Today doesn't mark any special date since I started my podcast, but it's been several years and sometimes I still get questions about how exactly I do it. Through years, I've tried a lot of audio equipment and different setups, and the last ≈5 years I use the same set of gear I'm happy with to the level I don't want to change anything in it. In this post I'd like to share what I use and what's my podcast workflow.
After I switched to Shure SM7B, I've built the rest of my setup around it. Yes, it is a difficult mic, but the quality of spoken word recordings it gives is outstanding. It's difficult because you need to know how to properly power SM7B, it's hard to find an interface with an amplifier strong enough (tbh, situation on market gets better), but more about it later. I use SM7B with the default hardware settings, with no high-pass or anything, and with the default (smaller) foam pop-filter. In other words, I use it as it comes from the box. The quality of my voice recording is better than in the most of other podcasts. This mic is also well-built and I hope that I will be able to use it for many more years.
Previously, I used Røde PSA-1 boom arm, it was bulky and with an overcomplicated mechanism for my needs. Then, I switched to Blue Compass boom arm which looks nicer because it hides the cable inside, but it was still a complicated solution for recordings in front of a display. Finally, I switched to Elgato Wave Mic Arm LP which has no big flexibility but due to its Low Profile, works perfectly for both podcasting sessions and work calls… and it hides the cable, too.
Due to specifics of my mic, I also use Shure A26X extender-adapter, but you can find cheaper alternatives on Amazon.
Previously, I recorded podcast episodes in headphones and then edited while listening to monitor speakers Yamaha HS5s. But after I moved to the Netherlands, I use my Aiaiai TMA-2 Studio Young Guru headphones exclusively. These monitor-quality closed-back headphones with perfect sound are the most comfortable ones that I've ever used, but they're made of self-degrading plastic that becomes sticky and dirty which I hate. I had two pairs, the older one I used for about 4 years is completely… gone. Aiaiai claims that the plastic they use is more eco-friendly, but in fact it makes their headphones less sustainable because instead of using the same pair for 20–25 years you'll need to buy a new pair every 3–5 years. But the headphones are fantastic. They are modular, with interchangeable everything: headband, cable, cushions, and even cups with drivers. I also have an Aiaiai headband that makes TMA-2 wireless, but… AirPods, you know. I hope my TMA-2 will never break because working with audio recordings and listening to music using it is just pure pleasure.
I connect my mic and headphones into Sound Devices USBPre2 audio interface. It's known for its low noise-floor and professional field use cases. Here Bandrew Scott explains why low noise-floor interfaces are important:
Besides the exceptional sound it gives, USBPre2 is also powered by USB, is very compact and sturdy, can power two hungry mics like mine at the same time, and doesn't need any additional software or drivers.
I am very happy with this audio interface despite its two downsides. Previously, we recorded episodes IRL and sometimes with IRL guests. It was a problem. We needed one more audio interface to connect the third mic, because USBPre2 has only 2 XLRs for mics. But nowadays, everything is recorded via video calls, so it is not a problem anymore. Another downside is the way I use computers. I have two computers and I want to use both at the same time with a single audio interface using a KVM switch or something like that. I haven't found a solution to that. I was thinking one time to switch to Arturia AudioFuse 8 Pre for two reasons: 1) it has 8 mic preamps that are able to power SM7B, 2) I'm not sure but I think it's possible to use it with 2 computers at the same time. But I'm still thinking.
My mic is connected to my audio interface through Rolls MS-111 mic switch. It's a metal box with a button that mutes your sound when pressed. So my coughs or farts don't add extra work on editing stage. As a bonus, you can appear not muted on work calls while actually being muted. This mic switch model is deprecated, Rolls has released an updated version.
Since we record a podcast remotely via video calls, I needed a webcam for my desktop setup (my MacBook is connected to an external display). The best solution both in picture quality and cost is the app Camo that turned my old iPhone 7 to a beautiful web camera.
I upgraded to Apple's Logic Pro X after using GarageBand for several years, it covers my every need beautifully. I made myself a special podcast template with no unnecessary interface elements but with set-up tracks, included jingles, and following plugins:
- iZotope RX 9 Voice De-noise for cleaning on voice tracks
- iZotope Ozone 9 for compression and coloration on voice tracks
- Built-in Limiter on master track
- We collect topics and links in a shared note in Apple's Notes app
- We call via Zoom, both hosts record their audio tracks separately in Logic Pro X
- My co-host sends me his file using cloud storage, I put his track in my template project
- I edit every track at the same time while listening to a recorded episode, remove silence and unnecessary sounds, mark podcast chapters, and sometimes add other audio samples
- I export an episode in WAV format, put corresponding links to podcast chapters in Marco's Forecast app, export an episode in MP3 format, export podcast chapter titles and timings to use it in shownotes
- I publish an episode to a podcast hosting service and YouTube, post about it in social media and in the podcast group chat
If you're interested in any stage of my workflow or gear I use, don't hesitate to ask, and I will add more info to this article. Thank you!