In the past few weeks, we’ve received several emails on the equipment we use for the show.
Shure Beta 58A (x2): Our main recording mikes for the interviews. (You may have noticed a slight boost in audio quality with the last few shows. These mikes are one of the reasons why.)
Shure SM-57s (x3): Backup mikes, what we were using before we nabbed the Beta 58As. (Don’t ask us what we were using before that!)
Behringer UBB1002: A battery-powered mixer we use for large-scale interviews for more than two people. We can record anywhere on battery power! That was our goal in the first place with these podcasts: a sort of nouevelle vague romanticism of having audio facilities that we could schlep about without the need to plug in anywhere. What, our minds asked, if the power went out and the authors we talked with were in the middle of a stunning story? Of course, with real-world conversations, you simply pull the votives out of the cabinet and carry on. This may be a rather odd justification, but consider the other reason: In a public place, finding a place to plug in is often a pain in the ass, particularly if it makes our subjects have to uncomfortably hunch over or the like. We do our damnedest to make our guests comfortable. Hence, battery power.
This replaced our Samson Mixpad 9, which we picked up used, not realizing that it was designed for live PA situations rather than what we were doing.
Samson Mixpad 9: We maintain this as a shaky backup. Or in the event that all audio production facilities suddenly stop manufacturing mixers. Actually, we’re not quite certain why we still have this. Probably because it sounds like a drum machine when it really isn’t. (Used for Show #11.)
Sony Minidsc Recorder MZ-R70: We’ve had this puppy since 1999, believe it or not. And it’s served our purposes extremely well. We’ve definitely put 200,000 miles on this trusty Dodge Dart, but catastrophically dropped this in a Manhattan subway a year ago. The thing still works, but it does have its occasional quirks, which we clean up in post.
Audacity: Yes, we use this. It actually works very well for a lot of basic cleanup and cuts. And the best part is that it’s free.
Cakewalk Sonar: We can’t say enough fantastic things about this multitrack editor. We haven’t tried Cubase or Garage, but there’d have to be an utterly compelling case to get us to change.
Sound Forge: If Audacity doesn’t do the trick for a specific audio gaffe, you’ll find us firing up this application and doing our damnedest to restore the audio.
It takes us at least 20 hours to produce a podcast. That includes booking the guest, reading the book(s), doing the research, preparing our questions, doing an equipment check, conducting the interview, dumping the audio into our computer, engineering the puppy, uploading and promoting it.
Radio Shack is actually quite fantastic for affordable mike stands, Y-adapters and ancillary doodads. It is not so good for mikes. Believe me, your microphone matters!
The better it sounds in production, the less work you’ll have to do in post. So it’s important to get the best signal possible in the field!
Organizing and booking guests is sometimes more time-consuming than you might imagine. But we do enjoy the many people we’ve talked with along the way and hope to meet several of them in person at BookExpo America.