Some days, I’m really shocked at how much quality can come from small or inexpensive gear. You’re not going to get a full range audio from your tiny laptop speakers, but I’m listening to The Current from Minnesota Public Radio, and The High Road by Broken Bells sounds pretty good. From the first laptop I had (which was a Compaq with ‘nice, large’ speakers) to this MacBok Pro, the quality has gotten better and better, while the speakers have gotten smaller and smaller. And sure, it’s internet radio, but Cee Lo just came on, and it doesn’t sound bad at all.
These are the earbuds I use when listening to my iPod:
For what they are, they sound amazing. And they are tiny. And about $30 dollars. A major upgrade from the earbuds that come from Apple.
Money wise, the cost of fairly high quality equipment is coming down as well. While it isn’t a mainstay in radio studios around the world, my number two microphone is the Rode Procaster:
This mic sounds great. It is in the similar field of the EV RE20 and (my favorite) Heil PR40, but the Rode costs about half the price (most places have it for $229, but I got this one for $189 somehow). That’s a broadcast quality microphone for half the price of the leader in the field, and you wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference at the end of the day. And if you are recording mostly for mp3 files, no one is going to care.
The point is, you really can get a lot of quality from a modest budget, if you know what you are looking for, and what you want to do. The first part of that is actually not that hard to answer, but it is dependent on the second part, which is sometimes a little harder to answer.
Hopefully, we are going to work on both parts of that equation.
Got some cheap gear you love? Tell me what it is. We all need good stuff at a budget.