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The Gear of Young America

Posted by Maximum Fun on 6th July 2006

At least one electro-dorky listener has requested it, so here’s a rundown of the gear I use to produce The Sound of Young America. I’m no gear expert, and I reccomend doing some reading at transom.org and podcastrigs.com if you’re looking to make your own decisions. That said, here’s the rundown.

Microphone: Shure SM7A

This is a great voice mic, one of the standards for radio broadcasting. Especially good on the lower side of the register, where you can find me hanging out and having a soda. I got the 7A instead of the 7B because the only differences are a slightly larger windscreen and like $100.

Mixer: Mackie 1402 VLZ-Pro

Mackies are sort of the industry standard, known in particular for their mic pre-amps. I bought mine from a nice roadie type who’d upgraded his home studio (he wanted more channels). Luckily, I don’t really need more channels. I chose this one over an even smaller one because I wanted sliders instead of knobs. I’d like to get one of these some day, because of the built-in firewire interface, but those are expensive.


Telephone Hybrid: Telos One (rack mount version)

(It’s the one in the middle, by the way.) The telephone hybrid basically takes a telephone conversation, which is inherently two-way (i.e. you can hear yourself in the earpiece) and breaks it into two parts. One channel is the other end of the phone line, one is the microphone in the studio. If one were to tap directly into the phone line, both sides would sound all phone-y. The Telos is sort of the industry standard for this kind of machine. I’ve used several kinds before, and the Telos is easily the best. Any phone interviews in our Santa Cruz days were conducted on a Gentner machine, and the results were passable, but less than satisfactory.

Everything Else

For in-person interviews, my second microphone is a Studio Projects B1, an inexpensive mic with pretty excellent sound. Not as good as the Shure, but pretty dang good for $75 or so. In a pinch, I use some Grady mics I bought three for $20 after a tip from Matt over at AST Radio and Never Not Funny. They’re surprisingly passable.

I use a PC to produce the show. It’s a Dell, and it’s very powerful… my mother teaches college, and she has some kind of program where they take the cost of a Dell out of her paycheck over the course of years, so it didn’t hurt the pocketbook too bad. I have a couple of external hard drives, as well — a total of about 650 gigs right now, and I’m planning on buying another HD soon. I keep an eye peeled on deal blogs for big rebates and whatnot for those.

My computer has a Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS sound card, and I just go direct from the output on the mixer to the input on the sound card. I’m working on a USB interface, perhaps a multi-track one, haven’t figured that out yet. Anyone has any good resources, let me know.

I produce the show in Adobe Audition 2.0. For single-track recording, I usually use SoundForge, which I’m more facile with, since it was all we had at KZSC. I usually edit interviews in that, then put the show together in Audition, though I’m working on learning Audition better.

I have a couple of boom-arm mic stands I bought at Guitar Center, and a broadcast mic arm (the kind that’s like the arm of an architect’s lamp). Unfortunately, I managed to bust the clamp of the broadcast mic arm, and you’d be surprised how hard they are to replace — if anyone knows somewhere that sells them, please email me.

In fact, if you for some reason have any questions about any of this, just email me. I’ll help however I can.