Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

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Dale
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Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by Dale »

I'm researching equipment to record podcasts directly to a Macbook. I need a two- (or ideally, 3-, or 4-) microphone setup and whatever kind of mixer is required for this kind of thing.

I need capabilities to do 2 kinds of podcasts. In the first, I'd call people and record the conversation.

In the second, I'd have as many as 3 or 4 people, including myself, with microphones in a live setting.

I gather I need the mics and a mixer.

Help?
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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by swizzlestick »

A mixer? Maybe not.

First, I am no expert in this area, but I have some practical experience. Let me throw out a few ideas for the group's consideration.

Traditional mixers have their place. And I have no intention of giving mine up. But the trend in home and portable recording is away from mixers to audio interfaces with mixing and DAW software on the computer.

A mixing board needs a heavy power supply and is a bit large for portable use. It's mechanically complicated with a number of switches, rheostats, meters that drive up the price and leave it more susceptible to damage during travel. Plus most small mixing boards only deliver two output channels to the computer. If you can deliver every channel to the PC, you have more options in the DAW or software mixer. There are advantages too, but these mostly come out when you have more sophisticated needs such as more mics, MIDI devices, direct instrument inputs or aux sends.

If I was buying for portable recording with a laptop, I would go with a small, rugged USB audio interface (running on just USB power) with the right number of mic inputs.
Last edited by swizzlestick on Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by Dale »

swizzlestick wrote:A mixer? Maybe not.

First, I am no expert in this area, but I have some practical experience. Let me throw out a few ideas for the group's consideration.

Traditional mixers have their place. And I have no intention of giving my up. But the trend in home and portable recording is away from mixers to audio interfaces with mixing and DAW software on the computer.

A mixing board needs a heavy power supply and is a bit large for portable use. It's mechanically complicated with a number of switches, rheostats, meters that drive up the price and leave it more susceptible to damage during travel. Plus most small mixing boards only deliver two output channels to the computer. If you can deliver every channel to the PC, you have more options in the DAW or software mixer. There are advantages too, but these mostly come out when you have more sophisticated needs such as more mics, MIDI devices, direct instrument inputs or aux sends.

If I was buying for portable recording with a laptop, I would go with a small, rugged USB audio interface (running on just USB power) with the right number of mic inputs.
Thanks. Great advice. I've been looking at the USB audio interfaces and I think you're exactly right. Got one ordered.

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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by highland-piper »

You need a USB interface with four or more microphone preamps.

I use the Focusrite 18i8 but there are others. I picked the Focusrite primarily on the strength of the reviews of the stability of the Windows drivers, which obviously isn't an issue for you. You could probably get a Tascam us-800 on ebay pretty cheap. I have one I need to sell. It works fine but the drivers weren't stable on my PC.

With the interface, you will record the inputs from each of the microphones separately, and then mix them together after. You will need software for doing the recording and mixing. Adobe Audition is not frequently mentioned in reviews of such software, but it is supposedly widely used in the broadcast industry.

A cheaper, but fully featured alternative is called Reaper. You can try it before you buy it.
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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by swizzlestick »

I use and like Focusrite too, but I don't have enough experience with other USB interfaces to recommend it over other brands. But the drivers have been trouble-free on several versions of Windows. I gather that is not always the case.

Reaper is one of two DAWs I am using now. Very nice product and extremely good value. I just have to find the time to learn more about what it can really do.
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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by MarkP »

To podcast four people sitting around a table talking you would only really need one decent omni conference mic or maybe two.
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Re: Basic recording set-up for straight-to-Mac podcasting

Post by swizzlestick »

MarkP wrote:To podcast four people sitting around a table talking you would only really need one decent omni conference mic or maybe two.
You are right, of course. Many fine recordings have been done that way.

But you might miss the ability to edit each voice and emphasize what you want your listener to hear. Especially nice to have individual tracks if someone is soft-spoken or seated farther away. And an omnidirectional mic is much more susceptible to background noise.
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