Break: Hey everybody. As we gear up for 2020, I want to hear from you and the things that you’d like to see on this show. If you have a question, a comment, a topic, a guest, or any suggestion for How I Built It in 2020, let me know by going to HowIBuilt.it/feedback. That’s HowIBuilt.it/feedback if you would like to see something on this show in 2020. And now, on with the show.
Intro: Hey, everybody. I am ending this season, and this year of How I Built It by geeking out about audio stuff with my guest, Ryan White. I met Ryan at Podcast Movement, and he is the US product specialist for RØDE Microphones, a company that makes great gear and who has an increasingly bigger presence in the podcasting space. I thought this was appropriate because I have focused a lot of my own year on podcasting, launching my own course, and my own service, which you’ll probably hear more about in the coming weeks or months. So I wanted to end with some information about how you can start your own podcast, room acoustics, and stuff like that. We talk gear, room acoustics, and more, and you can hear their newest product. That is if you can hear their newest product. The RØDECaster Pro in action, and again that’s if there’s anything to hear. Of course, if you want to learn more about podcasting in general, you can head over to the show notes for this page. HowIBuilt.it/149, there will be a free PDF podcast workbook that you can download. But we’ll get into everything that we talk about with Ryan, and more, after a word from our sponsors.
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Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” Today my guest is Ryan White, and he is the US products specialist for RØDE Microphones. I met him at Podcast Movement 2019. Ryan, thanks for coming on the show. How are you doing?
Ryan White: Joe, thanks so much for having me. I’m doing excellent, and it’s been a great week.
Joe: Awesome. Glad to hear it. We got to chatting at Podcast Movement because while you were at the RØDE table and I wanted to try out– I’m going to mess up the name here because I don’t have it written down and I forget the order, but the RØDE Pod Master? RØDE Master, or something like that?
Ryan: It’s the RØDECaster Pro and the new PodMic. I apologize, we’ve got some– Especially with the podcast stuff growing so much, we got a lot of the “Podcaster,” “Procaster,” “PodMic,” “The Podcaster.” All those are obviously puns on the application. I always joke that no offense to these guys either, but all the companies like Audio Technica that have the numbers like “The 4040, the 4050, the 4060.” They all go like 20, 30, and 4. I don’t have to memorize those, and I have a couple of names that I have to memorize that are application-based. But those of you that don’t work with RØDE every day, I completely understand a little bit of the mix-up. But yes, the RØDECaster Pro is the new podcast desk, and the PodMic is coming very soon, the new $99 dynamic podcast mic.
Joe: Yes, I was using the RØDE Procaster for a while, and the RØDE Podcaster is a USB mic that I often recommend to people. I always mess up the name of the RØDECaster Pro because I think I’m mixing them up.
Ryan: Totally. I Freudian slip them all the time as well, and then you catch yourself and go, “No. I totally meant the desk, the RØDECaster. Not the microphone, the Procaster.” But it’s all in good fun. The thing is, I think it sticks into people’s heads, they have to picture it. They have to dive a little deeper, so maybe there’s a little bit extra in the naming to make it stick with you.
Joe: Absolutely. Because we have a product specialist from RØDE Microphones, I thought it would be fun to talk gear today. A lot of people generally ask me, “What do you use? What should I use? What’s a good first microphone?” I always give a recommendation without digging deep into the science of it. I understand it, but I don’t think I can explain it as well as some folks. Let’s start off with who you are and what you do at RØDE.
Ryan: I started five years ago with RØDE. An old coworker of mine at Slate Digital, which was where I was as an intern right after school, called me and said, “I got the sales job over at RØDE Microphones. Are you familiar?” I said, “NTK. First microphone ever that I fell in love with from RØDE, and I bought the NT1-A.” I was an intern in LA, so I didn’t make enough money to afford the NTK at the time, but a $230 NT1-A was just right up my alley. Then I eventually upgraded into the NTK and the K2, with two mics, but I knew about the company, and I loved them, so I said, “Heck yeah. What’s the job?” It’s travel for work, and I always wanted to travel for work. I’m in the audio industry, so whether that was touring or being a front house engineer all the way to the sales or education side of things. They said, “We’re going to have you talk about microphones across the country, and you just hit the road, no pun intended. Maybe a little bit of a pun intended.” I started talking to our dealers and other events that those dealers might put on. So what I then transitioned that into was schools and events, Podcast Movement and different things like that, so that we can also interact with the end-user. That has helped grow the number of people that we’re reaching on the backside.
