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Podcast, Sansacast, Zunecast, Riocast, RSScast or whatever

Thursday, 12 October, 2006

The mixers capable of USB or 1394 connection to a mundane computer provide two mixed channels. The mix is done the old fashioned way, and it goes into digital as one file. In my mind, this is not optimal. Each USB microphone pops up as a seperate device, although the system only wants one “microphone”. The assumption appears to be, a person will only ever want to use a single USB microphone.

It appears, with a minimum of trickery, one can get multiple USB audio devices to work with a G5 or above Mac running Tiger or above within Garageband. BTW, Garageband also handles compression. Wu!

From Pinckney Community Schools [MI] support site …

Procedure:
1. Plug the USB hub into the computer.
2. Plug the USB microphones into the hub.
3. Open the “Audio Midi Setup” program located in the utilities folder
4. Under the “Audio” menu, select “Open Aggregate Device Editor.”
5. Click the “+” to “add…aggregate devices to your computer.”
6. Put checkmarks on the devices listed as USB “In”. If you plugged in 3 microphones, then you will have three items checked.
7. Click the “Done” button. Once you have done this, the aggregate device will appear whenever you plug in your USB devices. Each USB microphoone will now be in it’s own channel (like stereo has two channels, your aggregate device has a channel for each USB microphone.) If you need to adjust the level of any of the microphones, The “Audio Midi Setup” program lets you do that too. Just select “Properties For” and popup the microphone you want to adjust. Sliders appear at the bottom (I set mine all to maximun volume.)
8. Close or minimize the “Audio Midi Setup” application.
9. Open GarageBand
10. You may need to select “New” from the “File” menu and then select Create a Podcast Episode”
11. Name your podcast and note the location it’s saved.
12. Under the “GarageBand” menu, select “Preferences”
13. Click the “Audio/MIDI button in the window that opened.
14. Next to Audio Input, select “Aggregate Device” from the popup menu.
15. Close the preference window.
16. Click on the “Male Voice” track.
17. Click the button near the lower right part of the window that looks like the letter “i” in a gray circle.
18. In the panel that opens up on the right, click the “Details” triangle at the bottom.
19. Where it shows the input, pop up the menu and change it to “Channel 1(Mono)”
20. You can repeat this for the Track labled “Female Voice.” Of course, select “Channel 2 (mono)” as the input.
21. To add additional USB microphone track’s, Select “New Track” from the “Track” menu. When adding the new tracks, make them “Real Instruments” when asked.

Of course, I don’t know if this actually corresponds to reality.

Once the vox is down in GB, you can go nuts; add music, SFX, and of course edit to your heart’s content.

Microphone options in no particular order:

  1. Blue Snowball [sic], $140 sounds a little hollow. Pop/windscreen is a $30 accessory. OEM spidermount runs $40. Ships with required stand.
  2. Samson C01U, $80 kind of room aware, big card pattern, available in a “Recording Pak” for $170 which includes a desktop stand, spidermount, cable, case, clip and so on
  3. Samson C03U, $130 recording pak runs $220. Basically FM to the C01’s AM.
  4. Samson Q1U $50, dinky-ass handheld dynamic. Can’t find a review to save my life.
  5. Marshall MXL.006 $130, big full soft. It’s Quad FM 1974. I’ve heard only one sample and it was good. Still hard to find.
  6. Rode Podcaster $200. Sounds like a million damn dollars. I’ve heard two samples, both by professional announcers. If Don Lafontaine was looking for a USB mic, this would be the one. An authentic broadcast quality dynamic [sic] in a kitted USB capable form. Headset plugs into the mic itself for monitoring.
  7. Logitech USB Microphone for PlayStation®2 $20, By no means as rich as the Podcaster, but not so bad. In fact, this is regarded in some circles the best microphone under $100 for home recording. Totally immune to accessories, stands or anything else. Despite its formal title, it is a standard USB audio device.

If any other options exist, I cannot find them.

Here’s the cost, lowball:

  • 2 x Logitechs $40
  • powered USB hub $30
  • 2 x Radio Shack oversized wind screens $10

Stands not available, would have to be built.

Here’s the cost, high end:

  • 2 x Rode Podcasters $400
  • powered USB hub $30
  • 2 x Rode windscreens $50
  • stands with spidermounts $300

My unprofessional recommendation:

  • 2 x Samson C01U Recording Paks $340
  • powered USB hub $30
  • 2 x Samson windscreens WS03 $12

That’s everything for under $400, but I’d like to check out the Q1U.

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