19 NOVEMBER 2017
written by Mike
AND AUDIO GADGETS
The most beautiful aspect of podcasting is how little you actually need to get started. Thanks to the internet, the distribution is free but even with the equipment – you don’t need to spend a fortune to get working.
Of course, there is a difference between starting a low-budget show and a full–on drama series.
Today I want to talk about the minimal setup as well as what I’m currently using to produce audio shows like Casefile.
You will need a working computer – it can be a laptop, a desktop or whatever you have got at the moment. It needs to be fast enough to process audio files, and for that, you will need a good hard drive (SSD would be recommended) and enough RAM (fast processor will help too).
At the beginning, you don’t need much and shouldn’t be looking into buying a brand new system, when I started producing podcasts I used my old MacBook Pro from 2011. I did upgrade RAM and SSD, but for nearly a year I worked on that.
At the moment I’m working on 27-inch iMac with upgraded RAM. It was a necessary upgrade – the production I’m doing right now is much involved than it was in the beginning.
To start, you will need an audio sequencer – a program that lets you edit and record a podcast. There is no need to go for the most expensive software, something like Garageband, Pro Tools First, Audition or Audacity will be fine.
Most sequencers are similar, it’s just the interface that looks different, and once you understand the basics, you will be able to change to something else with ease.
In the beginning, choose something that looks and feels most comfortable for you. I would recommend doing a bit of research and trying out demos and free versions. You won’t be investing in third-party plugins and tools, therefore, choose a software that offers the best all-in-one.
I’ve used many different sequencers in the past. However, I’ve always come back to main two – Apple Logic for music and Avid Pro Tools for audio editing and mix.
Over a year ago I decided to simplify even further, and once I was happy that Pro Tools could fulfil my scoring needs, I moved everything there.
At the moment I’m using Pro Tools 12 for scoring, editing, recording and mixing.
Again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to start. There are plenty of USB microphones to choose from, with Blue Mic company being the most popular. The thing with mics is that you will need one that works well with your voice, that compliments your narration. That’s quite difficult to achieve because you probably won’t have a chance to test many different setups.
USB is the best solution because you won’t need anything else – no extra cables, no stands, no audio interface.
I don’t have my podcast, but the microphone I use for other recordings is Shure SM7B. It’s a legendary voice microphone, mostly used for broadcasting. To operate it I need an audio interface as well as a gain booster; it’s not the simplest solution to start with.
Editing and mixing on computer speakers is a no. You won’t need expensive audio monitors (professional speakers), but good headphones are a must – especially for editing. There is no need to overspend but beware of a consumer product; you need something that will give you the most detailed and neutral representation of sound as possible. Of course, having a pair of two of consumer headphones for a reference is a good way to make sure that the mix sounds good on different systems.
For editing and mixing, I use Sony MDR-7506 closed-cup headphones. I also have a few pairs of earbuds – from cheap to more expensive. I use them to reference the mix and get the picture how it will sound on different devices.
Plugins are the tools that will make your recording and mix sound good. These are the reverbs, compressors, EQ and other sound changing solutions. When you start, you will use plugins that are available in the audio sequencer of your choice – that’s why choosing one that offers the best range will be a smart choice. For example, even though Pro Tools is my operating program, it doesn’t come with a wide selection of plugins. Unless you have bought something from a third party – it may not be a good solution.
On the other hand, something like Logic or Adobe Audition comes with a wide selection of tools that will help you during production. Research of what you will need (which will change as you progress anyway) and select a program that will help you rather that limit you.
For my work, I use third-party plugins from Izotope, for mixing and mastering. These tools are the best on the market but come with a quite high price tag – you won’t need them when you start, but if you ever want to get into professional audio production you will need to familiarise yourself with iZotope.
My last word of advice is not to go overboard with the gear and gadgets. Most of us want to start with the best equipment, whatever hobby we pick up.
Make sure you can start on the cheap and only if you like it and want to continue, then start upgrading. There is nothing worse than getting the hype, spending lots of money on something that will gather dust in the corner of your room.
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