My current podcast travel rig2013-07-16
Recording For Immediate Release when I’m on the road isn’t as easy as using Callburner or some other drop-dead-simple software that records two sides of a Skype call. There’s a lot of third-party audio my podcast partner, Neville Hobson, and I include in the show, such as correspondent reports from Dan York and Michael Netzley, recorded listener comments, and contributions from our sponsors, Ragan Communications and CustomScoop. Neville and I both need to hear these as they’re fed into the audio mix, and none of the Skype call recording software handles that.
We’ve addressed the challenge for years with a “mix-minus” setup, which is great in my office, where the size and weight of the gear isn’t an issue. (We originally adopted the mix-minus approach to address latency as well—Neville would hear his voice echo back at him during our recordings—but Skype seems to have resolved this issue some time ago.) I had to find equipment that I could fit in my carry-on that would still do the job.
Since I’ve been in Ottawa since Saturday for a client engagement, I brought my travel rig with me to record episode #712. While everything was still hooked up, I shot an Instagram video of it:
(I tried recording it with Vine, but I just couldn’t squeeze it into six seconds.)
FIR listener Todd Van Hoosear left a comment on the Instagram video asking for a rundown on the gear, so hear goes:
- Mixer—This is a Behringer Eurorack UB802. It has two XLR microphone inputs, two line-in inputs and, most important, an FX send port (vital in the mix-minus setup).
- Microphone—I use an Electro-Voice N/D767a. This is a dynamic microphone. I learned about it at an early San Francisco Podcaster Meetup from a radio news field reporter who said a Humvee could run over it and it would still work great. I always carry a dynamic mic on the road, since a condenser mic is much more sensitive and subject to damage from the rough-and-tumble nature of travel.
- Digital recorder—I love my Marantz PMD-620. It’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes and not much heavier. The display is crystal clear, it includes its own speakers and handles on-board editing, in addition to multiple recording formats and other settings. (I couldn’t find an official Marantz page for the recorder and Sweetwater, where I bought it, doesn’t appear to carry it any more., hence the link to the listing on the site of New York’s amazing B&H.)
- I play third-party audio files from my Google Nexus 7, manufactured by Asus. I use the Winamp app, creating a separate playlist for each file.
- Earbuds—I jack the earbuds that I carry with me anyway into the PMD-620. These are the Inspire Pro from Yurbuds. (I used to have much more expensive earbuds, but they all go bad eventually and these, at about $60, perform just fine.)
- Misc.—And then there are assorted cables and the mic stand. I get my cables at Guitar Center (which is also where I got the mixer. I honestly don’t recall where I got the mic stand, but it’s compact, folds up even smaller, and is ridiculously light.
- Cable carrier—By the way, carrying cables used to be a hassle, until I got a velvet jewelry roll at the Container Store. This is obviously designed for women to carry bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings when they travel, but it seems tailor-made for cables, adapters and other podcasting odds and ends.
- Skype—I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Skype, which has made the podcast possible for the last nine years except for the handful of times Neville and I have been lucky enough to record face-to-face.
All of this fits neatly into my Briggs & Riley roller suitcase, designed to fit in the overhead on international flights. I packed for four nights and five days here in Ottawa, including the rig, and got it all to fit, zipping up the suitcase without having to sit on it.