Mic Chain Setup For Voice Overs : Podcast Episode #88

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Mike's Mic Chain

Mike’s Mic Chain

The reason we recorded this podcast is because voice over artist Arthur Muhl asked me a question about how I cable everything together from my microphone to the computer. Also, recently Lawrence Daniels said that my expertise in recording studio equipment proved invaluable and wondered if I could do a detailed explanation on how to hook up all the appliances with the microphone and make it function with Adobe Audition.

Basic Microphone Set Up

I started with the microphone and explained a bit about how I run things. Basically, for voiceover I use the Audio Technica AT4033a Microphone and that has a microphone output which is a male XLR microphone output. So I need a cable that goes from female XLR to male XLR and plug it first into the back of the AT4033a. The mic cable goes into the mic input of the dbx 286s Microphone Preamp / Processor which is the very right hand input. That’s where I run my dbx 286S settings on the microphone to boost the bass, treble, enhancer, expander, and all those stuff that makes you sound really cool. I created a quick video about how I set my dbx 286s up.

Should Voice Artists Add Effects?

Izabela pointed out that the majority of voiced audio are produced after being voiced dry. She posed the question on whether it is better to leave it to the producer to add any vocal effects after or for the artist to do it for themselves? I advised to use the dbx 286s to level out your voice, to compress it nicely but don’t over compress it. Izabela agreed and added that many voice artists apply compression but tend to overdo it. So if you really don’t know how to do it, don’t do it or better yet get an audio producer or audio engineer to do it. I also advised to bear in mind that, while I give away great secrets on how to make your voice sound better, it is not appropriate for every project and there are other ways of doing it as well.

dbx 286s Settings And Focusrite Sapphire Pro 14

My Audio Inputs

My Audio Inputs

To set up the dbx 286s, the 6.5mm stereo jack goes into the back of the dbx 286s and splits into 2 mono jacks. To do this, a quality cable is essential because I then go into inputs 3 and 4 on the back of my Focusrite Sapphire Pro 14 with 2 mono male 6.5mm jacks. I use inputs 3 and 4 because in this particular setup, 3 and 4 are for my Audio Technica 4033a and that goes into the back for voice overs but into inputs 1 and 2 which are XLR (or 6.5mm) inputs you can put other mics in there.

The Focusrite Sapphire Pro 14 then goes from firewire into firewire on the back of an iMac or a PC. However, the new iMac hasn’t got firewire anymore but it’s a Thunderbolt connector instead. Focusrite did say on their website that you can use thunderbolt but I think you need to buy some converter for it. There are also other great products which you can use like Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which might be a little less advanced but it’s great for traveling voice artists and plugs in via USB.

Why Split The Mono Input Into 2 Inputs?

You may wonder of why I do things like that so I answered the question; why not just use input 3 or input 4 seeing that it’s a mono input. I explained that this is because some software will pick up both of those channels as one and you can’t select either one. But in adobe audition you can choose either input and use it as mono so if you like, once you plugged everything into 3 and 4 you can then select what you’d like in Adobe Audition preferences so you can select just channel 3 on both left and right.

About Sapphire Mix Control

Jon Buscall from the Online Marketing and Communications Podcast asked me about the Sapphire Mix Control which is software that you can install to operates your Focusrite audio interface, in this case the Focusrite Sapphire Pro 14. If you open up Sapphire Mix Control you can do many different things. Sometimes you want to record the output from your computer, or record your voice, there will be many different presets there and you can look for the Routing Presets section to do all this.

The Saffire Mix Control Settings I Use

The Saffire Mix Control Settings I Use

If you want to record from your computer, go to the loopback preset. If you then select loopback that puts all the computer audio and outputs to DAW only (or digital audio workstation). What you’ll want to do if you still want to monitor your audio, or change things around, is  on the line output you use (3 and 4) switch them over to Mix 1 (L) and Mix 1 (R) instead of DAW 1 and DAW 2 and then you can listen to your outputs and inputs in real time.

Podcast Recording (Secret Surprise)

We plug our Heil PR40 microphones which we use exclusively for podcasting, not for voiceover because they are dynamic vs. condenser, direct into inputs 1 and 2 left and right on the Focusrite Sapphire Pro14 but not through the mic preamp and processor, we don’t actually use the dbx 286s to do this podcast because we have very little processing and we want the podcast to have a natural sound.

We’d Love To Hear Your Feedback

If you were able to make it to the end of this episode please go ahead and leave a comment and we’ll reply to you as well! Also, if you think a video needs to be produced for today’s podcast topic, let me know again in the comments and if I get enough feedback telling me to make a video I’ll make one.

Broad Business Or Narrow Niche? : Podcast Episode #87

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Broad Business?

Broad Business?

Listener Question

In this episode, Izabela and I discuss a very interesting listener question from Mark Dickson. To sum it up, Mark has two websites and one of which caters to his specialty freelance illustration, and the other is something he’s also interested in doing which is about creative freelance income. He’s asking for advice on whether or not he should broaden his reach and pursue the creative freelance income website or focus on a smaller niche catering to a subject which he is extensively knowledgeable and experienced with.

Izabela thinks that Mark really has an interest in creative freelancing from other sources, not just freelance illustration, because of the fact that he started the website which looks good and he is now currently developing further. Izabela advised for Mark to broaden the creative freelance website by creating other sources in addition to his illustration information and collaborate with others in different niches to cross promote each other. I added that he can also use his other website which is a landing page to lead into the other or vice versa.

Email Marketing

Since the subject of the question is related to internet marketing Izabela and I had a little discussion about our recommended email marketing supplier. We like features such as being able to get unlimited replies to a survey we can create and then implement audience segmentation to filter people into the niches we target at Music Radio Creative. So far the use of GetResponse has worked really well for us and we recommend that you try it.

Segmentation Of Customers Is Beneficial

When we were redeveloping our website, we decided that making clear distinctions of products and services is beneficial for us and our customers. Izabela compared our experience to Mark’s challenge. He could offer services for various different niches. She provided good advice of making a clear distinction of the products and services that he’s offering by defining those niches upfront so that customers will have a clear view of what they are going to get. In comparison to this, in our very own Music Radio Creative site we have a radio section which is completely different from our podcasting section because we understand the different needs of different customers.

Focus On What You Do Best

Narrow Niche?

Narrow Niche?

The potential problem however with going for a broader reach, in Mark’s case, is his self admitted lack of knowledge on the other subjects. Izabela answered that Mark should assess whether he would really just want to focus on his specialty and decide that he’s not going to do anything else. If he decides otherwise, he can expand his business by adding affiliates and broadening his knowledge on all the other subjects. However he must be wary that he may have to re-brand which can be a little harmful for businesses if not done right.

Different Success For Different Niches

I posed a hypothetical question, assuming that Mark goes through with broadening his website and the subjects receive varying success from his audience, should he drop the other subjects which are not doing as well as the others? Izabela tells us that what needs to be determined in such case is to identify if the failure is due to the general market conditions or can be attributed to his own lack of performance against other competition. Mark should analyse carefully and adjust his ultimate goal accordingly. Another question I asked is whether it is worth to have three different websites at first and test it before combining them. Izabela thinks it would make things more complicated for Mark but she also thought of a possible solution through split testing by setting up three landing pages and from there see which ones convert the best.

Social Media Branding

For people who are in the same dilemma as Mark on whether to expand and broaden their business or to focus on their expertise, Izabela advised us on how they can manage their social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Izabela asserted that Mark will not be the brand in this case but the website he will create will be the brand. So it what would be important is to work on describing the brand and writing a vision which addresses his long term goals.

Finally, Izabela advised that doing plenty of testing, market research and competitor research without losing track of a definite long term goal would be what is most important in approaching this dilemma.

Would You Go For A Broad Or Narrow Niche?

Leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed the episode and let us know what you’d prefer a broad business or a narrow niche and why? If you’d like to see how we send our newsletters go and sign up to get all our email newsletters.

The Future Of Podcasting : Podcast Episode #86

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The Future of Podcasting

The Future of Podcasting

In this episode our main subject will be focused on the future of podcasting. We’ve thought about this because of a recent meetup we had with podcasters and people who plan on podcasting from all over the UK.

