Skip to main content

    What the experts use: Andrew Marino’s podcasting gear

    What the experts use: Andrew Marino’s podcasting gear

    /

    Microphones, DAWs, and other podcasting tools

    Share this story

    If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

    Photo by Andrew Marino / The Verge

    Audio media has been an important part of our lives ever since the first news reporters crackled their way into homes in 1920. For a while, it was assumed that visual media and then the internet would be the death of audio-only entertainment, but it turned out that this obit was premature.

    Podcasting has brought new popularity to audio. From book readings to investigative reporting to political opinion to interviews to theatrical productions, podcasts offer a wide range of entertainment and information.

    Andrew Marino has worked on podcasts and videos at The Verge for five years. He records, edits, mixes, publishes, and produces The Vergecast and has worked on other past Verge podcasts. He also helps with recording, mixing, and sound design for both of The Verge’s YouTube channels. 

    And what’s even better: podcasting is a creative form available to anyone who has a computer, a microphone, and an internet connection. We spoke to Andrew Marino, audio engineer and producer at The Verge, to find out what he recommends for those who want to try this out as well.

    What follows are Andrew’s thoughts about podcasting and the tools he prefers to use.

    What you need

    There have been a lot of different ways people have developed podcasts, since a lot of them start out at different levels. At its heart, it’s an independent DIY media platform, although more recently it has been co-opted by larger media companies coming from radio backgrounds. 

    What you need to start with is a microphone and an audio interface (a way to record your audio directly into your computer). Once your podcast is recorded, you’ll then need a digital audio workstation (DAW), which is the software you’ll use to edit, mix, and export your podcast. You should also have some knowledge of microphone tech, recording, editing, and mixing to make your show sound its best.

    Microphone 

    Electro-Voice RE20
    Electro-Voice RE20
    Photo: Electro-Voice

    You mostly want a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. This means it’s a directional microphone that focuses on picking up what’s directly in front of it (your voice) and attempts to reject everything else (the rest of the sound of the world). 

    The digital-to-analog converter (DAC) built into USB mics is typically not as good as a standalone audio interface, so as a professional, I tend to stay away from USB mics when I can. It also limits you to one input, whereas a more professional microphone is not attached to a DAC, allowing you to plug it into any microphone input, from a USB interface to a sound board at a live venue.

    I have an Electro-Voice RE20; there’s also the RE27. It’s a typical dynamic microphone — it pretty much carried over from radio to podcasting. It’s best for voice recording. I went to school for music, so we used it a lot for recording a drum set, but if you go into any radio studio, you’ll see either an RE27 or a Shure SM7B. A lot of podcasters use the SM7B, but it requires a preamplifier (like this one) for optimal signal level. The RE20 and RE27 don’t necessarily need that.

    When I’m out in the field, I’ll use a shotgun microphone: a long condenser that can pick up sources from farther away. A lot of people use a large condenser mic for narration or vocals in songs and music, but it should only be used in a controlled environment like a studio.

    Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Announcer Microphone with Variable-D /

    Dynamic microphone

    $399 at Amazon

    Audio interface

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
    Photo: Focusrite

    We’ve been giving our podcasters at Vox Media who record outside of our studios a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. It’s pretty affordable and durable, with a metal casing. This USB interface offers two microphone inputs as well as outputs for monitors; you can plug any analog mic into it. There are tons that do that, but the Focusrite has a good price for the quality.

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 /

    USB audio interface

    $160 at Amazon

    Editing

    Adobe Audition
    Adobe Audition

    The next step after recording your podcast is the editing phase. Even the most minimal podcast requires some editing to take out unnecessary space, add music, balance levels, and fix any other mishaps in the recording process. To do this, most people use software called digital application workspaces or DAWs.

    There are many DAWs you can use to edit your podcast; in fact, you may have used a DAW to record your podcast. I still sometimes use a free, open-source software called Audacity to do quick audio edits, and it’s very popular among DIY podcasters. 

