How Stuff Works: My Podcasting Setup
Behringer Eurorack UB802 Mixing Desk
Often described as “the podcasters weapon of choice” this little mixing desk retails for about £50 (but can be found on Ebay for £30 plus postage from reputable sellers). It has two microphone channels that provide phantom power for condenser mics, and then space for two more stereo input devices. A good equalizer, pan and FX controls, and you’re all set to mix together the sounds.
Stagg MD-500 Dynamic Microphone
Picked up for the pricey sum of £15 and used in the minidisc before I got the 802, this microphone’s not perfect, but it’s cheap to replace and follows the 80/20 rule in that it does the job well enough while I get some money together to pick up two Shure SM58 microphones. Two mics for interviewing run on the first two ‘strips’ of the board.
MP3 Player (Music Playback)
Sits on strip three of the board, used to play back single music tracks for TPN Rock, or pre-recorded interviews that need slipped into a show. If you’re starting out, Tescos have some nice 256mb MP3 players that could do this job pretty well, but any music device would work here, be it Minidisc, an iPod or a specialist DJ CD Player (for example).
Tablet PC For Sound Effects And Skype Interviews
Sits on strip four of the board, and has two main uses…
Looking at TPN Rock, there’s a bundle of little things that need played. The network ident, the show sponsor wrappers, the internal adverts, the bumpers and jingles that lift the show up from being just a voice to something that feels alive. Previously I’ve been cutting and pasting these into the vocal track in an editing suite, but using the board allows me to mix these in as live. JazlerShow is a lovely bit of freeware, and well worth checking out if you need this sort of flexibility. It’s running on the Tablet PC in the pic above.
Skype Call Recording
I can take a Skype call ont he PC and then play it through the board – I’ll hear that side of the conversation on my monitor headphones, and I naturally have my microphone to record my side of the conversation. An additional headset mic is plugged into the PC (not the baord) to carry my voice down the Skype line. As it doesn’t come back (ensure the other person is using headphones for this) you can now balance both sides of the Skype call.
Not clear here, but get a pair of ‘closed’ headphones that go all around your ears (not the in-ear light ones) so you can focus purely on what’s being mixed. The board should have a headphone jack that’s seperate to the master output. On the UB802 it’s marked Phones/Control Room.
Something To Record The Output
I use my Minidisc to record the output from the board in wave format. After the sessionis finsihed, this uploads to the PC as a .wav file. The aforementioned Tesco MP3 players have a line in, so another £20 for your output. I wouldn’t recommend using the same PC that’s going into the board to record sound. I use an MZ-NH900 Sony Minidisc recorder, but the NH700 model would do jsut as well, and can be picked up on Ebay for between £30 and £40 pounds.
Let’s say the ebay price of £30 for the UB802, two microphones (£30) and two MP3 player/recorders (£40 for both) and assuming you already have a computer, there’s a competent set-up for £100.