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Emma Bostian ✨
Emma Bostian ✨

Posted on • Originally published at compiled.blog

Lights, Camera, Action! My Tech Setup For Recording Courses && Podcasts

Earlier this week I posted a couple of tweets regarding my new camera and lighting setup! Many people were interested in what technologies I use to record online courses and podcasts so I’m here today to share all of the details!



People asking me to post my setup

As a quick note, I am NOT a tech equipment expert. In fact I was advised to buy this specific equipment by trained professionals who have created online content for years.

I also want to explicitly note that this equipment is EXPENSIVE. I understand that many of you are not able to afford most of this equipment and for that I apologize. Where possible I will recommend more affordable equipment but the reality of it is that if you want the best quality content you have to spend some money.

Some of this equipment was provided by work, but the camera, lights, adapters, tripod, camlink, and keyboard I purchased myself. It was painful for me to spend the money but I keep reminding myself that this is a business expense and it will pay off in the long-run.

Also remember that this is my setup and yours could look completely different! I haven’t tried a ton of equipment variants so I am a bit biased in my reviews. I advise you to do your own homework and research the best solutions that fit your budget. You don’t have to purchase all of the equipment at once; you can accumulate it over time!

Please don’t judge me for the cat hair and fingerprints on my equipment. I ain’t got time to clean that shit everyday. With that, let’s jump right in!


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Keyboard

Okay I’ll admit, I have a keyboard problem. I’ve tried a bunch of different keyboards in all different price ranges and every time I see a fun new keyboard I have an overwhelming desire to purchase it.

I recently backed the Keychron K3 Ultra Slim Compact Wireless Mechanical Keyboard and am very much looking forward to receiving that in the mail someday.

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The keyboard I’ve been using for a long time is the Mini Ducky Frozen Llama keyboard.

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This keyboard uses the Cherry MX mechanical switches, which means it’s not as deafeningly loud as other mechanical keyboard switches (so your coworkers won’t hate you as much).

While I love this mechanical keyboard and find it both aesthetically pleasing and easy to type on, I have some issues with it.

First, this is a Windows OS layout and while many of the keys map to Mac OS, I still find it a bit hard to use as the command and option keys are swapped from the Mac layout.

You’ll also notice that I don’t have an up-arrow key. This is because the Frozen Llama keyboard is a 60% layout, meaning it doesn’t have all the keys.

When I received the keyboard it didn’t have any arrow keys, but I re-mapped the keyboard and replaced the keycaps on the right-hand side to use the shift key as the up arrow. This poses issues when I try to use the right-side shift key and instead get an up-arrow.

This keyboard isn’t wireless which means it adds to the spaghetti nightmare of cables on my desk. Not a huge fan, but not a dealbreaker.

Lastly there is no back tick (`) / tilde (~) key which makes coding a freaking nightmare. There are keys on the Ducky keyboard which map to these characters but in all honesty I have no idea what they are and end up using my Mac keyboard when I need to insert those characters.

I paid about $99 for this keyboard off of mechanicalkeyboards.com and it took a few weeks to arrive. I probably wouldn’t re-purchase this. While it’s great it’s a bit impractical and I’d opt for something with a wider layout.

Laptop Stand

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I use the Twelve South Curve laptop stand and I absolutely love it. I received this stand through work but it retails for about $50 give or take. I would 110% recommend this stand and purchase it for myself if something bad happened to it (but let’s hope it doesn’t).

Mac Adapter

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If you have a MacBook then you understand the f*cking struggle of not having enough holes to plug your shit into (sorry for the profanity, I feel very strongly about this). And when you’re expanding your tech equipment you’re gonna have a lot of shit to plug in.

I’ve used this Mac adapter for years and really love it. I don’t know the exact brand but I did buy it off of Amazon. Here’s a comparable model that runs about $24.99.

If you’re going to be using a 4k monitor, be sure to have a 4k HDMI port (the one I linked above does). For all of the equipment I use, I need three USB ports and a 4K HDMI port but if you have a wireless keyboard you won’t need the third USB port (so the link above should work, and no it’s not an affiliate link although maybe it should be).

Monitor

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I use the Dell Ultrasharp 27” monitor. I’ll just come out and say it: this shit is expensive retailing at over $400. I absolutely love this monitor but if it wasn’t provided through work I wouldn’t have purchased it (I am cheap ironically). The thought of spending more than $200 on a monitor seems absurd to me but then again I do appreciate the high-quality so really what do I know.

