Here is the equipment we use to record The Overwhelmed Brain podcast.
If you find this information useful, please comment below. We’d love to hear your feedback. Also, please note that we’ve provided links on where you can purchase these items below the article. These are affiliate links, meaning if you click on one, the merchant will thank The Overwhelmed Brain for your sale by sending us a few pennies on the dollar.
Enjoy and comment!
The Overwhelmed Brain Podcast Equipment Setup
Before we begin, I’ll define some terminology:
I shall do my best to describe each component and how they are connected.
One of the main components of my system is the Heil PR-40 Microphone. I selected this for its excellent short-range pickup and broadcast quality. It does a fantastic job of picking up only the noise closest to it and the occasional loud siren outside. Learn to project your voice and you’ll learn to use the mic without having to increase the input levels too much (this will help you avoid as much background noise as possible since the pickup on the mic will be lower).
As a separate purchase, I got the RE320POP Fine Mesh Metal Screen Pop Filter (That’s the round black-rimmed screen in front of the microphone). This component minimizes the sound of fast moving air from your mouth hitting the mic. For example, the sound of the letter P is usually accompanied with a breath (often referred to as p-pops and plosives)
This is an excellent mic for pod/broadcasters.
My PR-40 is mounted in what’s called a shock mount. A shock mount minimizes vibration that typically comes from the mic stand or boom (or the desk on which the boom arm is mounted).
The vibrational energy that travels along the boom arm will become diminished when the shock mount destabilizes the vibration. The shock mount I use is the Heil PRSM-C. It is specifically designed to fit this microphone.
The “boom” is the arm that fastens to your desk or table. This is what allows you to move the microphone around and place it perfectly in front of your mouth. The boom arm comes with a clamp that opens to about 2″ to fit most surfaces. The microphone cable is hidden in a channel built into the arm.
The boom I use is the Heil PL2T Heavy Duty Mic Boom Arm with C-Clamp.
The central hub to where all the audio signals are sent is the Mackie 1202-VLZ3 mixer. The mixer’s main job is to receive audio from any number of sources, and distribute it to any number of devices. Being able to control volume levels from the different sources, both incoming and outgoing is vital. You can podcast without a mixer, but if you have more than one sound source (tablet, mp3 player, phone, etc) you may not be able to get all the sound into your computer. The mixer allows you to plug in more than one sound device at a time and control the volume of each.
The reason I chose this particular mixer is because it has Aux Send output sockets. That means I can send audio to different devices at different audio levels.
In other words, if I wanted to raise or lower the volume of my voice going back into the laptop, I could just turn the AUX 1 dial left or right. This dial is helpful for several reasons because it can distinctly control the volume of any output signal.
For example, when you’re interviewing someone on Skype or some other service (have you tried appear.in? It’s excellent!) but they keep hearing their own voice echoing back into their ears, you could “minus” their voice from their mix so that wouldn’t happen. This is called a “mix minus” setup.
You can also use AUX 1 for other reasons as well. It can come in handy if you want to control a volume level to a device like a digital recorder. It all depends on your needs. I plug my headphone jack from my cellphone into the Aux 1 port when I have to use my cellphone to record guests. That’s a tad advanced if you don’t know the basics but worth it if you care at all about audio levels (which you should) and professional sound (which is optional, but highly recommended).
From my microphone, I use a Mogami 10′ female XLR cable to male XLR. Head’s up on this… Mogami is a pricey brand and there are alternatives, so it’s up to you how high quality you want to go. I chose top of the line.
This XLR cable goes straight to the MIC 1 XLR socket of my mixer:
Not only do I want my voice coming into the mixer, but I also want my guest’s voice as well.
During my initial setup, I ran a cable from the mixer directly to the headphone socket of my laptop. I found that to be a terrible idea. The mixer is so sensitive that it picked up all the noises from the electronics inside the laptop and amplified them.
The components of a laptop are all mashed together, so unwanted noise (bleed over electronic noise) travels freely into the mixer. What I did to counter that was purchase a USB interface designed to clean up the sound and minimize the noise. This USB interface cleans up the signal before it gets amplified (pre-amp) has both XLR and TRS connections so that you can use either type of cable.
I bought the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface, which solves both the hardware connection limitations of a laptop (just a headphone and mic socket), and the unwanted noise and “dirtier” signal that a laptop sound card typically puts out.
I am using the Scarlett’s headphone port to connect into the stereo inputs, channel 5 – 6 on my mixer. This allows me to get a full left, right stereo signal. I don’t necessarily need a stereo signal for speaking, but I play music that has left and right sound so I made sure I had stereo ability in my hardware.