Joe: That’s fantastic. So you’ve basically been in the audio space since you graduated, did you major in–? Did you study this field as well, or what did you major in? I know a lot of people probably don’t think of majoring in podcasting, but there is an audio engineering field.
Ryan: Absolutely. Funnily enough, I was the [A2] for an arena when I was 19 years old, and I like to joke that I knew the person at the time. But so much of what we do is knowing the right person at the right time, and then I like to joke that I was good enough to not get fired. It’s true. It’s funny, but it hits hard. Sometimes some of the hardest lessons you learn are messing up, but I was good enough to not get fired on that job, and I did three and a half years at the arena and became the [A1]. At about 23, it got a little bit too political, and I went and got that piece of paper that everybody was looking for. Back then, everybody was looking for a degree, or at least an associates or tech school or something, so I found the Conservatory Recording Arts and Sciences out in Phoenix, Arizona. Shout out to those guys, they’re amazing. At the time, it was an eight-month program with a guaranteed 280 hour, I believe it was, internship. They also guaranteed, “You’re going to have to go get in the industry after this is done.” So I was like, “What an easy way to get that piece of paper and then right back in the industry.” It wasn’t a two year or four-year thing, so I could also invest some pretty quick time and get that going. That led me to Slate Digital, and a few years later, here I am with RØDE, so it’s been great.
Joe: That’s fantastic. First of all, so much of what we do is knowing the right person at the right time. I love that. There’s hard work, luck, and timing that I think all go into success. But with such a focus on doing the four-year education, you are a great example of somebody who knew what they wanted to do and got the education they needed without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it.
Ryan: Yeah. I had a very deep conversation with my father about that eventually, and it’s funny because, like I said, I didn’t go to an audio school until I was 24-25. I was going to school, and I did DeVry University for a year. It was a great program, and it got me all the electronics stuff for one year prior to, but I was diving into more engineering from a physical mathematics standpoint. Like an actual engineer, not an audio engineer, which we throw that word around loosely, but I like to lovingly say what the school would call a “Pretengineer,” somebody who fakes it and acts like an engineer. I’m thankful for my past having put me in the fire, whether it was from a school standpoint or a live sound standpoint, to learn troubleshooting. Because once you learn troubleshooting and how the signal works, it’s not as difficult as it seems. It seems like a little bit of witchcraft, voodoo, and so forth to start, but once you learn that, everything falls into place from everything else. Like, application standpoint. DeVry was great for a year, but it was leading me into another path that I didn’t quite want to go into, so I moved on from that. I went to KU– I’m from Kansas City. I’m a Kansas City boy, so I went to KU for about a semester, and that’s when my dad reached out and said, “Love you, but–” I was at a business major at that time. I completely flipped the script. I was like, “Maybe I can start my own business in the audio space,” because Kansas City wasn’t a huge market for it. I just gave that up for a little bit, took my Dad’s advice. It was great advice. I dated this girl, got the job at the arena, and the rest is history. It was just meant to be, and it was really good advice from my father. He was like, “Don’t spend all your money just trying to do that. Find the one thing that you truly want to do and go find the place that will help you do it.” Then I had the guts and so forth to leave state, move halfway across the country, uproot myself and move to LA, which was a culture shock from Kansas City. I did this whole back and forth thing for quite a while, to try to find my place, and it’s been really good for me so far. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and it then solidifies that.
Joe: Lots of really good advice already, just like general life advice.
Ryan: I don’t think about it until I talk to people who just did a four-year degree, and then they’re back out into it, and they’re like, “You did what to chase down some audio?” “I moved to three different states six different times.”
Joe: That’s great because now we have a really good setup for what we’re ultimately going to talk about. Which is, let’s say I’m a podcaster, and I want to start doing screen casts. Where do I start? Usually, I ask people on this show what research they did in vetting their own idea for a business or product, but in this case, what research should somebody do setting up their audio equipment, or determining what audio equipment they should get?
