newbie needs both immediate and longer term help

I have been planning to start a podcast (all talk, mostly interviews-my talent is a profesional who will be directing interviews of doctors on particular subjects). I was just in the investigatory phase for the equipment when my 13 y/o son described a very ambitious project involving interviewing holocaust survivors. and that he has the first interview set up for tomorrow. ok, I said. I have a pair of ATR 2100 mics which i was going to use via XLR, but we’ll use the usb capabilities and record into the macbook. I really think I need 2 mic because I don’t think the volume of either person will be too consistant. But I guess I can’t record both at the same time into Audacity? I could use Garageband, but the controls on the aggregate divice are difficult. any thoughts on how to handle this?

and, what would be my best set up to use xlr and record especially on location? The recording devices like zoom h4n seems possible, but not for 3-4 mics (if needed). I would also need a small mixer. I guess I’d need something like a Peavey PV6 or Behringer 1202, or Yamaha MG?

Seems like a waste not to have one piece of equipment do both. I looked at the Tascam DP-008 which seem to work except I think it combines the track to one? don’t I wan’t to keep each track on it’s own until I’m done editing?

and do I also need a preamp, or will these options provide enough?

I know I’m over thinking this all, but welcome to my world. I don’t mind spending a little ($4-500) but would rather not spend a lot more unless i really need it.

sorry for the rambling. thanks for any help.

Rambling is good. We like rambling. The people who drive us nuts are the ones who post: “Audacity doesn’t work. Why not!?!”

Write this down. This may be the first time I recommend against using a Peavey PV6. The PV6 does not have battery power. You can’t do field recording with it – easily. I do, partly because I outrank many of the people on the crew and I can decide what happens. Most people have to go with the flow and if the flow doesn’t happen to include wall power, you’re dead.

Recording more than two live channels in Audacity is stepping on the land mine. That’s the magic place where you ooze into special purpose, expensive recording and coding equipment and special USB or FireWire interfaces.

Oddly, Audacity is perfectly fine with it, it records what the computer gives it. Your job is to get the show into the computer. The stereo computer.

While that’s possible, many people mix multiple microphones down to stereo for recording. Massive, multi-microphone sessions are usually handled by getting a PA System feed from the house sound people. Capturing a free-wheeling multi-channel show by yourself is a nightmare and the fact that you’re considering it means you’ve never done one.

I have two stereo field mixers and neither of them is up to a three or four microphone show, other than to mix down in the field. I have a FP24 and an FP33. Neither will produce a digital signal, so I use the Stereo Line-in on my Macbook Pro. If you have a new one, you may not have that any more. They dropped the analog connections except for Headphone.

I know I’m over thinking this all,

Actually, you’re underthinking it. There are Hollywood locals and BBC Divisions whose sole job it is to do exactly what you’re trying to do.

You can’t control the volume of individual microphones in aggregate. Aggregate jams digital microphones into one feed – and they drift out of sync because the computer can only accept one of the two digital clock signals.

If I was doing that tomorrow, I would set my MacBook on Internal Microphone and open it up wide half-way between the interviewer and the guest in the middle of the table. Choose a very quiet room of the house and press record. Set it on a towel so you don’t pick up table noises. Make sure the default microphone Environment Suppression setting is clicked in System Preferences.

If you don’t do a simple recording like that, you are going to spend more time juggling equipment and problems than you are picking up the interview.

Overload and clipping from too loud a signal causes distortion and is permanent. Make sure Audacity > View > Show Clipping is turned on.

Whatever you’re going to want us to fix in post production, we can’t. You need to walk away from the interview with a reasonable track except for maybe gentle volume changes.

This first show will also tell you some of the problems you’re going to run into later. Pick someone who’s young enough to be able to do the interview again.


I still have some of the tracks from the sound shoot in that picture. I’ll see if I can find them.

“They need a voice track for an animation. There’s a quiet room in back of Film Editorial/Production. See if you can get a microphone down there. I cleared it with the film guys. They’re going to lunch early. Good luck.”


