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Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

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Amateur Podcast Production Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

When I started my podcast back in 2005, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing; some (myself included!) would argue that I still have no idea what I am doing. I have no audio engineering training, I continue to use incredibly basic software, and I only have a rough idea of why some of the equipment I use is “good” in the first place.

That being said, I’m fairly confident that when someone loads up a recent Kanzenshuu podcast episode, they are going to: (1) have a good time, and (2) for the most part, not want to rip their ears off from poor audio quality.

I was slow to “get” “into” podcasts. I didn’t quite understand their purpose in 2005 as radio continued its slow death. I wanted to do something very different for the website, though, and it seemed like as good a time as any to get in on what still felt like the ground floor of a new movement.

These days I still listen to a wealth of podcasts. Some are old stalwarts, some are mainstream corporate shows, some are plucky amateur upstarts, and others come and go. Whereas in 2005 I found myself very forgiving about audio quality so long as the underlying content was there, these days I consider my time a little more valuable: I need both engaging content and “good” audio quality… not necessarily perfect, but something where clear effort and care went into it.

These are a few of the most important tips, tricks, and techniques I have taught myself over the years. Again, I preface this by saying I still have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I have been faking it since 2005. If you are an audio professional and you want to “correct” some of the awful habits I have lodged in my brain, by all means let me know.

For the most part, this should take you — the aforementioned plucky amateur podcaster — to heights you didn’t think were possible. People may not be able to articulate it when they hear solid production, but they certainly recognize it far back in their reptile brain. They’re thanking you for your time and effort!

Your Recording Space

Don’t record in a gigantic airplane hanger. OK, that’s probably not your scenario, so at least maybe don’t record in your kitchen. Turn your air conditioning and fans off. Send your roommates and significant others away if they are not recording on the show.

Microphone Etiquette

Figure out the exact position where the best sound comes through your microphone. Stop moving and shaking around. Stop typing on your keyboard. Stop nervously clicking the mouse. Stop smacking things on the table. Speaking of tables and desks: your microphone shouldn’t just be sitting on them. Get yourself some kind of stand or holder. Use a pop-filter to cut down on those plosives. Once you’ve figure out a good position, don’t wander away from your microphone. It’s tempting to sit back and relax in your chair, or look to the side and keep talking. Don’t do it!

Also hey uhh good lord please stop eating while recording a podcast.

RECOMMENDED:
Samsom BT4 Telescoping Boom Stand
NEEWER Adjustable Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand
CAD Audio EPF-15A Pop Filter

Initial Test Recordings

After you’ve done all the above, start doing some test recordings of yourself. Is there a low hum going on somewhere? Figure out where and make it stop. Do you hear your pipes clanking in the background? Time to choose a different room. Is there a clock ticking on the wall that’s getting picked up? Move it elsewhere.

Headphones

You should never be podcasting with audio coming over speakers. At best, you’re going to get random operating system sounds when Windows invariably decides it absolutely has to let you know right this second that a new update is available. At worst, you’ll be recording with someone remotely and you will get their audio picked up on your audio track resulting in an awful echo. This is easily avoidable: put headphones on. We’re not talking stock Apple earbuds here; you need to wear actual, over-the-ear headphones. You don’t necessarily need anything crazy (we’re not doing heavy metal studio session monitoring), but you do want headphones that won’t leak out too much audio. A long cord might also be a plus so you can set things up comfortably. Go with traditional analog headphones (not USB) for more versatility and no chance of audio driver issues or conflicts. Turn your audio volume so you can hear your podcast co-hosts and participants, but not so loud that your microphone is going to pick up audio leaking out the sides.

RECOMMENDED:
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x
Sennheiser HD 201

Multiple (Remote) Hosts Means Multiple Audio Tracks

Ideally, all of your co-hosts are in the same room. There’s something to be said for that real-time feedback and ability to play off each other. This isn’t always realistic, though. I get it.

If you are going to get serious about this, each individual host (co-host, guest, etc.) should be recording just their own audio track by themselves on their own computer. Skype conversations sound like Skype conversations (and/or Discord, TeamSpeak, etc. conversations). There’s audio quality degradation, there’s that extra moment of silence between speaking, etc. It sounds amateur-hour because it’s really super amateur-hour. The biggest step up you can make is having everyone record their own audio track. This is going to be a little more work for the editor in the long run, but if you’ve already decided to get serious about this, well, this is what you’ve signed up for.

Realistically, not every special guest you have will be able to do this. We can’t expect every expert in the field to also have audio recording setups the same way we do. However, if you have the same couple people on your podcast every episode, they’re in this deep enough to respect the craft and your time to step up their game and help out.

Record Your Own Backup

That all being said: always record a backup. Things go wrong. They always do. Someone’s computer is going to crash. Someone’s export is going to corrupt. Someone is going to forget to send you their audio and go on vacation for two weeks in the middle of the ocean.

In lieu of re-recording the entire show (which is also an option!), if you record your own backup you at least have something to fall back on. Ideally your backup should also be multi-track as if you were still all recording locally. At the very least, you want your own audio track in one channel/track and the “call” (whether it’s one other person or multiple other people) in another channel/track.

When you’re just getting started with editing multiple audio tracks, this backup can also be a good temporary tool to line up everyone’s recordings where they’re supposed to be. You’ll eventually get used to the flow of things and will be able to line things up naturally all on your own.

RECOMMENDED:
Ecamm’s Call Recorder (Skype, OS X)
Craig (Discord)

Selectively Silence the Other Audio Tracks

If you’re reading this, you are (like me) not an audio engineer. We can set our recording spaces up to the best of our ability, but we are still not radio professionals. We need to overcompensate a little bit.

This is the next step and reason why you were just recording multiple audio tracks. Go through and start silencing out what should be total silence in the other tracks. You don’t think you’re making noise, but you are. Again, we’re not professionals: we’re all breathing in the mic too hard, we’re all knocking into things at some point, our phones start buzzing, the cat starts meowing, the neighbor starts chainsawing trees… the list goes on and on. Look at your waveform: you’ll see little dots and hiccups, which you can and should just kill off.

There might be plugins and automatic procedures that look for frequencies to silence out, but I prefer doing it manually. It takes more time, but I get finer control over what I want to silence out. Consider setting some hotkeys if they aren’t already available in your software. I like to set “Z” as “Cut” (for the ring finger) and “C” as “Silence” (for the pointer finger) in Audacity.

Edit Your Damn Podcast

You have all the tools at your disposal now! Did you start accidentally talking over your co-host? You have multiple audio tracks; silence yourself out and let it play out as if you never did. Did you start a sentence over because you randomly hit puberty and your voice cracked? Cut it. Is there a long, awkward silence before someone answers a question? Cut it down to something natural.

