Last updated: August 22, 2023
I get asked a lot what my audio/video setup is for my home office.
Since things are always changing around here, I’ll update this page from time to time and let subscribers know when there’s any meaningful addition/change.
Note that most of this is extremely unnecessary.
I spend a lot of my time on Zoom calls and doing training/coaching online, so I do it to create the highest fidelity experience possible.
And even then, most of it is overkill.
Here’s how it looks/sounds if you want to check it out before reading any further:
1. Sony A7C
The Sony A7C is a full-frame mirrorless camera that packs a lot of value into what is considered a compact camera (what the C stands for).
It’s a similar cousin to the older Sony A7III with a few minor upgrades—including a flip-out screen so I can see myself while recording—and a smaller body overall.
Sony makes great cameras and technology in general. I originally used the Sony A6400 but I wanted a full-frame camera to get the best photos and video quality possible.
I use the native charging cable to plug into the power source—no dummy battery required.
And I use (I think) a standard micro USB to USB cable to plug into the Camlink (see below) which plugs into a USB to USB-C dongle which plugs into my Mac computer.
2. Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens
The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens is a versatile option for this camera. I can shoot wide at 24mm or in tight—but since the camera is attached to my desk behind my monitor, I typically use 50mm as it provides the right amount of crop.
There’s a decent bokeh (background blur) although I’m always tempted to get something like the Sony 50mm f1.2 or f1.8 to make that background blue even more buttery.
But, that’s just me getting nerdy—it would be an imperceptible improvement to 99% of the population.
3. Sony 50mm f1.8 lens
I bought this in 2023 to improve the brightness and clarity of my video. The lower f-stop of 1.8 lets in more light, making it a clearer image overall.
4. Elgato Camlink 4k
This nifty device allows me to plug my camera into my computer by converting the camera data into a USB format in up to 4k resolution.
I had to use a dedicated USB to USB-C dongle as my USB hub wasn’t generating enough power to handle my camera and microphone, causing the video to cut out mid-use (i.e. on a Zoom call the video would turn black).
5. Elgato Multi-Mount
This is what holds my camera to the desk behind my monitor. It clamps to the edge of my desk and does a good job of holding the camera in place.
Nothing fancy. Here’s the link to it on Amazon since it might be an obscure find.
6. Aputure LS C120d 120D II
This is the big light I use to light my face from about 45 degrees. My office lights are a bit yellow so this makes it easier to have balanced colouring since it’s the “daylight” colour.
Some similar lights let you go warmer or cooler, I just prefer the 120D since it’s only daylight and makes it easier to keep a consistent look vs. adjusting colour temperatures in-camera.
7. Aputure Light Dome SE Portable Softbox
This softbox goes over the 120D and is a decent size for my office. Big enough to diffuse light broadly but small enough that it doesn’t take up an entire football field.
8. Neewer® PRO 9′ Heavy Duty Aluminum Alloy Photography Studio Light Stand
This stand holds up the 120D and Light Dome. It’s sturdy and holds the weight of the light without issues.
9. Neewer Super Slim LED Video Light plus Neewer Tabletop Light Stand
This panel light is attached to a desk beside me and lights the background so it’s a consistent colour (daylight) as my 120D and therefore everything in the picture is the same colour warmth.
If I didn’t have this light for the background, it would make me look normal but the background look yellow from my room lights, which is not ideal visually.
You don’t need this if you’re in a daylight-lit room or don’t have yellow lights.
10. OBS Studio (software)
I really don’t remember why this was important. I think it allows me to stream the video from the camera by installing drivers to make the camera source into a “webcam” option. I’m not 100% sure but it’s related to streaming.
Everyone talks about using it on YouTube and it works for me. Sorry, wish I had more info. It just runs in the background after you install it. I never think about it.
1. Shure SM7B
I use this any time I’m recording audio for a podcast.
The sound quality is excellent and it’s used by many of the biggest podcasters out there.
But it definitely costs more than your average USB mic and requires the pre-amp and Cloudlifter to get it sounding right on your computer.
Details on that are below.
2. Rode PSA1 Boom Arm
I originally bought this when I started out with the Rode NT-USB (listed below), but I’ve since added the Shure SM7B to it instead and use a little stand that came with the Rode NT-USB for that mic.