Ryan: I surprise people when I talk about this, but I think truly, Ryan White the audio engineer that works for RØDE Microphones feels that the best thing for audio, for RØDE, for Ryan White the engineer– And then again, for that end user who’s going to actually be using this stuff, I surprise people because I don’t just pitch a microphone right away. I say a couple different things. First thing is unless you already know you have an unlimited budget, don’t just aim for the top. I always use Mogami Cables as an example, they’re amazing. But if you have a full-fledged studio– Not even a home studio, and you want to upgrade your microphone cable to Mogami into your interface, but then you patched through this patch cable that’s $2, you just took that $50 cable and turned it into a $2 cable. I always preach that you need an average, find your budget. It’s not about the money to start, but if you don’t have the money, you can’t start. So it’s also a bit of that conversation. I never ask, “Are you at $200, or are you at $2,000 dollars? Or are you at $200,000 dollars?” Because it’s irrelevant. You find the average and set the budget that you have, and that’s what solves your thing. I know a lot of guys who do video work on YouTube and so forth that have videos that are talking about the $350 dollar podcast, the $2,000 dollar podcast, the $20,000 dollar podcast. So they all have their own space, but what they never say there is, “You have to have this piece of gear.” No, it’s “How do you solve your problem with the budget that you have, with the setup that you have, with the room that you have?” Because the next thing that I ask is, “How’s your room?” So there’s two things, get an average, and “How is your room?” And those two things are before I even ask you about what microphone you want, because if you buy a $3,500 Neumann and then put it into a room that sounds horrible, that Neumann was just again turned into a $2 piece of junk. You also have a nice average on the room. Once we get past that, we can start talking about microphone type and placement.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Because I think a lot of people probably don’t realize how important the environment is, no matter how expensive your microphone is. If you’re getting a ton of echo or you’re right next to a nursery, and your kid is crying, and your microphone picks it up, there’s nothing you can do about– There’s very little you can do about that.
Ryan: Very little. I love the guys over at Isotope, and Adobe’s doing a lot of great stuff inside of Premiere now. I’ve been using the Isotope stuff since day one, and RX is a wonderful piece of software, but I often get customers who come back to me from a freelance standpoint before RØDE, where it was like “How do I get rid of the reverb in this room?” And oh my gosh, the algorithm to even think about getting rid of reverb is astounding. RX does a good job of their reverb plugin, specifically to that, but one thing you can’t do is if it’s just reverb RX has nothing to pull from the source. So I commonly teach in my video classes that what makes me professional is not what I record from a standpoint of my source. Like, if I’m recording you, Joe, it’s fairly easy to have you stand in front of my microphone from 5-10 feet away with a good room and record you. Now, if that baby starts crying or that airplane flies over, the reverb in the room is more than Joe by himself. Big issues, so solve that first. Use RX to customize and/or to amend it a little bit, but don’t use it to be your sole source of sound.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. People have asked me, “My dog is barking in the background. How do I get that out?” “You get that out by re-recording what you just said without the dog barking in the background.”
Ryan: Asking your dog politely to be quiet. No, you ask your buddy. I joke about it, but it’s your animal. You love that animal. If you can, I’m not even joking about if your setup calls for you to ask your buddy to babysit your dog while you do a two-hour recording, do it. It sounds like an extreme, but it’s either that or try to fix a dog bark in a recording. It’s very tough to do.
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Joe: I just recently moved into a new house, and there’s one amendment I need to make to my office, which is there’s no door at the top of the stairs. When my daughter is playing two rooms away, that sound is traveling because there’s nothing to stop it. Now I record on the days she’s in daycare or when she’s down for a nap, but I have my door ready. I need to put it up.
Ryan: That whole thing turns into a chamber and amplifies it by the time it gets to you, funny enough. Put a Bluetooth speaker in a bathroom and then walk four rooms down and tell me if it’s not louder than it appears when you’re in that bathroom. It absolutely does.
Joe: It’s funny, you mention that. My wife, she was like, “Really? You can hear us from the other end of the sunroom?” And I’m like, “Yeah. That sound gets amplified when it travels through the kitchen and down the echoey stairs into my office.
Ryan: Every word.