It can be tempting to OVER-edit; resist this. Don’t be the equivalent of that dude on YouTube who’s doing jump-cuts within the same sentence. You want to edit it, but you want it to still flow like a natural conversation.

Do you have musical bumpers? Listen to a “real” radio show or watch a “real” television show. You’ll notice the music fades down right at the very second someone starts talking. Yeah. Do this. We can’t hear what you’re saying when you start talking over music that’s still playing at full volume!

Noise Removal

Experiment with noise removal and leveling. Even Audacity has some pretty powerful noise removal tools built in to it; if you have done everything above, you are bringing in some halfway decent audio, which means the noise removal is going to be easier than if you have your fan blasting at you from two feet away.

The basic idea is that you tell the software what the ambient “noise” you want to remove sounds like, and then have it remove that from the entire recording. Select a portion of a couple seconds where you’re not talking, there’s no audio echo, you’re not breathing all over the mic, etc. Basically, what does “nothing” sound like in the room? Let’s get rid of that! Do this individually for each audio track; your “nothing” will be different from someone else’s “nothing”. I like to set aside 10 seconds or so at the very beginning of a podcast recording for everyone to shut their yappers to sample as this “nothing”.

The default removal settings in Audacity tend to work well for me after sampling my “nothing” to remove. You may need to go higher depending on your setup. Test, undo, test again, and keep testing until you find a nice balance of audio quality versus that weird, echo-y artifacting caused by removing noise at the higher levels.

For what it’s worth, I prefer doing the noise removal, then doing the aforementioned selective silencing.

Equal Volume Levels Among Participants

Since we’re not audio professionals, we don’t necessarily have all the equipment and studio monitoring crew to keep us at the same volume all the time. However, through the magic of software, we can fake it!

If you are recording with others over something like Skype, look for a setting that tries to adjust your volume automatically. Turn this off. You’re stepping up your game and acting like a super-awesome podcast host, right?! All this is going to do is blow out your audio when you come back in after someone else talks. While you’re at it, make sure your audio recording program and your call software are recording the correct microphone/input (that is to say, not your laptop’s internal microphone!).

Once I’ve done all my noise removal, silencing, and editing, I toss the “final” voice-only export into Levelator and let it do its magic. If someone is whispering the entire show it’s going to have to work harder and you will definitely have some artifacting, but if folks are in the same ballpark, this is your last step to take things from 99% to 100% awesome.

(This “Levelated” voice-only audio track is what I ultimately bring back into Audacity to edit in the intro, bumper, and closing music. The truly final/master audio is then exported from there.)

RECOMMENDED:
Levelator

The Car Test

Load your near-finished podcast up on your phone and go for a drive (or, if you don’t own a car, maybe take a little mass transit trip). Can you hear it well? Can you hear everyone well? If you ever have to adjust your volume even once more during the trip, you’re doing it wrong. It’s a podcast, not a classical music performance; you don’t need extreme dynamic range on the voices.

Umm… What About Equipment?

Yeah. That’s important, too. Sure. If you master everything above, however, you’ll be able to squeeze an impressive product out of an $80-$100 mic without going out of your mind spending money on things you don’t know how to use anyway.

What Else Should I Know?

A podcast isn’t a podcast unless it’s distributed the way podcasts are distributed; otherwise, it’s just a show you made. You can and should post your show on YouTube and SoundCloud… but you have to actually make that MP3 available via an RSS feed. You can upload and hand-code a feed, or use any variety of blog and podcast-posting services (maybe something like Libsyn). Get your show out there as a real podcast, and make sure you submit it to things like iTunes and Google Play. Hardcore podcast fans are using tools and apps like Overcast; your SoundCloud ain’t gonna cut it.

Congratulations! You are theoretically now a slightly-more-informed plucky amateur podcaster!

P.S.: You will eventually know what your own breathing and your co-host’s “Uhhh…” looks like as a waveform without having to listen to it.

My Podcasting Setup ~2011ver.~

Having done a first version and then a ~2010ver.~ a year later, after upgrading a few things, it made sense to follow-up with a… (wait for it)~2011ver.~ post. So how ’bout them podcasts, huh?

When we last checked in on the setup, I was considering cleaning out one of the extra rooms in our finished basement to make a quasi-“recording studio”. The room was a moderate disaster of half-empty boxes and miscellaneous extra crap from when we first moved in, but it would likely make for a fantastic recording area — low ceiling, closing door, a desk was already there, and the wireless signal reached all the way down there from two floors up.

Well, the room got cleaned out, and we have been recording down there for a few months now. I couldn’t ask for much better out of such minimal work! Here is an updated, general view of the area:

With the overview done, let’s dig into the hardware! I again have to preface this by saying that I don’t actually know anything about audio or any type of engineering, so this is all self-taught, trial-and-error based on moderate research and reading. I’m probably doing stuff wrong, I’m probably doing it all inefficiently… but it seems to be working out so far. Take my advice and recommendations with a modest-sized grain of salt.

One of the most important upgrades has been from the Behringer Eurorack UB802 (~$50-60) mixer to the Mackie 1202-VLZ3 (~$300) mixer. In addition to the two additional XLR inputs (which means no longer daisy-chaining something like Jeff’s mixer when he comes for a “Manga Review of Awesomeness”), I have much greater control over just about everything. It’s just an all-around better mixer. As I read in the reviews, I noticed a better sound with the same microphones I was already using, and there was a noticeable amount of less noise in the output signal — when tweaked properly, it is essentially whisper-quiet.

The output is still going from the “Tape Out” via the Behringer U-Control UCA-200 which came with my work mixer — no, I’m cheap and still haven’t purchased my own stand-alone UCA-202 (~$30) or similar device. This is one area that I may eventually upgrade. I’m not sure how or what I will do, since a dedicated Firewire setup is above and beyond what I need, but it feels like there might be a better way to get the audio to the computer with even better clarity and possibly normalization. Currently, the U-Control takes over as the input device, so switching Windows’ properties for what handles “in” and what handles “out” lets me use that for input, while still using the laptop’s on-board sound for output to headphones (to listen to test recordings and/or anyone on Skype).

Over on the microphone side, everything is basically the same as it has been for well over a hundred episodes. I am personally still rocking the MXL 990 condenser microphone (~$50-70), which is held up by a Samsom BT4 boom stand (~$40).

Within the last couple episodes, I have been keeping a duplicate of that same setup around for the wife so as to avoid using the Shure microphone (see below). It’s not that it’s a terrible microphone, but if I have something that’s so much better, why not use it? Having identical microphones in use (instead of both a dynamic and a condenser) also seems to help the levels and who gets picked up how much on which microphone across the room.

