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Thread: Small, Portable, Mix minus - a puzzle with missing pieces

  1. #1
    Junior Member Nateol's Avatar
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    Small, Portable, Mix minus - a puzzle with missing pieces

    Hi. Iíve been reading my way through forum posts, picking up great information along the way. Thanks very much to both the questioners and those with the answers. Youíve all helped me define my issues.

    Iím starting a new project which will produce podcasts (and, later, videos) along with a website, e-books and so on. Iíve run websites before but this will be my first foray into podcasting.

    Hereís what Iím planning to do:

    1. Single person (me), studio recordings (studio is optimistic, cupboard maybe)
    2. Face to face interviews in intervieweeís office/workspace. Usually one to one but could be more as a round table discussion
    3. Skype or other VoiP interviews, usually one to one but could be up to 4 people.
    4. Simple intro/outro music

    Iím after good quality within the framework of internet-delivery and mostly earplug/headphone using listeners. Clean sound, no wildly fluctuating levels, some body and presence - Iíd be happy with this.

    These are the constraints Iíve already identified:

    5. The whole setup needs to be portable, I am often away from home for several months at a time, working from hotel rooms, short-term lets etc
    6. I donít have a dedicated space, even at home, to use as a studio
    7. Later on, it needs to play well with a video camera (brand/type not yet identified)

    Equipment I already own:

    1. MacBook Air, mid 2011, 1.8GHz processor, Intel i7 Core, 4GB memory, Intel HDGraphics 3000 384, running OSX Yosemite
    2. Assorted external HDís of 1-3 TB
    3. Apple PowerBook G4 (pre Intel chip) as a backup/second machine
    4. Smartphone 5, 64 GB
    5. iPad mini (Version 2: retina), 128 GB
    6.Sennheiser TR220 headphones (very good quality but not closed)
    7. ATR-2100 mic (on order)

    Iíve started with the mic. That was relatively easy. I know Iíll need more. Iím thinking of a second ATR2100 and/or 2 Lavalier mics. perhaps Rode SmartLav+. Any comments on those or the usefulness of such a combo?

    Itís the mixer thatís really giving me pause. I need it portable and hardy but still able to deal with multiple voices, whether over Skype or in the room. Standard mixers with 4 aux outlets are too big and heavy for my purposes. Iím thinking of the Zoom H6. I also checked out the Tascam DR-40 and DR-44WL. Their price is very attractive, itís around half of that of the Zoom. But I didnít think they were as flexible and, overall, Zoom owners seemed more satisfied with the performance of their units.

    The H6 looks as though it would do most of what I need BUT it seems to have no mix-minus capability. What to do there? Could I use some combination of my various bits of equipment to isolate the Skype callerís voice? And what if there is more than one Skype-r? I looked for software that might do the mix minus for me, but havenít been able to find any to date.

    I was temporarily excited by podclear.com which was mentioned on these forums, but it has been bought up by blab.im which seems wholly focused on video hosted on their proprietary platform. I saw that domineaux recommended Voicemeeter, which has mix minus capability, but it is PC only and I'm firmly in the Mac world.

    This is the big thing I need some help with - finding preferably one robust piece of equipment to record interviews in the field and bring Skype calls into the Ďstudioí. The whole kit and caboodle, together with my existing equipment, must be able to be easily toted around the world. Iím looking for the least possible equipment (total size and weight all up) consistent with good quality output over the internet.

    If I go with the Zoom H6 (or an alternative that might be suggested), will that, plus software that someone may be able to identify for me, be enough for me to start with? The system has to include Skype to be viable.

    There are many things that I might need or want to get later on. Right now Iím looking for the most basic combination that will get me started and let me do Skype calls. Hardware or software needs to work in the Apple environment. Iíll be really grateful for comments, ideas and suggestions.

    Elle

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    Good Morning Elle.
    Last edited by Dana; 11-15-2015 at 04:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    On to doing a Mix Minus. As far as I know, there is no software that will allow you to do this. Like I said, as far as I know. The soundboard / mixer can do this, ONLY if it has Auxiliary Sends. This is where you would run the Skype caller into. It allows you to record their input, but also allows you to block, the sound of their own voice from feeding back to them. So when you decide to buy a mixer, make sure it has this feature or you will not be able to achieve a Mix Minus. Guitar Center has a new line they are representing that is partnered with Alesis. It is $69.00 and very portable and will allow you to do a Mix Minus.
    I don't use a mixer and get a mix minus with Audio Hijack and Soundflower on my Mac. Skype uses Soundflower (2Ch) for the input and I have Audio Hijack routing the audio from my mic and soundboard into that, while routing audio from Skype and my Mic into two tracks via the Soundflower (64Ch) interface. It's not perfect, but it works. The other people on the Skype call hear me and my soundboard, but not themselves, but I can record everything in individual tracks on my end.

