Monday, May 07, 2018

What Equipment I Use In My Podcast Studio

What's up?!

So the first episode of the Does Not Follow podcast has been recorded and will be up this week! I'm super excited to get this new podcast started after moving on from Heckle Radio. For the first episode my good friend, comedian Huggy Cris came into the studio.

The episode is in post-processing and will be up in the next few days. Check out my social media or for updates to the show!

I get a lot of questions about what equipment I use to record podcasts and do voice over work, so I thought I'd write a post and finally share. I posted links to everything I've referenced below so that you can check it out and compare for yourself.

When I started my first podcast/online radio show, I did a lot of research into what I needed to do to get professional audio. At first, I was using discount microphones from Amazon and a battery powered mixer. I had a small budget at that time, and needed to find affordable solutions. Investing in microphones and audio equipment can add up very quickly.

To be honest, I was getting fairly decent quality from that set up... but only after doing a lot of research into how to maximize the quality. The discount microphones actually performed much better than I could have anticipated. I was also recording in a dining room, so saving money with those dynamic microphones worked out because they picked up almost no background noise. You just had to make sure your mouth was right up on the mic.

However, the most important thing that I learned is that in order to get the best sound, you've got to have the best audio input possible. Just like with video, you're not going to get HD output, if you didn't record in HD to begin with. Processing can only do so much.

So as soon as I had the budget to invest more in the show, I started doing research on which microphones and setup would work best for what I was trying to do. What I found out is that most radio stations use Electro-Voice microphones, typically the RE20. However, those retail for around $500 a piece. Just getting two microphones would cost you $1,000! That's not including a mixer or a Cloudlifter to boost the audio (because these kinds of microphones are not powered).

The RE20 is a fantastic microphone that gives you that "booming" sound that you hear on morning radio. It's a classic. There's a reason that they have been the standard in radio studios for over 50 years. However, the price point was prohibitive to me so I needed to come up with something a little more affordable and I didn't want to sacrifice much in the way of quality.

The other option that comes highly recommended was the Sure SM7B microphone. This is the slick looking microphone you see a lot of podcasters use who also livestream, like Joe Rogan or the H3 Podcast. It's a great microphone, and it's a little more reasonably priced than the RE20 at around $400. A lot of people swear by it and it does have a clean, stylish look to it.

The SM7B was a serious contender for me until I listened to some side by side, unprocessed audio comparisons between it and another microphone I hadn't heard of before... The Elecro-Voice RE320. I thought there must have been some sort of catch or something I was missing, so I looked up all of the reviews and comparisons I could find. All of them sounded the same to me, the RE320 had outperformed the much more expensive microphones. At least in my opinion. I know that everyone has their preferences and may feel differently, but I was thoroughly impressed.

I also got very lucky because the RE320 typically retails for around $300, but at this time was listed at $249. So I was able to get two microphones for the same price as one RE20 and only $100 more than two SM7Bs.

What I love about the RE320 is that it has that "booming" traditional radio show sound (the variable D that EV talks about is real and spectacular btw), but also has more clarity in the higher ranges with a richer, brighter sound. I also think it has less distortion/feedback/hum than the SM7B because it seemed like the Shure microphone needed more boost. Again, just my opinion and personal preference. You really can't go wrong with any of those three.

Just before I upgraded to the RE320, I had also bought a new mixer because the one that I had didn't have digital input and output. So I sprung for a Yamaha MG10XU 10 input mixer that was on the lower end. I didn't need anything crazy, and for $200 it was within my budget. It has compression on two of the channels and is an excellent lower end mixer, that eliminated the need for any additional boost. I barely have to use any gain with it at all.

I rounded out my studio by lining the walls with 1" sound dampening foam, and mounted the mics by drilling holes and using the desk mounts for the Rode PSA1 boom arms. I used multi-colored XLR cables because they're fun and make it easy to track the cable back to the input source. I connect the mixer to my computer via USB from the Yamaha mixer and I'm all set to record. Now I have a fantastic studio on a relatively reasonable budget.

So there you have it!

My equipment links -
Microphones: Electro-Voice RE320
Mixer: Yamaha MGXU -
Boom Arm (Mic Stand): Rode PSA1
Multi-Colored XLR Cables:
Sound Dampening Foam:

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