For when the extra microphone is absolutely necessary, I have at least tossed the Shure 8900 dynamic microphone (~$50) on an On-Stage MSA-9508 side boom (~$10-15) and gooseneck extension so it is far more adjustable in terms of position and comfort, instead of directly on top of the old RadioShack Heavy Duty Microphone Stand with Cast-Iron Base (~$30). The RadioShack stand with a larger mic clip and the boom extension also doubles as the Rock Band accessory of choice for guitar + vocals, so it all works out in the end.

In terms of headphones, I use the simple but serviceable Sennheiser HD201 (~$20-30) headphones. They are closed-ear with a super long cord, and they sound crystal-clear enough for the recording quality that I work with every week, so I haven’t felt the need to go nuts in this area.

You will probably notice some other stuff in the room that handles I guess what can only be called “logistics”. Perhaps you wonder how it is that we all read notes on the “Manga Review of Awesomeness” (OK, Jeff just uses his iPad, now…) or e-mails. Do we print out notes? Of course not! A second monitor mirrors the display from the laptop for others in the room to keep up with the general show outline. I am really tempted to put a flat-screen TV up against that wall on the left in the future, though — not only would it be incredibly bad-ass, but it would give the entire room a larger, more convenient view of the screen, too.

To just wrap up this section of the post, here is my general view of the room each and every week:

So what about the software and actual recording? Not much has changed in that area, except the effort I ask of my usual participants coming in over the Internet.

Everything is still recorded and primarily edited in Audacity. 44 kHz, mono. Done and done. I also still use the Call Graph plugin to record Skype conversations, but rarely in the same way as described last time around. Previously, I would take its 11 kHz output with my own track in the left channel and other side in the right channel, kill my track, turn the other track mono, re-export it, and use that as the secondary audio track to edit with, which isolates the other side of the conversation and lets me cleverly edit around any inadvertent talking over each other, etc.

These days, because all of the regulars (Julian, Heath, Jake, Corey, etc.) actually know how to use a computer, I simply ask them to record locally on their own side, as well — that’s the second track I use (after recording they send me the audio, usually as a high bitrate MP3, rather than the needlessly larger WAV). I still use Call Graph as a backup, and usually to line up the two separate tracks. I place my own local track up top, bring the Call Graph stereo track below it, and then the other person’s local track below that, line them all up, kill off the Call Graph track… voilà! It sounds far more complicated than it actually is — since Audacity lets you zoom in to insane degrees, I can line up the tracks to the tiniest fraction of accuracy possible.

By not using Call Graph (never mind its 11 kHz limitation, despite its amazing convenience and other customizations), we avoid any of that traditional “Skype noise” — you don’t hear someone’s call quality drop with their Internet connection fluctuations. In addition to that, by actually editing the show, we can avoid any excessive talking over each other, usually done by accident due to minor audio delays — I will typically just say, “Oh hey, start that sentence again.” It’s little stuff like that which folks may not even specifically notice, but I hope makes an impact in the back of their head somewhere while listening and comparing to other shows.

After editing the tracks (which have already been noise-removed prior to editing), I spit the product out to Levelator to even things out. I still bring everything into a project file in Adobe Premiere to line up the bumper music — it’s one of those relics I can’t let go of. The block-based dragging and snapping, along with a pre-edited bin of all the bumper music, makes it very easy to cut the sections apart. I usually leave a 10-second gap in between sections while editing to make it easy to visibly tell in Premiere where the sections need to be spliced with the jingles.

I may upgrade the software some day (likely Adobe Audition), but I figure until I know more about how audio actually works, it’s not really worth sinking the money into software.

About those other folks, though — what are they all recording with these days? Well, the two most relevant folks to note here are Julian and Heath.

Julian uses the Elecom HS-NB01UBK (~$30) headset that he picked up over there in Japan. As you have been hearing lately, it catches the bass of his voice quite well. It picks up a fair amount of background noise, but I am able to kill that off with some basic filtering in Audacity well enough. Since I am editing with multiple tracks, that means I can also just silence out an entire area on his side if I need to. I ask that my co-hosts don’t rely on that and practice proper microphone etiquette and all, but at the end of the day, you cannot control when the little one decides to yelp!

Then there’s Heath. Up until recently, he has been using whatever generic headset he’s had lying around (he tells me it was the Logitech USB Headset H530). You may have been able to hear it (even though I try to cut around it as much as possible), but it would randomly peak when he would start talking, and it picked up a rather huge amount of background noise — it’s the kind of headset that works fine for gaming and casual conversations, but not for podcast discussions. With all the great content him and I planned on bringing to the podcast in the future, this just couldn’t last. In response to some random chatter on Twitter, we made it known that we were looking to upgrade Heath to some actual audio equipment. Our buddies Lemmy and Ryan came through with some donations that covered it all… within minutes! Heath would really have no need for a mixer setup the way I have things, so we decided to go with a dedicated USB setup for just himself. In addition to a generic pop-filter and the same Samsom BT4 boom stand (~$40) that I use, we went with the USB version of my microphone: the MXL 990 USB (~$100-150). Unfortunately, the USB version of the microphone comes with just a little stand that would never work for the way we like to actually be comfortable while recording, so to complement the mic and boom stand, I sent him an old, only-semi-broken MXL 90 shockmount (~$35) that I had from my first microphone (I had since gotten a replacement as a gift). One of the screws was slightly stripped, and the inside rubber portion needed a little glue, but all-in-all it was in perfectly fine shape! Appropriately so, Lemmy wanted a picture of Heath’s new recording setup… and so did I for this blog post!

Here’s what the good sir had to say about it:

I’m loving the new setup, and the audio quality is SO much better! After messing around with things, this is the setup I finally settled on. It’s somewhat like what I was using before, only my Logitech headset is now replaced with my new fancy microphone and boom stand. The MXL 990 USB powered condenser microphone is plugged into my laptop on the left, whose only purpose is to record the mic audio in Audacity. The laptop is also used to connect to Skype if I’m recording with anyone else over the world wide web. I then use my personal desktop computer to look up references while recording; typically there’s Kanzentai on one screen and Daizenshuu EX on the other. I would record on this computer, but Audacity tends to crash once I hit the stop button. Luckily my mouse and keyboard are Bluetooth, so I can set the keyboard in my lap if necessary. Of course I just use my headset as head phones while recording. But more importantly, there’s usually a beer just to my right on the desk and there’s a mini fridge full of it behind me.

