The Podcasting Gear Show

Revealing the Equipment Podcasters Use and How They Use It

The Podcasting Gear Show - Revealing the Equipment Podcasters Use and How They Use It

008 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting Podcast Talks About The DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartI remember as a kid huddled around my parents’ late 1960’s GE stereo, tuned into the sounds of the local radio station as the announcer counted down to the number one hit for the week.  I still can remember the silky smooth, deep richness of his voice as he announced each song.  When I entered into podcasting in 2008, it was a tone I wanted to achieve.

Dave Jackson, from the School of Podcasting Podcast, shares one of the ways such tone can be achieved.  It is true. There many factors that can influence sound. Last week we talked with Wayne Henderson about the Heil PR-40, which in my opinion is one of the best sounding mics out there.  Another way is through the use of the DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor.

It seems pretty simple to use and provides the rich warmth so often coveted by podcasters.  It delivers pristine compression and has a frequency tunable De-Esser that reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion.  Basically it tones down your S sounds. The Enhancer on it, the part that really gives a voice its warmth, increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies. And, if you are sick of editing out your breathes, the adaptive Expander/Gate on the DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor is perfect for you.  And me for that matter.

Dave demonstrates this on the podcast.  If you think this might be a good fit for your studio, you can buy DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor



What Is Normalization?

I have a distinct memory of driving down Route 222, listening to an early episode of the SciFi Diner Podcast. I could barely hear it over the engine of my Jetta and the din of highway noise around me.  When I would flip to The Instance, a podcast by Scott Johnson, I could hear the audio clearly.  I knew there was problem. Probably more than one in the early days.  I knew my audio recording levels weren’t high enough.  What I didn’t know at the time was that I could have fixed it by normalizing it.

When you normalize audio, typically in post production, you change its overall volume by a fixed amount to reach a target level. Unlike compression, which changes volume over time and in varying amount, it changes the audio file only in its volume. Track dynamics remain unaffected.

One reason to normalize an audio file is due to it being recorded too quietly. Like the illustration above, an audio file that is too quiet can cause problems for people on mowers or commuters.  Another reason you might want to normalize your audio is to get matching volumes on multiple tracks. For example, one of my co-hosts for the Dune Saga Podcast records his track on his end when we use Google Hangouts and then shares it with us via Drop Box. If our levels are not in sync, we could normalize them to get matching volumes.

So normalization just changes the volume level; however, its not a compression replacement. It can’t bring your highs down and your lows up.

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartThere are different ways to measure volume that can dictate how you normalize. Peak Volume Detection considers only the highest peaks of the wave form. This is optimal if you are trying to get the max volume possible. Another way is RMS Volume Detection. This considers the average volume of the file and when normalization is used with this method, it will take it from the average rather than the peak. The human ear works this way and this method tend to give more natural results

If you have a term you’d like me to address on the show, please e-mail me


007 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Wayne Henderson from the Resurrection Revealed Podcast Talks About the Heil PR-40

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartA few weeks ago I had the chance to chat with Wayne Henderson from Media-Voiceovers dot com and the critically acclaimed Resurrection Revealed Podcast about his favorite piece of equipment, the Heil PR40 Dynamic Microphone .  I first heard about this microphone from Cliff Ravenscraft while listening to Podcast Answer Man five years ago and also have heard Leo Laporte speak about his love for this mic. So, based on their recommendations, I bought one around the time I started one of my other podcasts, the Scifi Diner Podcast, in 2009.  I have never regretted that decision.

The Heil PR-40 is one of the richest and warmest microphones I have ever spoken into.  There is a clarity to the sound they produce that is hiss free.  I know I struggled for a bit to shell out the three hundred dollars to get one. At the time, it was the most expensive piece of equipment I was looking at.  But the difference between the Shure SM-58 I was using, which was a good microphone, and the Heil PR-40 was startling. I do demonstrate this difference in the attached podcast. This a great microphone for podcasting and worth every cent. If you are serious about your podcasting then the PR 40 is an awesome choice.

You can buy Heil PR40 here. 




What Does “Dynamic Microphone” Mean?

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartLast week we talked about what it means to have a condenser microphone when I talked with Scott Roche about his CAD GXL2200 Condenser Microphone.  Since we are we are chatting with Wayne Henderson about his Heil PR40, a dynamic Microphone, it makes sense to look at what that means.

Like the condenser microphone, the dynamic has a diaphragm but it is not free floating like the condenser. The diaphragm is attached to a coil of fine wire (see image below). The coil is mounted in the air gap of the magnet such that it is free to move back and forth within the gap.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 6.51.23 PM

When you are podcasting, your voice enters the microphone and strikes the diaphragm, and the diaphragm vibrates in response. The coil attached to the diaphragm shakes back and forth in the field of the magnet. As the coil moves through the lines of magnetic force in the gap, a small electrical current is created in the wire. The magnitude and direction of that current is directly related to the motion of the coil, which in turn in affected by the intensity and tone of your voice. The current is an electrical representation of the sound wave.

One of the major drawbacks of the dynamic microphone relates to the mass of its moving coil. Due to this mass, the dynamic mic has a relatively poor transient response (how quickly it responds to changes in the sound wave), and is less sensitive on the average than the condenser mic. Some dynamic microphones, like the Heil PR40, are touted as low mass dynamic microphones, suggesting they have a better transient response.

So the real question you must ask yourself is this: will I be recording in a setting, such as a convention, where I want to pick up ambient noise or am I trying filter out extraneous noise and focus only on my own voice?


