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Interview Equipment Essentials for Recording In-Person & Online

Your full checklist to interview equipment essentials. From cameras to microphones we share top recommendations for in-person and remote interviews.
Stephen Robles
Video & Podcast Creator
Last Updated:
May 3, 2024
12
min
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Depending on whether you’re in-person, on-location, or online, your interview equipment setup is essential. It’s a make-or-break for top-quality audio and video. This is especially important since you don’t want to blow your opportunity to interview your guest.

In this article, we’ve put together a guide to the absolute equipment essentials for recording professional interviews - wherever you are.

What equipment do you need for recording interviews?

The type of equipment you need to record interviews totally depends on the kind of interviews you’re recording. Depending on whether you’re recording on the go, in a studio or remotely, your equipment needs will look a little different.

Fundamentally, though, any interview recording setup will include a:

  • Mic
  • Headphones
  • Computer with recording software
  • Camera (if you’re videoing your interview).

Factors to consider when choosing your interview recording equipment setup

Choosing your interview recording equipment can be difficult. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind:

Recording environment

The first (and probably most important) thing to think about is where you’re going to be recording your interviews. If you’re going to be recording on-location, then you’ll need durable hardware that can cope with unpredictable conditions. By contrast, if you’ll always be in a protected studio-setting, then you probably don’t need to worry about how delicate your equipment is.

Portability

Portability, weight and size will be a big consideration if you’ll be traveling with your equipment. This will probably also impact how much equipment you choose to include in your interview setup. Creators on the go will most likely opt for a more minimalist setup than those with a permanent studio space.

Budget

Your budget will definitely impact the kind of price point you’re looking at. Depending on how big or small your budget is, you can make decisions about whether you’re focussing on acquiring the bare minimum equipment or are in the market for some extra add-ons.

Equipment for your guest

Another key decision is whether you want to or need to provide equipment for your guest. If you’re recording in-person interviews, then you probably should provide a mic, at least, for your interviewee. For online interviews, this isn’t as necessary, though some creators might choose to send their guests equipment to ensure maximum recording quality.

Video

You need to decide whether you’re producing a video interview or keeping it audio-only. If you’re set on videoing your interviews, then you’ll need a camera or webcam, depending on your setup.

Usability & workflow

Finally, you should most definitely prioritize usability and consider what your guest workflow looks like. This is an especially important consideration for anyone recording remote interviews. This applies most to your recording software. You should avoid any platforms that are complicated or clunky, or require your guests to sign up to use it.

Interview Equipment Essentials for Recording In- Person

Recording in-person interviews can mean in a studio environment or on-location somewhere. Here you’ll find our recommendations and breakdowns for all kinds of scenarios.

Mic

A mic is an absolute must for any kind of interview recording setup. They’re critical to maximizing your audio recording quality. If you’re in a studio environment, then you don’t have to think about portability or sensitivity to background noise as much. You can make use of mic stands or boom arms to ensure correct mic-placement (more on this later).

Factors to consider when choosing a mic:

Type of mic

You’ll need to consider which type of mic makes the most sense for you. For on-location interviews, Bluetooth or lavalier mics might be more suitable. You may even investigate mics that connect directly to your mobile.

If you’re in the studio, though, you might prefer to mount your mic on a boom arm or mic stand. You should also think about whether you want to buy individual mics for you and your interviewee.

Condenser vs Dynamic

You also need to choose between a condenser or dynamic mic. The biggest differences to be aware of are durability, audio sensitivity and connectivity. Dynamic mics tend to be more durable, more forgiving when it comes to background noise, and can be XLR or USB.

Whereas condenser mics need to be handled with care, are very sensitive, and are usually XLR mics.

Learn more: Dynamic Microphone vs Condenser: Differences & Which to Use
Polar pattern

Your mic’s polar pattern tells you which direction it picks up audio from. There are a few different types to be aware of:

  • Bi-directional picks up audio from in front and behind the mic. These are great if you’re sitting opposite your interviewee in a studio environment.
  • Omnidirectional picks up audio from 360 degrees, so they’re best in quieter environments.
  • Cardioid (and super-cardioid) picks up audio from in front and is the least sensitive to audio from behind the mic. This makes it usually the most ideal for interviews in noisier environments where each person has their own microphone.
Connectivity  

You should think about whether you want a USB or XLR mic. USB mics tend to be more affordable and easier to set up. On the other hand, XLR mics require an audio interface to connect to your setup. This constitutes an additional budget consideration.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to set up a professional recording studio, you should be looking to upgrade to XLR mics eventually.