So that’s pretty much where we stand. I don’t feel the need to really upgrade a whole lot more on my end, with the possible exception of eventually having four of the same microphones so even Jeff doesn’t have to bring one over. Oh, and some more folding chairs would be nice. Maybe a new desk eventually, too. And a mini-fridge for beer convenience. Do they make silent mini-fridges…?

(NOTE: We did not consult each other re: mini-fridges prior to writing this…)

I guess we should also treat Jake to upgraded equipment at some point in the future. Julian, too, if and when he ever makes his way back to the states.

Random Podcasting Inside Baseball

Nothing of huge interest to write about here, but if you actually follow along with this blog and/or me in any significant way, you might care at least a little bit.

I have been mentioning for a while how a new mixer was on the horizon. Since (I think…) Episode #0112 of the podcast over at Daizenshuu EX, I have been using my trusty Behringer Euroback UB802 (which isn’t available anymore, but the Behringer Xenyx 802 is basically the exact same thing). It has certainly sufficed up until now. I have not been completely happy with it, though — Behringer stuff gets the job done, but you will occasionally be reminded why it costs so little. My own mixer once decided that it was only going to output sound in the left channel, only to have the right channel return to full functionality a few months later. The Xenyx 1204 that I got for work now doesn’t want to output audio at all (which is why my little guy became somewhat well-traveled).

I knew I wanted to upgrade to something that had at least four XLR inputs, which would finally get rid of that pesky situation where someone comes over and I suddenly have more people than inputs on the main mixer, resulting in a totally ghetto daisy-chain. I also wanted something of a higher quality, of course. This led me to the Mackie 1202-VLZ3. A solid mixer from a solid company with an appropriate amount of features = sold.

The big guy came in last week, and I love him to death:

I have yet another boom stand on order, so once that comes in and things get fully set up, I might consider doing a “Version 3” of “My Podcasting Setup” (which was last updated just about a year ago). The basement “studio” has been awesome, and we just decided to put some shelves in, so it’ll get even nicer. Hurray!

Speaking of that there main show that I do pretty much every week, we get our e-mails and forum posts, sure… but I also like to occasionally step outside the internal comfort zone and see what other folks have to say about it. Just about two years ago, I posted up a couple choice quotes I happened to dig up, so I figured it might be worth it to do that again.

I really just wanted to share one particular bit of feedback, though. Upon clicking through to the person’s contact information, it didn’t seem that they are all that active (and this particular post was many months back), so rather than directly contact them (which I may still do), I figured it’s out there and public anyway, so I might as well publicly respond to it. Through the normal course of surfing + Google Alerts, I came across this thread on fanfiction.net where someone replied to a conversation about DBZ fandom and communities:

Having listened to vegettoex’s podcast for years until it boiled down to ‘what’s new in your life and lets recap a single volume of manga!’ sort of TL;DNL, I can say yes I’ve been to the forums. Not sure why you assume people haven’t been there as he’s one of the few big sites left from yester year. And while they are active in near 4chan trolling, gifs, bad AMV(bring back the good stuff please?) fandubing and the occasional decent debate, its still vanishing. Even there.

For starters, we make it a huge point to not excessively talk about ourselves. The introduction to each episode does indeed have a little “Hey, how ya’ doing?” segment, but it’s always a part of a larger “What new things came in…” or “What’s new on the site…” that is at least somewhat relevant to the DBZ-loving listener. I will certainly concede that much (much much much) older episodes may have had a little bit too much of the personal talk up front, but even then it was nowhere near what this post would lead you to believe.

The “Manga Review of Awesomeness” is a once-monthly topic. Its purpose was to allow new folks to follow along with a group of fans and their podcast about a franchise that has a ton of history that they might not be completely up on — they are “timeless” episodes that anyone can go back to at any time. Based on the feedback from our big survey, it also happens to be the most-enjoyed type of topic by a wide margin. “Majority” doesn’t mean “entire audience” though, so I can understand how there are folks who don’t care for it — that’s why it’s only once a month! I know for a fact that there are a bazillion other types of topics intermixed on a weekly basis, and they are purposefully arranged so that at least once a month there is a type of conversation (in-universe, product review, manga, etc.) that folks of a particular segment of the fandom can latch onto.

Yes, I run a very calculated show. I read and listen to every bit of feedback I can get my hands on. I’ve gotten back into the habit of listening to my own show even after I’ve edited it for release to critique it. I want it to be the best that it can be, to appeal to as many people as possible… but at the same time have just the right amount of pompous authority to show that we ain’t messin’ around, yo. You want to know something? Information you can trust? Ain’t no other place, bro-dawg.

(Also not entirely sure if they are referring to our website and/or forum with that stuff about troll images and such. That’s as far removed from the prison we run as can possibly be described.)

On the other hand, then we get comments like these on the rare occasion which reminds me exactly why I love doing this stuff so much:

Im a relatively new listener who once thought I knew everything about Dragon Ball from watching Toonami…..

I don’t think “thank you” covers it.

So that was a blog entry.

My Podcasting Setup ~2010ver.~

It has been over a year since I last wrote about and shared how the magic of podcasting goes down at Casa de EX. A lot has changed since then, but I just have not gotten around to writing up a new version. Our buddies over at the Unofficial One Piece Podcast asked the other day what we were using for a mixer, and when I pointed over to that blog entry, I realized just how out-of-date it was!

So here we go. I am happy to present to you the ~2010ver.~ of “My Podcasting Setup“. As always, I do not claim to actually know what I am talking about. I am probably wrong with much of what I do, and writing about how I accomplish it is most likely only perpetuating bad habits and sharing mis-information.

Oh, well.

I have killed two computers over the course of doing the show for Daizenshuu EX. First I blew the sound card in our Shuttle, and then its power supply died. Both are easy fixes, but it just sits over there on the other desk because I have been too lazy to open it up. Once that went down, I shifted over to using Meri’s old desktop from ~2000/2001 as a secondary recording rig. I tossed Ubuntu on it, and as described in the prior article, I used it to line-out for a dedicated Skype track recording.

All that is old hat.

Over on the Mac, Jeff uses a great application called Übercaster to record us locally and any extra, isolated audio tracks (such as Skype, bumper music, etc.). I’m running a standard ol’ Windows XP install both on my desktop and my laptop, and I have gone with a little Skype plug-in called Call Graph. It just works. When running alongside Skype, it automatically records the entirety of a call once one begins, recording your own audio in the left channel, and the other side (be it a single person or a conference call) in the right channel, spitting out a stereo WAV (or MP3) the instant you conclude the call.

