Ontario (California) - Hobbyists and professionals from all walks of life are trying their hand at making podcasts and it doesn't take thousands of dollars to get started. Speaking at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario California, Paul Figgiani, a Senior Production Engineer at GigaVox, told attendees that basic podcasting rigs can be bought for less than $100. But while the entry costs may be low, Figgiani warned that listeners today are much less forgiving of poor audio quality.
Paul Figgiani stresses the importance of good sounding podcasts
Figgiani took to podcasting as a second career after spending 21 years on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He produces his own podcast called "The Point" and also runs Podcastrigs.com, which reviews podcasting equipment and provides lists of equipment and software needed to start podcasting. In addition to his own podcast, Figgiani also edits and produces dozens of other podcasts every week at GigaVox.
Figgiani said that anyone could build a basic podcasting studio complete with a USB Microphone and free audio processing software for well under $100. "You have USB microphones out there that only cost $50 and the Audacity software is free," said Figgiani.
One benefit of starting off small is that cheaper hardware and software generally have less capabilities and features to deal with. Bare bones equipments significantly "lessens the learning curve" according to Figgiani.
But like any new endeavor, beginners are bound to make mistakes. Having variable audio levels is probably the biggest mistake podcasters make early in their careers. No one wants to turn up the volume on a very soft voice, only to have their eardrums blown out by a loud sound later in the podcast. While levels can be normalized with expensive gear, Figgiani showed attendees some cheap hardware and software tools to fix audio levels.
But if you want to seriously compete with radio stations be prepared to spend thousands of dollars in soundproofing, microphones and mixers. Some podcasters are spending upwards of $30,000 for broadcast quality sound studios.
Figgiani told us that "In the early days, where podcasting was more of a grassroots thing, people were absolutely more forgiving on poor audio quality." He adds that while there may have been just a few dozen podcasts in the beginning, there are now hundreds, maybe thousands of podcasts and sound quality is a big deal. "Podcasting is now part of the mainstream media and production quality matters if you want to set yourself apart and monetize them," said Figgiani.