Learning about audio

Hey gang!

So this whole idea we’ve had here is kinda crazy.  We’re making a podcast to talk about making our own indie games.  A documentary podcast.  Wild.  I’m super excited about it, and a little nervous.  Who knows whether we’ll have any success or not?  But I guess that’s not really the main goal.  The main goal we’ve got is to document the entire process, both from the creative side as well as the business side.  We want to talk practically and artistically about everything and share our learning experience with anyone who might be interested.

In an effort to do that, it seems logical to start by documenting the process of starting a podcast.  Is that too “meta”?  Eh, oh well.

Jason has been handling the online components – setting up the website and the social media stuff.  I’m terrible at all of that, in addition to finding it horribly boring.  I’ve been focusing so far on two things:  graphics and audio.  I’ll talk about designing our logo and cartoon heads another time.  Today I’d like to talk about the audio stuff.

The one thing I knew for sure at the start of this project is that I knew NOTHING about recording good quality sound.  I’m not a musician.  I didn’t own ANY audio equipment, apart from a crummy headset microphone that came with an old PC.  So I went to the only place I could think of in town that might be able to teach me some stuff.  I went to Guitar Center.  When I walked in there, I made a point to stop and stand right in front of the door and just look around confused.  Easy pickings for a salesman who will want to look super smart in front of an amateur, right?  Barry, the assistant manager pounced on me in less than 30 seconds.  He kept me entertained for the next 30 minutes.

I won’t go into everything we talked about.  What matters is that he gave me a free crash course in recording sound on your home computer.  He told me what specific equipment I would need, what software to use, and what pitfalls to watch out for.  But I didn’t buy anything from him immediately.  I shook his hand and took his card and thanked him profusely, promising that I would be coming back.  Then, like any good modern consumer, I went home and bought the same stuff online for less money and free shipping.  Here’s what I ended up with:


That’s a digital converter box.  You plug your microphone into that, and it converts the analog signal to a digital one, then sends it to your computer via USB.  You need that if you want your sound to not be crappy.  Don’t just use the microphone port on your machine.  It’ll sound terrible.


The AKG K-44 MK II headphones.  Barry said these are the best headphones you can buy for $50.  Great all-around sound, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and reasonably priced.  I’m very pleased so far.  Barry also warned me against buying DJ headphones.  Those are designed to specifically boost the bass so a DJ can hear his beat in a loud club.  For a podcast, that’s a terrible idea.

We’re not buying a microphone yet, but we probably will eventually.  To start with we’ll be working with one Jason already has from his film projects.  Those aren’t really designed for studio recording like we’ll be doing, but we’re going to make do.  Still, Barry said we should expect to pay $300 for a good quality mic.  I don’t know if we’ll ever go that far, but it’s a place to start.

So that’s where I am right now.  The next things on my list are to get some software, learn how to use it, turn my home office into a recording studio, get some sound into the computer, and create a podcast.  No big deal…  right?


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