Podcasting Setup For My Mom

I live in Minnesota. My mom lives in NY. I set her up with a way to podcast and here are some notes.

My mom and her friend wanted to start a podcast. Initially they wanted a video channel on YouTube but I was rather concerned that the level of quality would be abysmal. A podcast seemed more manageable, being remote. I also value frugality when possible, so price was important.

We purchased 2 mics (Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500) and 2 budget arm/clamp-stands to use for their lounge chat setup.

Portable Recorder Fail

When browsing options, the TASCAM DP-006 seemed like a good choice. It was portable, had physical buttons, and didn’t need a computer nearby. The last point was the most enticing for her.

This setup wasn’t ideal because:

– The recording box is too feature packed. It has actual mixing features built in. The menu was confusing, but eventually we had step-by-step instructions written down.

– Ultimately, the internal amp could not provide enough power to the microphones.

Audio Interface

The more classic budget setup is buying an audio interface and using audacity. We purchased the BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD audio interface. The MIDAS pre-amps on the UMC202HD provide more than enough power to the mics.

The microphones go into the audio interface, and the audio interface plugs into a computer. From there, we use Audacity to do the recordings.

Audacity

Cost: Free

We still had to write down instructions for Audacity, but it was much easier this time. It also had the benefit of being one help-me-remote-desktop call away.

These are her notes to use:

  1. Open Audacity.
  2. Do initial Save of Project [File -> Save Project] into the Carlos/Drive/Mom_Podcast folder.
  3. Make sure audio interface is seen (Windows WASAPI) and MIC UMC202HD.
  4. Monitor the sound levels by clicking the top right channels and looking at the bouncing audio level.
  5. Start recording with the red button. Do podcast. Press the square button to stop. Save project again. Go to beginning and listen to it.

Once she saves the files, they get auto-saved into Google Drive and I am able to access them in Minnesota. I open the Audacity file and split the single stereo track into 2 tracks. I do this because the audio interface records the 2 mics on 1 stereo track. One mic on left channel and one mic on right channel.

I then remove noise with Audacity’s Noise Reduction feature. For this I need 10 seconds of just the room noise with no talking. Audacity removes this room noise and keeps the voice. Audacity shines here.

I then export the WAV files from Audacity into a Work-In-Progress folder.

Ableton

I own an existing license, but the free/lite version for Ableton Digital Audio Workstation should be enough.

The audio effects I use on the master track are:

  • Hi-Pass filter that cuts out all low frequencies.
  • Utility, which increases the volume
  • A compressor with 2:1 Ratio, 2.00ms Attack, and 15.00ms Release
  • An EQ that raises the frequencies my mom’s voice registers at
  • A utility that raises the volume again
  • A limiter that prevents any sounds above -3.00dB from passing

The orange track is for incidental music to begin the podcast, use as transition music when the conversation needs it, and some music for the end.

We usually do the edits together because it’s a blast to laugh at the quirky laughs on loop and coughs that destroy a sentence.

The little clip that looks out of place on the middle track was actually recorded during the editing. The original recording / thought was bad audio, so we recorded another take on the fly.

Anchor.FM

I use Anchor.fm to upload the audio files. This service is free, well made, and now owned by Spotify.

Total Cost

2 Microphones: $46

2 Stands: $40

Audio Interface: $116

Ableton: $0 (Though, I have an existing license for pro version.)

Audacity: $0

Anchor.fm: $0

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