Purchasing your own equipment is a big investment. In this industry, money is usually at a premium, especially starting out, and it can be a big task to set aside $500+ on your own set of gear. It’s an investment that can be a big benefit, or a waste of money.
Purchasing your own gear can allow you to pick up more freelance gigs, and jobs on short notice. Some teams do not provide their own equipment, and therefore rely on the broadcaster to set up his or her own. Even in the case where teams provide gear, it can be old and ‘well used’. It also gives you a familiarity with your broadcasts, operating the same equipment for every game, no matter the location can make your job easier as a broadcaster.
Of course it is a lot of money, and if you land with a team that does have its own equipment, or you don’t end up pursuing freelance options, it can be a waste. There is also the responsibility factor, it is your gear and you are responsible for its condition…if you break it, you repair it.
If you are interested in purchasing your own equipment, here are some options for your to consider:
Probably the biggest investment you’ll make, even the “cheap” ones run $200+. Many places broadcasters work will have some sort of mixer, the ability to connect multiple sources and move it into one output, but not many places will have quality headsets.
The Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Stereo Headset with Dynamic Boom Mic is a very popular choice for two main reasons. Its price-point is much lower than headsets made by other brands, and it is a comfortable, quality option. Another popular entry-level headset for broadcasters is the Sennheiser HME 25, and while a little more expensive than the Audio-Tecnica model, Sennheiser is well known for making quality audio equipment and is one of the more prestigious brands.
Probably your 2nd biggest investment is a good mixer, and there are even more options for mixers than there are headsets. Your choice in mixer will largely depend on what you want to do. The two main routes are a mixer that’ll work with a phone line, or a mixer that’ll work with your computer.
For phone line mixers, it’s hard to go past the JK Audio range of products. You see them everywhere, ranging from the Sport Mix 2-channel plus line input, to the broadcast-quality RemoteMix. The more you spend, the better audio quality you’ll get, however in some cases, the mixers in this category can make your broadcast sound like it’s coming through the phone, even if its not. This type of mixer will be able to work with your computer for online shows, but the quality may be less.
Standard audio mixers offer you much better quality of audio for online broadcasts, but don’t allow you to connect into a phone line without more equipment. In this category, the best bang for your buck is Behringer. It’s not the highest of quality, when you compared it to companies like Mackie, but it will do the job and then some. The mixers are prices very well and come in a variety of sizes.
For simple solutions, the Behringer XENYX 1002 will do the job for less than $100. For the next step up, you can get some more microphone and line inputs for an extra $20-30 with the Behringer Xenyx 1202fx. As mentioned, Mackie are one of the kings in console mixers, but you pay for the brand. The Behringer1202’s direct competitor is the Mackie 1202-VLZ3, and is just under 4x the price.
Purchasing your own equipment is a big step forward, but it can be worth it if you use it. From start to finish, expect to spend anywhere between $500 and $700 on a pair of headsets, cables and a mixer to get your underway.