Found one. This was so exciting I had to lie down afterward. This was done with a Shure SM58 on a mic stand with shock mount. The performer was standing. No pix. Sorry.

I delivered in Stereo WAV, not MP3. MP3 is just so the forum will accept it.

“And…Speed!” is me in the background. “OK, you can stop screwing around now, I’m recording.”


(all talk, mostly interviews-my talent is a profesional who will be directing interviews of doctors on particular subjects)

Now that one there’s specific recommendations for. Those are doable with relatively common microphones and I’ll make a list sometime when it’s not midnight.


Thank you so much for replying. I didn’t think this post would even be approved much less answered by today.

“Pick someone who’s young enough to be able to do the interview again.” that is so funny. The interview for next week took are number saying she’s not sure what gods plans for her are, so if she’s no longer here someone will contact us. I will start looking for young holocaust survivors. :slight_smile:

i look forward to any assistance on setting up for the real shows. sounds like I’ll stick with a two mic format. (i think I just wanted the option of three people, although most shows will only have two).

Right then. Old people have no trouble telling the same story over and over again, so that’s not a problem.

For a two person interview that you can control, I’d use two lavalier microphones, one on the interviewer and the other on the guest. This has the advantage of being close to the voice and helping to isolate it from the room noises and echoes. I’ve been known to use the Radio Shack 3013 cheap lavaliers with XLR adapters into the Mixer Of My Choice and then on to the recorder/computer. Split the mixer so the two channels go down left and right. That’s very easy to control and you can mix down to a very pleasant show in post production with no problem.

Use good headphones on the shoot. Nothing like getting home and finding buzz on the guest microphone.

The microphone is not XLR, so an adapter must be made. I have the formulas for both creating one from wires and from common adapters in the store (more expensive). The microphone is $30.

If you’re interviewing two or more people, I would still use a 3013 microphone in Pressure Zone Configuration in the middle of the table between the people being interviewed. This is before and after the paint job.

The microphone is omnidirectional and the board doubles the volume of the microphone. A very good thing for cheap microphones. That’s about a 6" x 9" panel and about the smallest you can go without losing the effect. The effect gets better with panel size up to 30" square for a large conference room. Put a towel under it.

Never use a straight desk microphone that places the head of the mic 6 or 8 inches up from the desk (unless you have to). Table reflections give an odd tunnel, comb filter sound. Go up or down. The pressure zone goes down. In the illustration, ignore everything but the placement of the microphones. They’re both over a foot from the desk and I took the additional precaution of padding the table.

That was a broadcast shoot and yes, that is the Peavey PV6 and a MacBook Pro in the shot.

This American Life uses a hand-held shotgun microphone and they got good at whipping it back and forth between the interviewer and guest as they were talking. It’s surprisingly effective at capturing voices and not anything else, but that’s only good for one guest. I’ve heard it done with two, but I strongly suspect they covered up any errors in editing. “Can you say that again? I didn’t get it (I had the microphone pointed the wrong way).”

I don’t have any recommendations for an actual three or more independent channel shoot. We have recommendations for multi-channel, but you have to be careful because different computers have different talents. I think all of our recommendations are for Line-Level, not Mic-Level. So yes, you do need a multi-channel mic mixer in addition to the digital converter and recorder. That’s probably not milk and newspaper money. That can run into serious bux.

There is an extensive publication about recording hardware.

And multi-channel.


thanks for the feedback, I will investigate your suggestions soon.

the interview was quite interesting, as as expected I had problems. I opted to use the ATR2100 mic >macbook >Audacity on one mic, and the same set up into another laptop (pc) for the second mike. I also used a canon Vixia HF200 to video it with the mic on for back up. Of course, for some reason the pc shut down early on. the interview was so into his story I didn’t have the heart to stop him. lucky his mic was still hot, and since he spoke 95% of the time I’ll dub in the questions.

Next interview on friday. Time to up grade my equipment.

would getting the TASCAM DP-008EX be a mistake. I sort of like the mics I have, but would like more control. The TASCAM 08 mixes and records.

if not the Peavey PV^, Behringer Xenxy 802, yamaha MG102c and Mackie 402 all cost about $100 and seem to connect with 2 XLR mics.

