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.


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How to Setup Any Mixer – Gain Staging without PFL or Solo Buttons

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For many podcasters, mixers do not include Pre Fader Listen (PFL) or Solo buttons which are commonly used on more expensive mixers for properly setting audio levels.

 

Gain staging is the process of setting proper audio levels through your entire audio chain. On a mixer this starts with the gain knob (located at the top of each channel strip) which controls the sensitivity of your microphone or input and finishes at the output, your main mix. [Read more…]

TPS088: Compression for Podcasts with Randy Coppinger

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Ever wonder when, how or why to use compression when post-processing your podcast? If the answer is yes then this is your episode. Randy Coppinger, professional audio engineer, talks with me about using compression for your spoken word podcast and just as importantly, when not to.compressor

We talk about what compression can do for your audio, how it can damage it and all the factors that go into the results you’ll get from a compressor including your microphone.

After that we dive into how you might want to set up a compressor or at least where to start. If you feel lost when you look at a compressor, don’t worry, we all were at some point.

The key element is practice. You just need to start turning the knobs. This episode will help you understand what to listen for when using compression and how to improve your post processing techniques for your podcast.

[Read more…]

Aspen Mics HQ-S Stereo Lavalier Microphone

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Aspen Mics* has a new series of lavalier microphones called HQ (High Quality). I first saw these mics tweeted out by @cheesycam who often reviews lower priced gear for DSLR video shooters. For a mic called HQ, these mics had an interesting price point around $50 but what made that attractive was their quality. Upon first listen, the mics seem to produce nice clean audio without having to run your recorders preamp at full gain.

[Read more…]

How to Setup a Mix Minus for Recording Skype

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If you need to setup a mix-minus to record Skype for your podcast, this tutorial will show you the gear* you’ll need and how to connect it all together.

Below is a complete photo walkthrough of the mix-minus setup demonstrated in the video above.

The basic concept of a mix-minus is to input multiple sources of audio into an audio mixer (your microphone, sound cart, phone messages, Skype, etc.) then send that audio back out to Skype, minus (without) the Skype caller’s voice.

This setup is achieved by using an auxiliary output to selectively send certain audio out of the mixer. If you send all the audio that is in the mixer, back to Skype, then the person on the other side will hear a feedback loop of their own voice. So we need to exclude (minus) Skype’s audio (the person’s voice) from going back into Skype.

Depending on your mixer’s manufacture, the auxiliary output may be labeled Aux, FX or Mon Send. They’ll all work as auxiliary outputs in this setup.
[Read more…]

TPS082: Zoom H6 and Crowdfunding for Podcasters

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There are many ways to record your podcast. One of my favorites is directly to a digital audio recorder. The Zoom H6 is the newest in a long line of audio recorders but this one stands out amongst them all. With four truly dedicated microphone inputs and the ability to add two more XLR combo inputs, the H6 is a portable podcasting studio.Zoom H6 kit
[Read more…]

TPS 076: Random Thoughts on Recording Audio

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I try a new way of recording my podcast (mic to Fethead to H4n, no mixer) and have a totally off-the-cuff episode filled with other thoughts about recording audio. In other words… I go off “script.”

The Podcasters' Studio

I also talk about SD vs HD video hosting and production. In my opinion, there is no reason to produce video in anything other than HD. You can always fall back to SD if you need it but you can never go from SD to HD. Future proof your productions by shooting in HD and then compress that file into whatever size you need. [Read more…]

PQT – Focus Your Podcast’s Budget

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Podcast Quick Tips Most podcasts are a hobby endeavor which usually means budgets for gear, websites, software and everything else involved in making a podcast is limited. When deciding where to put your money first, focus on the elements of your podcast that are most likely to affect the overall quality of your show.

The best place to start is your microphone. This is likely the single largest factor in getting a good sounding podcast. The best budget microphone on the market, as of the date of this post (02/15/13), is the ATR2100 from Audio Technica.

For less than $50 U.S., you get a dynamic mic (best for the typical podcast studio) that produces excellent audio quality (on par with the infamous HEiL PR40) and plugs directly into your computer via USB. [Read more…]

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