How to Create a Mobile Podcast Studio

How to Create a Mobile Podcast Studio

Have you ever thought about taking your podcast on the road? Have you wondered how you could record an episode somewhere other than your studio?

Podcasting is such an incredible way to share the stories of inspiring people. However, getting world travelers into your home-office, or onto a Skype call, can be difficult.

Podcast Studio

Photo Credit: rockmixer via Compfight cc

When I first started the Empowered Podcast I wanted to do things at the lowest-possible cost. My show started as a hobby, and I didn't want to sink a ton of money into something I wasn't sure about.

But, over time, my interests and abilities began to change. I transitioned from in-studio recording to a desire to get out and meet people in the world.

When I had dinner with Chris Cerrone a few months ago, I got inspired. Chris showed me how easy it could be to get quality audio on the go, outside of the studio.

After dinner, he and I headed out to the parking lot to record an episode for his show.

I was so inspired by the setup Chris had, I began my pursuit of creating a Podcasting Studio in a Bag. If you've been in search for the essentials for podcasting, you've come to the right place.

Podcasting Essentials:

  • Microphone(s)
  • Recording Device

Optional Items:

  • Stands
  • Windscreens and Pop Filters
  • Microphone protection
  • Video equipment
  • Extra memory card
  • Headphones

When it comes to creating a Podcasting Studio in a Bag, there are really only two things you need, a way to capture sound, and a way to record it.

Audio-Technica ATR2100

Click for larger image


The microphone I recommended in my ebook on how to start a podcast is the same microphone I recommend for your mobile studio. The Audio-Technica ATR2100.

Each of these microphones will cost you around $60. What makes them the best deal for the price is the accessories the Audio-Technica ATR2100s come with:

  • 1 shock stand
  • 1 XLR Cable
  • 1 USB Cable

When I went to my local Guitar Center, I found microphones in the $40-$50 range, however, they included none of those accessories. Plus, a 20′ XLR cable would cost me an extra $15.

I've always been biased toward the ATR2100 for the quality and everything that comes with it. If you'd like a comparison and other in-studio recommendations, check out my ebook.

ATR2100 accessories

These accessories come with all new ATR2100s. Click the image for a larger view.

If you buy two ATR2100s, you can plug them both into the bottom of your recording device and get high-quality audio on the go.

Recording Device

In my article, How to Create a Mobile Video Production Studio in a Bag, I suggested you could record from a lapel mic into your phone if necessary.

I tried to apply this same philosophy to my podcasting studio and it just doesn't work. There is no way to record from two microphones into one cell phone. At least not without expensive add-ons.

Additionally, when you record from two mics into two separate devices you have to mix them together later. When you do that, the chances of getting them out of sync are high.

To make things worse, you're starting with less-than-perfect audio in the first place.

Zoom H4n

Click for larger view

After months of research and testing different methods, I came to buy and recommend the Zoom H4n.

The Zoom H4n is a fantastic recorder. It has the ability to record from two external microphones as well as the two internal ones.

While the H4n does way more than I need it to do, it's a perfect fit for your mobile studio.

Here's why.

The two XLR inputs on the bottom of the H4n allow you to plug your two ATR2100s directly into the device. By plugging both mics into a single recording device, you don't have to worry about the audio getting out of sync and trying to fix it later. This is one of the biggest advantages of the H4n.

Zoom H4n bottom

Here is the bottom of the H4n with one XLR plugged in (left) and a 1/4″ adapter (right). Click for larger image

A competitor to the H4n, the Roland R-05 (which costs the same) does not allow you to connect XLR microphones to it directly. For that reason, I bought the Zoom H4n.

With two Audio-Technica ATR2100s and a Zoom H4n, you can have (almost) studio-quality audio on the go for around $320. While it's a little more than the $200 price point I advocated here, the mobile setup allows you to record in-person interviews.

You can download my Mobile Podcast Studio Checklist below

The Setup

When setting up your mobile podcasting studio, go with the simplest solution. I recommend connecting your microphones directly to the recorder via the two XLR inputs on the bottom similar to how it's shown above.

There are multiple ways to configure the H4n as well. Under Menu and Mode, you'll be able to select one of the options below.

In Stereo Mode, the H4n will record via either the onboard mics or the inputs on the bottom; not both. Once you plug-in via the XLR inputs, the mics will turn off. You can toggle between the two inputs using the input selector buttons on the front.

In 4CH Mode, you can record up to 4 channels. Essentially, you can connect two ATR2100s via XLR, plus record via the two built-in microphones. I'd use this to record two XLR microphones and a guest or two via the built-in mics. Since holding a mic and speaking into it takes practice, better you do it than your guests.

The MTR Mode, or multi-track mode, allows you to mix and overlay tracks. I've never used this and you should only use it if you know what you're getting into.

Before you start recording, press the record button once. When it starts blinking, you can see the sound levels of each microphone on the screen. Each mic should show its own channel.