Read more on the best USB versus XLR microphones.

If you’re recording outside, you may also want to invest in wind-shields for your mics.

Mic Recommendations for recording in-person interviews:

Low-Budget:

  • Shure MVL (Lavalier mic) - $69: Perfect for on-location interviews and compatible with mobile or tablet recording apps.
  • Rode SmartLav+ (Lavalier mic) - $79: Omnidirectional broadcast-grade mic that’s very forgiving in all kinds of recording environments. Comes with a pop-filter and is compatible with your smartphone.

Mid-Budget:

  • Rode Wireless Go II -  $199: A very compact wireless mic. Universally compatible with cameras, mobiles, and computers, featuring a range of 200 meters and 40 hours of internal memory.
  • Blu Yeti USB Mic  -$129.99: The Blue Yeti is a reliable mic perfect for studio interviews. It comes with a built-in mic stand and easy USB connectivity.
  • Rode Procaster - $229: A mid-range mic ideal for recording speech. It has an internal pop filter and shock mount for optimized durability.

High-Budget:

  • Sennheiser MKE 40 (Lavalier mic) - $429: High-quality mic for recording speech. Comes with a windscreen and magnet holder.
  • Shure SM7B -$499.00: The ultimate studio-mic for recording interviews. In-built suspension shock isolation and pop-filter to protect your audio quality.
Shure SM7B

Audio Interface

If you’ve got XLR mics, then you’ll need a mixer or audio interface. An audio interface allows you to control each interview participant’s individual levels to maximize your recording quality. If you’re looking to save on spending or minimize bulk, then opt for wireless or USB mics. Make sure that your audio interface has enough XLR inputs for the number of mics you need.

Low budget:

  • Audient EVO 4 - $129.00: A great option for creators on a budget or who are just starting out. A very compact 2in / 2out audio interface that’s super easy to use. The Smartgain feature makes setting your levels super easy.

Mid-budget:

  • Focusrite Vocaster Two - $242.95: A super compact audio interface with just two mic inputs, perfect for one-on-one interviews. You can also connect your phone via TRS or Bluetooth.
  • Focusrite Scarlett 4i4  - $259.99:  This Focusrite is easy to use and has a compact audio interface with four inputs and outputs.
  • Audient iD4 MkII - $299: Highly-compact audio interface that’s perfect for a 2-mic set-up.

High-budget:

  • RME Babyface Pro - $999: An audio interface for serious studio setups with 12 in and 12 out channels.

Camera or Webcam

If you’re recording a video interview, then you need your camera or webcam to do you justice. Again, depending on your budget and setup type, the ideal camera will differ.

Low-budget:

  • Phone camera - $0: If you’re on a super-low budget, you could consider using your phone camera. These days a lot of smartphone cameras can rival the quality offered by external cameras.
  • Panasonic HC V770K -$344.99: a camcorder perfect for recording video interviews. It includes a jack for your external mic and headphones.

Mid-budget:

  • Sony FDR AX43  - $948: A good option if you’re looking for a camcorder. Shoots in 4K and includes an in-built stabilizer.
  • Canon EOS M6 Mark II - $1099: A compact camera that can shoot in 4K UHD video.
Canon Mark II

High-budget:

  • Sony Alpha a6400 - $1,298: Mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens and 4K video.
  • Sony A7 III - $1998 (body-only): A mirrorless camera with an interchangeable lens that captures 4K UHD video.
Read more: 10 Best Cameras for Interviews for 2024 | In-Person & Remote

Headphones

If you’re shooting a video interview, you may decide against headphones for aesthetic purposes. But for maximum audio quality, it’s definitely advisable for both you and your guests to use headphones.

Low-Budget:

  • Sony MDR 7506 - $99: These are a great lower-budget option. Fans of a more retro look will appreciate their design too.  

