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August 25, 2022  |  Electronics

Our tech expert explains why podcasting and streaming aren't as expensive as you think

Podcasting and video streaming products have become cheaper over the years. If you’ve wanted to create content but haven’t pulled the trigger because you’re afraid of what it will cost, now might be the time to take the plunge. We asked our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, a few questions to better understand what you need to start podcasting or streaming.

What you need to start a podcast

A quality microphone

The most important piece of equipment is a good microphone. If you plan on doing a podcast with a friend or interviewing guests, you’ll need to invest in at least two microphones. You can buy quality USB models for around $50.

Per Vazquez, “The big headline is that people figured out podcasting is easy. You can set up a high-quality podcast for one person for under $50 or with two people for under $100. If you’re putting together a podcast for fun, a $50 mic is more than enough. If you’re looking for sponsors, you may need to spend at least $250.”

Windscreens

Vazquez recommends investing in windscreens to improve the quality of your sound. Windscreens are the small pieces of foam you often see attached to the end of a microphone; they help eliminate the bursts of wind we produce when saying letters like “p” or “b.”

An isolator or portable studio

If you’re looking for top-notch sound, you may want to spend an extra $20-$40 on an isolator or portable studio. These foam enclosures are an affordable way to eliminate background noise.

Painter’s tape

Our expert also recommends using painter's tape to mark where and how you’re sitting when talking into your mic. The tape reminds you to keep a consistent distance between you and the microphone. Podcasters usually sit close to their mic to get a good-quality sound.

What you need to start streaming videos

A high-quality external microphone

You’ll want high-quality audio even if you are a video streamer. In most cases, the microphone built into your camera isn’t good enough. You’ll want to get a microphone with features similar to one you would use for podcasting.

A decent camera 

Depending on the quality you want, a decent webcam may be more than enough for your needs. You can invest in a budget single-lens reflex, or SLR, camera if you want great-looking content. According to Vazquez, many people overlook the fact that their phones have high-quality cameras and camera apps. “Some apps let you use your phone as your main video source,” Vazquez said. “It takes some administration in terms of setup, but don’t overlook your phone. Still, you’ll want to have something else recording the audio.”

Vazquez also recommends considering a GoPro camera. You don’t need to buy the latest model when considering a GoPro for video streaming. A GoPro 8 is more affordable than newer models and has everything you need for a great stream.

A good lighting setup

Another thing to consider is your lighting. You’ll need plenty of light in your recording room for the video to look crisp. Luckily, you can buy entry-level lighting solutions for less than $100.

How do podcasts and video streams make money?

If you plan on taking your content to the next level, you may be curious about how you can monetize it. In most cases, podcasts make money through sponsorships. If you plan to monetize your podcast, don’t feel like you have to find sponsors immediately. 

“Video streamers are a little different because there are a ton of options,” Vazquez said. “Some streamers go to sites like Patreon and get subscribers or set up their own thing on YouTube. For example, a whole community of woodworkers stream their projects on YouTube and have Patreon accounts. Some video streamers have sponsorships. Still, the answer that is relevant to the largest audience is Twitch.”

Twitch streamers monetize their content through paid subscriptions, donations and “Twitch Bits.” Twitch Bits are virtual units a viewer can purchase to “cheer” or otherwise support the streamer while they’re streaming. Every Bit purchased and virtually given to a streamer earns them money.

Budget podcasting and video streaming products our expert recommends 

Blue Snowball USB Microphone

This affordable microphone is simple to set up and a significant step up from your camera’s built-in microphone. It’s compact and easy to take on the go. It has an adjustable stand.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

This features multiple settings, including flexible cardioid, bidirectional and stereo pickup. The setup process only takes a few minutes, and it’s available in numerous colors. It’s an excellent step up from the Blue Snowball if you’re willing to pay a little more.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Great Lakes Sports 8-Inch Gray Foam Ball

Although this is designed for volleyball and soccer practice, many use it as a DIY isolator. It effectively eliminates most background noise. It’s significantly cheaper than buying a traditional isolator.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

TroyStudio Portable Sound Recording Vocal Booth Box

This is portable, which means you can podcast on the go. It does an excellent job of removing background noise. Additionally, it’s easy to use and available in two sizes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

GoPro Hero8

This is an excellent camera for recording 4K video. It’s compatible with a wide range of accessories. It’s compact and lightweight, and the touch screen controls are intuitive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam

This records 1080p video and has automatic light-correcting features that enhance the quality of your recordings. The build quality is top-notch, and the hinges are easy to adjust. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Razer Kiyo Pro Streaming Webcam

This 1080p webcam is easy to set up and features built-in lighting. It has an adjustable field of view, which allows you to experiment with what works best for you.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit

This straightforward lighting solution clips to the top of your laptop. It has easy-to-read brightness and color-temperature indicators. It significantly enhances the quality of your video for less money than professional lighting kits.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.