We've designed our studio to work well with simple setups you might already use. Here are the broad setup options we see most hosts use successfully:
Best quality: USB microphone and any earphones
Intermediate option: A USB headset (has a microphone and headphones combined in one unit)
Guest option: Apple or Android earbuds (these have a mic built-in to the cable). This is the lowest-quality option but uses equipment you are likely to have on-hand. Make sure you know where the microphone is and hold it close to your face.
USB microphones are a practical choice for most podcasters because you can plug them directly into your computer (no need for a mixer, pre-amp, etc). If you are recording in a space by yourself, you can take advantage of USB mics. For headphones, you can use earbuds or headphones you have lying around the house. Hosts who want to record with co-hosts and guests in the same space should choose an XLR mic, mixer, and relevant accessories. In the future, we'll write a guide to these set-ups. Here are a few choices for USB microphones:
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver Edition ($120): The Yeti has many features (like a headphone jack) and it looks like R2D2. It's a popular choice. Pro-tip: Make sure the microphone stands at a 90 degree angle to the ceiling (it's a side-address mic), use books if you need to raise the stand to meet your face, and consider buying a pop filter.
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone ($145): Many podcasters we spoke to use this microphone. If you go with this option, make sure you purchase a microphone table or boom stand, as well as a pop filter.
Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone ($200 or $350 if you add the PSA1 Arm and PSM1 shock mount): The Yeti and the AT2020 are condenser mics. If you're recording in a subpar space, you might want to consider a dynamic microphone they record a narrower range of frequencies than condenser mics so less background noise is picked-up. Some would say that they prefer the richer sound of a condenser mic. You should think about your space and budget before you make a choice. The Rode Podcaster comes with a 10-year warranty from the manufacturer, has a built-in pop filter, and is a popular choice.
Headsets eliminate the need for you to buy headphones for your setup. Here are a few favorites from our community:
Smartphone earbuds (with a built-in microphone)
These are a great choice for HiFi guests because many people have these lying around their home. Make sure that the earbud has a built-in mic on the cable. Here are links to common earbuds: