The signal chain varies from time to time, depending on what we have in to review and what
PW has been doing in his studio previously! But there's nothing exotic or expensive
We generally use some cheap capacitor stage vocal mics (LD D1011)
with additional metal pop screens in front, although for the last podcast we used a couple
of much more expensive large diaphragm capacitor mics because they were already set up
following a music session. We record in PW's control room with his Mac and hard drives sat
on the desk quietly whirring away...
The mics are connected to a M-audio
profire 2626 preamp/interface, with the gain set to peak to about -10dBFS in Logic, which
is used as the recorder. We record the two mics to separate tracks completely flat -- no
EQ or dynamics. The recording typically takes an hour or so, depending on how many cockups
After the recording I take a stereo audio file away on a USB
flashdrive (PW on one channel, me on the other) and edit the podcast in SADiE. We could
use any editor, but SADiE is ideally suited for this kind of work and I know it very well,
which means I can complete the editing in a couple of hours.
I edit the the
core voice recording as a stereo file to remove any fluffs, mistakes and so on, organise
the various sections into the right order and edit for length. I then split the stereo
track into two separate mono tracks and delete all the sections where one of us isn't
talking because this effectively removes 3dB of room noise. I also adjust the relative
levels of each clip at this stage to achieve a roughly consistent balance. I then insert
any contibutions from my SOS colleagues and drop all the intro/outro music, stings and
beds into place.
At this stage I have two tracks for PW and my voices, one or
two tracks for other contibutors, and two stereo tracks, one for the beds and another for
the stings. The stereo tracks are routed directly to the virtual mixer output bus, while
the voice tracks are either grouped and routed through a VST bus compressor (I like the
UAD Neve 33609 for this), or I put individual VST compressors on each voice (usually the
UAD LA2A). I also have a mastering limiter on the final output bus (either SADiE's own or
the UAD precision limiter) set to stop anything from exceeding -2dBFS... but it very
rarely triggers!). I tend to mix while metering on Z-plane's PPMulator, set with PPM4 =
-12dBFS, and I peak the mix to PPM6 in traditional BBC style!
I then tweak
the balance and edits as necessary and export the finished mix as both a WAV for archiving
and an MP3 for the web.
It's very rare that I EQ anything, and the dynamics
processing is extremely modest -- never more than 4dB of gain reduction. So basically,
it's appropriate mics placed appropriately, in an appropriate acoustic space...
really what you have so much as how you use it!