I would then need a recorder the zoom h4N seems to be the standard, which I’ll get if need be, but is it better than the cheaper options ie tascam makes one.

I can’t tell the difference between most of these.

Actually, that was good. It gives us a price range. You’re not terrified of going over $100 which is a very common restriction.

“I want to mic the Boston Symphony. My budget is $36.”

At the risk of raining on the parade, the Tascam is at base a stereo device. It has two built-in microphones, two XLR connectors, two High-Level 1/4" inputs and two RCAs.

It bothers me that the connectors are not labeled Channel 1 and Channel 2, but A and B. And they’re both A and B which suggests you only get one set at any one time.

It does say this:
Two tracks simultaneous recording/ eight tracks simultaneous playback.

So this may not be the place to go to plug in six (or 8) microphones and record everything at once.

I can tell you the Peavey PV6 will accept four, high-quality XLR microphones at once and mix them down to stereo for delivery to a recorder. That’s how I use it. That Mackie has provision for only two microphones.

So we haven’t hit the magic task point of recording three or four independent channels at once.

I have a Zoom H4 and it works very, very well under two conditions: You use the built-in microphones and you don’t need to change volume during the recording. The external microphone amplifiers are not the best (a common problem for lower-end mixers and amplifiers) and the volume control is a software menu item, not a knob on the outside of the device. The H4n may have solved that. That was a very serious shortcoming.

And, of course, it’s stereo.

If you like your microphones, borrow a second computer and record two aggregates at once. That’s two mix-downs of two channels each.

There is also Kristal Audio Engine which reputedly can record from multiple microphones plugged into one computer.

That was a recommendation of one of the people at work. He claims to be able to record from everything on the computer at once, USB, analog, built-in, etc.


Thank you so much for helping me. I’m sorry for my repetition as I try to process.

Let’s say I am just going to do a 2 mic set up. It sounds like if i use a mixer to feed into the macbook I’ll be able to control the levels of the individual mikes, right? I’d prefer this set up to 2 separate computers. I think Koz, you are a peavey PV6 guy. I’ve read mixed things about it, but my sense from afar is Peavey and Yamaha are better than Behringer but worse than Mackie. (qualifier: hopefully not offending anyone, this may only be at higher leves, or not at all).

We have multiple Peaveys in service and have yet to kill one, unlike our pile of dead Mackies. The internal microphone amplifiers are remarkably quiet and well behaved, a primary requirement for live recording.

The PV6 has a low cut rumble filter for “hurricane reporting” and the ability to supply 48v to higher-end phantom powered microphones (like in the conference room illustration).

To perform a divorced, two channel recording, plug two microphones in, pan one all the way left and the other all the way right. Press record. The acoustical room crosstalk will be far worse than the electronic crosstalk.

Please note in the field illustration I made that the Audacity volume meters are enormously bigger than the default size. This are the meters you use for recording, not the flashing lights on the mixer.

There are two serious shortcomings to the Peavey. Its output is analog audio only – no USB – and it does not have convenient battery operation. We have been known to recommend the Behringer UCA-202 for digital conversion ahead of a computer with bad or missing analog connections.

Some people object to the knobs instead of sliders. The knobs help make it possible to buy the mixer for $100.

Oddly, I don’t recommend the PV6-USB. The UCA202 method will allow you to perform theatrically perfect musical overdubbing and, as near as I can tell, the PV6-USB will not.

The PV series has the required three volume controls: “Gain” which tailors the characteristics of the microphone amplifier for best noise without overloading, “Level” which controls the voice volume into the mix and “Master” which controls the total mix into the recorder. Field mixers are frequently missing the first control the “gain” one, I guess based on not having enough physical room for it. This is a mistake because fully outfitted mixers have more volume than they need in normal circumstances. This, in turn makes it possible to get an emergency sound recording in stressful conditions. Crank everything all the way up and to hell with the additional noise.

Does anybody care that the movie of the Hindenburg burning wasn’t perfectly exposed?

