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How to Start a D&D Podcast Part 1

If you're not familiar with recording audio, the idea of creating a podcast is undoubtedly extremely daunting. I mean, where should you begin?

If you already know the hardware skills and want to learn how to mix, host, and publish your podcasts into the ether, I'm going to post a part 2 when I have a little more time. Now, without further ado!


As an idea of the different levels of financial investments based on how serious you are, the following recommendations are of the products that I have owned personally, tried, used, and preferred.

Ultimate Beginner: $0

  • *Handphone microphone with in-app recorder

On-the-go Hobbyist: $250~

Solo Podcaster/Streamer: $500~ (excluding a desktop/laptop)

Semi-Professional Portable Setup: $2000~


To record audio, you need an instrument to do so. I would bet that right now, you're holding a recording device just as powerful as the first microphone I bought; your handphone. Pull out your built-in recording app and record away. It's really that simple.

And for a budding podcaster, this would be enough. Plug your handphone into a charger, and put it where the mic is facing everyone and the surface will not be bumped. The first few episodes/sessions are going to be rough, for sure. But if you've never done this before, your focus now should be working on content, not on the quality of your audio.

Of course, if you want to up your game, and I imagine you would want to eventually, you will want to invest in some sort of microphone.


All you need to know is that microphones come in 2 flavors: Dynamic and Condenser microphones. Their differences, in simple terms, are below.

Dynamic Microphones

Condenser Microphones

Less sensitive

Extremely sensitive

Short directional pick-up

Multi-directional pick-up

Good for single audio source

Good for multi-audio source

Good for noisy background

Good for vocal nuance

If you're doing a podcast, chances are you're going to be talking and doing so in a relatively quiet space. And bang for the buck, you will find yourself needing a condenser in more situations than a dynamic mic.

USB < 3.5mm < XLR

Microphones come with different connection types. The type of connection generally gives you an idea of how good to sound you get will be. Typically (not always), you will find that the following is true for the connection type:

USB < 3.5mm < XLR

But the truth is, connections are vessels for microphones. The true quality comes from the microphone, and the connection type sets its limits. Dedicated USB microphones are extremely powerful today. Not to mention, every laptop/computer has a USB slot, and USB microphones become very versatile. As a beginner who just started exploring the space, picking up a good USB microphone is the best option considering the quality difference is probably imperceptible from an XLR interface with a similarly priced microphone. It depends on what fits your needs.

As an idea of where I started, I originally planned to do video game voiceovers and streaming from my laptop, so a USB mic was exactly the footprint I needed without having to lug around extra equipment.

I searched around online and decided to buy the Blue Yeti (mine was silver, the black had cost more). It had a USB port, but no XLR port. I didn't think I needed one then.

In fact, you can see that very setup with the blue yeti sticking out the bottom of the video in one of my acapella sessions. The Blue Yeti had 3 condensers, and the ability to record directional cardioid, bi-directional, and omnidirectionally, which was a great boon in many circumstances where it was your only dedicated mic and you have multiple people singing from different locations.


Microphones tend to just be the device to pick up audio. You still need an interface to receive the audio. An interface that most people would have is the laptop. As explained previously, I hooked up my Blue Yeti to my laptop, which internal sound card and software acted as my interface. If you were curious, the software I used was Audacity.

Of course, this means most setups won't be portable. You'd have to lug your laptop around just to record semi-decent audio all the time. It's just not sustainable. Enter the Zoom H4N.

The Zoom H4N is essentially an all-in-one solution to all my woes. It checked every box I needed at the time of purchase:

  • Condenser microphone

  • Record in a variable 90 or wide 130 degree arc

  • Record on-board device through an SD card

  • Multi-track recording

  • Record in .wav, which is an uncompressed sound format, assuring high quality sound

  • Contains 2 XLR or 1/4" jacks, supplying phantom power.

  • Audio jack for monitoring sound

  • Ran on batteries

This was the perfect multi-track, ultra-portable, ultra-high-quality recording device. It even provided 2 XLR or 1/4" ports and supplied phantom power!

Side note: Not advisable to run phantom on battery and record hour-long sessions.

The extra ports also meant that if I had my own microphone which was better than the in-built microphone, I could use those instead, and they would be recorded on a separate channel. More on multi-track later.

For the most part, when I first purchased this, I did not care for the multi-track capabilities. To give you a quick idea, my first podcast episodes were all recorded on the H4N kept equidistant as much as we could from every speaker, in my bedroom.

We would go on to record our sessions anywhere we needed to, from different people's houses to hotel rooms and the like. With a smaller equipment footprint, and all the necessities bundled in a single device, we could focus on playing.


My setup would serve me well for some time. It was enough for a non-professional, LITERALLY recording from my bedroom, for posterity purposes that I had for the podcast. I only put these up for my friends and me to listen to.

However, unlike singing, we would not be huddled up around the microphone balancing our voices. We'd have chips, sheets, minis, books, and an assortment of miscellaneous things scattered about the play area. We'd shout and whisper from different positions. We'd get tired, shift around, lie back, jump up to use the toilet. It was a gaming session, not a recording session.