Joe: It’s not their fault, I’m not going to tell them to stop playing.
Ryan: Absolutely. “Daddy’s recording, so please–” Yeah, can’t do that.
Joe: All this talk about environment, what are some things that somebody can do in a home office to improve their environment? Or, generally, improve the recording quality even before they buy a microphone?
Ryan: Rugs are your best friend. A non-reflective surface on a table, like your desk. Considering the fact that you don’t want it to be reflective right at the microphone, and then after that there is a ton of do it yourself videos out there for making your own sound panels for– By the time you’re done with it and everything it is a lot more work, but you’re talking $10 a panel. Past that, if your budget also allows, the guys at [Arlex] do excellent work. The various companies that are out there for sound paneling are absolutely amazing at what they do. Like I said, a rug is the first one that people often overlook, but your hardwood floor is very reflective, and when you’re talking dialogue, you don’t need a lot of reflection. You don’t need a completely dead room either, but if you’re even outside of that budget, I literally went to U-Haul and bought five or six heavy moving blankets. You put up two or three microphone stands in a T bar and hang those heavy blankets over the top of them and surround yourself with them. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s that. And then the next thing that everybody does on a super budget if your house happens to have a walk-in closet fill it full of clothes and put some foam on the ceiling and on the door, and sit in there and do your podcast. It’s absolutely hilarious, but it is very budget-friendly to start making podcasts.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s great advice. People laugh at that, too. But after my daughter was born, I would grab a comforter, and I would put it over my head, my microphone, my whole computer. Because it worked, it absorbed the sound.
Ryan: Yeah. You were totally like Harry Potter in the beginning of whichever movie that was where he was lighting up the wand, and you’re just burying yourself under the blankets. Let’s do the best we can. You’re hanging out under there for an hour, your daughter comes in and thinks you’re crazy. But at the same time, good sound.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. I think probably the principles that we’re touching on here are we want to make sure that sound is absorbed and not reflected back into the microphone.
Joe: Deferred or diffused. Let’s say that we’re at a spot– By the way, I’ll include a bunch of this stuff in the show notes. I have a couple of [ROX] panels right behind me.
Ryan: There you go.
Joe: I’ll include a lot of the stuff in the show notes, but let’s say we’re at a spot where we found a good place to record, it’s absorbing and deflecting sound to the best of its abilities. Now we’re ready to get some equipment, but before we get to the microphone– I swear this is not a way to keep people listening, but before we get to the microphone, you mentioned something that I very rarely talk about, which is cables. I want to talk about this because when I first had my setup, I had a nice pre-amp, but I had a very long, cheap cable, and I was getting ground noise or white noise, and I couldn’t figure out why. Turns out, the cable was too long and cheap, so I was losing a bit on the way to my computer.
Ryan: Was it XLR, or was it like an eight-inch headphone-style jack?
Joe: It was XLR. Yeah, I had an [ATR–] Something.
Ryan: Yeah. XLR surprises me, because XLR at its max I’ve ran a 400 foot XLR before. Back when I worked at that arena, it was sometimes necessary to get to trucks, and the whole point of an XLR is that it’s balanced, positive/negative doesn’t equal left and right. It equals in phase and out of phase, and without getting too crazy about it, they cancel each other out the whole run. So unless you need more push from the actual signal, it runs a long way, and it’s supposed to cancel noise the whole way. If it’s an eighth-inch unbalanced cable and or stereo unbalanced left and right, it doesn’t do that. So you’ve got a 30-foot max if you are in a good scenario. If you’re in downtown New York, all the radio and TV broadcasting stuff can amplify through your cable and then into your recording. So, when we can, I always push for XLR, but that’s astounding that you had that problem with an XLR at a home studio.
Joe: I’m guessing I probably got the cheapest cable– Or is it just like XLR–?
Ryan: It could have just been as simple as being damaged.
Joe: Yeah, that’s true.
Ryan: If the negative chain is shorted out, it’s still possible that you could still be getting signal and then adding noise to the signal. Another rule of thumb too, and this is typically for longer cables, is to not let it run directly alongside power cables. Because power is the one and only thing that really can jump into your audio signal from an XLR. Because if it’s running alongside of it, alternating current can jump. It sounds absolutely crazy, it’s not going to be this voltage arc, but I’ve worked many live sound events where people get shocked and so forth from actual power running through the audio signal. It’s scary, man.
