The TLP Network

How we recorded Episode 1

by on Jul.01, 2007, under Articles, Geek Out

Making great content is a wonderful concept, but sometimes it is important to share how you make that content.

There is no magic bullet for every situation, but perhaps learning about how we are going about things will help you get started, and learn along with us. I am by no means, an expert, I am just an aggregate of knowledge. If you can help us out, by correcting errors or things you hear that could be tweaked, please Speak out! Send us a comment on an article, or use our contact form, or call in and leave us a voicemail.

One thing to know about our show is that we both are in different cities. This presents a challenge in recording because I have found that we are mostly limited to either telephone or VOIP-type technologies, which do not result in the greatest of qualities. The qualities I have found are basically 8khz, where CD’s tend to be 44.1khz or 48khz. Order of magnitude difference, and you can tell.

So to overcome this challenge, we decided to record our voices independently on each end of the call. That way we can record at high quality and later bring the tracks together.

To have our conversations we decided to go with Gizmo, a free VOIP service. We have noticed there is a 1.5 sec lag, which is why we sometimes do not sound as natural as one would expect, but we do our best to work around that. One instance where this is annoying is when one of us interrupts the other.

Some of the technologically inclined might ask why I did not go with Skype. The reason is, if there is an Open (standards) option, I tend to choose that path. Also, quality-wise, they are the same, and Gizmo offers more services for free, that Skype charges for. Our voicemail line for example is simply a Gizmo account attached to a free Nevada phone number. Sure I can pay for a local number, but who is really local to anyone on the web?

Equipment

Each of us have a mixing board, a microphone, and an mp3 recorder. Technically, for the way we are doing things, all of these are not necessary. The mp3 recorder has a built in mic and we could use that. But for quality’s sake we are using good condenser mics, and the mixer powers the mic and lets us control our levels.

David’s Hardware

  • MXL V63M Microphone w/shock mount & tabletop stand
  • Behringer Xenyx 1002FX mixer
  • iAudio U2, 1gb mp3 player
  • Sony MDR-V6 Headphones
  • Homemade PC – Debian Linux, with a Soundblaster Audigy 2ZS Platinum (w/o Live Drive, in severe need of replacement)

Leo’s Hardware

  • Shure SM58 Microphone, w/ tabletop stand
  • Behringer EURORACK MX802A
  • iAudio U2, 2gb mp3 player
  • Toshiba Laptop – Ubuntu Linux

I have had the iaudio U2 for years, and this is a kick ass device. It has been superseded by the U3, but from what I have read the quality of recording is not as good. Plus, you can find the U2’s now for about $75 for a 2gb. All our interviews are recorded with the built in mic on these guys, so think about that when you are listening. Also, it is about the size of a disposable cigarette lighter with a battery that lasts about 18hrs. </sales pitch>

The mixers we use are not really part of the process, since we are not mixing audio signals. I can play interviews through Gizmo so that Leo can hear them, and some music, though the quality of music on his end is pretty bad, and not worth doing.

Planning & Preparation

Now, in preparation for an episode we build our “show notes” in a Google Doc online and both actively work on it during recording.

Prior to record we have a feel for what order the segments will fall in, what tracks we will play in what order. This is our text layout.

The audio layout comes next, and for recording/tweaking/editing we use Audacity. Again going for the Open Source solution, Audacity is a free multitrack audio editor with built in effects and a plugin system to make it extremely extensible. I think on my installation there are almost 300 plugins (and I don’t know what most of them do).

SuperSneakPreview Ep001As you might have seen on a previous Geek out post, I throw all my tracks in there, edit the transitions, and in some cases adjust audio levels for interviews. I leave gaps where our talking segments will be, and before we even start our recording session, the episode is mostly done.

Once we are done recording, Leo uploads the mp3 of his side of the conversation, I drop both his and my recordings into Audacity, sync them up, and cut out the silence, or off comments that don’t contribute to the episode.

Once everything lines up and sounds good, I export to an mp3 or ogg file, and voilรƒยก it is done.

8 comments for this entry:
  1. Tim IR Baltimore

    Wow…that’s a lot of work. Can’t wait to hear the finished product.

    Here’s how we do record a show:

    Well, first we start w/ beer. Then after we mix in a few beers, we start drinking…usually beer. Then, at some point later in the evening, we’ll drink a beer or three and step into the “studio” to make some magic. Then, after the magic, we toast with a beer, and proceed to have a drink.

    Hope this helps!!

  2. LeoCain

    Ummmm… We do all that? I’m in Tim’s camp.

    All my shows are brought to you by a 750 of Soco and a shot of lime.

    All of my interviews are brought to you with about 3 or 4 pints of import stouts and ales. I’d just do liters, but I can’t lift the glass.

  3. Jill

    Hey Tim, what’s that you say about toast?

    You know what I do? I listen. Somehow or another I’ve continued to get out of any kind of hosting activity.

  4. David

    Jill, you say that like hosting is a burden. This is supposed to be fun!

    I think we might have to pull you into an episode, to get your feet wet.

  5. Tim IR Baltimore

    Leo: I think it is inevitable that we drink and co-host together at some point.

    Jill: It always gets back to TOAST and TYPING with you.

    David: That is a phenomenal ideal…Insomnia Radio Boston, here we some!

  6. Jill

    David: I say it like I’m scared to death of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tim: Yes, it’s all about toast and typing lessons. I noticed some typing errors in the post.

    And to the both of you and this crazy “Jill hosts IR Boston” idea. I’m far too busy turning everything IR into spreadsheets ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus there’s my duties as President of Tim’s Fan club. Where would I find the time?

  7. David

    Jill: Typing errors?? Where are they and I will destroy those foul demons which infiltrated my phalan…er…fingers.

  8. Jill

    The errors are Tim’s not yours ๐Ÿ™‚ Someday I’ll have to let you in on the big secret regarding Toast and typing lessons.

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