Starting a semi-basic podcasting setup

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by turbocats, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. turbocats

    turbocats Active Member

    Mar 29, 2012

    Forgive my noob-ness, but I am looking for advice on setting up a podcasting environment at home. Right now, my friends and I are recording on terrible USB headsets, and we are getting a lot of echo/pickup in each other's mics whilst recording. I know that better equipment doesn't necessarily solve the underlying issue of proximity to each other, but I would like to create a setup that produces higher quality audio from the start. Let me lay my situation out for you...

    To record podcasts and occasional voice work for video

    1. Must be semi-friendly to work with, must be USB (recording via Garageband/Audacity)
    2. Must be Mac compatible (not sure if there are discrepancies with particular equipment)
    3. Must support up to 4 people podcasting together in the same room (both headphones and microphones)
    4. Must be as cost-effective as possible

    To this point, I have 100% wholesale stolen the setup from Washington's Beard (Beginning - Washington's Beard), and the equipment is:
    Macbook Air 11.6” laptop
    -Alesis MultiMix 8 USB FX sound mixer
    -Audio-Technica AT2020 microphones
    -Rolls HA43 Pro headphone amplifier
    -XLR cables
    -On Stage DS7200B microphone stands
    -1/4” stereo jack to RCA cable

    They state that their setup ends up costing around $500. I would like to be less than that, ideally being closer to $300, but I am open to suggestion.

    Is the equipment setup overkill?
    Where can I save money?
    Are there components that would better fit my needs?

    I apologize for any incoherence, as some of this is over my head. I just need to know if I am heading down the right path. Please provide any comments/concerns that you deem necessary, and thank you for your time.

  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    How many mics are you needing to use simultaneously? I own several AT mics, they are quite good, but the 2020 is their lower end condenser, which in your scenario is not good as they pick up too much of the room's acoustics which adversely affects the overall sound. Instead, check out deals on the Shure SM58 (or even the 57, with windscreens). Much better for voices and better rejection of the room sounds. I would also recommend staying clear of Rolls gear, their headphone amp is whimpy and cheaply built. Even ART is better than those dogs.
  3. turbocats

    turbocats Active Member

    Mar 29, 2012
    moonbaby, I am looking to have 3-4 mics active all at the same time. My current problem is that...well...we are using USB headsets, and even when only using two, we are still picking up echo. I have a rather long desk (around 8 feet long), and even sitting at opposite ends, we are still getting echo. With the new setup, I may look to record on my laptop (2008 Macbook Pro) rather than my desktop (Mac Pro) because we can sit in the living room and be farther apart than we are now.

    Yet again, I appreciate the input. I'd like to get the best quality equipment possible for the lowest cost, so if going with an ART amp will work better for me than Rolls, I will certainly keep that in mind.
  4. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    Jun 2, 2004
    Eugene, Oregon
    Hi, turbocats,

    If you're getting echo with only two headsets, then you may have some other issue going on. Are you sure that you are recording through the headsets and not just through the on-board computer mic? I realize you're all WEARING the headsets, but you would also need to set a headset as the audio source in your software to actually make it active, and then you would only have ONE headset set as your audio source. So right now maybe you have one person whose audio is clear because their headset is the active one, and everyone else is just being picked up from a distance by that headset? How are you connecting 4 USB headsets to your computer now? Going through some kind of USB mixer? What model headsets are you using? Are you monitoring so loud that the sound from the headsets is going back into the mics? When I've done podcasts with decent quality Logitec headsets, there's very little room sound. That's the whole idea of headsets with the mic right next to your mouth. You shouldn't be getting much room noise at all. The Logitecs we use go for around $40 or so each. Your list of proposed gear is really a very entry-level bunch of kit. Any other higher quality set up with separate mics and heaphones is going to cost you WAY more than your stated budget. For decent quality microphones and headphones that would typically be used in radio, for instance, each mic and each set of headphones will cost a bare minimum of $100 each, and go up quickly from there. More info about how you've got everything hooked up will help us help you.

    Have fun!

  5. turbocats

    turbocats Active Member

    Mar 29, 2012

    I am going to give you as much insight as I can provide on my process and how things have been working to this point...

    My headset is this one: - Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 USB Connector Circumaural Stereo Headset

    My brother (who is podcasting with me in the same room) is using this headset: Logitech Digital Precision PC Gaming Headset - headset - Behind-the-neck, Binaural

    We are recording on a Mac Pro, sitting at a desk, facing a wall (wall is 3-4 feet away, 3-4 feet of distance between the two of us), and using Garageband (from iLife '08). To get our mics to input properly, we are using the Audio MIDI software and creating an aggregate input device, and I believe we did the same so that we could hear the podcast in our headphones as we recorded (aggregate output device). All of these things were set up properly in Garageband, and we did several test recordings to make sure there wasn't TOO MUCH echo (may have still been slight).

    What I am finding is that, after recording for 10-15 minutes, the echo gets worse and is eventually always noticeable. I am not sure what the deal is...maybe we get a bit louder as we go, maybe our sound is bouncing off the wall, maybe the recording equipment is not of high enough quality, maybe we should spread out more, or maybe there is a setting in Garageband that I need to set that I don't know about (and no, it is not the Echo/Reverb/etc on particular input channels; I have turned that off). I can tell, however, after recording our podcast, that we are being picked up in each other's mics (just by muting my channel and playing back; him not so much in mine, but a good deal of me in his)

    Currently, there are just the two of us recording. So that is only 2 USB headsets. On my Mac Pro, however, I believe that there are AT LEAST 4 USB ports, and if we were to need more USB ports just for USB headsets, I would likely invest in a nice, powered USB hub.

    I hope that this gives you a bit more information into our recording process thus far. By trade, I am a Graphic Designer and Animator, and I have had experience with sound editing, along with a bit of sound recording, but this is getting to be a bit outside my current comfort zone. I would like to get the echo problem solved so that the next time we record, I feel comfortable posting that audio for other people to hear. If you have any insight to provide, that would be much appreciated.

  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    First you were indicating that you are utilizing a AT 2020. You indicate you have a USB mixer which accepts analog XLR inputs from microphones. The microphone on your head says is a total piece of omnidirectional crap! What you don't understand is that they are crap. The headphones are usable is headphones and that's all. You should be feeding the headphones from your mixer. You should get yourself 4 SM58's and an additional 4 foam pop filters for them just like any other radio station would utilize. You mix them together through the mixer and then take that USB output from the mixer to the USB input of any computer. Laptops generally have quieter fans than desktops.

    Podcasting doesn't mean you have to be utilizing USB anything. And in fact it's more counterproductive that way. More like idiotic if you ask me. The echoing is due to all of the latency with your multiple USB microphones and headphones. And that's why you should be utilizing the analog portion of your mixer with regular unidirectional dynamic microphones and not condenser microphones. Condenser microphones pick up all the crap in the room that you don't want. Unidirectional dynamic microphones will only pick up your voices independently, clearly, without echoes and other room noises due to their lower sensitivity.

    Your other problem is sitting 3-4 feet from a wall. The kick of your vocals against the wall makes it back to the microphones too quickly causing severe phase cancellation and all sorts of other abnormal audible anomalies. You don't face the wall. You face away from the wall into the room proper. You want as much space away from your microphones from any wall as possible. So yeah, sitting in your living room everybody in comfortable chairs and couches is really the way to go. And you'll need a couple of microphones with booms on them for proper positioning for each person. This is the way it's done in radio and you are doing radio on the Internet. Then all you need to do in your software is perhaps add some limiting and that's all.

    Former 20 year veteran with NBC network radio/TV.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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