Thursday, August 26, 2010


Well, this week I finally managed to sell my rifle, and early this morning, I ordered my Technical Pro PM-22 Podcast kit with the cash.

I can't wait.

The kit is a four-input, six channel mixer that comes with two dynamic microphones with desk stands and two sets of studio-grade headphones. From the specs and reviews it's exactly what I need. In fact, that's what it was designed for…a relatively cheap podcasting mixer with all the features you need and none of the ones you don't.

It's going to make my life much easier.

When we record the podcast now, Sunny and I have to share a mic. Anyone who's ever tried to produce any audio can tell you what a nightmare that is.

It's amazing the amount of stuff I have to do after recording just to get the podcast listenable. With the mic gain set so you can hear us both, it also picks up the fridge running two rooms away and the crickets chirping outside. Set the gain to cut that out and we'd have to talk for an hour with our foreheads pressed together next to the mic. Also, with everything set to record me perfectly, Sunny is barely audible….with everything set to record Sunny perfectly, my voice shakes the windows. Plus, if one of us leans forward or back in our chairs, or turns our head while we're speaking, the volume and clarity of our voices and can change dramatically.

In other words, the podcast takes about an hour and a half to record…but it takes me close to five hours to edit. Basically, the raw audio sounds like a bad telephone line. Tons of background noise, tinny voices, one voice at a comfortable volume with the other either too loud or too quiet. Plus, while I can use filters and EQ settings to make our voices sound great, our voices are very different and require different settings, which means either Sunny can sound good or I can…or I go for something in between that makes both better but not quite right.

In fact, that sums up the whole podcast recording process right now, trying to find a 'happy medium'…the best we can do is 'adequate'. If we want 'A' just right, then 'B' is way off…so we have to go for a middle setting where 'A' and 'B' are just 'sort of ok'.

That's why I'm looking forward to getting the mixer so much.

Firstly, the mics are dynamic and not condenser mics, and because we can actually be right in front of them, we can have the gain turned down enough to where we can actually have a fan or something running in the room. That's been a huge problem up to now. Because having the A/C and fan on makes the podcast sound like we recorded it next to a running jet engine during an earthquake, we have to turn everything off. Given that it can be 90+ degrees here at midnight, what you don't see (and why Watermelon Helmet isn't a video podcast), is that 15 minutes in, we're burning up and sweating like pigs.

It'll also be really nice to be able to hear the audio as we're recording and not have to watch the recording wave like a hawk. During recording I constantly have to force myself to talk quieter or signal Sunny to speak up every five minutes. That's something Sunny does a lot…she starts out projecting her voice, but when we get into the conversation, I think she forgets we're recording and just has a conversation. This is exactly what we want, a normal, natural conversation…but when Sunny talks normally, her voice tends to go very, very soft.

Plus, and this is a huge deal, I can set the levels, bass and treble settings individually on the mixer before recording…in other words, our voices will be at the same comfortable level with individual settings to enhance our voices. In other words, I can have the bass and treble for my voice where it sounds good without Sunny sounding like an alien and vce-versa.

Another big timesaver is that I can put the jingles/stingers etc into the podcast live instead of adding them in post production…and that extra channel means I could also Skype someone into the podcast. Recording Skype conversations is usually quite complicated requiring extra software, but with the mixer, I could simply start Skype on Sunny's laptop and feed the audio from that directly into the mixer.

So who knows? Maybe a special guest sometime in the future (I'm looking at you, Mike, Michelle and Evan)…in fact, I was thinking the recent 'ping-pong' blogposts between Evan and myself would make quite an interesting podcast episode.

Anyway, our next episode that will be up this weekend should be our last recorded the current way. The mixer is due to arrive this Tuesday, so I'll try it out and post a full review next week.


MC Etcher said...

You're doing a great job editing - we the listeners have no idea that all that extraneous sound is going on.

Keep up the good work, glad the new equipment will make your job easier.

Evan 08 said...

What Etcher said...

And yeah, I'd skype on and do it.