    Audacity was the first software that I used when I got into editing because it’s free and it’s very flexible. It has many built-in effects and controls that you can use just by downloading it, such as change pitch, compression, equalization (EQ), and multitrack editing. It’s not as flexible as other software, but you can still edit a whole podcast with it.

    But while some DAWs are free, the ones you pay for tend to offer more detailed editing tools and better-sounding effects. I am able to work faster, more efficiently, and am more flexible when I’m using a more professional DAW like Avid Pro Tools or Adobe Audition.

    I use Avid Pro Tools for recording, but for editing, I mostly use Adobe Audition. In my experience using both DAWs, the workflow is faster for importing and mixing clips, and editing is significantly more efficient. Pro Tools is based more on an analog system for music and preferred among a majority of my colleagues, but for long-form podcasting, I’m going to use Audition.

    I would also recommend using some audio software plug-ins to help with the mixing process. A big part of podcast mixing is adjusting and controlling the levels of everyone’s microphones. The company Waves offers some affordable bundles and individual plug-ins for dynamic compression, equalization, reverb, pretty much any sort of modulation you want.

    Something I’ve been using a lot this year is iZotope’s RX 7 audio repair software (they’re up to version RX 8 now). Since everyone — including the hosts on our shows — are recording at home, it’s sometimes hard to control the audio environment remotely. I do a lot of “de-noising” to take out air conditioning noise, street noise, etc. I also use “de-plosive” (watch your “P”s) and “de-clipping” (watch your levels), which have brought the quality of the recordings up to our standards. 

    Avid Pro Tools /

    Digital audio editing software

    From free at Avid

    Adobe Audition /

    Digital audio editing software

    $240 annually at Adobe

    iZotope RX 8 Standard /

    Audio cleanup and restoration

    $299 at iZotope

    Distribution

    Feeder
    Feeder
    Photo: Reinvented Software

    For the most part, podcasts can be distributed through the magical world of an RSS feed. It’s an older tech in internet terms, but one of the few mediums that still really takes advantage of the open web, which is why I love it. When a listener uses a podcast app, that app usually grabs the feed from your RSS, which contains audio files from your show as well as other data like your title, album art, description, etc. 

    For my personal podcast, I set up an Amazon S3 server and edit the feed through an RSS editor called Feeder, which is pretty bare-bones. I chose this simply because it was the cheapest option. You’re paying for server space, so if you’re starting a podcast and you don’t have a lot of listeners, you’re paying almost nothing to host the podcast. However, you have to be a little technical savvy and it’s not automatically secure. Podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple recommend your hosting server support SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which allows you to generate an HTTPS RSS feed.

    If you want something more user-friendly, there are other services that operate servers for podcast RSS feeds and let you simply upload your audio and relevant information; your podcasts will be published to the various podcast platforms. They also offer services like analytics and monetization. Some popular hosting services include PodBean, Spreaker, Anchor, and Libsyn.

    Feeder 3 /

    Publish RSS feeds

    $50 at Mac App Store

    Final advice

    Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the rest of the industry. Podcasting is still in its infancy and was meant for the people. Anyone can make a show and that’s wonderful! Make your show about what you want to make it about and don’t worry about trying to sound like other shows. It’s a wonderfully creative medium and you should take advantage of it.

    Today’s Storystream

    Feed refreshed 22 minutes ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

    E
    Twitter
    Emma Roth22 minutes ago
    There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

    Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

    During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.


    E
    Twitter
    Emma RothTwo hours ago
    Missing classic Mario?

    One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

    Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


    Asian America learns how to hit back

    The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

    Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
    R
    External Link
    Russell BrandomTwo hours ago
    The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

    The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


    R
    Youtube
    Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
    Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

    Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

    Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


    E
    External Link
    Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
    Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

    Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

    The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


    A
    External Link
    Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
    Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

    Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


    J
    James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
    Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

    And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


    Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
    Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
    J
    The Verge
    James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
    Deepfakes were made for Disney.

    You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

    Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


    E
    External Link
    Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
    Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

    “An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


    R
    The Verge
    Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
    Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

    City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

    They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


    R
    The Verge
    Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
    Green light.

    Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

    Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


    D
    David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
    Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

    “Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”