What Kind of Equipment Are We Using?

May 15, 2016

This year has been all about the audio. I set out to learn what I could and to produce a few podcasts. In addition to Flip Out Radio, I produced a one-off episode of Dismantle, a social justice podcast centered around radical creativity and hosted by Misty-Dawn Spicer and Jodie Knowles. Currently, I am immersed in research for a historical-narrative style podcast I hope to launch next year centered around the hidden areas of American history. The first season will be centered on the Philippine-American War that lasted from 1899-1902.

Since this new adventure into all things audio, I’ve had a few people ask me what equipment I am using. Podcasting is a format where you can pretty much control everything yourself and you don’t have to go broke to get started. Seriously, anyone can do it, and that’s what I love the most about this format. I needed to keep things on the cheaper side of creativity this year, but at the same time I didn’t want to skimp on the quality.

This has proven to be a series of trial and error, finding what works and what doesn’t and all the while learning as I go. I do love the learning part, but I wish I could have just bypassed all the time wasting bumps along the way. Regardless, maybe someone else out there will pick up a few helpful tips from my mistakes.

When Therese and I first started recording Flip Out Radio I initially used one microphone, a Blue Yeti. The Yeti is the best USB microphone you can buy. The quality is incomparable with other USB mics at the same price point. Since the Yeti has four different settings, one of them being bidirectional, our initial set-up had the microphone sitting between us. It worked for the most part, but it wasn’t going to work if we brought in someone else for an interview. At that point I purchased an affordable Blue Snowball iCe condenser mic. Both the Yeti and Snowball iCe are USB mics. You would think this is an easy set-up and you would be wrong. My Macbook didn’t make it easy to recognize both mics. I had to create an aggregate device in the Audio MIDI settings to get it to work. As far as software, I was bouncing between Garageband and Adobe Audition CC. The initial configuration to get things working properly each time was annoying, but this set-up did it’s job well enough. When we decided that we’d bring even more guests on to the show, it became painfully obvious that I would need to upgrade the equipment. If you’re already using two USB mics, there’s really no easy way of adding additional microphones.

This was definitely bad news to hear, but if upgrading the equipment would help us sound better and make the recording/editing process easier then I was all for it. I traded up on the mics and added some new items to our gear:

I found good prices for these items on Amazon, with some of them being refurbished. Granted, having worked a great deal of overtime over the holidays helped pay for everything. That and I was able to sell off video equipment I was no longer using. If you’re planning on only recording yourself or one other person then your set-up won’t be so complicated and will definitely be much cheaper.

This new set-up solved so many problems! With the Mixer and the Zoom, I was able to eliminate the need to pipe the recording directly into my laptop. It’s fine to record directly into your computer, but there’s also so many things that could wrong. Because I upgraded to XLR microphones I needed a mixer. The microphones run on phantom power and the mixer provides that in addition to allowing me to control the audio settings on the fly. The headphone amplifier allows everyone using headphones to be able to hear how the show sounds through the mixer. I never would have thought this was important, but it actually is. If your guest can hear themselves then they can tell if they are too close or too far from the microphone. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to constantly remind them to adjust their distance. Trust me, it helps.  The Audio-Technica mics are really great for the price. Of course, I wish I had the money to invest in some Heil PR-40’s, but maybe someday!

If you have any questions about my podcasting set-up just leave a comment below or drop me a note on our contact page.

-Cathy

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