Near as I can tell, though, it only records at 11 kHz — even if you tell it to record a 44 kHz MP3, it still records an 11 kHz WAV which it then converts to a 44 kHz MP3. This… is mostly serviceable. When you have folks like Julian who are just running a standard Logitech headset, anyway, the frequency of the audio file is not really taking much more of a hit than it already is due to the hardware. When we are done recording, I take the WAV into Audacity, split the stereo audio track, delete the left channel (myself), tell the right channel (Julian) to act as mono, and export the new, entirely-isolated audio track. Voilà.

(If I am recording with someone who knows what they are doing, I sometimes just have them record locally on their own end and send me their final audio once we are done recording… though I always am recording a back-up just in case.)

What about my own, local track, though? That I do not allow Call Graph to handle — I still record in Audacity at my standard mono, 44 kHz dedicated audio track. The two tracks (my own local track + Skype track) are easy enough to line up in Audacity for editing later on, either through a “1, 2, 3, clap!” or just from doing this for five years and understanding how a conversation is supposed to sound.

I still use a combination of Levelator and Audacity’s built-in noise removal for my post-processing — nothing special there. I am also stuck in my own ways by using Adobe Premiere to line up the segments with their respective bumper music tracks for the final mixing and export. I just really like the block-based dragging and snapping for that final step, I guess.

With that in mind, though, let us turn back over to the hardware.

The driving force behind everything is still my Behringer Eurorack UB802 (~$50-60) mixer. It is a great, compact little guy with two XLR inputs, phantom power support, decent gain/volume control, plenty of line-in and out support, etc. The UB802 seems to go through phases of being available versus unavailable, but the standard Behringer 802 (~$60) is something I picked up for Jeff over the last holiday season, and it is essentially identical to my own.

The main difference these days is that I have indeed jumped over to using a USB device to grab out the audio, rather than running an analog RCA-to-1/8-inch line-in cable. The Behringer U-Control UCA-200 actually came with the (larger) mixer that I use at work. It is their standard pack-in version with mixers, but the stand-alone UCA-202 (~$30-35) is what you will typically see for purchase online. I had spoken before about how the device takes over as the entire sound device for the computer — for example, I was unable to listen to the audio I just recorded through my headphones while it was plugged in. Once I stopped being an idiot and looked around a bit, I found that I could tell Audacity to still use the internal sound card for playback and use the U-Control device for recording, allowing me the same convenient usage I had always experienced.

For any recording where we need more than two local microphones (such as a “Manga Review of Awesomeness” or something for vgconvos), I no longer daisy-chain the RadioShack mixer into the Behringer. Instead, I have Jeff bring over his 802 and daisy-chain that into my mixer. We use the same process of RCA cables going from “Tape Out” on his to “Tape In” on mine that would have been used from the old RadioShack mixer, but now it is done with higher-quality equipment. It still introduces extra analog noise that I would rather not have to deal with, however. I have my eyes set on the Mackie 1202-VLZ3 (~$300) mixer with its four XLR inputs and non-Behringer, genuinely-high-quality parts. Behringer stuff is “OK”, but I have had a few issues here and there with the mixers to the point where I probably will not buy their stuff again.

Over on the microphone side, things are still pretty much the same… with the exception of what holds it for me. I am personally still rocking the MXL 990 condenser microphone (~$50-70), though these days it is supported by a boom stand. I am fairly certain it is the Samson BL3 (~$30), due to it not coming with a mic clip… but I no longer have the box to double-check that. Whoops. Sorry. The MXL 990 is just a tad bit heavy for it, but adjusting the three-legged support and balance of the boom extension will grant you just the right placement for comfort and not-falling-over-ness.

The main reason that the microphone is hanging on its side is because I accidentally stripped the screw-tightening mechanism for the shockmount, and have not felt like spending the money for the replacement MXL-90 shockmount (~$35) just yet. When you can buy the microphone (which itself comes with a shockmount) for just a couple bucks more, it is difficult to build up the desire to spend money to replace one that is just hanging on its side and not entirely broken.

Meri is still rocking the Shure 8900 dynamic microphone ($50). It is quite the handy mic to have around, since its included XLR-to-1/8-inch audio cable plugs in to the video camera I use at work, giving me a choice of a either a lapel mic or a hand-held mic. I double-wind-screen for Meri since her “pphf” sounds are a little harsher than my own. She is also still rocking the RadioShack “Heavy Duty Microphone Stand with Cast-Iron Base” (~$30), though it may be time to upgrade her to the Samson boom stand — they are just so nice to have! Comfort galore!

I guess the last thing to address is live recording and broadcasting that we occasionally do. Lately we have been using Stickam for no particular reason above any other service. We tend to broadcast Lo-Fidelity live more than anything else, mainly because it is just the two of us in one local recording area, so anything that happens can be broadcast with no extra effort — everything is right there in one place. When you start tying in things like Skype streams… sure, it can be done, but it requires more effort than it is really worth for such a budget setup like our own. Live recordings typically have two computers: one is a standard podcasting station like any other show, and the second is usually my laptop running the webcam. Our mixers have the “Tape Out” / RCA output that we typically use to output to the computer, but there is also the “Main Out” — I run a variety of cables and cord adapters to get that 1/4-inch stereo output down to an 1/8-inch plug. This runs to the line-in on my laptop, mirroring the exact same sound that is otherwise heading out to another computer for the main podcast recording. Sure, there is some (negligible) extra noise being introduced/lost going through all those adapters, but since that particular stream of audio is exclusively going to the live broadcast (and not the archived version for editing/release), it is not that big of a deal.

The next upgrade is going to be the room in which we record. Since moving into the new house, all recording has been done up in our loft. This is where we keep the computers, the old TV, CDs, DVDs, etc. It is a fantastic location (minus all the cat destruction, like my poor chair), but it is in a very open area. Sound bounces all over the place. When we have any more than two people, it starts sounding very “airy” in the recording, both due to the number of people (and thus the number of mics to adjust and compensate for) and the voices bouncing along the ceiling and down to the living room.

We have a finished basement with several rooms. Right now, “the brown room” (which is the second room off the main area) is a disaster of storage space. Boxes, appliances, and assorted things of nothingness take up all the space. It is perfect for a little recording studio, though. It is just the right size, the walls are not tall, the door can be shut… lovely!

Our Wi-Fi reaches down there, and since an entire show can be done with just one computer, there is nothing stopping me now from cleaning up that space and creating a great little recording studio in my basement. I might even get some extra sound-proofing padding for the walls… can you imagine how hot looking that place is going to be?! Speaking of “hot”, that is another perk to setting up shop in the basement — heat rises, and our loft starts boiling in the summer. The basement? Cool as can be!

