Essential equipment for a professional radio station
A short guide to taking your sound to the next level
Your first foray into the world of radio broadcasting will require only the simplest of setups: a computer, a microphone and a radio broadcasting platform. This is enough to get you a basic foothold on being a radio broadcaster, but if you want to take things to the next level and start to sound truly professional, you should consider augmenting your setup with some supplementary equipment.
Here at PlayIt Software, we’ve written a handy guide to the essential pieces of equipment that you need to give your radio station a professional feel.
Most people have some form of microphone, whether that be a headset with a built-in mic, or a mic built into your laptop or desktop, but these will only offer you a low sound quality. That might be okay for a radio station with very few talking pieces, but if you’re interested in using live voice as part of your radio, you need an external mic to get a rich, professional-quality sound.
There are two main types of mics to consider - Condenser and Dynamic.
Condenser mics are generally used for talk radio and podcasting, and are high quality, providing a bright and clear sound. They do, however, require a power source, and are quite delicate pieces of equipment, thus are not suitable for use with anything that produces high-pressure sound waves, such as drums and electric guitar amps.
Dynamic mics are sturdier and more reliable than condenser mics due to their construction, and do not require a power source, allowing for portability. They also cope well with high-pressure sound waves such as those generated by drums. Consequently, they are the type of mic used for live performances and other events. If you have considered having a band playing in your studio, or introducing some exciting, but unpredictable sound as part of your show, this is the type of mic you need. Bear in mind that although resilient, they are not as sensitive as condenser mics.
Mic stands are essential for protecting your microphone and keeping it in a safe, stable position for recording, allowing you to reposition your mic without touching the microphone itself, as well as protecting it from wear and tear; particularly important to consider when using condenser mics. Mic boom arms are a great choice as they also provide you with much-needed table space for all your other equipment, but bear in mind that they tend to be quite pricey.
You will want to choose your mic stand or boom arm carefully and make sure you can get the best you can get for your budget – remember that this piece of kit is keeping your precious mic from getting damaged, and a good quality boom will last a lifetime. The last thing you want is to be diving for your mic as it drops because your stand or boom arm falls over easily or doesn’t hold the mic tightly enough.
An essential for talk radio and podcasts, pop filters are mic stand attachments, positioned about 2-6 inches from the microphone, that eliminate harsh noises and air blasts from speaking, e.g. plosives like b, p and t. It also prevents saliva from hitting the microphone. These are a great, and potentially low-cost way of dramatically increasing the quality of your voice output.
Generally, these are made from either a woven material or metal. Pop filters made from woven materials like nylon are cheap, however they are prone to wear and tear, and might be difficult to clean. Metal pop filters on the other hand are far more durable, though more expensive. Additionally, metal pop filters usually have a larger mesh pattern which should, in theory, have a lower effect on high frequencies.
Mic processors and preamps take all the hard work out from making your voice sound great. It gives you a professional studio quality to your sound, helping eliminate the need for soundproofing, de-essing, editing, tinkering with levels and much more.
Over-ear headphones are necessary to help you hear how your radio show sounds to listeners. Using headphones will allow you to monitor the audio to make sure your setup is working properly and pre-listen to songs or other sounds to merge with your live broadcast.
Another great reason for using headphones is to prevent any audio feedback, AKA the Larsen effect.
While earphones can do a decent enough job, a quality pair of headphones will give you a much better-quality sound and is far more practical.
This is essential if you have many sound inputs that you need control over. Mixer decks will allow you to connect, for example, multiple microphones, headphones and a computer. The ability to control sound levels for each input with a physical deck will make life much easier.
Bonus: All-in-one Radio software solution - PlayIt Software
PlayIt Software offers a wide range of radio solutions to complement your physical radio setup, from complete automated radio playout management in PlayIt Live, to PlayIt VoiceTrack for remote voice tracking and pre-recording and PlayIt Cartwall for one-touch audio players.
Our products are packed with features to help streamline radio broadcasting and are trusted by many radio stations around the world.
Make sure to check out the rest of our website at playitsoftware.com to explore our products, and reach out to us if you need a quick tour of what we can do for you.