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    @yakk0dotorg. Cool deal. Like I said, I have no idea about Mac.
    Last edited by Dana; 11-15-2015 at 04:20 AM.

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    Moderator / IAIB Pro Broadcaster mcphillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    If you are not aware of the fact that you should NEVER record into your computer, now you know.

    Many, many people have lost their interview of a life time by doing this only to lose their audio for maybe the power going out, their computer crashing half way through or the program they are using to record with, crashing as well. So you are on the right track as far as using an external digital recorder for your podcast.
    Be aware that not everyone agrees with Dana on this subject. 99.99% of recording studios, radio stations, TV stations, and networks use computers to record audio. It makes sense to use an external recorder as a safety backup for the interview of a lifetime or for remote interviews. If you use an external recorder, make sure that the SD card is not full, make sure that the HD card is not corrupt, make sure that the batteries are charged, make sure the audio settings (22kHz, 44kHz, 48kHz, 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit, ALC, SD card initialized, save location, SD card switching, etc.) are correct, and most of all, don't forget to hit record. Other than that, external recorders are pretty dependable.
    Please direct all questions for me to the forum so that all can benefit.

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    That is the beautiful thing about a forum Mike.
    Last edited by Dana; 11-15-2015 at 04:20 AM.

  7. #7
    Moderator / IAIB Pro Broadcaster mcphillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    That is the beautiful thing about a forum Mike. It is a place to share ideas. Now if Elle was inquireing about running a Recording Studio, Radio Station, TV Stations or a Network, then you may have a valid point. But since she is inquireing about Podcasting, I stand by my statement. One more thing, all the tech things you mentioned about how to set your digitial recorder, you should have added, that if you do make the mistake, of recording into your computer, you need to have all those setting set, as well, just like you mentioned abovel.

    I really do not think she want to spend $10,000 to $14,000 dollars on a Pro DAWS system, hardware and CPUs to meet the same requirements as your tv, radio stations and thing of that nature.
    I can record perfect audio on a Pentium 3 running Windows 2000. I don't own a Pro DAW.
    Please direct all questions for me to the forum so that all can benefit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcphillips View Post
    I can record perfect audio on a Pentium 3 running Windows 2000. I don't own a Pro DAW.
    I can record a 99.00% perfect audio using my iPhone 6, and render it in Audacity, free software, what's your point?
    Last edited by Dana; 11-15-2015 at 04:21 AM.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Nateol's Avatar
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    Dana, thanks for the link you provided. I'm planning to read through that information, I skimmed it and it seemed pretty useful. I'm also planning to go back and revisit the Tascam (and the Roland, too) to be sure that the audio recorder I decide on really is the best one for me. It's likely to be one of Tascam, Roland or Zoom.

    Thanks for this yakk0dotorg, it's exactly what I was hoping for.

    I don't use a mixer and get a mix minus with Audio Hijack and Soundflower on my Mac. Skype uses Soundflower (2Ch) for the input and I have Audio Hijack routing the audio from my mic and soundboard into that, while routing audio from Skype and my Mic into two tracks via the Soundflower (64Ch) interface. It's not perfect, but it works. The other people on the Skype call hear me and my soundboard, but not themselves, but I can record everything in individual tracks on my end.
    Audio Hijack has a relatively new version (January 2015, from what I can see) Christopher Breen from MacWorld says of it:

    And speaking of podcasts, thereís Skype and its integration. You could incorporate Skype into previous versions of Audio Hijack, but doing so was confusing. Itís now much easier. Just drag in an Application block, configure it to record from Skype, drag in one or more Input Device blocks to record local audio sources, and have then all connect to a single Recorder block (and drag in an Output Device block to monitor the whole thing through your headphones).
    I'm wondering if this means that it's no longer necessary to combine it with Soundflower, that it can do the job alone. What version of Audio Hijack are you using?

    I've just been told my mic has arrived (yay!) so I'll pick it up tomorrow then start to play around with it, Skype and Audio Hijack. I guess I'll soon work out whether it needs Soundflower as well.

    Assuming that all works as it should re the Skype calls, does this mean that I can now go ahead and order an audio recorder and then be set up? My intention, if I'm recording with access to my computer, is to record primarily into that with the audio recorder as backup in case things go wrong. Skype calls would always be done this way. When I'm out in the field I would use the audio recorder as the primary recording mechanism and load the resulting file into my computer for post processing. That's the theory, but I've no hands on experience at this stage, so if I'm missing something here I'd appreciate any input.

    I'll probably order the audio recorder from the US, as the price is significantly less than buying it in Australia, even after shipping and exchange rates. The drawback is that it's much more difficult to return anything if you get it wrong. So I'm doing as much testing 'third hand' as possible before I commit. So please weigh in with opinions and experience.
    Elle

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    Good Morning Elle.
    Last edited by Dana; 11-15-2015 at 04:21 AM.

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