I think that more-or-less covers how everything is rolling right now. Does anyone have any questions about any aspect, or better yet, suggestions on ways to do things even better? Specific articles to read to bolster some mad audio skillz? I still consider myself a total audio n00b, though I think I have a couple other skills that I have picked up over the last couple years that at least helps put together some decent shows…!

Podcast Episode Coming – Your Thoughts Are Requested!

I certainly do not claim to be a podcasting expert by any stretch of the imagination. Even after doing this for a bit over four years now, I still run into random tech problems and sound quality issues that I can not always perfectly troubleshoot, though I do the best I can.

The spontaneously-combusting XLR cables are not my fault, though. I swear.

I know it has been well over  a year since the last podcast episode (if you could call it that) for this blog, but I made it a point to say that shows here would be when I have something to say, and I would not do them just for the sake of doing them. That being said, I actually have an idea for a show to do. It is incredibly “meta” (and specifically about podcasting), but that is OK with me if it is OK with you! You have read before how I have upgraded equipment over the years, and what my typical workflow is for producing a show. That was a while ago, though, and a few things have changed.

I really want to do an updated version of that, but more from the audio end of it rather than a text-and-images description. It fine and dandy to talk about it, but what does it all sound like…? Sure, you could compare the earliest episodes of Daizenshuu EX‘s podcast to some of the most current ones, but that would be a pain to do.

What I am planning on doing is recording a few segments, under very controlled (read: “ideal”) situations in terms of surroundings and acoustics, to showcase exactly what my different microphones really sound like, and how that makes a difference for the listener. With myself more than anyone else you will be able to tell how upgrading and tweaking a few things can make a huge difference — it’s no secret that my regular male co-hosts Jeff and Julian have amazing, deep, booming, perfect radio voices, where-as I have to over-compensate.

Not that I can’t form a coherent sentence, or anything like that. Oh, Hell… if you’re reading this blog, you know what I’m talking about!

In a nutshell, I have a pretty good idea of how that part of the show will go. You will hear the different types of mics, positioning from them, what the most basic of software can do to help with it, blah blah blah. What about the other side, though? Is there anything about the behind-the-scenes production that you are interested in learning about? Not necessarily the tech behind things… but the research, methods, reasons, schedules, time-sinks… that kind of stuff.

In general, is there anything about any of the shows I am involved with (Daizenshuu EX, lo-fidelity, vgconvos) that you are curious about? Why we do the things we do and how we do them? Let me know! I will probably pull Jeff on that later segment to answer with me, because he’s just such a swell guy.

Live Broadcasting Online

Jeff and I have streamed our recording of lo-fidelity live a few times. We do so over on my Stickam account through a second computer (my laptop) while his is busy with the normal audio recording for the show. Up until last night, we’ve always just done it where the laptop picks up the audio through its internal mic, since the mixer is outputting to the Mac for audio recording.

Well, the mixer has the main-out as well as the tape-out. I busted out my audio cables last night and did a proper line-in to the laptop to complement the video feed it was serving. The feedback from the audience was great (being that the audio was great… no-one ever said the show was great :P), so next time we broadcast, we’ll be doing it “correctly” again.

That gets me wondering, though… what do we gain from broadcasting it live?

I’m well aware of the effort it takes to build and maintain that “sticky” audience that we all so desire, and little things like fixing the audio on a live stream go a long way. How about that live stream, though? What purpose does it serve? Quite frankly, it seems pretty egotistical… people love us so much, they want to watch us as we record our shows! Aren’t we so flippin’ great?!

I don’t really think that about myself, though. No, seriously. If you were hanging with us last night, you heard me complaining about Jeff and his amazing radio voice and how much of a struggle it is for me sometimes to get into the range I want to be in. There are plenty of things I don’t like about my various shows, so adding a video stream on top of that just seems crazy.

I think it works for lo-fidelity, though. Jeff and I have both been podcasting for a few years, and we both edit our own main shows. We know the effort it takes. We know what goes into it all. Due to all that, this particular show is far more conversational than the one I do for Daizenshuu EX, and so it works well for a live stream… no random dead-air (not much, anyway ^_~), no confusion over what’s happening next, no piece-meal recordings (with the exception of the ahead-of-time Anamanaguchi interview), etc. We are able to get immediate feedback, too, and while we definitely gear it toward being a damn solid audio program and really just video stream because we can… it’s nice to pull in a couple random live things here and there, like someone’s off-the-cuff Top 5 list to go along with our own.

That doesn’t really address the bigger question of added-value, though. So I guess it’s best to ask you all — the ones who are following me enough to be reading this blog. Do you have any interest in video feeds of the podcast recordings? What do you find interesting / disinteresting about them? Know that we don’t have the time or resources to put on big productions, so if and when we stream anything, it’s just going to be… yep, some folks sitting around mics recording a podcast.

Really curious, though!

Podcasting Friends

Let’s write about something a little more uplifting, rather than the other day’s dive into the depths of internet excrement! Yay!

It’s no secret that I love podcasts. They provide an excellent complement to just listening to music, and for someone who works a job where my ears can be free when I want them to be and can be filled with that I want them to be filled with, I love that choice. What I especially love is when honest-to-goodness friends get in on the action, and especially friends that I don’t get a chance to see every weekend. It stinks that some of us only get to see each other during conventions (and lately weddings!) and a couple other points during the year, so whenever friends like to get in on the podcasting action and let me hear their voices throughout the day, I love it to death.

I just wanted to give a brief run-down on some personal friends who are podcasting, hopefully toss some listeners their way, and remind them that they’re great people and it’s fantastic that we can share something so incredibly nerdy like podcasting.

JEFF: Lo-Fidelity
OK, this one’s kind of a cop-out answer, since now I’m “co-hosting” the show. Originally, Jeff and our buddy Brad (both of whom I’ve known from AMVs for many years now) started up the show to discuss indie music, do some reviews, discussions, etc. I absolutely adored it, because Brad’s one heck of a stand-up fellow, the nicest guy in the world, and has plenty of worthwhile opinions to share. I had an opportunity to guest-host in Brad’s place one episode (I think it was seven), and then I got just a couple more before the show went on hiatus. Almost exactly one year later Jeff decided to start it up again, this time with me filling Brad’s shoes (not an envious position to be in). We’re really hoping to get Brad on the show whenever we can, though, so that’s great. Even though I’m part of the show, it’s a completely different dynamic with Jeff hosting it. I just show up with my equipment, Jeff hosts/moderates it, does all the editing, most of the prep-work, posts it up, etc. I actually feel more “comfortable” (maybe “differently comfortable” is more accurate) with recording this way, as opposed to being the “host” of my other shows (even though I’m surrounded by co-hosts on all of them!). It’s a great dynamic, and when I listen to the show, I still feel like I’m checking in with Jeff to see what’s going on (even though he lives right around the corner and I was right there to record with him).