Joe: Absolutely. And I’m glad you mentioned that too because I did specifically by a surge protector that has ground protection and there’s a bit more balance. It’s not your run of the mill surge protector, and I got it for that reason. I have it mounted in a little box, and everything else is plugged into it. Either way, that’s all for naught now because I have a universal audio arrow that it’s just USB-C powered and plugs right into my computer. We’re talking a lot about XLR microphones, and I will link in the show notes a resource describing the difference between a USB and an XLR microphone. We have our room, we’ve talked a little bit about cables and signal and how we can prevent some of that ground noise, let’s talk about microphones. Let’s say we want a USB microphone, and I’m reading this stuff about plosives and condenser mics, and this and that. How do I parse through all that information?
Ryan: I teach three things in my class, for microphones first. This is typically more of the microphone tech itself, and we can get into some of those other secondary things here in a little bit. But I teach the type of microphone, so dynamic, condenser, ribbon. Then I teach the polar pattern, because like I said earlier, what makes you a professional is what you get rid of. It’s easier to capture yourself, but it is harder to get rid of things. So if you are using a sensitive shotgun microphone in a noisy environment, that shotgun is going to do a better job because it’s doing its job of picking up all that surrounding noise as well. So a dynamic microphone is often softer, harder to influence with outside noise. Like you were talking much daughter earlier, running around the house way down the house, dynamic has a better chance of not picking that up because it doesn’t have as much energy. When we’re close to it, it does pick it up, and when we’re farther away, it doesn’t as easily. So, you get a little bit better chance of that. If you’re in a noisy environment right from the start and your room’s already good, I do recommend the dynamic for the dialogue first, because it’s going to also help you with all the other external noise. Unless you’re in a professional studio, you’re probably going that way. Then the third is frequency response, which is basically the EQ of the microphone. It’s a fixed EQ built into the microphone to make it sound this way, and we use a lot of adjectives to talk about brightness or accuracy or mud or beefiness, or whatever adjective you wanted– Body and chest tone, and all the other adjectives that you want to throw onto that. The main thing there is to be sure to look at those three things, because they’re going to be what creates your original setup and tell you how to best design your room and your podcast, just from the specs of the microphone alone. After that, you can get into some of the more strenuous tech talk.
Joe: To sum that up a little bit, we’re talking type of microphone. Because depending on the type of microphone and what you’re using it for, I would probably have a different microphone for my drum set than I would for podcasting.
Ryan: Absolutely, and that’s one of the things that I talk about. When you learn the tech, then you can start artistically getting creative with them. I’ve been lucky enough in the five years that I’ve been doing this, especially with schools, you’ll be with students who the best time to learn is to do it at school. So they’re like, “Let’s put this ribbon microphone on top of the snare.” This is not an example of something we did, but you can try that stuff. I’m blessed to be a product specialist with demo microphones that I’m not out there actively trying to break any microphones, but the best time to test them is when you’re with a representative and when you have a demo microphone, and when you’re in school. Because that’s going to– I used to be in the Patch Bay just patching everything that I could, just trying to work myself out of the signal flow so that I could find my way back. The goal was to mess it up. I literally remember some dude making fun of me at school because I put Auto-Tune on every single track in a song one time, and I was trying to learn Auto-Tune. What’s the best way to learn Auto-Tune? Do it too much and then come back, come back to reality, and “OK. The vocals need this. I know how to use Auto-Tune now.” That’s what I talk about with microphones too, and it gives you a little bit of problems too because I’m not telling you to go out and buy five microphones to do this. But when you are in the market, it’s best to go find some demos that you can try out on location or anything like that and then take them home.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. Find a local music shop near you and see if they have some demos setup. My friend Sean Housecat, I’ll link this in the show notes as well, he has a six mic shoot out where he says the same thing over six different microphones. But that still will only get you so far, because everybody’s voice is different.
