Do you have a budding podcaster in your life? Do you have no idea what to get them this holiday season? Read on!
The USB microphone is a perfect gift for anyone curious about getting into podcasting. It collapses several pieces of equipment into one affordable package. We're recommending the RØDE NT-USB Mini, a condenser mic that offers a warm, clear sound. This wallet-friendly mic naturally rejects room tone, which is great for untreated home-recording setups. Bonus points: if your recipient turns out not to like podcasting, they'll still have a mic for Zoom and Skype—a must for this day and age.
Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
Anyone in the podcast space must have a pair of headphones for recording, editing, and mixing. For recording, the headphones must have a closed-back, over-ear form factor, for these minimize bleed. For this purpose, we heartily recommend the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones, which punch high above their weight for their reasonable price tag. The writer of this piece doesn't leave the house for a gig without a pair. Your podcasting friend shouldn't, either.
Not everybody likes a USB mic; they can be especially problematic if you need to use two microphones at once for recording guests. If your buddy wants to do an interview podcast, perhaps you should get them an audio interface. For a relatively small sum of money, the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 is a great choice. This interface can handle two microphones and a virtual loopback signal, as well, meaning your friend and a guest can have a chat, all while looping-in a third person over Zoom, Skype, or any other VoIP platform.
A horrid noise is the plosive, most noticeable in words that begin with hard consonants such as "p." Plosives can lead to audible distortions when recording. If someone uses a pop filter, however, those plosives often go away completely. A pop filter has the added benefit of being a great gift, since it's a small, ancillary item that no one would ever be excited to buy for themselves. We're recommending the Auray PFSS-55 Pop Filter, which does the job quite well. It has an adjustable gooseneck so the giftee can position the pop filter however is best. The spring-loaded clothespin-style clamp makes affixing the pop filter a cinch!
Speaking from personal experience, nothing makes you feel more like a real podcaster than a boom arm. What is it? It's a mic stand that affixes to your desk and can be moved about without creating a ton of handling noise. When you have one clipped to your desk, you feel like the real deal. A bonus: Mic stands are quite clunky, taking up way too much floor space. You eliminate this issue with a boom stand. We're recommending the RØDE PSA1, which boasts internal springs that allow for silent and effortless positioning. This is ideal for live recordings, because you wouldn't necessarily have to stop the proceedings while adjusting the mic.
If your "giftee" is serious about creating high-quality podcasts, they need software tools to cut out the more serious audible issues, such as clicks, pops, hum, and room noise. The latter is especially bedeviling to the budding podcaster: It takes a lot of room treatment and judicious mic technique to get a pro-sounding recording. Luckily, you can get them an editing bundle like iZotope RX Elements, which punches way above its price tag. This is a curated selection of the same tools the pros use every day. With this software in tow, your gift recipient can handle issues of room noise and power hum easily and quickly.
Desktop Headphone Holder
Headphones are useful to any podcaster, but they're cumbersome when not in use. They occupy valuable desk space, else they risk their utter demise under an unsuspecting foot or posterior. With a desktop headphone holder, you mitigate the problem of where to stow your headphones: You won't have to leave them on the desk all willy-nilly, where they take up undue space. Instead, you'll mount them on the underside of your desk, where they beckon you in a most professional manner. Consider the Gravity Stands Desk-Mount Hanger for Headphones. This unit is sturdy, cost-effective, and gets the job done. It even has cable slots to keep cords from tangling.
Whether your buddy uses an XLR cable with a traditional microphone, or a USB cable for their USB mic, they're going to need cables. Not just cables, but backup cables, which are essential for any self-respectable podcaster in the middle of an interview. Like pop filters, cables make great gifts: No one looks forward to shelling out their hard-earned cash on cables, yet one must do so at every turn. Did you know that B&H has an excellent cable finder? There, you can find nearly any audio cable under the sun. Innocently ask your buddy to describe their microphone, and in the torrent of exuberant tech-based gibberish that is sure to follow, you'll be able to suss out all the intel you need to get them the right cable.
There's a good chance your buddy uses a dynamic mic, like the Shure SM7B. There's also a good chance they use an audio interface that, while great, doesn't provide a preamp tailor-made for the dynamic mic's particular eccentricities. Dynamic mics require a lot of preamp gain for a healthy signal. Pros in the business have gotten around this issue by using a mic activator. It provides a clean gain boost, one free from noise, so that the mic can hit an interface's preamp at a stronger, healthier level. The net result? All gain, no noise. The device to beat in this category is the Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1. So don't beat it: Get it!
B&H Gift Card
It's likely your buddy already knows what to get. But with their own holiday shopping to execute, the funds might not be there. So you might want to give your friend the gift of freedom—and that's just what the B&H Gift Card promises. Sure, you can give them cash, but that's quite impersonal. With a Gift Card from B&H, you're saying, "I know you, friend. I know the kind of things you'd want to give to yourself, and I treasure you enough to give you the means for these things."
Have we helped you check off your podcaster gift list? Did we miss anything? Do any of these sound like they may end up in your own kit? Let us know in the Comments section, below!