Mid-Budget:

  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 - $159: These headphones are best for studio-recording environments.
  • Audio Technica ATH M50 - $185: These are a classic and reliable choice for headphones that work both on the studio and on the road.

High-Budget:

  • Beyerdynamic DT 100 - $275: A very solid choice for creators with a bigger budget. Outstanding sound quality.  

Computer

Depending on your preference and interview type, you can choose between a desktop or laptop. For obvious reasons, laptops are more suited to on-location shoots. Remember to consider compatibility with your recording and editing software.

Low-Budget:

  • Acer Aspire 5 - $389.99: If you’re on a super tight budget, this is a strong choice.

Mid-Budget:

  • Macbook Air - From $1099 (for the 13” model): If you’re set on an Apple laptop but don’t have an unlimited budget, this is a solid choice.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7 - $1199: If you’re a Windows person, then this is a good choice. Some creators may especially appreciate the touchscreen functionality.

High-Budget:

  • MacBook Pro 14” or 16” - From $1999: The perfect choice for fans who want big processing power and portability.
  • Razer Blade 15 - $1979: A gaming laptop with immense processing power.

Recording software

Your interview recording software is what makes all the magic possible. Even if you’re recording an in-person interview, it’s always good to opt for a software that gives you flexibility for remote recording too.

Low-Budget:

  • Riverside - Free Plan: High-quality in-person and remote audio and video recording capabilities. You can record video in HD and get up to 2 hours of separate track recording.
  • Audacity - Free and open-source recording software. Some creators may not enjoy the outdated interface. You can’t record video with Audacity.
  • iMovie or Garageband - Both of these come free with Apple devices. Take your pick depending on whether you want to record just audio or video and audio.
Testing equipment before starting your podcast

Mid-Budget:

  • Riverside - $15/month for Standard Plan: Record in 4K with 5 hours of separate audio and video tracks. You can also live stream, screen share and edit your recording without a watermark.
  • Hindenburg - - $99/year for pro subscription: Designed for capturing audio and dialogue, this is a great middle-range option

High-Budget:

  • Riverside - $24/month for Pro Plan: In addition to 4K video, you’ll can record 15 hours of separate tracks and you’ll have access to AI tools for audio enhancement, interview transcriptions, and automated summaries.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro or Audition - Available for $20.99/month or you can get access to both for $54.99 a month. High-quality audio/video recording, editing, and mixing, depending on the type of interviews you’re making.
  • Final Cut Pro - - $299.99: Apple’s video editing software, high-powered features and video editing tools.
  • Logic Pro - $199.99: Apple’s audio editing suite, perfect for audio-only interviews.
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Accessories

Some accessories that you might want to include a mic stand or boom arm, a pop filter, and wind shields. You may also want to think about artificial lighting setups if you’re recording video interviews.

  • Pop filter - for under $20, you can get this three-layer pop filter to prevent popping noises from ruining your audio recording.
  • Boom arm/mic stand - This microphone boom arm rotates 360 degrees and mounts to any desk. For a more affordable option, try this desktop mic stand.
  • Wind shield - If you’re recording on-location outside, then a wind shield like these are a must.
  • Lighting equipment can make a huge difference to how your video looks. For a studio environment, you can get a whole set for under $100.

Equipment Essentials for Recording Remote Interviews

Recording remote interviews doesn’t necessarily mean a totally different setup. Your setup will be essentially the same as an in-person interview conducted in a studio. The key difference is that you definitely need a recording software that is able to capture high-quality remote video and audio.

Mic

As we said above, a mic is essential for capturing high-quality audio. When buying a mic for remote recording, you should anticipate recording mostly in a home-studio environment. For this reason, you don’t have to prioritize portability and can add accessories such as a mic stand.

If you want to send your guest a mic, then consider durability and portability too.

Recommendations:

Low budget

  • RODE PodMic - $99:  This is a great dynamic remote interview mic even for small budgets.

Mid budget

  • Rode Procaster - $229: This is the perfect mid-range mic for remote interviews.

High budget

  • Shure SM7B - $399.00: If you want guaranteed crystal clear audio, then this is the mic for you.

Camera or Webcam

For remote interviews, a webcam makes a lot of sense if you’re on a budget. If not, then you can use one of the options that we listed above.

