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Podcasting Equipment
September 29, 2008 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Podcasting questions

Yeah, there's a lot of how-to guides for podcasting out there, but it's scattered all over and confusing my ADD brain. Can someone tell me why I might want the following things, and what I should look for when buying them? (suggestions are also great)

Mic - yeah, I know I'll need one of these
Pre-amp
mixer
compressor
audio interface
digital recorder (? I've heard that it's good to record externally to spare your computer the burden of recording while its busy doing other things)

Do pros usually use more than one computer when creating a podcast? FYI, I have a MacBook pro, and will probably be getting a new iMac in the near future.

Thanks!
posted by mpls2 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, is it possible to patch in cell phone audio for recording phone conversations? (I don't have a landline)
posted by mpls2 at 12:33 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, presumably when you're recording your podcast you won't be needing your computer for other things.

I'd suggest just starting with an external recorded. It's the cheapest way to go. Any USB recorder should produce audio you can use, or use your iPod if it's recent (they sell add on devices or iPhone you just grab software).

Once you have some audio set up, produce your feed.

if you stick with it, get the audio interface and a decent mic. You shouldn't need a mixer or compressor.

Can't help you with cell phone recording. Landline is easy.

Apple's guide to podcasting.

I use one computer, an audio interface, and two mics.

Garageband really is one of the coolest apps for making podcasts.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:48 PM on September 29, 2008


Check out this thread. Posted today as well. Might as well follow both.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:22 PM on September 29, 2008


If you want to record a phone conversation, you might want to use Skype & *checks mathowie's HOWTO* Call Recorder for Skype.

I'd use Levelator (to process in post) instead of a hardware compressor.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:42 PM on September 29, 2008


Mic - Don't skimp here, as a crappy mic will never get you a high quality recording. You don't need to spend hundreds, but a Shure SM58 will be a great low cost mic, and they are built like tanks. If you want it to sound like a professional broadcast, a Shure SM7 is a wonderful mic, but costs several hundred dollars.

Preamp - Don't worry about this so much. Unless you are going for the absolute cheapest thing you can find, any mic preamp will be perfectly fine for speech. Look for an audio interface with a built in mic preamp and you will be just fine.

Mixer - unless you are an audio person, or you plan on having a lot of sources going at once, you don't need it. You can get computer audio interfaces with multiple inputs, and throwing a mixer in the loop if you don't understand exactly the best way to use it makes things a lot more complicated.

Compressor - I would avoid hardware compressors and go with software here, since you can't undo bad compression if you recorded it that way, but you can always tweak with a software compressor until it sounds good.

Audio interface - there are a lot of options here. I am a fan of ProTools, so I would suggest an Mbox (which includes the software), but pretty much anything will do a decent job if you have the right software to go with it. Make sure it has mic preamps built into it - you will want as many preamps as you have mics operating at the same time.

Software - some interfaces come with software, some don't. Audacity is free and works fairly well, so that is a fine place to start and see if this is something you want to put more money into.


You don't need multiple computers to do this. Computers nowadays are so powerful that audio is no problem. If you are doing a video podcast you may have to have a pretty beefy system. Keep in mind, people have been using computers to record multi track music for well over a decade, and the fastest computer at that time is nothing compared to a cheap dell today.


If you are doing this on the cheap, get a used SM58, a cheap interface with a mic preamp built in, and use Audacity. That would give you high quality levels at a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to do something really pro on a budget, look for an Mbox as an upgrade to the hardware/software, and a better quality mic (I wouldn't upgrade unless going to something comperable to an SM7, such as one of the Heil mics). If you did an Mbox with SM7 system, with good speaking technique and some editing, your podcasts will sound 100% professional.
posted by markblasco at 3:27 PM on September 29, 2008


Thanks, markblasco. That was really helpful.

What's your opinion on dynamic vs condenser mics?
posted by mpls2 at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2008


With cheaper mics, a dynamic will be my preference. An SM7, RE20, or any of the Heil dynamic mics are great for spoken work, and work equally well for music. They are also usually much more robust than condenser mics. I wouldn't trust any condenser mics under $100 without spending a lot of time with it to test it out. Cheap condenser mics can create noise and hiss, and most of them have a sound signature that is very harsh. It works well for a rock and roll mix, but for someone speaking it isn't necessarily the best thing.
posted by markblasco at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2008


For $150, you can get the Zoom H2, which has pretty much everything you need built in. And then edit the files in Audacity.
posted by andrewzipp at 8:24 AM on January 13, 2009


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