What we use
Recommendations from other podcasters were the best source of advice when we started to record 361. So...
We prefer to record 361 with the team face-to-face. It's hard to capture the energy and flow of a conversation without seeing body language and visual cues without everyone in the same room. Although (much) harder logistically, listeners' feedback has been that it's worth the effort.
Electro-Voice 635N/D-B - We selected these microphones when the show was recorded 'out and about' - dynamic microphones are better suited to noisy environments and don't require a power supply. The 635s produce great audio and are (famously) very tough. We mount them on heavy-based boom stands with pop-filters, connecting them to a digital recorder (below) with XLR cables.
These days we travel less and the 635's omni-directional pickup is a mixed blessing - they're more forgiving of poor microphone technique (no names...) but collect more background noise than we'd like. They're next on the list for replacement along with the addition of isolating microphone holders to eliminate vibration noise from occasional table thumping (Ewan).
Zoom R16 - Recording each speaker to a separate channel makes it much easier to balance the audio and fix problems in the edit. However, it's tricky to do well - it's possible to use a laptop, but achieving high-quality consistent results requires an external audio interfaces and plenty of software config. The choice of a dedicated device was an easy one.
The R16 provides us with 8 simultaneous channels of recording - enough for 3 of us, pre-recorded audio and a few guests. It can run on mains or battery power (for when we're mobile) and has been rock-solid for us in every recording, saving one uncompressed audio file per channel onto an SD card. We apply filtering, levelling and normalisation in the edit - for speech software can match the quality of dedicated hardware processors.
Behringer HA400 - During recordings this headphone amp splits the output of the Zoom R16 and provides us with a cheap way to get an individually-controllable feed of the audio being recorded. The audio quality is more than sufficient for speech.
Sony MD7506 - Ben uses these studio monitor headphones during recording. These industry-standard headphones are closed-back (less risk of sound leakage), give an accurate representation of the captured sound and are comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Sennheiser HD201 - Ewan and Rafe use these affordable closed-back Sennheiser headphones. Intended to be 'disposable' when we previously travelled more they've stubbornly kept working despite their hard lives (that's the headphones - Ewan and Rafe are pretty beaten up). As with the Behringer headphone amp, monitoring spoken word audio doesn't require anything higher-spec.
The show is now professionally edited by Mark Cotton of AudioWrangler.co.uk. Mark uses an array of broadcast-quality tools, including Sony Sound Forge Pro and iZotope RX4, plus many years of experience.
Encoding & Publishing
Auphonic - From a 'master' uncompressed audio file this service:
- Applies episode meta-data, image and tags.
- Applies loudness normalisation to -16 LUFS (targeted for mobile devices)
- Encodes the episode to:
- A lossless high-quality archive version;
- An MP3 (192kbps constant bit-rate) for podcast subscribers; and
- A lossless compressed (AAC 64kbps) version for transcription.
- Publishes the episode to Soundcloud and Youtube.