Have each person talk into the mic for a sound check. If one of your mics is picking up more audio or needs less input volume (ie gain) you can adjust it on the right side panel.  When everyone's levels are about the same, hit “Record” again and you're recording your podcast!

In the end, you'll have something that looks like the picture below. Here's a picture of how I bring in my studio.

essentials for Mobile audio recording and podcast studio

Click the image for a larger look.

Optional Items

Stands – If you're sitting at a table for your live interview, you may want to bring along the stands that come with the ATR2100s. The rubber feet on the tripod help buffer against table bumps. The included stands are plastic and won't add too much weight to your bag.

Windscreens & Pop Filters – Whether you're recording outside or not, you're going to need to bring along a windscreen. These foam covers add almost no weight and help reduce unwanted noise. You can grab these for a few bucks on Amazon.

Microphone Protection – You just dropped $120 on microphones and you want to protect them, right? While I'd love to show you a great protective case to transport them in, I'd use a kitchen rag or an old t-shirt. Either should do the trick just fine and keep your costs low.

Video Equipment – While technically not part of your podcast studio, adding a video recording would be really cool as well. For more details on creating a mobile video production studio, read my post here.

Extra Memory Card(s) – Don't put yourself in the position of having to delete an existing recording to do your new interview. Get an extra memory card so you don't run out of space! You can grab a 16GB SD card that will hold several hours worth of podcast recordings for less than $20 on Amazon.

Now that you have all of the equipment, go out there and record your next episode! There's something uniquely awesome about recording live and in-person. You now have the gear to make it happen.

Need more than 2 XLR inputs?

Check out the Zoom H6! It has 4.

Question: What would you add to this list? What's in your mobile podcast studio? Share about your podcasting experience in the comments below!


You can download my Mobile Podcast Studio Checklist below


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  • The only thing missing would be some method to edit and distribute it, which presumably would be your laptop.

    Well written info though and the H4N with the XLR is definitely something to consider.

    • Ellory Wells says:

      Thanks Marshall! I try to no go into the editing to much on the types of posts as that can go down a rabbit hole quickly.

      I would really recommend the h4n. Do you have a preference of recorders?

      • Personally I use the R-05 for my recording but have put all my gear in to a rack that comes with me. It’s not light and not easy, but for the quality broadcasts we’re pulling off, it’s expected we show up with gear, even if it doesn’t get used. Perception is everything…but the content is good so that makes it even better.

  • Sam Loy says:

    Hi. Thanks for the info here. It helped me decide to get an ATR2100 and H4n. However, I’m having a few problems getting a “fuzz free” sound with my set-up. I also can’t seem to hold the microphone while recording as it is picking even the tiniest movements from knuckles. Do you have any tips for getting a close-to-broadcast quality sound with this set-up?

    • Ellory Wells says:

      Hey Sam! I’m glad this help =)

      I don’t know that you’ll be able to get audio that’s completely “buzz free.” You might be able to w/ more expensive set ups that have a leveling gate etc.

      Are you getting fuzz when recording via the XLR cable directly to the H4n? Or, via USB into a computer?

      I’ve found that XLR gives better quality than USB, so check that. Other than that, try running your audio through the “noise removal” tool inside Audacity or whichever audio-editing tool you use.

      Also, try using the tripod included w/ the ATR; the rubber feet should help and that way you wouldn’t have to hold it. When I record, I have a boom arm that I attach my ATR too.

      Let me know if this helps!


      • Sam Loy says:

        Thanks for the quick reply.
        My ATR2100 honestly seems to sound better going straight into my Mac via USB. A lot of the fuzz has gone. This indicates to me that the problem may be either with my XLR cable (I’m using the one that came with microphone), or the settings on my H4n. What do you find are the best H4n settings for voice recording?

        • Ellory Wells says:

          Hey Sam, you’re welcome. Thanks for your comments =)

          I still use my ATR-included XLR, but I’m sure they’re damage-able.

          I record in Stereo Wav at 44.1kbps I think that’s what it’s called. Wav is a lossless format whereas mp3 is a compressed which is what you’ll want to upload.

  • Hey Ellory… How would you use this with something like Boxjock studio? I’m currently digging in to see how this would work.

    • Ellory Wells says:

      Hey Christopher, thanks for stopping by. I searched for boxjock and got some interesting results regarding men’s athletic wear; I think you’re referring to Bossjock =)

      Bossjock is an app that mixes audio. I’ve never used it, but it is a popular option. If you want to do everything from a phone or tablet, it may be a good option. However, most of the pros will import the audio into a desktop computer.

      You’ll also want to make sure there’s a dedicated mic of some sort and you’re not just using your headset. I think Bossjock makes some, but there’s also iRig and others like the lav mic I mentioned above.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Good luck!

  • Tomás Pinto says:

    Hey Ellory! Thanks for the tips!

    Do I also need a pair of headphones to record out of a studio or is it unnecessary? If yes, which cable do I need to plug 2 headphones in the Zoom H5?

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