To coincide with this week’s launch of the IR Smartt Podcast, IR Smartt would like to give a little bit more information about the process we go through when creating content for an investor relations podcast. In particular, this post is aimed at giving readers an idea of the DIY podcast equipment you can use. We focus on both hardware and software that is used in the process. Throughout this post you’ll find links to the cheapest places to buy the equipment. If you’re asking yourself right now, ‘do analysts use podcasts?’ checkout the content strategy section of our blog.
This should be your first piece of podcasting gear. You’ll be using your computer to record, edit and store your earnings call podcast files on your Mac or PC. There are obviously other ways to record audio files, but for our mind a computer is essential.
Should you use a PC or a Mac? Either will do the trick. The Mac Mini is an interesting new product that is definitely worth a look. Try to stay away from Chromebooks as they don’t really have the RAM required. Otherwise, you’re pretty much good with any machine that’s running on 512 MB or better.
We currently have three machines in the office. 2 Macbooks (2011 and 2013) and a Macbook Air. They’re all great machines. We primarily use the 2013 Macbook as it has Retina display, more storage and if you want to try Video Podcasting, it also has HD recording from the webcam.
If you have a Mac Mini, you will need to add mic and headphones jacks since it doesn’t’t come with any installed. The easiest way to do that is with the Griffin iMic. This is a USB device that adds an in & out jack to your computer for very cheap. I have used it with my podcasting gear and it has worked well.
Be sure to keep about 2-3 gigabytes of memory free on your machine for recording. This is especially important if you want to store your audio files as anything other than an MP3 format.
Minimum requirements we suggest for podcasting with a Mac:
- Running OS 9 or X
- 512 MB RAM
- At Least 2-3 Gigabytes of Hard Drive Space
- In/Out or Mic/Headphone Jacks
Broadband Internet Connection
Seems like it should be a pretty basic investor relations tool, right? While the connection itself isn’t strictly-speaking Podcasting ‘equipment’, it is vitally important to the process. Most Broadband connections offer faster download speeds than uploads so be mindful of that especially if you’re on Copper wire connections.
Fortunately mobile and wireless connections are becoming fast enough to handle uploads of audio files. (Video is still a ways away). Your MP3 Podcast files will be big enough that uploading them with dial-up connections but devices like the one below offered by T-Mobile can definitely do the job if you don’t have home Internet.
There are a lot of nice microphones available for Podcasting. While you can probably start with your iPhone headphones to begin with, a solid Microphone might be the first piece of podcasting gear you want to upgrade when you decide to invest more money in your setup.
When you’re ready to make the leap to a higher-quality sound, we recommend going with the Apogee MiC pictured at the top of this blog post. This is a particularly high-quality product and it will plug in and work immediately on any Apple device, from iPad to iMac.
Headphones and Headsets
Editing Podcasts is best done with a set of headphones or a headset. This allows for more precision in the editing process. Headsets are a good choice since you’ll have both headphones and microphone combined. If you have a headset or plan to buy one, then you won’t need a separate mic and headphones. But beware, you’ll also likely not get the same recording and sound quality.
I somehow doubt many investor relations firms will be able to provide this for you. I’ve listed this as optional, but it can really make a difference in your sound quality. A pop filter is a screen that blocks or filters the popping sounds that are made when you say letters like ‘p’ when you speak into a mic. This is a common complaint about independent podcasters. They don’t use a pop filter and the sounds that result can be annoying to listeners.
I’m not talking about the little clown-nose looking foam cover that you sometimes see over mics. That won’t do the trick. This is just for wind noise. It’s easy to make one from stuff you already have or cheap enough to buy one. A pop filter is basically screen material stretched over a hoop that is held in front of the mic as you speak into it.
Although you can use Google+ Hangouts, GoToMeeting or even calling right from Gmail, Skype is still the best free way to make VOIP calls.
You obviously need a way to record and mix your podcast. GarageBand ’11 is easily the best software available for this. It’s simple, intuitive and starts right up with tutorials and guides for getting the most out of your recording equipment.
Here’s a list of the basic podcasting gear you need to get started:
- A PC Running Windows XP or a Mac Running OS 9 or X
- 512 MB of RAM
- 2-3 GB of Free Hard Drive Space
- Mic Input and Headphone Output on Your Computer
- Headphones or Headset
- Optional: MP3 Player
- Optional: Pop Filter
The above DIY podcast equipment consists of things that you probably already own or that you can buy for very little.