Getting quality sound on the cheap is easy with today’s digital tools, if you know what to look for.
For your first few podcasts, you should keep your setup simple. The internal microphone on your computer, or a very low-cost computer microphone plugged into the microphone port, is a good place to start.
You can use any reasonable set of headphones to monitor your sound. Monitoring your sound means sending the incoming microphone audio to your headphones as well as recording it to the output file. Monitoring yourself is critical because it gives you instant feedback. Is your voice too loud or too soft? Are you creating pops when you pronounce the p, t, or b consonants? Do you sound raspy or slushy? Monitors allow you to gauge this instantly and to make the appropriate changes. Without them, you will get to the end of the recording thinking you did great, only to find that you were a foot further away from the microphone than you should have been. The first rule of podcasting: any person controlling a microphone should be wearing monitor headphones.
Most any headphone will do, but you should disable any noise-canceling feature when you are recording. Otherwise, you will not get an accurate representation of your sound. Higher-quality headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD 570, are “open-air” headphones. These have great fidelity in playback and are a joy to wear. But these headphones make lousy monitors because they let in a substantial amount of room noise, ...