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A Podcaster's Guide to Ingest and Recording

Emmy Award-winning producer Ben Ratner discusses I/O interfaces and recording devices used effectively in podcast production in this clip from his podcasting tutorial at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

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Learn more about webcast production at Streaming Media West 2021.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Ben Ratner: Let's talk about interfaces. How do you get your sound into a computer? We'll talk about recorders in a little bit. Normally I would say, go for an iRig right away. This is one of my favorite things. It's 30 bucks. It works for everything. You'll note that this is what I was using right now to make my microphone work and it was not working for some reason. So I've got to troubleshoot. I don't know if it was the iRig, but generally these are really versatile 'cause they've got an XLR on them and you can use them with either 3.5mm Into almost any cell phone or laptop besides Apple, which you have to use the stupid dongle for. Damn you, Apple. But it means that you can really get full audio fidelity into even just a cellphone.

Another interface I like for just $100 is the Shure X2U. It's a little bit higher quality. It's got USB on the back. It's got mic gain. It's got a monitor on it. You can add Phantom Power with it, which you can also do with the $30 iRig, just that it's a step up. It's a nice portable thing for an XLR solution.

A step up from the these portable models are more desktop-type interfaces. I see a lot of people using the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It costs around $120. It has one XLR input. You could even use this for instruments and stuff. This is basically just a solid way to get your microphone into a computer.

You could upgrade from that to something like the Tascam 4x4, which has four inputs and costs about $200. It just has one main headphone jack.

A step up from that is a relatively new unit, the Zoom Podtrac P4. It's about $200. what's great about this is, first of all, it is both a recorder and an interface. So you can use it either with computer software or just right onto a an SD card. You could individually mute channels. You could add Phantom to everything. It's got both levels of control for the microphones and for the headsets, which is really important.

It also has a Mix Minus feature for calls. So if you're Skyping people in, which is popular nowadays, or using any sort of video call or audio call, it'll actually send them a separate mix back so they aren't in their own mix. Otherwise, you get feedback.

Wanda says, "I'm confused. Can't you just plug the microphone in with a USB port?" Not all microphones have USB ports, not all people have microphones with USB ports. So yes, if you're in a situation where you're using a computer, great. But I like to have analog microphones available, because if I'm just doing a remote shoot which is how I do a lot of my personal podcasting, you literally grab a Zoom and a couple of microphones, and you can literally throw it all in a bag and be recording. USB doesn't quite work in that scenario, unless you have a laptop, yada, yada.

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Emmy Award-winning producer Ben Ratner walks podcasters through available low-cost and free solutions for recording video and audio from remote guests in this clip from his presentation at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.