Ryan: Absolutely. Everybody’s room is different, everybody’s voice is different. Then I’ll also be a bit of a stickler here too, in that a true shootout calls for the microphones to be on the exact same performance with the exact same phase, as close as humanly possible. So if you’ve ever seen a shootout where they put two microphones, literally microphone to microphone, capsule to capsule, that’s a true audio test. With headphones or with your studio speakers on, you can sit there and go, one, two, one, two. They are literally the exact same performance because if you do it two different times, I’m not even joking when I say that if you say the same thing a second time, you cannot repeat it to the exact same specs. Now, you don’t have to be that overly detailed or technical about it. If they do a good job of just trying to stay consistent, you get a good idea of which one you feel like might be better for your voice. So, you go for that.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s see, so you mentioned types of microphone, polar pattern, and frequency response. I’m going to skip to frequency response before we talk about polar pattern, just a little bit. Because I think that a lot of podcasters probably could get away without buying the $3,500 Neumann microphone because you don’t need to pick up as much vocal range when you’re talking when you’re doing spoken word voice over, versus when you’re singing. Is that right?
Ryan: 100% correct. We do that with singing because we want a lot more of that clarity, that brightness, those adjectives that we’re talking about where you, “Sit on top of the mix,” you come out above the guitars, the drums, and etc. Sometimes with tracks like screaming tracks or rock tracks, you bury the vocals a little bit deeper. Plus, they’re screaming at a million DB, so the RØDE Procaster or the PodMic, the SM-7B from Shure, the RE-20 from Electro-Voice. All the things you got the RØDE options there, which tend to be more affordable doing the same job. Then you can go for the professional industry standards that have been around since World War 2, to exaggerate a little bit.
Joe: That’s absolutely right. I interviewed Peter Holland about a year ago, and I wanted to ask him what microphone he used, and he was using a multi-thousand dollar Telefunken, he said was his favorite because it picks up that really deep singing he does. He has a wide range, so he can do the highs. I don’t want to say the words, because I think I’m going to mess them up. Baritone is deep, right?
Ryan: Yeah, I believe so. There’s bass, and think bass is the lowest below baritone.
Joe: Yes, right.
Ryan: I’m not classically trained, so if I got that incorrect, sorry to those out there that are classically trained as well.
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Joe: If we’re talking about a microphone for podcasting, then you want to make sure you have a good– Like Ryan said, a dynamic microphone. The polar pattern is going to be important here, and I know a lot of people who the Blue Yeti gets recommended a lot, and then people say they have a bad experience with it. The Blue Yeti allows you to change the polar pattern, so I’ll usually tell people if they’re getting bad sound from a Yeti, they should check the gain and check the polar pattern. Can you unpack that a little, and then let people know what I mean by those things?
Ryan: Absolutely. The polar pattern, again, it’s going back to what you can get rid of. With a polar pattern, it gives you options to do omnidirectional or bi-directional, what’s called super- and hyper-cardioid, which are shotgun microphones. Then cardioid, which is not exactly accurate but it’s about 50%. The back of it is cancelled, and the front of it is not. In the case of a home studio, the cardioid pattern tends to work the best. Because home offices, bedrooms, living rooms, they are square and they are reflective, and in a bad way. Where it’s fast enough to get back to the microphone to be awkward and cause fazing and cause weird sounds and tones, so if you can cancel out the backside of that microphone and be closer to the microphone, the better chance you have of your signal being clear and unedited into the microphone. Then the back of the microphone takes care of a bigger chunk of the extras, the other things that are going on. So, reflections off the backside of it. Kids running around the hallways, all that stuff. I always like to say, “Put the bad noise behind the microphone and put your face in front of the microphone, and then whatever proximity is going to depend on whatever room you’re in.” Close proximity is going to give you a deeper, more full sound, and back off of it’s going to give you a little bit more natural sound. But again, the further you get away from it, the more you’re going to pick up the stuff you don’t want. Then with things like omnidirectional, going back to the Blue Yeti. Now, I’m not a representative of Blue, but at the same time, and I’m an industry familiar. Because we have the RØDE into USB, which is designed as a cardioid vocal microphone, instrument microphone, and you can absolutely use it for podcasting. I 100% love it for Twitch. Anybody who’s doing something else while they’re trying to get dialogue into USB is an absolute rockstar, and the reason is because it’s sensitive. It’s got a good tone to it that’s not overpowering, so you could set it on your desk and point it back at your face from about three feet and capture what’s happening while still having a controller in your hand, while still having headphones on, while still playing a guitar or singing. Which we also have people that do that, so it’s just a nice overall plug and play USB microphone with less options. One of the downfalls to the Yeti is that people that are uneducated in polar pattern technology or anything like that might sit there and turn on all microphones. Because I think it’s got three capsules inside, they are half-inch condensers, which makes them sensitive and flexible, and that’s a good thing if you know how to use it. If you put it in omnidirectional, you’re going to have one $150 dollar microphone that’s capturing everything that you tried to get rid of. So, if you have multiple people, it’s also going to be worse because whoever is closest to the microphone is going to sound nice and clear and big, and then the person that’s not is going to sound like they’re a football field away. So, use that with some knowledge of what it’s doing, and you could use it 100% if you’re trying to minimize problems. I’ve always taught if you have four people in your podcast, don’t put one omnidirectional microphone in the middle. Give everybody their own inexpensive, dynamic microphone.