These next two pictures show both the RCA cable I used, and the adapters necessary to make the connections.
Now that I have the signals in my mixer, I want to distribute them to three different sources. One of those sources is back to the laptop.
The reason I am sending audio back into the laptop is because I want my guest to be able to hear me. Plus, if I were to plug in an MP3 player, or tablet, or cell phone into the mixer, they would also be able to hear that as well.
Another reason I send audio back into the laptop is because I like to use a software recorder as well as a hardware recorder, depending on what I’m doing.
I used to use Sony Acid Pro 6 to edit the show, but moved to probably the best Digital Audio Workstation one could ask for: Reaper.
Reaper does everything Acid Pro did for me, plus a ton more. Every day, in one way or another, I find another way to save more time using Reaper. It has made my life so much easier, and it’s packed full of features with the ability to use plugins and a whole slew of other things.
The best part about Reaper is that if you can think about what you’d like it to do, it probably already does it. Very cool.
Anyway, back to the hardware. The way I get audio to go back into the laptop is to utilize the special Aux 1 socket:
The second device I send the audio signals to is my Roland R-05 Wave / MP3 Recorder. This device is pretty awesome. In conjunction with a 4 GB SDHC card, you can record about 60 hours of audio. I don’t have a power supply for mine, but it’s supposed to last about 16 hours during recording, or 30 hours during playback on two AA batteries!
I mount my R-05 to a small clamp called a Clampette by High Sierra:
I get the signal from my mixer to the recorder using the MAIN OUT sockets.
Coming from the mixer is a dual TS 1/4″ plug to single 3.5 mm mini plug, plugged into the Line In on the recorder (see UPDATE below, I have since changed this. The setup I describe here does work, but I chose a different route).
The next device I output to is my pair of MDR-7506 Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones. These sound beautiful, fit comfortably (if not a tad tight), and bring out the highs and lows nicely. They come with their own 3.5mm to 1/4″ TRS adapter.
The last equipment I output sound to are my “studio” speakers (also called monitors) – not pictured. They are a pair of Creative PC speakers. I only use them for general listening purposes, not while editing audio.
However, I will show you where I plug them in:
The speakers come with the typical PC jack: a 3.5 mm mini plug. I have that cord plugged into a female 3.5 mm mini plug to dual 1/4″ TS Plugs. The reason I have them plugged into Control Room is so that I can control the volume to them with the CTL ROOM/SUBMIX knob.
UPDATE: I recently changed one connection that has made a world of difference in the level of audio coming into the recorder. With the above connections, you really have to crank audio levels on the mixer for the Roland recorder to pick them up well. My voice always ended up sounding lower than my guest’s.
But, I found a way to send much louder signals into the recorder, and that’s to use Aux Send socket #2. The only thing I record on my Roland is my voice, so it can be a single, mono signal. I decided to use Aux Send 2 because I have an individual volume control for Aux 2 on each channel. I simply turn the Aux 2 dial as I’m talking until I see the Roland peak levels bouncing high, but not high enough to blink the red light (peaking). This is a fantastic way to level out the sounds during recording, but one of many setups you can do (there are many more).
So if you want to do this, unplug the dual TS 1/4″ plug from the MAIN OUT sockets on the mixer, and get yourself a single TS 1/4″ plug to a 3.5mm jack conversion cable. Note: This setup will record your voice on only one channel of the Roland because it has stereo inputs. If you want to record your voice to both channels, you’ll need a mono to stereo 3.5mm female to male adapter to be able to send a single mono output to both Left and Right inputs of the Roland. You still only use the one Line In port on the Roland, but it records on both left and right channels.
If that sounds confusing, leave me a comment and I’ll clarify. This is now my setup however, and I very much like the levels now.
Well, there you have it! This concludes the tour of my podcasting equipment. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
And now I’ll share the most important lessons I’ve learned in setting all this up:
- The shorter you can get the audio cables, the less likely you will hear unwanted sound and interference
- The higher quality the cable, the less unwanted sound and interference
- The higher quality the equipment, the less unwanted sound and interference (do you see a theme here?)
- The less adapters you use, the less degradation of the signal.
- Using an external recorder allows you to keep your computer free for Skype, playing music, etc.
