording Pros & Cons
You’ve probably realized by now that in-person recording is quite a bit more complicated than recording an online conference call. (Not to mention, more expensive.)
Even with the drawbacks, in-person podcast recording can be a really fun experience. And — as long as you have the proper equipment and know-how — an effective way of capturing high-quality audio.
If after going through this checklist you have any questions about equipment or setup for an in-person interview recording, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jeremy Wellman (Sweet Fish A/V Manager) or me, Logan Lyles (Sweet Fish VP of Customer Experience).