Back when I was making purchasing decisions, Mackie didn’t make a simple, small mixer and they do now. Their old merchandising philosophy was to throw as many effects and knobs on the mixer as they could. Since they were the only good, low-cost mixer on the market, we were stuck with the training nightmares.

“Josh called from the third floor. They couldn’t get edit sound into the room this morning.”

There is one operational technique that many recordists find very valuable. We put a strip of masking tape under the knobs and write down who is on what fader. I know that sounds like rank beginner technology but I know many world-class operators who do it. If you can’t do that because of hidden or convoluted signal paths, then you may be buying the wrong mixer.

In field recording, simple is good.


Does your Mac have a Stereo Analog input? The new ones don’t.


I probably would have been watching the mixer, not audacity. and I do have questions as to what my optimum level should be. but I have not looked into that yet, so it may be obvious once I learn the system.

I also have a question if I Pan the mics all the way over when I record, can I get it to come out of 2 speakers later? that was stupid, I’m sure you would say to do it if not, let me rephrase that, is is easy to get it to come over both speakers later?

and the good news is, yes my mac is old enough to ave the analog input.

I probably would have been watching the mixer, not audacity. and I do have questions as to what my optimum level should be. but I have not looked into that yet, so it may be obvious once I learn the system.

The mixer, in the case of the Peavey, only has two lights for normal operation: OK and a little low. So once you set the relationship between Audacity and the Mixer, watching the large, detailed, clear Audacity sound meters will tell you much more than those two lights – although in a pinch, you can use the lights.

This is a perfect live recording:

The pulsing sound meters should peak somewhere in the -3 to -10 range and the blue waves hover somewhere around 50%. I know people who insist on putting pieces of tape over all the knobs and adjustments and that’s the way it is. It’s not. Live voices do not easily fit into a recording and a certain amount of juggling is needed.

People enjoy very highly processed, compressed and filtered store-bought music and assume they should be able to capture a live performance exactly like that. Best of luck. The real rules are:

– Never overload the channel. Never send the pulsing sound meter all the way up. Never, ever. That produces permanent clipping distortion in the show. The instantaneous sound peaks in the live show get clipped off and result in harsh, crunchy sound. Did you note in my voice test that even though the producer and actor were bantering about between the performances, at no time did the sound get piercing, sharp and extra crisp. Everything sounded perfectly natural and normal. That’s not easy.

– Never let the show get so low that the voices compete with the natural background hiss in the microphone and electronics. This is the curse of people who can’t get the microphone close to the performer. “I did a capture in a very quiet room, but the actor wasn’t very loud so I had to turn the mixer up. How do I get rid of the hiss and sizzle sounds in the show?”

You don’t. If it’s not too bad, we can help a little with Noise Removal, but it’s misnamed. All we can do is hide noise a little bit and nobody can do anything with hiss.

Did you notice I’m dancing around the left-right thing? I don’t remember how to do it because I don’t work like that. I need to look.


One way is to aggressively produce a mono show.

While the show is on the timeline, use the left-hand drop-down menu (black arrow).

Split Stereo Track.

Then Mono at each track.

You are now mixing a mono show. There is no left-right and the only control you have is the ability to do effects, filters and volume changes to each voice independent of the other. When you export, Audacity will produce a finished, mixed mono show.

You should open the finished show in a fresh Audacity to make sure you don’t run into overload problems. It’s at this exact step you can Edit > Duplicate the track and then with the left-hand menus, Make Stereo Track. Export that to a finished stereo show with the same thing on both left and right.

Should you want a fully produced stereo show with stereo ambiance and vocal direction, that’s harder.


Please note the tiny lavalier microphone underneath the guest’s chin. Koz
Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.32.11 AM.png

I’ve ordered a Peavey PV6. will try that with he currant mics, into audacity on the macbook. we’ll see how it goes.

I thought you had atr2100 USBs and you were going to use “Aggregate Mode” on the Mac? They won’t plug into the Peavey.


they are XLR also. doesn’t the pv-6 have xlr sockets?