- Turn off the mixer when plugging things in, unless you want to blow out your eardrums
- Background noise can be decreased by playing with both the Gain and Level adjustments on the mixer
And here’s a list of every item, and what I paid for each:
- $269.99 – Mackie 1202-VLZ3 mixer
- $199.00 – Roland R-05 Wave / MP3 Recorder
- $5.95 – Lexar 4 GB SDHC card, for the Roland recorder
- $11.95 – Clampette by High Sierra
- $279.00 – Heil PR-40 Microphone
- $105.00 – Heil PRSM-C Shock Mount
- $120.00 – Heil PL2T Heavy Duty Mic Boom Arm with C-Clamp
- $60.00 – RE320POP Fine Mesh Metal Screen Pop Filter
- $149.99 – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
- $77.95 – MDR-7506 Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones
- $18.95 – 10′ female XLR cable to male XLR
- $3.88 – dual TS 1/4″ plug to single 3.5 mm mini plug
- $4.99 – 3.5mm female to dual 1/4″ TS plugs
- $49.99 – Mogami male to male TRS cable (I opted for the pricey one, but it’s not necessary)
Here’s my Amazon link if you’d like to look for similar items there.
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, I’m happy to help.
Oh, if you want the source for all things podcasting, Visit Podcasters’ Paradise. I joined when the doors opened because I didn’t know a thing about podcasting. Now I know what I need to know.
I’ll tell you up front, it ain’t cheap! But you’ll have everything you’ll ever need when it comes to podcasting.Other resources that I currently utilize:
Workflowy – Great for note taking and making checklists. I tried Evernote, but just can’t get past the clunky interface. Too slow and too many steps.
WordPress – The defacto standard for creating a professional looking blog. It’s free, comes with a couple free themes (layout, colors, etc), and looks super clean. This is the .org site. If you want a very simple, no frills blog or website, head over to www.wordpress.com.
WordPress Lifestyle Pro Theme – For my WordPress website, I use the Studiopress Genesis framework, with the Lifestyle theme. If that doesn’t make any sense, go to WordPress.com and use their free service. Otherwise, dive into WordPress.org, then pay for a premium theme like this one. It makes life so much easier.
aweber – This is how I add subscribers to my email list, and send automated follow up emails. Phenomenal tool, super easy to use. They even give you the WordPress widget to stick in your site. I am in love with this tool!
libsyn – (use promo code “brain” during checkout and get the rest of this month and all of next month free!) The absolute best podcast hosting service. This is the company you want if you are a podcaster. You will need a place to host your audio files, and these guys are solid. I love what they offer. There’s no reason to look any further for podcast hosting.
If you find this information valuable, shop at Amazon using my link! Or, drag the button below to your desktop to use anytime you shop.
Hope you got what you needed from this article. Reach out if you have any questions.
Thanks so much for making this so easy and being so generous with your knowledge. Much appreciated!
Wow, thank you for checking this stuff out Lauri! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m still working on this site, but feel free to return anytime. Videos always being added. : )
Paul – this step by step demo is excellent – and goes very well with one secret from the youtube demo by the podcast answerman – watching the youtube showed me why I needed to have an AUX out back to the PC so that the other caller does not hear his/her own voice. Overall this is a great help – thankyou for posting this.
Thank you so much for commenting Neale! That reminds me, gotta create a video for all this… Great point on the AUX Out. It’s hard to find that option on cheaper hardware, though more inexpensive solutions are coming out nowadays.
Thanks again Neale! Feel free to reply here with any questions.
Please do a video!! I’m lost… even though i know you explained it probably better than anyone!
Hey thanks! You got it. I’ve been wanting to do one for quite some time. I will see what I can create for sure.
Can you explain to me the best way to connect a rode nt-1 to mackie mixer, scarlett 2i2 and then into my PC. I want a semi professional setup for streaming and youtube videos. Already have the 2i2 and nt-1 and want to purchase the mackie 402vlz4 but want to make sure it’s a simple hookup
What exactly are you using it for? Will you be doing any recording? If so, will you be recording with hardware (external recorder) or software (program on computer)?
Let me know!
If you are recording to software, then any sound coming out of the computer needs to go into the mixer. From there, the mixer will need to send the sound back into the computer again.
If you’re looking to do this, and want a stereo recording, I don’t know if that can be done easily with the 2i2. Actually, you could probably utilize both inputs on the 2i2 and keep one as left and the other as right (coming out the Tape Out Left and Right on the mixer), but you’d need to tell your recording software that you have two inputs. This is possible, but I don’t have enough information to give you a solid answer.
Update this thread with how you plan on using this setup. I know you said streaming and youtube, but I need more specifics if that’s okay. Thanks!