But to be fair it does move up and down, tilt forwards and backwards, rotate for landscape or portrait mode. It’s wide AF so you can troll Twitter while on a Zoom call without anyone knowing you’re not paying attention. And it’s a matte display so you won’t see all the nasty fingerprints left when eating Doritos while coding.

I’ll also admit that I know nothing about computer monitors, but the kind people of Twitter do know something about monitors so feel free to check out this thread on the best monitors for your workspace.

Microphone

When I began podcasting I started with the Shure SM58 LC microphone (I think). This microphone was provided through a podcast I frequent, JSParty and I used this with a pop filter (a noise protection filter for microphones that eliminate popping sounds). for quite a while. The quality was really good so I’d recommend this mic to someone starting out in the podcast industry. It retails for about $99 and you’ll need a mic stand to hold it up (unless you want to pretend you’re at a karaoke bar).

You’ll also need an adapter for this microphone (it’s not a USB) and an audio box (which we’ll discover in a subsequent section of this blog post). The adapter is an XLR male to XLR female and retails for about $8. All I could find is the German website so I apologize but you can likely find the same product in the U.S. if that’s where you’re shopping from.

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Next I migrated over to the Blue Yeti USB microphone which retails for about $115. This mic is great for anyone looking to create online content or sound way cooler than their coworkers on meetings. It’s also free standing which is nice and allows you to plug your headphones directly into the microphone to hear yourself.

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Now, if you’re looking for the ultimate podcaster/content creator/influencer setup, I got you covered. Enter the Shure SM7B microphone. This is the ultimate badass podcaster microphone.

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This microphone doesn’t mess around, it’s super legitimate and as far as I know one of the best microphones on the market. It does cost about $400 but the quality is unparalleled. I recommend using the round pop filter the microphone comes with as I’ve been told it’s the most effective and I blindly listen to other people’s advice without fact checking.

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Similarly to the first Shure microphone, you’ll need a male-to-female adapter as well as an in-line microphone preamplifier. I use the TritonAudio FetHead Germanium which is also expensive at a retail price of 929 SEK (Swedish kronor) or about $104.

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Again you will need an AudioBox (which I’ll cover in the next section) and a microphone arm (which I’ll also cover) so in total this microphone setup retails for about $520 depending upon where you purchase each product. I’d recommend using a legitimate audio equipment website versus Amazon not only to support more local businesses but to ensure the quality of your products.

Audio Box

If you’re going to use a microphone that requires an adapter (like the two Shure microphones mentioned above), you’ll need to buy an audio box. I use the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo.

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This audio box allows for two device hookups (i.e. two microphones) and retails for about $150. If you don’t need two inputs you can opt for a one-input audio box like the Scarlet Solo which retails for about $100.

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I haven’t used this audio box but I was sent it by LinkedIn Learning to record a course so I’m sure their audio engineers have vetted the plethora of audio boxes available on the market. I’m also pretty sure Ali and Kelly use the Scarlet Solo to record our Ladybug Podcast episode.

Remember you’ll need a preamp to connect your microphone adapter to your audio box (I’ve listed mine above). Then you can connect your audio box to your computer via USB port. Here is what my setup looks like. (microphone => mic adapter => preamp => audio box => USB into computer).

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When using an audio box you’ll want to learn about mic gain and how to set up your audio box. Here’s a video that explains the whole process. Admittedly I have no idea how to use my audio box; I generally plug it in and hope it works so I should probably watch the video I just recommended lol.

Microphone Arm

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To hold up my Shure SM7B microphone I use the MIKA YellowTec mic arm. This mic arm is extremely expensive at about $400 depending upon where you purchase it. It comes preloaded with a mic adapter although if you move your mic arm in a specific way, the wires inside can snap and you’re screwed. I did this. Don’t be like me. Treat it gently.

You’ll also need to buy a mic arm clamp. I use the YellowTec MIKA YT3210 Table Clamp which costs about $50. It’s one of the best clamps I’ve ever used and is easily adjusted. Your mic arm just sits inside of it!

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Here is my desk with the mic arm, clamp, microphone, and adapter all hooked up! Please disregard the cat hair…

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Lighting

I don’t understand much about lighting but I did purchase a light for my setup (as recommended). I haven’t used it yet because it’s still light out in Sweden but come the Swedish winter it will become my best friend!

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I use the Elgato Key Light LED Panel With 2800 Lumens. Again, this shit is expensive, but it seems to be the best on the market. It retails for about $199 per light and since I’m cheap I only bought one but I might invest in a second come winter-time. It comes with the desk clamp and is extremely easy to assemble!

