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How Geeks Of Rage Records A Podcast

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How Geeks Of Rage Records A Podcast

Postby BestInShowBrian » March 6th, 2012, 12:15 am

I'm not sure how interesting this is for everyone (anyone), but I threw together a (low quality) "schematic" diagram reflecting the equipment setup I use to record Geeks Of Rage, and figured I'd share it here (I also took a pic of the “studio”, which is to say my kitchen, as I set it up right before everyone gets there every week) and maybe briefly discuss how we do our show in case anyone wanted to try their own podcast at home.
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Geeks Of Rage is a pretty bare bones production, and since we only do a podcast (and don't stream a live show, for example) it makes the setup even more basic/simple. Since there are three of us speaking live in one room, we use basic dynamic vocal microphones (in our case Shure PG48), mounted on tabletop microphone stands with pop filter assemblies attached to them. Each of these microphones are attached to their own input on a small format desktop audio mixer (in our case the Behringer Eurorack UB1202).
The mixer might be called the "heart" of any recording setup, as it reflects the central control location for most of the sounds that would be generated during any show, allowing you to control how each input sounds, so that they can all sound good together. The mixer we use is a small desktop model, and has a total of 12 inputs, but that's really kind of deceiving. The first 4 inputs are strictly for use with microphones, and they incorporate "Invisible" Mic Preamps (IMPs) which boost the relatively low signal that comes from standard microphones. In this way, we can have as many as 4 people sitting at the table speaking live through microphones without the need to purchase separate microphone pre-amp equipment that would normally be responsible for boosting low mic signals. The remaining 8 inputs run through a separate "bus" which is not pre-amped, and thus are reserved for signals that don't need to be boosted as much, which in our case would be someone's portable mp3 player that has a song on it that they'd like to play on the show live (for example). However, each of those 8 signals are mono (single channel), and since sound signals are so typically generating sound in stereo (2 channels), the board mashes together the controls for mono inputs 5&6 (and 7&8, and 9&10, and 11&12) onto one control column, allowing a “pan” control to fade between those two channels. In that way, those 8 mono inputs become 4 stereo inputs, reflecting a total of 8 “practical” inputs available for use with this mixer (4 microphone + 4 non-microphone things). In this way, I use the first 3 of the 4 microphone inputs for each of us (which I modulate volumes individually to match each other as well as sound sources like the mp3 player and the PC to be described later), and I keep a cable plugged into line 11&12 with an 1/8” male plug at the end, ready to plug into anyone’s phone or mp3 player if they have something they want to play on the air.
I use the two 1/4” left/right mono main outputs of the mixer (converging them both to one stereo signal with a cable adapter) to send those sounds we’ve maintained through the mixer into the 1/8” “line in” input of our main recording PC’s soundcard (a Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS). On this PC I run recording software (I use Sony’s “Sound Forge”) to record those sounds coming into the PC from the mixer. Because the soundcard has duplex capabilities (in simple terms that means that it can both play sound and record sound simultaneously - most modern soundcards are duplex now), I’m also able to record sounds that I play on that PC directly into the same recording that’s pulling audio from the mixer live. This allows me to play songs from an existing library on that PC, or even pull audio from the internet, especially sites like YouTube, etc. This software also allows me to do any editing after the show is recorded (which I personally try to keep to a minimum like trimming out the dead moments from before the intro song, but you could manipulate the sound in a variety of ways with such software) as well as things like noise cleanup and normalization (bringing the low signals up and the high signals down) to make the end product sound as “nice” as possible. The software also allows me to save it as an mp3 at the proper compression rates to minimize compression effect on quality and control filesize.
The hosts need to hear what’s being played and recorded as well, especially their own voices, so that they know when they’re getting too close to, or far from, their microphones. I use the 1/4“ headphones out jack of the sound card (mine has a front panel interface separate from the rear input channel) and connect that to a desktop mini headphone amplifier (Samson S Amp), which allows me to plug as many as 4 headphones (Sennheiser HD201) into, with individual volume controls for each of them. That way, if Mike who has blown his ears out with countless hours of Guitar Hero needs to have his headphones cranked up to a volume that would make Vealchop’s ears bleed, I can give everyone the volume they are comfortable with, without needing to have to change the volume of what the recording computer “hears” (so I can get relatively consistent recording levels between episodes).
Sorry if I went long, but believe it or not, the post started out even longer. I’d be happy to answer any questions if anyone has them. Perhaps other shows could chime in with their setups or differences, particularly as it pertains to added functionality and complexity we don’t use (streaming, incorporating phones, Skype, etc.)
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BestInShowBrian
 
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Re: How Geeks Of Rage Records A Podcast

Postby Goatweed » March 6th, 2012, 11:25 pm

love the setup, and especially the Keurig machine - no podcast is complete without one!

your PC case looks a little familiar...

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(don't judge me by my rustic 80's flake-wood walls - I can't afford a full drywall renovation of my basement right now)
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