Radio And Podcasting

One of our attendees, Ben Adam Smith, believed radio and podcasting are not similar at all. Ben recognises the challenges in podcasting such as the need for a different content each day and the necessity of not only producing content but also good content as differentiated to bad content. Izabela agrees and expounds by pointing out that radio personalities should approach podcasting as something that should be created from passion in order to connect with the audience, rather than just making podcasts because of the need of producing them from radio show content. I also think that in the UK unlike in the US where they have a really refreshing approach to it, there’s still a lot to be done when it comes to differentiating radio and podcasts. We have this BBC and commercial radio syndrome where a radio show is chopped, clips taken from it and it is just turned into a podcast and that’s not really a podcast at all. Hence the need to differentiate.

Education Is Needed For Podcasting

Izabela Russell on Podcasting

Izabela Russell on Podcasting

Izabela continues to say that there has to be further education among people who create podcasts and potential listeners for UK podcasting to flourish. The education must be centred on essentially getting normal people to look at podcasting as a resource for anything and getting them into the habit of looking for a podcast to satisfy their interests. For example a person likes gardening, he or she can search for a podcast about gardening. By doing so, we create a demand for podcasts and podcasters will have a wider audience.

Will There Be More Podcasting?

Katherine Bryant from Brilliant Living HQ, another attendee, expressed her excitement about the future of podcasting in the UK. She’s at the start of her podcasting journey together with her husband Julian and she’s very hopeful that podcasting in the UK will also flourish. This leads to the question; are there going to be more podcasts, conferences, or even meetups for UK podcasters? On this topic Izabela spoke about how the similarities in the mindsets of the recent attendees can be refreshing and actually serve as an inspiration for podcasting. I also think that these events usually lead to good networking opportunities, as you can see attendees using social media to coordinate, plan and exchange ideas and interviews. Radio host, Robin Banks also shared some thoughts and his hopes on how podcasting can be more relevant in the future.

On Internet Marketing Podcasts

Richard Dally believed that we need to think of the consumers and not what other DJs and podcasters think of our podcast. We think that’s really the way to approach it because it should be all about finding what you can’t do which someone else can do well. Richard also compared internet marketing to a pyramid scheme where you’ve got someone at the top telling people how to do internet marketing. Izabela and I are not sure we totally agree with that and believe that such a practice is actually needed because it brings podcasting to the world which leads to more growth for podcasting. I also think it is inspirational as I’ve talked to many people actually looking up to those who teach the craft of podcasting, internet marketing, social media and so on.

Recommended Platform For Podcasts

Spreaker Store

Spreaker Store

Anna Piazza from Spreaker, came all the way from Berlin in Germany to give us updates on Spreaker and told us that they’re going to have their own kind of internal advertising so that you can advertise and get more listeners coming in to your radio show or podcast. If you think about the 3 million people on spreaker.com that in itself is already a good thing.We genuinely believe in the platform Spreaker because we are convinced  the company is doing much to bring podcasting to the 21st century.

The Choice In Podcasts

Rob Mobberley said it perfectly when he said that the market is really going to develop once people start to realise that they can listen to their passion and anything they want in podcast form. I think that he is right and that people are going to realise that they don’t have to listen to Heart or Kiss FM or others but they can actually listen to their favourite podcasts based on their own interests. Izabela adds that this is the time to start your podcast if it’s not already out there.

Communication And Connection In Podcasting

Kevin Mulryne, a big supporter of podcasting, also spoke about how podcasting can be the only way for businesses to talk directly to hundreds of their customers on a weekly basis. Izabela, agrees and shared her own knowledge of how podcasting has been successful for business owners. She genuinely believes that it is a great way of building trust and interest between your company and customers.

UK Podcasters

If you’re interested in the valuable content that we’ve talked about in the meetup in London go to UK Podcasters and listen to the full London Meetup Review audio. Hope you’ve enjoyed the episode, please go to UK Podcasters on iTunes and if you have an interest in podcasting subscribe and review this podcast feed so that more people can discover the UK podcasting community.

What are your thoughts on the future of podcasting? Let us know in the comments!

photo by: nsolop