I’m a tall, nerdy, white man in my late twenties who obsesses over tube mics and Japanese-made Les Paul guitars; I’ve never started my own podcast or livestream, but I totally thought I knew the best podcasting gear. It turns out that in the years I’ve spent outfitting my home recording studio with outboard preamps, compressors, and expensive XLR-based microphones, companies have spent tons of research dollars making equipment cheaper and smaller, with pretty incredible results.

I started exploring this more affordable frontier of digital recording and streaming gear, and the takeaway is that it’s easier than ever to produce fantastic-sounding and gorgeous content without emptying your wallet. If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast or sharing your epic Mario speed runs with the world, here’s what you’ll need.

Be sure to check out our many other guides, like the Best Gear for Learning Music, Best Gear for Making Videos at Home, Best Webcams, and Best Home-Office Gear for more.

Updated February 2022: We’ve added the Elgato Stream Deck, Universal Audio Volt, 512 Mics, Tula Mic, and Sony and Beyerdynamic headphone models.

Table of Contents

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more.

Before You Start

We recommend a lot of gear below, but before you buy anything, think hard about what it is you want to record or livestream. Brainstorm podcast ideas! Block out stories! Think of ways to make your livestreams different from what’s out there. Whether it’s just a hobby or you’re serious about making this a business, good content is always going to be more important than the gear.

You’ll Want a Good Computer

HP Omen desktop PC
Photograph: HP

It’s increasingly possible to record podcasts or stream live audio on smartphones, but it’s quicker, easier, and generally more professional to create and stream content on a personal computer. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a PC or Mac, and the vast majority of modern laptops and desktops are more than fast enough for the audio tasks required.