Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 Audio Interface Review and Demo

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…]

TPS093: Get a Mix-minus into a Smartphone and overview of the Mackie 402VLZ4

How do you get audio from your phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) into your mixer? The simple answer is you plug it in. You can use a basic stereo cable (I prefer this “Y” cable*), plug one end into your phone’s headphone output Mackie402VLZ4and place the other end into an available channel on your mixer and now you can take audio from the phone into your recordings.  But what if you want to also send all the audio from the mixer (your mic, your co-host, sound FX, etc.) back to the person on the phone without them hearing themselves? That’s called a mix-minus and you can use a couple different devices to achieve this setup.  [Read more…]

Mackie 402VLZ4 Mixer

The Mackie 402VLZ ultra-compact mixer* is an excellent audio mixer for first time podcasters. “Built like a tank” the 402 is encased in steel with quality feeling knobs, sealed to prevent dust from invading the insides of the mixer. The first thing you’ll notice when you pull this mixer from the box is how well it’s built and its small size. This thing feels like a road warrior, built to be taken with you when necessary.

 

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TPS092: Social Sponsorships and the Behringer Q802USB Mixer

What’s the value of a new podcast subscriber? Would you trade 20, 50, 100 dollars an episode for a new subscriber? Two new subscribers?

Social-Sponsorship-graphicA podcast sponsorship can be a hard deal to negotiate and for many smaller shows it’s not likely worth the tradeoff; having to put ads in your content for a small monetary return. But what if the exchange was not money but instead something likely more important to a podcast… new listeners.

Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing for any podcast. Trading ad space on your show for an introduction to a targeted, relevant, interested group of potential new subscribers may have bigger returns and is almost certainly a much easier form of sponsorship to obtain.

Social sponsorship is sponsorship deal for the rest of us. The average podcaster does not carry the number of subscribers that most ad buyers would want to see for CPM based deals. Yes you can cultivate a one on one sponsorship with someone who has a relevant business but when it comes to asking for money it’s often a much harder sale. [Read more…]

Behringer Xenyx Q802USB Mixer Overview

The Behringer Q802USB mixer* is a great choice if you are looking for a mixer that can handle most podcasting applications for less than $100.

A good preamp is where a good mixer starts. The Q802USB has Behringer’s Xenyx preamps and they perform very well in this mixer. With plus 60DB of gain, the preamps in this mixer are enough to power most dynamic microphones including the Heil PR40 and the ATR2100, two of my microphones that require the most gain. Even at the top range of this preamp, I was able to get clean audio.


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

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…]

Webcam Lighting Setup

One of the biggest ways to make your Google Hangout or any other type of video look its best is to make sure you have good lighting. Really any lighting that you put a little effort into will do wonders. The key is to get adequate amounts of light in front of your face so the audience can easily see you and the camera will look it’s best.

You can accomplish this with any lights you have in the house, office or wherever you are broadcasting from. Often I just use a nice large window (see below) with plenty of daylight coming in. This looks wonderful but can be hard to control. When the clouds pass in front of the sun, your lighting will change dramatically. While I love the look of natural light, the best way to ensure you have consistent, great looking light is by using lights that you control.

Lighting setup for HOA

In the image below you’ll see a more advanced lighting setup that I recently used on my G+ HOA based show, Podcasters’ Roundtable. [Read more…]

How to Setup a Mix Minus for Recording Skype

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.
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TPS082: Zoom H6 and Crowdfunding for Podcasters

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
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