The Audio Plan

This plan is pretty well set, but just going to post it here for disclosure and in case anyone has a lead on cheaper/better parts.

RE: Improving our audio setup.

We've taken a page from the playbook with our proposed audio setup. As such that means separate nice mics for everyone.

I have a Shure KSM44 I've always used since doing the youtube stuff and I had it because I had other projects that demanded this and some other equipment. However it isn't great for multi-person -- the secret to good audio is to get the mic closer.

Since we're funding some of it out of pocket and some of it from Patreon we all wanted to give full disclosure on what we're planning. Basically this:

We're getting 3 Rode NT1 mics to use with some mic stands I already have.
We will get one rolly mic boom, though. This ended up being Amazon warehouse deals where the box is crushed but the product is otherwise fine. They aren't here yet, but usually that's how it is. We're also using foam pop filters instead of the screen style because they're better for our needs and the hygene aspect is pretty good.

We're pretty well set on something like a Mackie 1220i with Onyx Preamps. I'm somewhat familiar with Mackie boards already, and the Onyx preamp is good. Its mostly analog with a little bit of firewire/digital.

These are really easy to get cheap and in good order on ebay.

I can construct a rolly-cart for it. We'll also add to that some cheapish $25 Alesis 3630 compressors. These are also good and cheap.

I think all this can be assembled into a small rollycart so we can just wheel it to wherever we need it. If we use booms and mics out of shot, that works. If we used mics in front of us, that works.

We will have two wireless lapel mics for everything else/funny skits/whatever.

The Shure can be used as a 4th mic in case we have a guest. Or a dot matrix printer robot that needs micing. Or whatever.

The analog boards are cheaper, better (though bulkier) and lower latency. The signal can be mixed and sent in directly for recording because the name of the game is reducing the amount of work required in post to edit, but give us the flexibility if we want something with a bit higher production value.

We can use the NT1s on our computers when we're streaming with the Focusrite and USB XLR adapters, so that's nice.

I think we're pretty well set on equipment though we may swap the Alesis for a 4 channel Behringer but I don't think that'll be necessary.

This should give us top shelf audio for maybe $500 beyond the cost of the mics. I think. Pretty sure. Plus whatever for cabling, which won't be much. I still have some canare star quad wiring so I can make nice xlr cables if necessary.

Mostly this is just an FYI but if anyone has any input, you're welcome to share below. I had a 1220 (not i, the old REALLY bulky one) and was hoping tech had progressed somewhat the last 10+ years. Nope.

The sweet sound of the Onyx premaps + the compressors should equal very good. And this is a similar setup to but with a little better mixer and mics.


That is how a plan should look. Nice job so far!

Why not skip on the Alesis and directly go with the Behringer?

I having two two-channel Alesis better, I think?

Two two-channels so you can still make videos in case one bites the dust?
I am a bit lost on audio recording, just thought less devices might make it easier.

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I like the idea of putting it on a rolling cart, the organization freak in me says 2 thumbs up.

But also from previous experience depending on where you put the mic stands / arms you might want to consider some cheep or homemade shock mounts with elastic bands.

They come in super helpful with desk mounted arms and other high tragic areas. Just the movement of laptops , arms, people typing on a desk can cause some unwanted pickups to happen.

Keep up the great work, love the transparency on where the funding is going.

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Holy crap. The speed of content is amazing. Keep it up. I will edit this post with something about the audio later


My ears are ready


I have a MDX1600 and must say the expander is much better than the gate for voice. The cutoff using the gate is just too harsh and if you start speaking quietly, right against the gate threshold, it sounds like your mic is cutting in and out.

It's strange to have actual regular content. Like, I almost don't know what to do...but I love it.





Sorry for the capitalisation, but it's kinda important lol

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Out of genuine interest can we get a before and after kind of thing and how it compares with, say, a Blue Yeti plonked in the middle set to the all-directional option? I might not do it myself any time soon but I'm all for learning about PC mic setups.