Joe: Absolutely. I think that’s a really good call because you can get a pretty inexpensive dynamic microphone these days, or a USB one that plugs just right into your computer or whatever. We are coming up on time here, I could talk about audio geek stuff all day, but the last question– Or maybe to sum up and put this in a nice package, we’ve talked a lot about USB vs. XLR. If I am starting a podcast today, we have an outline of what we want to do. We have the environment, we have some of the things that we can do in the room to make sure we have good sound, and then we’ve talked about different types of microphones. What, in your opinion, is a good starter kit for a podcaster? I know this is a little bit of a loaded question because you work for RØDE, but I’m talking to you specifically because I think that there is a really good answer in here, and I think that you’re very apt to answer it.
Ryan: Absolutely. With some of the new stuff from RØDE, we’re definitely diving heavier into the podcast space, as everybody probably already knows. If you’re listening to this and our talk at Podcast Movement, and so forth. A great starter kit and the one that I’ve been editing for and or using for a long time with some of my friends who do podcasts and different things like that, the Zoom whatever level to the XLR. I think it’s the H-1– I don’t think the H-1 has an XLR otherwise, but it was usually like some external recorder and a microphone or two. So you could go get a dynamic microphone for $20 bucks, and again I teach application over everything else. So you’re looking at a recorder, whether that’s your phone or zoom or a [inaudible], and then two basic dynamic microphones. Boom, I’ve started. The secondary thing is, “Are you going to make a phone call? Are you going to bring in USB technology? Do you have pads to trigger things?” I think everybody knows where I’m going with this. As soon as you have to do those things, it’s the RØDECaster Pro 100%. So RØDE did an amazing job when they built this desk to take those problems that are not based on RØDE, they’re based on industry problems because the guys over at RØDE are also doing this stuff. You’ve got a mixer, you’ve got three channels that are absolutely the powerhouse on it are the USB, the TRRS, and the Bluetooth. I can have up to seven tracks on this, and I can do redundant recording to ProTools. It is a zoom recorder because it’s got an SD card in it, but it’s not a zoom recorder, by the way. Just a disclaimer, but it’s got the SD card right on it, so you are recording to it. And actually, I’m doing that right now as we’re talking. Then I can plug in a TRRS jack from Skype, which I am also doing right now, a Bluetooth signal if you have another phone call from wherever in the world, and then the USB track. All that stuff put into one bundle at $600 dollars, that’s the price, it’s $599. Trust me, the headaches and the gear alone is going to cost you $600 bucks or more, and the headaches are going to want to make you quit. So after you’re out of that basic setup, you want to dive into this piece, and the other thing is as soon as the PodMic is released officially in full force, which it’s getting better every single day. At $99 dollars, you can buy four of the PodMics for the cost of a lot of our competitors. So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those competitors, it’s just again, going back to consider what you’re trying to accomplish on what budget. This is an amazing pack for that to happen.
Joe: Awesome. I love that. Again, if you’re looking to start a recorder and two basic dynamic mics, I think that that’s something I generally skip over is the recorder part. I say, “Plug it right into your computer.” But if your computer crashes or something and it fails, you’re going to wish you had that recorder that was dedicated to recording that. My friend Jeff is very insistent upon saving to a recorder and then exporting it later.
