I’m trying to record a podcast that involves at least four people talking. Right now, it’s a complete failure due to how I’m going about it. I have four usb snowball mics plugged into my laptop, and record into separate tracks for each mic in the recording program on my computer. The microphones are bleeding into each other which causes an echo like effect on the vocals.
After doing some research, I have found that most people who podcast use xlr microphones, a mixer, or some type of audio interface that connects to the computer. So my question is, what is the most affordable equipment that I can purchase in order to produce a better sounding podcast with up to four people talking?
How are you doing that? What recording program are you using? How are you keeping the 4 USB microphones synchronised?
That could be made to work with a few simple but painful tricks. Each Snowball (you thought we were going to tell you to throw them out, didn’t you?) has to be set to its cardioid position, not omnidirectional nor attenuated. Each guest has to be seated around a padded table such that they are in the corners of a square and at least three times the microphone distance, bigger is better. If each mic is one foot from the guest, the distance to the next guest needs to be at least three feet – or more.
Ignore all the other stuff in this picture but the padding on the table.
Those are furniture moving pads under the microphones.
Then soundproof the room. I built simple wooden frames and bought a pile of furniture pads.
Each wall is double hung, front and back.
When you get done with all that, the four guest presentation should be enormously better, clearer and less echoey than what you have now.
Even better if you have acoustic ceiling and carpeted floor.
And yes, you are making a studio. People still rent them for a reason.
If for some reason you can’t do that, then close micing as with lavaliers is another solution and that cost equipment bux.
All the additional solutions can cost serious money, but I do agree with you that four individual microphones is a very good way to go, if the room supports it and you have a way to record it.
What is that way?
And if you do some of that padding and decide to go with a more sophisticated microphone setup anyway, you have lost nothing. Microphones are not magic and they all work much better in a padded room.
Have you noticed any sync problems in longer shows? It’s there. The guests will slowly drift out of time with each other as the show progresses.
Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. I purchased the Blue Snowball iCE microphones, which are Omnidirectional and do not have setting options, but I can try everything else that you mentioned. The main problem is we do a podcast where the guest all play board games, so I’ll see how far I can space out the microphones while still being close enough to play these games.
Steve, I plug all four mics into a USB hub. Then I record each mic into Mixcraft 6. The synchronization is pretty decent at first, but after time the computer seems to slow down.
I don’t think you’re going to get there. Those are the wrong microphones for this application. Plan “B” isn’t going to work, either – soundproof the room and use one microphone in the center of the padded table. That’s where the board for the game needs to be. I think your only hope is lavalier microphones and a mixer – or record from four of these:
The three to one spacing rule never goes away, so the only solution is reduce the distance between the microphone and each performer.
You picked a rough one.
I see what happened. The straight Snowball had pattern selectors, the iCE is fixed pattern.
Try this. Suspend one Snowball over the table at the center of the game board. In this application, you need to keep everyone close together and give up on the idea of four different sound tracks. If you have one loudmouth performer and one who whimpers in their beer, you’re dead.
You’re also going to have USB cable length problems. “Real” microphones can be run long distances without affecting the sound. USB microphones are limited to the 6 feet (2M) of one single USB run.
The only way to extend a USB run that I know of is a wall-powered USB hub with nothing else plugged in. That will get you up to 12 feet (4M) or so with the hub in the middle. We had to do that with a conference room microphone system.
If you suspend the microphone, pad the room but leave the table bare. You’re going to need the increased volume of the voice reflecting from the table and just put up with the slight comb filter affect. This also has the advantage of picking up the sound of the board play.
The Snowball microphone should work just fine upside down.