I watch Jayz and Jerry's videos when they do them every now and then regarding setups but obviously those guys only have one presenter (usually) so the setup's rather different.

Hi Wendell,

If cost is an issue I would have suggested the Yamaha MG16 (or XU version if you want the other effects), as it includes compressors for many of the input channels. As you're going with a rack mount compressor then that's maybe redundant advice.

Here it is anyway:

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There is a big quality difference in the pre-amps and build quality of the strips though. Mackie and SoundCraft boards are the best value in the US and UK type sound, that is strip quality, build quality and longevity, support, simplicity, reliability, resale value, ... it's like cars, if you want a car that can take a beating and will handle everything you throw at it, get a sturdy diesel truck or a landrover, not a suzuki lantra...

You could just software compress. If you use a linuxbox for audio prosessing. There is a stand alone application plugin host called carla that can act as a virtual audio rack. It uses jack and all the routing can be done within the application. I actually tried it yesterday and got a somewhat "radio" sound. I followed a youtube tutorial that suggested this chain:

High pass filter -> compressor with "fast" setting -> compressor with "slow" setting -> eq to boost 200-300hz and 1,5khz-2khz

If you would do this with outboard equipment it would be expensive. I think this solution would work well as a substitute to cheap outboard compressors. Get some audio/radio guy to dial in the settings and make a video about it and enlighten us about audio possibilities in Linux.

It looks like carla can run in windows as well, and it supports vsts. An interface like this: comes with 4 inputs and the foucusrite pre amps is on par with mackie, if not better.

analogue compressors have benefits, they sound better per dollar (good plugins that deliver good quality compression are very expensive and don't really exist in open source versions, unless with endless amounts of tweaking, which is even more expensive), and above all analogue signal chains add no latency, and that's a very important benefit. If you would digitize, then apply compression and eq digitally, then send back to monitor for different monitor channels, the latency with the direct recorded individual tracks will probably be in the order of magnitude of 20-24 ms roundtrip latency, and that's really annoying.
compression and eq also require individual settings per person, there is no "recipe". usually, with large diaphragm condenser mics in a cardioid setup, you would typically not boost but cut the bass to compensate for the proximity effect. you would typically boost the mids to make the sound more dynamic and present, and you would at all cost avoid two compression stages because it leads to "pumping", which is a very undesirable effect.

I think that software compression is good enough. One could even buy those plugin compressors and still save money because you would not have to buy 4 of them. Latency has not been an issue in years. New soundcards and cpus can easily output manageble results. I agree that it requires tweaking, but outboard also requires tweaking. carla would be able to handle compression and eq with different settings per person, and save patches.

It's not just the regular content, but that the community gets involved with the planning to (maybe not the decision making, but getting insight into the thought process and being allowed to provide feedback is awesome).

As for my feedback to L1T, I think you should decide whether you want to go the hardware or software route for processing, as @e1mmai suggests. Alot of magical stuff can be made with software solutions, and you can just route Windows audio through your mixer. It makes things easier when you're editing clips, since you'll have the "raw" audio clips available if you don't like something about them after recording (such as high frequency distortion, or background noise, which is more difficult to scrub away when processed). If you're heavy users of processing, there are dedicated DSP's that can offload the work from your computer. They aren't a cheap alternative for saving a few ms of latency.

For on-the-go recording, Zoom has some pretty nifty expandable handy recorders. If you haven't decided on what route to go yet, look into the Zoom H4 or H6 - they double as audio interfaces too, and the stereo mics supplied out of the box have a very nice sound.

Finally, you mentioned on Youtube you need to speak closer to the microphone to get that rich professional sound - don't forget it also boosts low frequencies, which can become exhausting to listen to. This is especially true for large diaphragm condenser microphones, like the Rode NT1 and Shure KSM44. Just a thing to keep in mind when editing (like, upping the attack a bit on the compressor : )

@Zoltan in the long term, digital is more portable, more robust (really, it's just ones and zeroes) and with few exceptions, more reliable than analogue equipment. There are very, very good DSP's out there, if for some reason a podcast with only a few audio channels would use heavy processing enough to need it.