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Camera

Okay now on to the equipment everyone wants to know about: the camera. I bought the Sony a5100 for about $500 (yeah, it freaking hurt). I didn’t purchase any additional lenses.

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To be honest, I have no idea how to use this camera. I don’t know what the specs mean or how to adjust aperture or whatever else anyone who’s decently versed in cameras talks about. I just plugged it in and went on my merry way. Again, I was advised to purchase this. So far so good but yeah… not cheap. Although, there are more expensive cameras out there so… yeah I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I also purchased the Joby JB01507 GorillaPod tripod for about $50. It’s honestly super cool but it’s a table-top / “I can cling to things” tripod, not a standing tripod, so there are limitations.

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Along with the camera I purchased some accessories. The first is an adapter. This functions as a “battery” and allows you to keep your camera charging while using it. I use the Sony AC Adapter. I want to say it was around $100 and if you plan to use your camera as your web meeting camera, I highly encourage you to purchase it.

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I bought a remote control for camera recording. I haven’t used it yet but it will definitely come in handy when recording online courses. I bought the Sony Cybershot remote control. This cost about $70 and sadly I can’t tell you my opinion as I haven’t used it.

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Lastly I purchased the Elgato CamLink 4k. This allows me to use my camera as a web camera in meetings. It costs about $150 (so not cheap) but the quality is unparalleled.

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Lastly I bought a micro-HDMI cable to connect my camera to the CamLink and a USB card (obviously). Both of these things can be purchased for relatively cheap at most home/electronics stores. My setup is: camera => mini HDMI cable => USB cable => CamLink => Mac adapter.

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And that’s my entire setup! I spent way too long on this blog post so I hope it’s useful for you! I know this is all completely overwhelming and very expensive but if you’re looking to create a business out of digital content creation, unfortunately at some point you’ll need to spend a decent amount of money to achieve the quality you’re looking for.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment but I probably won’t know the answers to most of them lol.

Have a lovely day!

Top comments (11)

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hawicaesar profile image
HawiCaesar

Awesome Setup!

Quick question, is your Mac always hot...well because of the external display...Don't get me wrong I understand the importance of an external display...but have you in any way experienced slowness, lag or delay when using the external display ?

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jerdog profile image
Jeremy Meiss

FWIW... there is a lot of discussion on the interwebs about Macbooks and their incessant heat issues if you plug things, especially those using PD (power delivery), into the ports on the left hand side. I plug my hub and power on the right and the heat and constant fan went away. YMMV but it's worth a shot (assuming you're plugging things into the left side of the MB).

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hawicaesar profile image
HawiCaesar

I'm plugging things on the left, the ports are on the left. Seems like that is the issue from your description

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emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

Nope! :)

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hawicaesar profile image
HawiCaesar

Oh well seems like its that me...haha

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j_mplourde profile image
Jean-Michel Plourde

Hey Emma! I really liked your article, satisfies the gear nerd I am. I really enjoyed how friendly it is written. Always a pleasure to read you.

I bought myself a blue Yeti some time ago and I searched a lot to tweak it properly, so here is some advices if that can help someone else: it's a very good microphone that's plug and play out of the box. There is 1-2 things to know before hand: if it sits on your desk, you will hear every vibrations coming from the desk while typing on the keyboard or any other vibration really. Second, while the mic is good, you'll quickly notice the raw sound is very limited and isn't too great. I highly recommend Voicemeeter: it's a free software that act as a console for your audio input and outputs. You can easily apply a gate (only activate the mic for certain frequencies, blocking background sounds) and filters. The sound upgrade is insane. If you still have a lot of background noise and have a Nvidia graphic card, I highly recommend Nvidia RTX Voice. It's a software that does magic by using AI to remove backgroun noise. Like I can vacuum clean near the mic and it's not picked up.

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shubhamsetia681 profile image
Shubham Setia

What an awesome setup🥳

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tmohammad78 profile image
mohammad taheri

Jesus Christ

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nikoheikkila profile image
Niko Heikkilä

Really cool setup! Can you get any taxing benefits from purchasing expensive equipment for work?

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jerdog profile image
Jeremy Meiss

Thanks so much for sharing this! I have accumulated a bunch of stuff and making it work, but I love seeing what others are doing. Thanks for taking the time to document!

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picwellwisher12pk profile image
Amir Hameed

waaow.

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