It’s a good boom arm and I’d recommend it to just about anyone who needs one.
3. Scarlett 6i6 pre-amp
A friend of mine sold me his used Scarlett 6i6 pre-amp interface. Since the mic used an XLR cable, not USB, you need this to send the sound data to your computer’s USB port. It’s the middleman.
The only problem is, the Shure SM7B is quiet, so you need something to boost the sound without creating lots of hiss. Another downside to the mic, but that’s the cost of having good sound!
I use the Cloudlifter CL-2 Mic Activator for that, which seems to be the most popular choice on the internet.
Both the Cloudlifter CL-2 and Scarlett 6i6 come with two XLR ports, so I could do in-person interviews with separate mics, if I wanted. Since I had the 6i6 from a friend already, I figured I might as well get the CL-2 to go with it.
If you only need one audio input port, I think the 3i3 and CL-1 would work just fine and would save you a little bit of money. But I’m not an expert on any of this stuff.
4. Cloudlifter CL-2 Mic Activator
As mentioned above, the Cloudlifter boosts the sound without creating added background noise.
If you have a USB mic you wouldn’t need the Cloudlifter OR the Scarlett since it would connect right into your computer.
But you do lose a little bit in the sound quality, if that matters to you.
5. DBX 286 S Preamp/Processor
This device lets me use my Shure microphone on live streams and Zoom calls. Without it, the volume tends to be too low.
It also lets me control things like the input volume, has a de-esser, compression, a noise gate, and a lot of other tools that ultimately reduce background noises and other odd sounds from getting into my audio.
It’s much easier than editing things in post, and gives me a series of physical dials to play with if I get bored on a podcast or Zoom call. 🙂
It’s not pictured in the photo above, it was bought sometime afterwards.
6. Rode NT-USB (with Shure SM7B’s backup wind guard)
The Rode NT-USB was my first external microphone and works very well. I use it for my Zoom calls instead of the Shure SM7B which can be a bit finicky to get to the right volume on Zoom.
I added the Shure SM7B wind guard to the mic since my pop filter that came with the Rode mic broke off when I knocked it over (I had set up the stand backward so it wasn’t balanced).
7. Microphones for when I’m traveling
I also use a Samson Go mic when I’m on the road and it comes with me in my little tech kit. It connects via USB and creates a decent sound in a pinch.
Lastly, I use a Rode VideoMic Me for occasional recordings on my iPhone when I am doing a talking head video and want to improve the sound slightly. It’s decent but not a huge upgrade from the standard built-in iPhone mic. I have to remove my case to plug it in, which is a downside.
8. Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
I bought these after seeing several people recommend them. I’ve heard they last for years (decades).
I’m a big believer in buying right not twice, so I grabbed them.
The big benefit is they plug directly into the pre-amp so you can hear yourself in the monitor in real-time vs. a slight lag you hear when plugging into the computer. The lag makes you hear yourself too much and it’s distracting.
They also have an adaptable size output so you can plug them into standard audio ports or larger ones like the pre-amp has.
Where would we be without Descript? I don’t do robust editing, so Descript works well for me when editing podcasts or audio for Mindshare. Before that, I used Garage Band for Mac.
Descript has a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s pretty powerful and intuitive overall.
It lets you edit your audio by deleting words in your auto-generated transcript, it fixes word gaps and filler words if you want to. It also integrates directly into Transistor, my podcast host, as well as YouTube and other platforms.
If you want something simpler or free, you might look into Audacity.
10. HyperDrive GEN2: Next Generation USB-C Hub
This is the magic box that pulls it all together. I bought it off a Kickstarter campaign and lets me plug all my things into one box, which then plugs into my Macbook’s USB-C port.
Simple, clean, easy to grab my laptop quickly to go, or plug things back in with one wire.
If I were to buy it again, I’d get the one with 18 or more ports because I’m already using up most of my USB/USB-C ports. But for now, it works.
You can buy one here if you want (not an affiliate link).
That’s a wrap!
So that’s my full audio/video setup currently. Check back again in the future to see what else has been added to the setup.
If you need help with any of this, consider joining the membership where I help people with things like this.