I have both analogue and digital solutions, even a digital console that cost well over 50kEUR. Digital is not more robust, it's often ridden with bugs (Yamaha is really bad, Roland/Boss are relatively good, linux-based pro stuff is quite good, better than pro-tools based stuff, has dedicated rack servers for the digital effects, pretty much every functional unit is a separate computer to increase reliability and fidelity, but in the end, it's never as reliable as a good old analogue unit. On a big analogue desk, you can swap out the strips in just a few minutes, if the digital console crashes, you have to start debugging and you're in for hours. Then there is the tactile part. Real analogue high quality potmeters are just better in every aspect than rotary encoders, however expensive. And because the outboard gear is inboard on digital, you're always out of control surface real estate and it's just never as intuitive and efficient as analogue. Plus the actual analogue parts of digital solutions are just complete and utter crap in comparison to analogue audio equipment. We use Neve strips that are more than 40 years old, they work great, we use tube circuitry that is 50 years old, it works like new, it's super easy to maintain and service. Digital is made for a very short lifespan, silicon just gives up after a while. I've done all the digital as it came out, there is a place for it in digital satellite broadcast and large event production, that's for sure, because there is no alternative because of specific requirements in different regions that have to be met at the same time, because of the huge scale of the production, but analogue is just better in almost all aspects of audio production, it's more efficient, faster, a much better investment because it retains value and lasts a really long time, etc... and because the quality is just better... yes I said that... because I have both things like Waves plugins and the real Neve strips and SSL's and stuff, and there is just no comparison between the two, the real thing sounds much better and is much easier to work with. You can do about the same with a silicon J-FET as you can do with a glass-and-metal one, but you can't do the same with modelling, well you can technically, but it will give you all sorts of headaches to get there. There is a reason why some strips or even parts like valves are legendary, and why there are no legendary DSP's or DSP chips or dedicated effect systems or CPU's, let alone legendary plug-in software.
In time-critical smaller setups, analogue is the way to go and the way most experienced people turn back to, because it's more efficient, less of a waste of time.

I will add to this in that I have the focusrite i2i and, for the money, it is mind blowing. It is pretty low latency (though not essentially "zero" of the analog stuff. Has a pretty cherry software compressor and makes my shure ksm44 sound absolutely great.
That said, it "crashes" sometimes without warning. I use it for the (not super important haha!) game streams and I hear myself fine, but the audio captured by OBS sounds "like a robot" and weird. Un/replugging the focusrite fixes it every time.

Plus the mackie has firewire so I can capture it. The name of the game, though, is not to get too bogged down in post. Case in point with the cameras.

When I first switched from Canon to Panasonic I was really annoyed. The sensor in the panasonic just isn't that great. Its middling. Canon's sensor is way better. But the CMOS grain in the panasonic was better. Whaaaaaaa? Better even than the Canon 5D mk II. Whaaaaaaaaaaaa? There is some software "special sauce" in the panasonic it runs in real time to de-noise. Once I figured out I could de-noise with a plugin in the adobe suite, the 5D mk II was super cherry. Even doing color grading/etc. Ok, the universe is not falling apart. However the extra editing time/post time was not really worth it.

Even now on the panasonic I can do a cinev/cined and color grade after the fact and end up 98% as good as a full-frame sensor camera or even video camera. The goal here is to reduce the amount of time that has to be spent in post so that more time can be spent on content. That's also why we got lavs in addition to this. Lavs make it easier to mix/assemble in real time, rather than post, for "on the go" footage.

If I ever get back to event coverage (I like Taipei) I will need to get a wireless handheld mic so I can interview people easily. That's low on our shopping list though.

just adding to "the thought process" documentation.

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High end analog gear is awesome, and they have that really nice elusive quality about it. But in the price range of Alessis and Behringer it is the utilitarian function of compressing audio we are getting. Those utilities are available for free in open source software.