This caused many problems in the mixdown.

  1. Uneven voices: Because our positions constantly change during a game session, there was no way anything in the final mix was balanced. Someone would shout too close to the mic, someone would be eating chips during an important conversation, and someone would whisper too far away. While we all heard it, the mic sure as hell did not pick it up.

  2. Ambient noise: Because the omnidirectional mic picks up everything, EVERYTHING was picked up. The rustling of sheets, coughs, table banging, eating... EATING. There is so much extraneous noise that gets added into the mix sometimes it becomes almost unbearable.

  3. Crosstalk: Part of D&D is the crosstalk during sessions. We're friends outside games and we talk about our lives or share stories that are completely irrelevant to gaming. We eat, laugh, chill, and talk nonsense half the time. D&D is about hanging with friends while doing something. It is the central thing we do, but it's really more about hanging out for us.

So, here was the crossroads for me. Should I...

A: Work on creating a professional podcast environment, centering the group around playing the game and recording properly. This would involve sound dampening the environment, proper mics on stands with pop filters, a multi-track recorder with individual headphones for balancing, and a lot more technical knowledge to impart to my players.


B: Work with what I have, aim to create the best possible audio in the scenario, preserving the friendship time and chatting and nonsense that we, casual D&Ders, are looking for.

And I think this is an important distinction. If your group wants and is seeking to record a professional-level D&D podcast, this isn't necessarily for you. For me, I value my time with friends and the safe, friendly environment that we have gaming casually. I did not want to make this "work" or a "commitment" for them. If a player dips out for a few sessions, so be it. If we end up chatting for hours and get only half an hour of usable footage in, so be it.

I value the time spent with my friends more than creating a proper podcast environment.


The solution was simple - multi-track recording. I did this in my day job so I was plenty familiar with the concept. Multi-track recording is simply recording multiple sources at the same time. This will require a much heavier mic investment (and a solution for holding or keeping the mics) as each source requires its own microphone.

The beauty of multi-track is that it is synced, yet separate. You can balance soft and loud voices so all voices come out in the master mix at equal volume. You can EQ and tune each track, and highlight specific tracks in specific places. Basically, you have full control of the sound.

And if you're smart about it, you can get mics that have narrow fields of pick-up, allowing you to record isolated sounds. This allows you to cut out chewing, crunching, sneezing, coughing, and anything unwanted in between, including ambient noise

Ambient noise. At full "room silence", the space reverberates and generates its own type of baseline noise called ambient noise. Each mic will pick up its own ambiance, and if you run an ambient pass on the individual track itself, you can get even cleaner results.

So in comes the multi-track recorder. The first one I got (because I was a Zoom fanboy), was the Zoom R24.

Look at that beauty. Battery or AC, 24 tracks, 8 simultaneous tracks in full WAV, supplying phantom power to each 1/4" + XLR port. Internal mixers, with full EQ and mixing capabilities.

Phantom Power. Some mics require additional power to run. The mixer itself supplies power to the individual XLR slots to power the mic, which is what is called Phantom Power.

This bad boy served me well. There was a drum kit thing that I never used, but boy did this thing churn out exactly what I needed. The interface needed some getting used to, but nothing an instruction manual and Google didn't solve straight away.

Group size is a concern here. The 8 track recorder was important because we had a max party of 5, including me the DM, 6. Sometimes we have guests, which are the girlfriends, and that would bump the mic count up. Depending on your group size, your microphone count will increase. The microphones that I got with this bad boy were some cheap Amazon-ready XLR microphones, the Movo LV4.

I bought 8 of them, just in case of breakdowns. They were XLR-connected, long, and clipped. We could stretch, move, lay back, flay about, and the mics would stay clipped to the front of our shirts. This was great mileage for the quality we produced while preserving our D&D sessions.


Remember I said I had problems with the interface? Mostly user error, but sometimes it'd turn red and the numbers would start running, but it wouldn't record. Sometimes, I'd turn the wrong channels on, or not remember to supply phantom power, and this would screw the recording.

Other times, the AC would trip, or someone would literally trip over the cables and rip the AC cord out. With 6 or 7 wires running around the room, on top of all our D&D gear, it'd be an inevitability.

Luckily, I still had my H4N, and I could sit it in the corner, recording at a 90-degree angle. We would do a slate pre-recording, allowing me to sync the recording in post, allowing me to have a simple mixdown in case anything happened to the main recording.

A slate is a term in production where someone uses a clapper board to sync the video with the audio in a single CLAP. Visually syncing the clapper board closing with the loud snap in the track allows for a clean sync between audio and video. In this case, I synced the mixdown's clap with the clap from the multi-tracks.

This way, even if something did happen, I could always fill it in with the H4N until hopefully I realized my mistake and started recording properly. It didn't happen often, but when it did, I was sure happy I had a backup.

And that covers everything about the hardware. It's time to go to Part 2, where I talk about everything from software to post-production!



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