006 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Scott Roche from the Dead Robots Society Podcast Talks About The CAD GXL2200 Microphone


Podiobook author Scott Roche joins me on the Podcasting Gear Show this week to talk about the CAD GXL2200 condenser microphone. Scott Roche helps run the Dead Robots Society podcast.

I am gonna be honest; I am not a fan of condenser mics, mainly because I have been unable to make them sound great, but you’ll hear it in the podcast; Scott makes his sound dynamite. So what the heck; even those set in their ways can have their minds changed.

If you aren’t sure what the difference is between Condenser and Dynamic microphones, I will do a little write up as to what a Condenser is this week and what a dynamic is next week.  If you just can’t wait, I did do a write up on the subject at Podcaster News.

The CAD GXL2200 Cardioid Condenser Microphone appears to be a solid beginner, microphone with the ability to handle just about any sort of recording you throw at it.  You want a mic for live settings like conventions? It will do the job.  Recording in your home studio? It has that covered too. It is the perfect microphone for voice recording, which is what we podcasters mainly do. And for a really incredible price.

It lists at $119 but most retailers sell it as low as $60 bucks.  You can’t find another condenser or dynamic microphone at this price for that quality.  You can buy it here. CAD GXL2200 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Let me know if any of you are also using the CAD GXL2200 or if you have in the past. I would love to hear your opinions.


The Podcasting Gear Show Special Edition: Discussing Gear, Changing Names, and Podcasting Goodness With Dave Jackson

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartThis week I appeared on Dave Jackson’s “School of Podcasting” podcast to talk about my podcasting gear, The Podcasting Gear Show, and the things to consider when changing a show name.

The interview starts around 13:54, but I would encourage you to listen to the whole show as Dave Jackson is always chocked full of goodness when it comes to podcasting tips and thoughts.

He gave me permission to share this feed with you.



What Does Condenser Microphone Mean?

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartOne Listener asked “What does the word “condenser” in condenser microphones mean?”

Another form of this question that often comes up is “what is the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones?”  Since I chatted with Scott Roche about his CAD GXL2200 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, I’ll address what a condenser is this week and then the dynamic the next.

The terms dynamic and condenser really refer to the method in which the microphone generates an electrical signal. How it takes your sound wave and converts it into a signal.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 6.51.05 PM

In a condenser mic,  the diaphragm is a very thin plastic film (see diagram above), coated on one side with gold or nickel, and mounted very close to a conductive stationary back plate (again see diagram above). A voltage is applied to the diaphragm by an external power supply (battery or phantom power). The diaphragm and back plate, separated by a small volume of air, form an electrical component called a capacitor (or condenser). The capacitance, or space between these two plates, varies as the freely suspended diaphragm is displaced by the sound wave. As it does so, the electrical charge that it induces in the back plate changes proportionally. The fluctuating voltage on the back plate is therefore an electrical representation of the diaphragm motion.

Because the diaphragm of the condenser is not loaded down with the mass of a coil like the dynamic microphone is, it can respond very quickly to transients, which are the sounds at the beginning of the sound wave form. Many podcasters like condensers because of the authentic sound they provide.  (Thanks to Crown for portions of this write up.)

If you have a term you would like me to address on the show, please e-mail me


When To Rename A Podcast

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartWhy I Renamed Inside The Studio Of The Podcaster To The Podcasting Gear Show.

Initially when I was conceptualizing and planning this show, I wanted to call it Inside the Podcaster’s Studio; you know like, James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio show.  I ran it by a great friend of mine Wayne Henderson from Media Voice Overs Dot Com.  He told me that Ray Ortega had a show called “The Podcasters Studio” and suggested changing it.  We played with it, and I settled on Inside the Studio of the Podcaster, a bit long for a podcast name, but it had the same intent as the original thought.

Last, week Dave Jackson called me out on his School of Podcasting Show, ribbing me that the title was STILL too similar.  I could have taken offense at that, but when someone who has been podcasting as long as Dave has says something, I need to step back and consider it.

And you know what?  He was right.  It still was too similar to Ray Ortega’s show.  My content was different, more niche, but title was too similar.

Hence, the Podcasting Gear Show was born.  I did my homework this time.  No one in iTunes has a title like this one.  For you listeners, nothing changes.  The URL is the same, the feed is the same; its just a name change.  Besides, now there is absolutely no question what the show is about.


005 – Inside the Studio of the Podcaster – Ben DeBono from the SciFi Christian Podcast Discusses Sound Byte

Insidethestrudioofthepodcasteralbumart2This week I chatted with Ben DeBono from the SciFi Christian Podcast. I first ran into Ben when the SciFi Christian feuded with the SciFi Diner Podcast, but we decided to “bury the hatchet“, let bygones be bygones, and talk about another program that you can use to help streamline your show.  I referred to podcasters suffering from a time poverty in an article I wrote for Podcaster News. This program is another way you can combat this issue that plagues podcasters.

When I first started podcasting, I would record my shows and then add in my intro, outro, sound clips and promos in post production, but Sound Byte changed all that.  What Sound Byte allows me to do is to load my intro, outro, promos, listener feedback, etc into the program.  I hook up my iPhone, which is how I use SoundByte, to my mixer. When I am recording, I just hit the appropriate sound at the appropriate time, and my sound is recorded right onto my main tracks.  I can even fade the sound out so I can speak over it.  It seriously could not be easier. It is also available for the PC, the Mac, and the iPad. Sorry, no Android device yet.

This program seriously knocks at least 15 minutes off my post production time. That is another fifteen minutes I can be connecting to my listeners or writing blog posts.

If you are already using SoundByte, let me know how it has helped you in your podcasting.  If you are not, listen to the show. I have some ways you can get it for free.

I’ll post a tutorial on how I use Sound Byte in the upcoming days.