If you’re interested in the equipment I use to create The Overwhelmed Brain podcast, here it is!
If you find this information useful, please comment below. I’d love to hear your feedback. Also, please note that I’ve provided links on where you can purchase these items below the article. These are affiliate links, meaning if you click on one, the merchant will thank me for your sale by sending me a few dollars.
Enjoy and comment!
The Overwhelmed Brain Podcast Equipment Setup
Before we begin, I’ll define some terminology:
I shall do my best to describe each component and how they are connected.
One of the main components of my system is the Heil PR-40 Microphone. I selected this for its excellent short-range pickup. It does a fantastic job of picking up only the noise closest to it, and the occasional loud siren outside. And by learning to project my voice, I was able to keep the input levels low enough to avoid as much background noise as possible.
As a separate purchase, I got the RE320POP Fine Mesh Metal Screen Pop Filter (That’s the round black-rimmed thing in the front). This thing minimizes the sound of fast moving air from your mouth hitting the mic. For example, the sound of the letter P is usually accompanied with a breath.
Like so many other podcasters, I love this mic.
My PR-40 is mounted in what’s called a shock mount. The idea of a shock mount is to minimize vibration that typically comes from the mic stand or boom. In other words, if I accidentally hit my desk, the vibration that travels along the boom arm will be diminished when it hits the shock mount. The shock mount I use is the Heil PRSM-C. It is specifically designed to fit this microphone.
What holds the microphone in place, as if it were levitating in front of my mouth, is the carefully balanced boom. This comes with a clamp that opens to about 2″ to use on a desk or table. It also hides the cable pretty well in a channel built into the arm. The boom I use is the Heil PL2T Heavy Duty Mic Boom Arm with C-Clamp.
The central hub where all the audio signals are sent to is my Mackie 1202-VLZ3 mixer. The mixer’s main job is to receive audio from any number of sources, and distribute it to any number of devices. Being able to control volume levels from the different sources, both incoming and outgoing is vital. There are ways to podcast without a mixer, but your sound quality may suffer.
The reason I chose this particular mixer is because it has Aux Send output sockets. That means I can send audio to different devices at different audio levels. In other words, if I wanted to lower the volume of my voice going to the laptop, I can just turn the AUX 1 dial down a bit. If I were playing music at the same time, the music would stay the same volume, but my voice would lower.
From my microphone, I have a 10′ female XLR cable to male XLR.
This XLR cable goes straight to the MIC 1 XLR socket of my mixer:
Not only do I want my voice coming into the mixer, but I also want my guest’s voice as well. During my initial setup, I did run a cable from the mixer directly to the headphone socket of my laptop. But I found that to be a terrible idea. The mixer is so sensitive, it picked up all the noises from the electronics inside the laptop and amplified them. The components of a laptop are all smushed together, so unwanted sound travels easily into the mixer. What I did was purchase a USB interface designed to clean up the sound and minimize the noise. Also, it has both XLR and TRS connections to use different types of cables with it.
I bought the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface, which solves both the hardware connection limitations of a laptop (just a headphone and mic socket), and the unwanted noise and “dirtier” signal that a laptop sound card typically puts out.
I am using the Scarlett’s headphone port to connect into the stereo inputs, channel 5 – 6 on my mixer. This allows me to get a full left, right stereo signal. I don’t necessarily need a stereo signal for a podcast, but again, I’m going for a professional setup. These next two pictures show both the RCA cable I used, and the adapters necessary to make the connections.
Now that I have the signals in my mixer, I want to distribute them to three different sources. One of those sources is back to the laptop. The reason I am sending audio back to the laptop is because I want my guest to be able to hear me! Plus, if I were to plug in an MP3 player into the mixer, they would also be able to hear that as well. This is where I utilize the special Aux Send socket on my mixer Aux 1:
The second device I send the audio signals to is my Roland R-05 Wave / MP3 Recorder. This device is pretty awesome. In conjunction with a 4 GB SDHC card, you can record about 60 hours of audio. I don’t have a power supply for mine, but it’s supposed to last about 16 hours during recording, or 30 hours during playback on two AA batteries!
I mount my R-05 to a small clamp called a Clampette by High Sierra:
I get the signal from my mixer to the recorder using the MAIN OUT sockets. Coming from the mixer is a dual TS 1/4″ plug to single 3.5 mm mini plug, plugged into the Line In on the recorder.