Recommendations:

  • Low-Budget - Razer Kiyo -  $47.45: A full HD 1080p streaming webcam for under $100.
  • Mid-Budget - Logitech Brio - $199.99: A compact and high-quality webcam that’s ideal for remote recording in 4K.  If you’re using this camera with Riverside, you should make sure to follow our Logitech guidelines to ensure a smooth and high-quality recording.
  • High budget - Insta360 Link -  $299.99: A very high-tech 4K webcam that includes AI tracking, gesture control, and a built-in mic (if you need it).

Headphones

Again, headphones are an absolute must if you want to maximize the quality of your recording. You should definitely encourage your guest to use a pair too, if possible. Or if you have the resources, send them some.

Computer

A computer is going to be at the heart of your remote recording setup. It’s where you’ll record your interview, edit it and publish it, so look for a laptop or desktop that can handle all the tasks you’re going to be doing. Check out any of our recommendations above, they should work just as well for a remote setup!

Recording software

As we said earlier, your choice of recording software is even more critical when you’re doing remote interviews. Riverside is the best choice in this scenario since you’re guaranteed high-quality video and audio recording – even when remotely.

You can record with up to 7 remote guests whom Riverside locally records on their own devices. This means that bad wifi won’t impact your recording quality.  You’ll also get separate audio and vidoe tracks for each participant, giving you better editing control.

And if you can’t get your schedules to align, Riverside allows for async recording so everyone can record themselves when it suits them.

Riverside interview recording software

Let’s take a look at some of Riverside’s main features:

  • High-quality audio and video recording. Record in up to 4K video and 48khZ audio for maximum quality.
  • Local recording. Riverside records you and your guests on your own devices rather than over the internet. Weak wifi will have no effect at all on your final recording quality.
  • Browser-based with mobile app. No need to download anything on your computer, simply open your browser and start recording. You can also use the Riverside iOS or Android app.
  • Easy guest workflow. No need for your guests to create a Riverside account to join your recording session. The entire interface is seamless, modern and intuitive.
  • Producer mode. Your production team can control the recording session without appearing on the final recording.
  • Automated and accurate transcription. Riverside transcribes in over 100 languages and generates transcriptions straight after recording.
  • Text-based editor. Edit your interview as if you were editing a Google doc: simply make adjustments to the text and Riverside will reflect the changes in the recording.
  • Automatic short form clips. Riverside’s clips feature turns your interviews’ highlights into shareable short-form videos..
  • Media board. This lets you live mix with music, sound effects, videos or other media during your interview.
  • Ability to livestream. You can include your listeners in the recording session

Tips for setting up your interview equipment

Getting your interview equipment set up properly is an important step for setting yourself up for success. Here are some tips to doing it effectively every time:

  • Take your time. Don’t rush setting up your equipment and don’t be afraid to make small adjustments during the recording session either.
  • Walk your guest through the equipment and the interview. Making sure your guest is at ease is part of the setup process. This is also important to avoid technical hiccups whilst you’re recording.
  • Test your levels and your lighting. To minimize stress, do a couple of test takes to make sure you’re happy with your levels and how everything is setup.
  • Get to know your kit. Though everything might look super straightforward, it’s worth reading the user manual for all your new equipment. You may have missed a cool feature or tool that could really benefit your recording!

FAQs on Interview Equipment

What equipment do I need for street interviews?

Street interviews usually mean contending with background noise, wind, and interviewees who aren’t necessarily accustomed to being recorded. You should either opt for lavalier mics with a windshield or a handheld mic that you share with your guest. You’ll also want a tripod for your camera to make sure your footage is free of vibrations and shakes.

What is the best video equipment for interviews?

The best video equipment for you will depend on where and how you’re filming your interview. Your budget will also influence your choice of equipment. If you’re on a tight budget and filming a remote interview, a high-quality webcam will do the trick. For creators with a bigger budget, a mirrorless camera will capture impeccable results, though bear in mind that you might need to invest in a tripod or stand for your camera for best results - especially outside.

How do I set up an interview studio?

Every creator’s interview studio looks different. Your biggest priority should be your guest’s comfort. And if you’re recording a video interview, you need to make sure you’re able to create a suitable frame with a nice background. You also need to consider you and your guest’s distance from your mics.

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