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.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber, CJE, who retired at the end of May 2019 after 40 years as a classroom teacher, was a founding faculty member of Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts in Laredo, Texas, a school district free-standing magnet school program, in 1993. He founded the print journalism program and taught it for 26 years and added the creative writing staff to his 5th journalism block class for his final three 3 years of teaching. His former students produced The Magnet Tribune print and online newspapers and Revelations literary magazine. (The school’s publications program has since been terminated.) He stays active in scholastic journalism as a JEA-certified mentor and critique judge, a Texas UIL journalism events judge, and as a member of the JEA’s Mentor Committee.

Mark Webber has 12 posts and counting. See all posts by Mark Webber

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