Podcast Update

As much as I hate the term “podcast” I’ll use it, like I use “Kleenex” when I mean tissue.

But anyway, I’m working towards starting my podcasts. I finally ordered and have received about $1200 worth of audio equipment. Now I know people will tell you that you don’t need that kind of money to get into podcasting and I agree. But I want to do some special types of podcasts so I picked up some special equipment.

What I have done is get equipment that will let me do a completely portable podcast. Well, not completely. There will be studio time, editing and remixing, but the heart of the recording will be done in the field, so I picked up some portable equipment.

Here’s what I got:

Marantz PMD-660 solid-state recorder. This little unit records direct to Compact Flash II media. It’s about the size of an old-fashioned cassette recorder, maybe a bit smaller, but a handy size. It has built in mikes or will work from line-in or mikes with XLR connectors. It even supports phantom-power. It came with a 64-meg flash card, which gave a bit more than an hour of MP3 recording time. I picked up a 4-gig microdrive hard drive that replaces that card and now can record over 70 hours of MP3 or even quite a while of raw WAV recording for highest quality.

A Sennheiser HMD-280 headset with dynamic boom microphone. This lets me monitor my recording while having a hands-free mike available. The quality of this headset impressed me. It’s well built. I’ve used headset mikes before and they’ve been kind of flimsy. My communications-grade Heil Boomset has been repaired a couple of times and makes annoying creaky noises when it flexes that show up in the audio.

A Sennheiser interview mic. I forget the model, but it’s designed for interviews and the body is a bit longer than a standard mic because of it. It gives you a few more inches to stick it in someone’s face without reaching 🙂 But it’s a cool looking mike and seems solid.

Of course, it came with a carrying case and cables to set it up. I picked up a few more odds and ends at the local Guitar Factory to fill out the bag. Oh by the way, I’d like to recommend the place I ordered most of this through: BSW – Broadcast Warehouse They have a great web site with a lot of cool stuff for audio pros. I ordered my stuff on a Thursday and it came in on Monday, way faster than I expected. They offered a lot of premium shipping options, but I stuck to the free standard shipping, and I’m glad I did, because it was plenty fast.

Anyway, the reason for the portable equipment is that I want to do a couple different podcasts, but they both involve interviews in the field. One also may include live music, so you can see why portable recording equipment is a must. I thought of using something less professional and maybe cheaper like an MP3 player that records. I actually bid on a Creative Labs 20gb Jukebox Zen on EBay, but didn’t get it. An IRiver model was also recommended, but it was also discontinued and I didn’t want to chance another round with EBay. I seem to lose every time I try that. I understand the Ipod will record, but there are so few connections on it, it must either use the headphone jack – meaning you can’t monitor the record audio in headphones – or the port on the bottom. I didn’t like that idea.

It seems like there may be more MP3 players that record, but finding out which ones is nearly impossible. The reviews sites don’t seem to care about that in their ratings and sellers skip over that in their information. So, I’m happy to go with my decision to get the Marantz. Marantz makes a couple units that record onto CF+ media. M-Audio also has a hard-drive based recorder that was a toss-up – it was a bit smaller and didn’t have XLR connectors, but otherwise looked very good for this type of use. It would be killer for a taper to use to record a live concert.

The other way to go was to record direct to a computer. There are a bunch of USB sound card devices that would do the job for very little money. Creative, M-Audio, and others all make simple USB (or even Firewire) audio interfaces. But the one that I really liked for podcasting is the Alesis Multimix8USB. For only about $150 you get a USB interface built into a really good small mixer that handles four microphone inputs and a bunch of line inputs as well as some special effects processing. And it’s fairly small. I’d pick one up if I ever need to do a studio style podcast without hesitating.

So anyway, that’s where I’m at so far. I’m not going to say more about the podcast ideas I have yet. In fact, I may get a few “in the can” before I release them. But I’ll announce them here, of course.

Posted in Tech Stuff

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