I am not a podcaster. I do not think I have the voice for continued listening.
However, I am a sound guy, and I am anal about it. I did a search online to
find out what equipment is necessary for podcasting and every time I came back with:
PC Editing Software
For each item on this list I have heard some very disturbing suggestions for what
type/brand to use. I thought I would dispel some myths about each piece of hardware.
Behringer is not a professional product line. They say they are; they are NOT.
I said it, and I will say it again: Behringer does not make professional equipment.
No way, no how. They market the products as professional equipment that all
the big stars use, but in actual fact the equipment would never make it on a tour.
It can’t. It’s not stable enough, and it’s not reliable enough. It WILL
Enough ranting about that. There are two main types of Microphones you will
be dealing with when podcasting. Dynamic and Condenser. They both have
their merits. Dynamic microphones are usually cheaper because they are easier
to make. The sound quality is theoretically lesser than a Condenser Mic.
And a Dynamic Mic does not need an external power source.
Sound quality is always an issue when recording. However, a podcast is 99% vocal.
At least on the recording side it is. On the frequency spectrum vocals range
between 80 Hz and 1100Hz. You do not need a super-ultra-fantastic microphone
for this job. In some cases you do, but generally if that were the case you
wouldn’t be reading this article – you would be talking to an audio recording professional.
You also have your choice between a Cardioid and an Omni-directional Mic. An
Omni-directional microphone will pick up sound from 360 degrees. It’s great
for dealing with multiple people talking at once, but horrible if you are talking
in a loud environment. A Cardioid (pronounced: car-dee-oid) microphone is directional.
It will pick up sound from a single direction, and is excellent if you are the only
person talking in a very noisy environment.
My two cents: go talk to a sound guy directly and tell them what you are doing.
They will understand. Brand-wise I like Shure and Sennheisser. By all
means contact me if you want more help.
A pre-amp will do one of two things, but first I need to explain how a microphone
works. Essentially a microphone works by producing a very small electrical signal
that is a representation of the sound hitting a membrane within the microphone capsule.
Different types of microphones (electret, condenser, dynamic, piezoelectric etc) capture
and translate the frequency patterns differently. The important thing to know
is that the electrical signal coming out of the microphone is extremely low.
The voltage is so low that most recorders cannot handle the voltage. They need
more. A pre-amp takes care of this problem. It amplifies the signal just
enough so the recorder can use it properly. In some cases microphones need voltage
going to them before they can actually produce a signal. Condenser microphones
are notorious for this. The required voltage is called Phantom Power.
It’s a long winded explanation of what actually happens with the phantom power, but
for all intensive purposes, the pre-amp will usually take care of the phantom power
too. This is definitely something you need to talk to a sound guy directly about.
I never got into digital recording, but just from basic analog to digital conversion
theory, here are some thoughts:
Get a recorder that converts to a lossless format. .Wav files are the most standard.
When recording you want the highest possible quality available.
Get a recorder that has a balanced audio input. XLR is balanced. Get a
microphone that outputs through XLR, and a pre-amp that takes XLR and outputs XLR.
You will end up with better quality. Balanced connections do wonders for interference.
It won’t remove interference already in the system, but it will prevent any other
from getting in.
Get one that is durable. You will drop it. You just will.
PC Editing Software
For editing the podcast you want a piece of software that can handle multiple tracks.
This allows you to layer chunks of audio without losing data. It also gives
you more wiggle room to move parts around. I like Adobe Audition. There
are many others out there though.