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Podcasting on the cheap?
February 6, 2010 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Best podcasting equipment around $100 each for two-person chat show?

I've been through the previous similar questions but they're all over a year old and none looked specifically at this price point. So, here's the situation:

-two people, in a room together, with the occasional guest
-recording on an iMac with Audacity or maybe Garage Band (don't want to spend money on software if possible)

Is this doable for around $100 each? I was thinking we'd just sink it all into a couple of decent USB mics but I read somewhere that it may not be possible to record from two USB sources at once (mixing in software) - is that true?

If it can't be done for $100 each how much do we need to spend to sound decent?
posted by JPDD to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
A cheap, mini-soundbooth might be helpful: http://www.instructables.com/id/Portable-Mini-Vocal-Booth/
posted by mecran01 at 7:37 AM on February 6, 2010


I would try out a single Zoom H2 first. You can transfer the audio to your mac and edit it in Audacity and Garage Band.

If you want to use two independent microphones, I wouldn't try to mix them down in real time. Instead, record them both two two separate audio channels and then do the editing and mix after the fact.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:46 AM on February 6, 2010


Seconding the H2 as a sub $200 way to get started.

Also, get acquainted with Levelator to keep the voice levels balanced.
posted by dws at 7:52 AM on February 6, 2010


And this USB mic keeps cropping up on assorted "cheap podcasting" lists, but costs $101 (lists at $250):
posted by mecran01 at 8:05 AM on February 6, 2010


Take a look at the Blue Snowball mic. My Colorado office uses it for recording podcasts and the sound files are then sent to me in Virginia for editing in Audacity (and I also use Levelator mentioned by dws). The sound is so good from the snowball mic they need virtually no editing.

They're on Amazon used for under $100.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 8:54 AM on February 6, 2010


Apologies for totally random stream of consciousness post, I just rolled out of bed.

Starting out, one of the small field recorders is a cheap, effective way to go. Tascam's DR-07 is a solid alternative to the H2, around $150 US new. I liked the buttons / screen more than the H2, so I picked one up as a backup to my larger recording rig. Recently I used it to record a theatre rehearsal with surprisingly solid results from just the built-in mics. There's a bit of self-noise if you hand-hold the thing, but just set it on a mouse pad or something to isolate it a little and it's great.

You can always add more gear later if you want to upgrade.

The trouble with using USB mics is that you generally can't use more than one interface with whatever software you'd record to, so you'd be limited to one mic.

Audacity is a solid free solution for your editing and as others have said, levelator is a very handy app for cleaning things up / balancing levels automatically.
posted by jjb at 10:20 AM on February 6, 2010


Do yourself a favor - download a copy of Propoganda. It's specifically made for podcasting and can save you loads of time over Audacity. The feature set is amazing. Yes, it's $49, but in the long run you will appreciate it so much. I can't recommend it highly enough. There's a free trial download. (No association, we've used it after using Audacity for 2 years and can't believe the things we're now able to do.)

Blue microphones are great for podcasting. Check out the Snowball or the newer Yeti.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2010


Sorry to double post, but as I wake up a little more I'm thinking of more options for you:

You could pick up a cheap mixer like this along with a very basic interface a couple decent dynamic mics and a couple little stands. The grand total is under $200, and I think that would all ship free.

And I just noticed you may have the occasional guest...

So, in that case, you can either have the guest share a mic with one host, or look at slightly different gear.
Mixer
Mics/Cables/Stands
The interface can remain the same. And the price point is still under $200.

Ok, I promise to go get myself some coffee now.
posted by jjb at 10:44 AM on February 6, 2010


There's a bit of self-noise if you hand-hold the thing, but just set it on a mouse pad or something to isolate it a little and it's great.

Most of the portable recorders have tripod threads. You can avoid the self noise by mounting your recorder on a pocket tripod like the gorillapod.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:13 PM on February 6, 2010


Per Marc Maron (who has an excellent sounding podcast called "WTF"):

"In the garage I use two Shure SM7s into a Samson MDR6 mixer into Garage Band on my mac. On the road I use a Zoom H4n and two Blue Encore 100 mics."

The Samson looks doable. The SM57s are probably out of the range you were looking for. I know there are some comparable sounding mics at a lower price-point.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:59 PM on February 6, 2010


If you're doing your "two-person chat show," in the field and not in a studio, take a look at the Zoom H4N or the Zoom H2 (the H2 would be fine if you're doing mostly spoken word).
posted by Gerard Sorme at 8:49 PM on February 6, 2010


I posted this answer in an old podcasting thread, addressing specific price points.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:59 AM on February 7, 2010


Oh, and while this may be out of your price range, let me also recommend FilmJunk.com’s article about how they do their podcasting.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:02 AM on February 7, 2010


I hosted a very similar thing with friends before - Dead Space Radio, an "Eve Online" podcast -

We had 3x cheapo mics

Sourceforges - Audacity

2 Guitars

Lots of time


-Went really well. Make sure you get involvced in a little bit of the editing, sound effects - loops - ffade in/outs - littloe music snippets are all really really welcome (if chosen correctly) in any aural perforamance.


Not only the subject matter - but it must be pleasent to hear.


Good luck to you my friend
posted by Cogentesque at 7:14 AM on February 8, 2010


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