BRYCE: Otaku Generation
This is an interesting case, because I met Bryce because of the podcast he’s a part of. When Meri and I headed over to Pennsylvania one night to record the show after having been invited on, that was the first time we ever actually met Bryce. Since then, we’ve been able to hang out at conventions, have him over on Video Game Conversations, and just general hang out and chill like any other friends would. It’s been fantastic to gain a friendship through a hobby like that, and is one of the reasons I haven’t completely lost hope in humanity.

KEVIN & BOB: The Appcast
They literally just posted their first episode this week, but it was so great to hear Kevin and Bob (both of whom I’ve also known through AMVs for several years now) doing a show. I was so impressed and proud of their sound quality and organization with the very first show. I’ll admit that a bunch of us are total iPhone dorks, with Kevin and Bob being the obvious leaders (thus, the podcast), so it’s wonderful to be able to listen in on my friends geeking-out.

In a nutshell, I feel like it almost lets me “hang out” with my friends a little bit whenever a new show is out and I’m busy at work plugging away at something. It sounds a little creepy and anti-social, I suppose, but it’s the truth. It’s not like we don’t actually get together in person! Really! I promise!

iTunes “DBZ” Placement

Now that the holidays are pretty much over, I’m going to try and get at least a little something up here more often than not. Consider this one of those little things!

iTunes is a very mysterious entity. We have only a vague, outsider understanding of how things are ranked. That’s why it is very important to optimize your shows with keywords in their title and descriptions. This is something I absolutely did consider when starting up the podcast for Daizenshuu EX, but the final decisions definitely aren’t completely working in my favor. That’s not to say things are “bad” or “not working”… let me explain and show you!

When I started the podcast for the site, just like the canned intro says every week, I wanted it to be an extension of the website rather than its own separate entity. Sure, it can stand on its own (so can the website without the podcast), but they tie together and complement each other nicely. That’s why I decided against calling it something like “OMG DRAGONBALL DRAGON BALL DBZ PODCAST”, and simply went with Daizenshuu EX – The Podcast. We have “DBZ” in the description of the show (“DBZ discussions, reviews, and the latest news from…”), but…

Consider when someone comes along and puts those keywords right in their title rather than just the description. There are a couple podcasts to go along with blogs for the upcoming live-action movie, and there’s something called Dragon Ball Z Universe! – The Podcast (which appears to be by a fan of our own website and podcast, but doesn’t really seem to be an actual audio podcast, and more like PDFs delivered via RSS every so often). This was all fine and good, since if you’re searching for “dbz” or “dragon ball” or “dragonball“, anything that came up would be entirely (OK, mostly) relevant.

Now there’s a “podcast” simply called Abridged, which as far as I can tell is completely unrelated to the production any of the actual “Abridged” series out there, and is just some guy or gal collecting episodes and putting them up for download via an RSS feed (thus the “podcast”). This is completely fine; don’t misunderstand me. However, since the “Abridged” phenomenon is getting so huge, even though they don’t have any of TeamFourStar‘s DBZ Abridged episodes up in the feed yet, simply referencing those entities by name seems to be pumping up their “relevance” in searches according to iTunes.

Again, don’t misunderstand me… I have no problem with these “podcasts” (which isn’t an entirely accurate term for some of them) getting attention and an audience. That’s awesome. Far be it from me to tell anyone not to create content and get fans! The problem lies with our own show, being what I consider the most relevant for those general search terms (we cover anything and everything DragonBall, as you know!), getting pushed out of the most-visible locations!

When you do a search for “dbz” in the iTunes store, we used to show up as one of the two podcasts in the mini-section “Podcast” bubble at the top. No longer true!

Now you have to click through to see us.

In a further bout of confusion, we don’t show up at all for a search of “dragonball“, but show up as #43 in the general search for “dragon ball” (and still needing to click-through on the “Podcast” bubble to find us there).

So let it be known that for ultimate visibility, it certainly helps to have a more generic name! That’s OK… in my delusional world, we’re the best at what we do ^_~. And hey, if YOU dig what we do, spread the word! Tell a friend! That’s what shonen is all about… friendship and camaraderie!

My Podcasting Setup

My buddy Kevin has asked me a couple things about my podcasting equipment lately, so I decided it would be helpful to a few people if I just put it all out there. In the end though, I don’t know how “helpful” it will be, since anyone with more experience than me will see my utter incompetence with audio! I have next to no idea what I’m doing, but I’ve somehow managed to create shows that sound at least halfway listenable. You’ve already read about my “podcasting empire”, so feel free to check out any of the shows to get an idea for how it all sounds (keeping in mind that we record Lo-Fidelity over at Jeff’s on his computer, though it’s all my equipment + his own microphone).

So back in mid 2005, I decided I was going to jump on this “podcast” bandwagon with Daizenshuu EX. I was looking for something “new” to try out, and I always liked doing things bigger & better with that site. For our first episode, I’m pretty sure I used a very cheap (~$10) headset I had lying around (which has since broken itself into a million pieces because it was so cheap). After that, I moved on to what most people seem to do when they have no idea: RadioShack!

Before getting into that, I should at least mention the way I record things. With Daizenshuu EX, we try to have Julian on as much as possible (which can be difficult when he’s over in Japan, but we do our damndest). I have found that for me, the best way to record him on my computers has always been to have CPU #1 output Skype to CPU #2, which records Julian on his own audio track. You may hear Dave & Joel do a “1, 2, 3, *clap*” during their recordings; turns out we do a very similar thing. This lets me line up the claps on both audio tracks so I can edit them together in sync with one another. I actually do the clapping myself which gets recorded on both tracks. I know, I know… I just said that Julian gets recorded on his own track. Let me explain.

My main computer is a Windows XP machine (started out using our Shuttle, but have since moved on to our big XPS; this doesn’t really matter, though). All of the recording stuffage from our local side goes into the “line in” port on the computer. Here are my audio properties while recording:

You’ll note that the “Line-In” port is muted on the local side. This is a bit misleading. What it is actually doing is preventing any audio coming in over that port from being output from the line-out port. In a nutshell, it comes in (and gets recorded), but doesn’t go out. This allows me to:

(1) Run Skype on CPU #1
(2) Record myself on CPU #1
(3) Only have Skype’s audio running over the line-out port to CPU #2

Is this a great way to do things? Probably not. Are there better ways? Probably. It works for me, though. It allows me to have separate audio tracks for each of us, which means I can process the audio differently for each of us (there is more “clean-up” that needs to be done on Julian’s than on our own, mostly just due to it being over Skype).

