Podcast on a budget – Headphones and a headphone amplifier are key tools for a successful podcast

Headphones plug into this headphone amp through an output on the front, along with knobs and buttons to control stereo or mono, balance, treble, bass, and volume. Other outputs are located on the back of this particular model that allows for more sophisticated applications.

This is the second of a multipart series on podcasting for publication staffs.

A key item in audio production is headphones. Podcasters and their guests can receive immediate feedback and make corrections on the fly by using headphones.

A pair as inexpensive as the Behringer HPM1000 from Guitar Center allows for comfortable over-the-ear wearing and excellent sound quality as well as having a long-lasting piece of equipment of reasonable quality.

Here are reasons to wear headphones, compiled from our experience and online sources.

For podcast hosts, headphones allow for:

  • Adjusting microphone inputs (levels) on the audio mixer prior to starting the podcast
  • Improving one’s speech during the podcast, including whether speaking too loud or soft (volume), the position of the mouth relative to the mic, and how hard consonants (p or b, for example) sound
  • Hearing and adjusting for other sources of noise the mics are picking up
  • Adjusting audio levels that are too low or high during the podcast and making immediate adjustments, and
  • Monitoring guests’ speech volume and adjusting levels as needed.
  • For guests, headphones allow them to monitor their speech.

A headphone amplifier mixes audio inputs which allow participants to hear each other.

In this composite image the headphone amplifier is at left, while at right a portion of a mixer shows cables connecting the mixer and headphone amp.

We use an Art Headamp6Pro Professional 6-Channel Headphone Amplifier from Guitar Center.

It has ports for up to six headphones and allows for individual adjustment of volume, bass, treble, and balance for each headphone. It also has an overall volume level adjustment.

The headphone amplifier allows podcast participants to hear each other. It plugs into the audio mixer, as do the microphones.

For us, our setup allows up to four people to take part in a podcast (our mixer allows for up to four microphones), and for me to have access when guiding students in adjusting mixer audio levels before recording takes place.

To summarize the use of headphones and headphone amps, headphones allow for hearing what the mics are picking up, and headphone amps allow for mixing the audio of all participants during recording.

Remember, there are two important adjustments before recording: headphone volume adjustment and adjusting recording levels. The latter will be discussed in the next installment.

Next: Mixing audio in the mixer.

Media Now Summer Journalism Workshops Drake University and Webster University

Mark Webber

Mark Webber is a founding faculty member of Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts in Laredo, Texas, a school district magnet school program. He has taught print journalism all 26 years the school’s been open, and creative writing for 3. This is his 40th year as a classroom teacher. His students produce The Magnet Tribune print and online newspaper and Rumination Creative Writing Magazine.

Mark Webber has 5 posts and counting. See all posts by Mark Webber

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