I am going to be streamng video games to twitch through OBS. Also I want to make recordings with and make youtube video with adobe elements. Basically I want to be able to stream my video game with a facecam and use my rode mic. I could just use the 2i2 to plug the xlr into then that connects into my PC via USB. I really want to add the option of the mackie mixer because I want to be able to adjust the volume externally while streamin instead of having to pull up my controls on screen while gaming.
I just tested a theory with my mixer and the sound came out awful. I’ve asked a podcasting group I am involved with to give me a suggestion on where to send you. I bet we can find a group of audio engineers that might be able to answer this. I’m not sure you can do what you want to do with that small mixer. It may need an AUX out port. But, I’ll reply tomorrow with some more info. Thanks!
Okay that’s great, nothing is set in stone yet. I am definitely going to stick to the rode. Have made up my mind that I want to use a scarlett preamp and mackie mixer. Like mentioned I have the possibility of sending the 2i2 back and getting the solo. I also have the option of buying the mackie 802vlz4. I want to be able to record and stream audio from the mic, anything from my pc such as music, team speak, Skype, in game sound and also be able to adjust all of that with the mixer board. I’m guessing I will have the mic to preamp then into mixer board. Then I will have audio from the pc going to the mixer board then everything back to the PC. I just don’t know the proper way or cabling I need to setup something like this. There is a guy on youtube by the name of Barnacules that has a video of how he did it but doesn’t go into detail. His video can be found by typing “Barnacules mackie mixer”. He actually uses an art tube amp but I would like to use focusrite!
I just noticed that focusrite sells a scarlett solo, I can return the 2i2 and get the solo which I think is probably what I need. I see that many people are having the issue of a L and R port on the 2i2 but only one xlr input from one mic. Also when responding consider that the majority of my time my audio is going to be done on the fly since streaming is live. There will be no editing software, just OBS broadcasting all my inputs such as face came, capture card, mic etc. to twitch. So let’s just say I return the 2i2 and get the solo what would be the way I would have to hook up the mic, preamp, mixer to the computer. Also would like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to assist me, currently upgrading my equipment from a USB AT2020 and want something more professional and long term!
Any good news for me?
I did hear from someone who may be able to help. Hang tight, I’ve asked him to respond here. 🙂
Hey Blake, try to keep comments in the same thread by hitting Reply. 🙂
I’ve reached out, but it’s the weekend. So give him a day or two. I’m doing my best to connect him with you. If not through hear, by others means. Hang tight! 😉
Sorry about that, first timer! Had to make an account because I figured this would be the proper location to get some answers. I went ahead and bought the mackie mixer 802vlz4 and I bought the scarlett solo! I have both the solo and 2i2 and will return what ever one I decide not to use. After reading over your steps I am almost positive your setup would work the same for me. Since you have stereo using the scarlett headphone jack I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in real time while streaming. How did you get audio from your pc and then send everything back?
It’s all good! So sorry I haven’t been able to get someone else to help you. Some people don’t have all the free time I do 😉 But, I know there are groups out there that do stuff like this that would have more knowledge than me when it comes to the specifics of what you’re trying to accomplish.
I’m still wondering how it will work for you, since you’ll be sending the PC audio to the mixer, then sending it back to the PC with your voice. Hmm, does OBS record in-game sounds directly from the sound card, or does it need to come from the mixer?
If it records the sound without having to loop it out of the PC and back in, you’re golden. Then, all you’d need the mixer for is sound levels of your mic. However if you have to loop the sound out of your PC and into the mixer, then you have to send both your mic and the game sound from the mixer back into the PC into the OBS program. That might be a tad wonky, maybe, because of a possible feedback loop. Though, that just might be something you can experiment with.
Feedback occurs when you receive the same sound you’re sending out from the same device. Sort of like when you’re on speakerphone and the mic of the speakerphone hears what’s coming out of its own speakers, and feeds it back to the caller. Hard to explain, but a feedback loop is created causing the caller to hear themselves after a delay.
Assuming the OBS software doesn’t listen to what it’s sending out, it should work!
I use the AUX dials on my mixer to send audio back into the PC, but you’d likely use the MAIN OUTs on yours because you don’t appear to have AUX out.
AUX is just another way to send audio back to a device, and can be adjusted separately. You can also use TAPE OUTPUT if you have that too.
Will be interesting to find out if what you bought works! Keep in touch 😉
Well not sure that OBS records anything, all it does is puts together multiple sources of your choice such as live gameplay, mic, overlay, facecam etc and broadcasts it to twitch. It’s strictly a broadcasting software.
Oh, that’s pretty cool. So, Twitch records it then? That might make things a lot easier (maybe).