Right now I am outputting to a computer running Ubuntu, which itself records into Audacity, the same as on my Windows XP machine. In this particular case, the OS on CPU #2 is completely irrelevant… it just needs to record whatever I want to send to it.

You might still be asking how I line up my own claps on both audio tracks if I don’t record myself on CPU #2. Easy. I temporarily “un-mute” that line-in on CPU #2, so I’m recorded on both tracks. Once I clap, I just turn it off and it’s back to Julian by himself being recorded on CPU #2.

So let’s get back to equipment. After abandoning crappy headsets for an episode (or two; I don’t remember), I was off to RadioShack. I ended up getting their more basic equipment, which worked perfectly fine for a while. In fact, it still works, but we’ve since eclipsed the sound quality by miles.

I started out with the RadioShack 4 Channel Stereo Sound Mixer ($30). It’s an incredibly basic little mixer that has four 1/4-inch inputs with their own individual volume controls, two sets of RCA inputs, and one set of RCA outputs. I have never really used those inputs, but the output goes from the RCA-to-1/8-inch (standard headset) adapter, which would be plugged into the line-in on CPU #1. For mics, I bought a bunch of their cheapest unidirectional dynamic microphones (~$20-30; similar item). Since everyone was recording into their own mics, unidirectional seemed the way to go (recording from just one, head-on direction). I eventually purchased their cheap omnidirectional microphone ($30), but never did much with it.

That stuff worked for us for… well… I don’t even remember. Quite a long period of time. Maybe two years…? With a combination of tweaking levels and working with other software (things like Levelator), I was able to get it sounding halfway decent. There was a huge room for improvement, though, and once I realized we were actually serious about this, I decided to upgrade equipment.

To this day, though, I still use their desktop microphone stands ($11) and gooseneck microphone extensions ($8). I also have their standard “Heavy Duty Microphone Stand with Cast-Iron Base” ($28), which is mostly used for playing Rock Band, though we also toss Jeff’s mic into it (since his mic doesn’t use a shock-mount like the MXL 990s). Definitely time to upgrade to some boom stands, though. Anyway…

When it was time to upgrade equipment, I figured that since I didn’t actually know the technical ins-and-outs of audio, I should get some quality material, but not go completely overboard. After doing a bit of research, I ended up with the Behringer Eurorack UB802 ($60) for a mixer, and the MXL 990 condenser microphone ($50-70). I am able to get a really nice sound out of these, which is leagues ahead of anything I was able to get out of RadioShack equipment.

That only covers me, though. What about Meri? What about other local guests? Well, I suppose I could have gotten the next step up with the Behringer mixers with additional XLR inputs for mics (I actually did get the 1202 for work earlier this year, which is great), but we have been able to manage. I tend to end up with Jeff’s microphone here a lot, so if it’s here, I toss it over to Meri (or I have another MXL 990 sitting around, which also works). For the record, Jeff has a Shure 8900 dynamic microphone ($50).

More than two of us? That’s a problem, since the 802 only has the two XLR inputs, and I can’t get enough volume/gain out of the old RadioShack mics by plugging them directly into the 802. I need to pre-amp them with… gasp… the old RadioShack mixer.

Yep. For right now, if I have three or more people locally recording, I use a combination of the Behringer and RadioShack mixers. The RadioShack mics go into the RadioShack mixer like always (and up to a volume of about three or four), which then gets output as a whole over to the “Tape In” on the Behringer mixer. That can allow me up to six people locally recording with their own microphones, though this is not an ideal situation. Any more than one extra mic starts to really contribute to extra noise, which is a real pain to deal with cleaning.

So that basically takes us up to today and how we record shows. I do all of my recording into Audacity, and use a combination of its own noise removal filter and Levelator to balance out shows. I actually piece together segments with their bumper music over in Adobe Premiere, since I like the easy drag-and-drop of the timeline more than trying to do it in Audacity.

My typical Daizenshuu EX workflow looks something like this:

(1) Turn off cell phones, test levels, make sure everything’s recording on its proper audio track, etc.
(2) Record actual episode
(3) Export the two individual audio tracks from each computer
(4) Toss each audio track into Levelator
(5) Bring the levelated audio back into a new Audacity project
(6) Run noise removal on each individual audio track
(7) Drag both processed audio tracks into another new Audacity project
(8) Line up the claps from each audio track
(9) Edit episode
(10) Export, encode, etc.

There’s still so much for me to learn and things I specifically want to learn about, but it’s pretty daunting. I’d love to upgrade to a bigger mixer at some point. I would also love to learn about things like noise gates and compressors (I’ve had my eyes on the DBX 266XL Compressor Gate for a while; ~$120). I’ve heard Rym note a few times that for podcasting purposes, dynamic mics are better than condenser mics, so I’d like to investigate that a little more (I do think that my mic picks up more than it should and then messes with the balance a little bit; I also can’t wait to move and not have things like our current loud refrigerator always being picked up). I’d also like to move toward non-analog input. I’ve played with the Behringer U-CONTROL UCA200 USB Adapter (UCA-202; $30 sold separately) that came with the 1202 mixer, and it does help cut out a tiny bit of noise. Unfortunately, the USB interface seems to take over and negate what I’m used to doing with the muting input going to CPU #2, which totally throws off any Skype recording I would need to do.

So that’s basically it! If anyone’s interested, I’d be more than happy to further explain how I do things, but I have to follow that up by saying that I literally have no idea what I’m doing and continue to be learning as I go along. I’d love additional suggestions and clarifications from people if you have anything to offer!

Professional Podcasting

Yesterday I recorded (and today I edited) my first “professional” podcast… that is, the first episode of the new podcast we are doing at my job. It was incredibly exciting. I got to spend a little money on upgraded equipment from what I own at home (mixer, mics, etc.), get the troops rallied around the concept, develop show outlines and schedules, etc.

As you heard in the first podcast episode of WTF EX, some of the most important things Jeff and I thought were necessary for managing time were bringing in sanity and happiness to that mix. In this particular example, what makes me more happy than anything else is being able to take something I’ve learned and experimented with in my spare time over the last few years and apply it to work. I’m actually making money doing something I love, and on top of that, I’m spreading valuable information that will make the world a better place. I don’t forget for an instant that what I just said doesn’t happen to many people, and I’m incredibly thankful for it.

How about you all? Do you have any life stories / examples of something similar?

(BTW, if you’re reading this blog and haven’t responded saying who you are, you’re obligated to do so!)

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