Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 Audio Interface Review and Demo

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Why did I buy the Focusrite?

I bought the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4* (2i4 on B&H | 2i4 on Amazon) after my beloved Griffin iMic died on me after a few years of hearty service. The iMic is a simple, small audio interface that accepts both line and mic. level sources with a 3.5mm connector and it does its job really well. So why not just buy another one? I was going to but I’m a gear junky so upgrading is common place.

The iMic is a little pricey for what it does ($35-$40) but again it’s well worth it. The price of the iMic led me to see what I could get if I invested a little more and I’ve been wanting to try the Focusrite series of audio interfaces for a very long time. This was my chance and a better justification for finally getting one. If I tripled my investment in a new iMic (give or take), I could get a lot more capability and power from the 2i4.

First Impressions and Test

In the audio (above) you heard my very first recordings using the 2i4. I plugged in my ATR2100 and recorded using Adobe Audition. The first same is raw (as recorded) and the second was lightly processed and loudness normalized. [Read more…]

TPS091: Gain Staging Any Mixer

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Setting up a mixer can be a difficult task. Even on the smallest mixers there are numerous buttons and knobs that all affect the audio you put into it. Knowing exactly which knobs to turn and when can be confusing at best and can wreck your audio at worst. In this episode I talk about how to gain stage (setup your microphone for proper audio levels) any mixer you might use as a podcaster.

Because beginning podcasters often start with a very limited budget, we tend to purchase mixers that don’t feature all the tools that some higher end mixers have such as PFL/Solo buttons for easier gain staging of your microphones. But even the cheapest mixers have the minimum controls to setup your levels properly. I talk about how to use both a channel’s peak light and/or the main mix meters to get your mixer operating a level that the manufacture intended it to be used at.


[Read more…]

TPS 072 – FetHead In-line Microphone Preamp

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Do you have a microphone, mixer or recorder that requires you to turn up the gain settings really loud in order to get a good signal? The FetHead might just be your answer to bringing those gain levels back down and reducing the hiss and noise you’re getting in your podcast’s audio.

To be clear, the FetHead is not a device you need. If you’re looking at getting an in-line preamp it’s likely that you take your podcast production pretty serious and you are now fine tuning your production gear in order to get the absolute best quality possible.FetHead

On this episode I talk more about why and when you might use an in-line preamp like the FetHead and demonstrate what it can do for your podcast setup. You’ll hear two audio samples that were recorded in order to demonstrate the preamp’s ability to bring down gain levels thus reducing the amount of hiss caused by cheaper preamps on a lot of mixers and recorders. [Read more…]

Purchased: Triton Audio FetHead

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I ordered a Triton Audio FetHead in-line preamp and it’s here. So what does it do?

You can click the above link for specs but the short of it is, it provides +20db of “ultra clean gain.”

Why would you want this? The simple answer is cleaner audio at higher levels.fethead

If you follow my microphone for podcasting advice, you’re likely using a dynamic microphone (Heil PR40, Shure SM58, ATR2100, etc). Often, these mics need a lot of gain in order to achieve proper audio levels which means cranking the preamp (gain knob) on your mixer or recorder close to its max. In general, I like to keep any preamp I’m using below 70% of full when possible. (Audio sample below). [Read more…]

How To Disable Skype’s Auto Gain and Echo Cancellation Controls

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Your version of Skype might be doing a couple things with your audio that you don’t want it to. Here’s how to fix it.

To disable Skype’s auto gain control (AGC) for both Mac (5.6.0.143 and later) and PC versions, simply go into your Preferrences > Audio/Video and deselect the Automatic Microphone Control checkbox. [Read more…]

PQT – Disable Skype’s Auto Gain Control

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If you weren’t already aware, Skype is likely controlling your audio levels. As podcasters, we want to make sure we are in control of all our settings all of the time. This is how you can make sure Skype isn’t changing your audio quality.

Skype just released (03/06/12) a new version of it’s software for the Mac (version 5.6.0.143). In this release they placed a check-box (already found in the Windows version) for controlling Skype’s auto gain control (AGC). What AGC does is listen to the proximity of your voice to the microphone and adjust the volume as necessary so that the person on the other end can always hear you at a decent level. However, as podcasters, we don’t want anyone besides us deciding what our gain level should be and we certainly don’t want it to change during recording.

Now you can simply go into your preferences audio/video settings and uncheck the “Automatically Adjust Microphone Settings” box. Then go into your computer’s settings and set the level you want your mic to be.

When enabled, AGC will constantly adjust the level of your audio based on your relationship to the mic and whether or not you are speaking into it. During times of silence or if you move too far away from the mic, this can cause the “noise floor” to be raised higher thus producing an audible hiss. Disabling AGC will help to prevent unwanted noise.

Links mentioned in this episode
How to disable Skype’s AGC and EC with HTML code

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PQT – A Powerful Facebook Strategy for Gaining More Listeners

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Find out about a powerful facebook strategy I use to potentially gain a large increase in the amount of people listening and subscribing to your podcast.
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