Well technically twitch records your stream but all I am doing is using OBS to broadcast to twitch and then twitch makes it viewable to anyone on the twitch app. It’s a live stream. I’m technically not recording anything, I just want to allow people to see my gameplay live.
That’s pretty cool. Keeps the tricky recording (and post-production) part out of your hands.
Ok last question and I’ll leave you alone, what cables do I need? 1/8 trs to dual1/4 for the pc audio in and also 1/8 to dual 1/4 for pc audio back out. Xlr from mic to mixer. What cabling from the mixer to scarlet? I’m guessing 1/4 from the aux out on mixer to 1/4 mic in on scarlett, but what cable do I need to make it stereo?
See reply to the stereo question at the top.
To get sound from the PC to the mixer, you’ll need a male 1/4″ stereo jack, to a male dual 1/4″ mono jack.
To get the sound from the mixer to the Scarlett, you’ll need a male 1/4″ mono jack to dual male 1/4″ mono jack. The problem with that however is that you lose stereo sound. Hmm, unless you utilize the two inputs on the Scarlett in which case you could get two separate male to male 1/4″ jacks that go from MIXER MAIN OUT L to Scarlett IN 1 and MIXER MAIN OUT 2 to Scarlett IN 2.
But then you’d need to tell your software that Scarlett 1 is Left channel and Scarlett 2 is right channel.
This is getting complicated for me. Hopefully Ross can reply and give us a hand!
Ok, so how would I set up my mic, preamp and mixer and then send that to the computer? Also can I just send the audio from my computer to the mixer and just use it as an external volume control, instead of trying to mix everything and send it back?
Yes, you can use the mixer as external volume control, absolutely. Whether to your headphones, or back into the computer through the Scarlett, for sure.
To get the sound into the mixer:
PC (USB out) > Scarlett (headphone out) > L & R LINE IN (on mixer)
To get the mixed sound back into the PC:
MAIN OUT (mixer) > LINE IN 1 (Scarlett)
This is theoretical, as I’ve not used a mixer without AUX control.
Couldnt I just go straight into the mixer? I need the headphone jack on the scarlett for stereo
Yup. You have multiple options. You can use headphone jack on the mixer for sure. That’s what I love about mixers – multiple inputs and outputs.
Wonderful, your a huge help!
From a friend named Ross:
“Wow a lot of questions there. Where to start…So I think from what i’ve read that Blake wants to record the one vocal over some game play audio being generated from the laptop? He wants control of the mix between these?
I’m not familiar with the programs he’s using but here goes… So plug the mic into a channel in the mixer.
WARNING! TURN EVERYTHING DOWN FIRST YOU MIGHT GET FEEDBACK.
Take your main outputs from the ‘main output’ on the mixer to the L and R inputs on your audio interface.
The audio from the game should be routed internally in the software unless you want to control the volume level of this music?
This would require taking a stereo output from the line outs on the audio interface and plugging into channel 3&4 on that mixer (or ‘tape in’ depending on your cabling)
So now you might need to route the audio of the game in your audio interface software (if possible) to come out the line outputs on the back of your audio interface.
Monitor through your headphones out of the audio interfcace
Sorry if this is garbled but I’m knakered, let me know if this helps or If I’ve tottaly misunderstood what it is your trying to achieve”
Ross brings up a good point. The Scarlett doesn’t have a stereo input that I know of. So if you route the audio from the game into the mixer, then come back in through the Scarlett, you’ll convert the sound to mono. That’s why I’m hoping that Twitch records the audio, and all you need to do is adjust the volume for listening from the mixer.
Okay so what if I used only the scarlett for my mic (Into the mixer and then can I send the mic audio to the scarlett via aux send port to the mic port on the scarlett?) then I use a 1/8 to dual 1/4 from my pc headphone port to line in on the mixer. Then main out back to my computers mic port
Sorry just realised I should have posted here.
I’ve botched together a diagram for you. Let me know if this helps or If there’s something I’ve missed. In fact I recommend drawing a diagram yourself, It helps to show routing possibilities when designing a system.
Thanks so much for replying Ross! Awesome. Let us know what happens Blake.
Hi It’s Ross 🙂 I’ve botched together a diagram for you. Let me know if this helps or If there’s something I’ve missed. In fact I recommend drawing a diagram yourself, It helps to show routing possibilities when designing a system.
Finally. I’ve been looking a long time to see if this setup was possible. Having the same equipment as you is even a bigger bonus. Thank you.
You bet! I’ve since changed it a little bit. I now use the Aux 2 Out to the Roland 5-05. It’s a mono signal but I’m able to control the volume with the Aux 2 knobs and it works very well. Thanks for the comment!