The next device I output to is my pair of MDR-7506 Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones. These sound beautiful, fit comfortably (if not a tad tight), and bring out the highs and lows nicely. They come with their own 3.5mm to 1/4″ TRS adapter.
The last equipment I output sound to are my ultra cheap “studio” speakers. They don’t even deserve a picture, or an affiliate link, because they are so cheap and crappy. You can probably find better PC speakers at Goodwill. I will upgrade someday… but not today. I only use them for general listening purposes, not while editing audio. However, I will show you where I plug them in.
The speakers come with the typical PC jack, a 3.5 mm mini plug. I have that cord plugged into a female 3.5 mm mini plug to dual 1/4″ TS Plugs
The last piece of equipment I purchased has nothing to do with audio, but everything to do with work flow:
An LED light. I wanted a something that produced light, but not heat. I noticed I couldn’t see some of the details on my equipment, so I went to Home Depot and purchased this light bar:
All I can say is, I love this thing. It’s provides the perfect amount of light, and never heats up. The bar is great for the even distribution of light.
Well, there you have it! This concludes the tour of my podcasting equipment. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
And now I’ll share the most important lessons I’ve learned in setting all this up:
- The shorter you can get the audio cables, the less likely you will hear unwanted sound and interference
- The higher quality the cable, the less unwanted sound and interference
- The higher quality the equipment, the less unwanted sound and interference (do you see a theme here?)
- The less adapters you use, the less degradation of the signal.
- Using an external recorder allows you to keep your computer free for Skype, playing music, etc
- Turn off the mixer when plugging things in, unless you want to blow your eardrums
- You will never be able to get rid of all the background sound. Ever. (EDIT: Not true! I have gotten rid of the background hiss using the equipment you see here. Playing with the Gain and Level knobs of my microphone and other sound sources, I rarely have to use software to edit out a background hum or hiss)
And here’s a list of every item, and what I paid for each:
- $269.99 – Mackie 1202-VLZ3 mixer
- $199.00 – Roland R-05 Wave / MP3 Recorder
- $5.95 – Lexar 4 GB SDHC card, for the Roland recorder
- $11.95 – Clampette by High Sierra
- $279.00 – Heil PR-40 Microphone
- $105.00 – Heil PRSM-C Shock Mount
- $120.00 – Heil PL2T Heavy Duty Mic Boom Arm with C-Clamp
- $60.00 – RE320POP Fine Mesh Metal Screen Pop Filter
- $149.99 – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
- $77.95 – MDR-7506 Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones
- $18.95 – 10′ female XLR cable to male XLR
- $3.88 – dual TS 1/4″ plug to single 3.5 mm mini plug
- $4.99 – 3.5mm female to dual 1/4″ TS plugs
- $49.99 – Mogami male to male TRS cable (I opted for the pricey one)
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, I’m happy to help! Oh, if you want the source for all things podcasting, John Lee Dumas is still taking memberships at Podcasters’ Paradise. Tons and tons of value, a huge support community, and loads of how-to videos. I’ll tell you up front, it ain’t cheap! But you’ll have everything you’ll ever need when it comes to podcasting. I’m a member, so I’ll see you on the inside! Here’s my affiliate link:
Other resources that I currently utilize:
Workflowy – A cool list-making tool for staying organized and on task! Add your ToDos, expand and collapse categories. All super easy to use, and even free!
WordPress – The defacto standard for creating a professional looking blog. It’s free, comes with a couple free themes (layout, colors, etc), and looks super clean. This is the .org site. If you want a very simple, no frills blog or website, head over to www.wordpress.com.
WordPress Lifestyle Pro Theme – For my WordPress website, I use the Studiopress Genesis framework, with the Lifestyle theme. If that doesn’t make any sense, go to WordPress.com and use their free service. Otherwise, dive into WordPress.org, then pay for a premium theme like this one. It makes life so much easier.
aweber – This is how I add subscribers to my email list, and send automated follow up emails. Phenomenal tool, super easy to use. They even give you the WordPress widget to stick in your site. I am in love with this tool!
libsyn – The absolute best podcast hosting service. This is the company you want if you are a podcaster. You will need a place to host your audio files, and these guys are solid. I love what they offer. There’s no reason to look any further for podcast hosting.