Ryan: Absolutely. I did not touch on that, and I apologize for that. Sometimes with the newer gear, it goes by the wayside, and I apologize for that. But I did mention the into USB, but even more so than that it’s a little bit more expensive. But you mentioned it earlier, and The Podcaster is a dynamic broadcast microphone. It stems from the Procaster, which is an XLR version, and you can get that for $230. USB right into your computer and headphone out. The whole thing is designed to be plug and play, so again at $230, that’s an excellent solution where it’s all in one. Now you open up your Mac laptop, you open up [Reaper] or ProTools or whatever your level. GarageBand, for what Mac can do. Then that becomes your recorder with a USB microphone that’s a professional microphone.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Ryan, I appreciate you joining me today. I do need to ask my favorite question, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?
Ryan: I gave you a good chunk of them, but the main thing here is go for a solid average. Consider what you’re trying to do and go for a nice average to get consistent tone, and then continue to do it. Don’t stop. Plug it in, start recording your content, and stop worrying about the rest of it. I’m giving that because I’m bad at it myself, so you got to get out there and force yourself to do it, and I think everything will come together.
Joe: That’s fantastic. I recently just wrote a blog post very similar to that called Getting Your Reps In. Go and record. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well.
Ryan: Sometimes, we get in our own way too much.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I will link to that and everything in the show notes. Ryan, where can people find you?
Ryan: So, RØDE, in general, is RØDE.com. In general, I’m on LinkedIn as Ryan White, and you can search that with RØDE. My name, unfortunately, is very basic. If you tack on RØDE Microphones to that, I’m on every social media platform. RØDE.com is a great asset for you in general for all things RØDE.
Joe: Fantastic. And actually, I cheated because I’m going to ask one more question here since you mentioned RØDE.com. I see a disclaimer usually at the top saying that Amazon is not an authorized retailer of RØDE. Should people be buying RØDE stuff off of Amazon? Is that still okay?
Ryan: That’s so far outside of my job description.
Joe: Loaded question.
Ryan: Here’s the thing, guys. “Fulfilled by Amazon” is what that’s talking about. “Fulfilled by Amazon” can be anybody, and we always recommend if you actually go to RØDE.com, and then you find the microphone, you can go and search your local area. We’re fine-tuning this now as we speak into something that’s a little bit more powerful, so you type in your zip code, and it will give you a RØDE reputable dealer in your backyard if applicable. Online retailers are always amazing for that as well, and Amazon is currently a reputable RØDE dealer, but Fulfilled by Amazon is not. You have to be very cautious that you’re not buying it from John’s music in such and such whatever, and then you have no details of who that person or what that person is. Going to RØDE.com and searching your zip code is going to be the best option for finding a reputable– That means the warranty, so if you buy a RØDE Procaster, you get a 10-year warranty, I believe, with that microphone. The NT-1’s and NT-1A’s, all those come with a 10-year warranty. So if you buy it from a reputable dealer, it is not counterfeit, and it is also very much covered by our in-house warranty, which is an excellent warranty. That’s all we’re trying to caution you in.
Joe: Ryan, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate it.
Ryan: Thank you so much for having me. We had a great talk.
Outro: Thanks so much to Ryan for joining me today. We got a lot more than I originally bargained for here. Of course, he gave us information about recording, and you need to average and find your budget. Don’t just go for the most expensive stuff, and people can’t– I can’t afford the most expensive stuff. We talk about all sorts of stuff, but we also talk about knowing the right person at the right time and following what you think you need to follow, not just the beaten path or the one that everybody thinks you should. There’s going to be lots of links to gear and stuff like that too, so thanks again to Ryan for his time. You can find those links over at HowIBuilt.it/149. There’s also going to be a couple more resources over there that I’ll tell you about in a second, right after I thank our sponsors, Ahoy! Cloudways and Pantheon. Thanks, especially to Ahoy! and Pantheon for sponsoring the entire season. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to increase production value a little bit and do even more with the website and transcripts, and things like that. So thanks to all three of them. Of course, Cloudways, Ahoy! and Pantheon, the latter two of whom sponsored the whole season. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcast and leave us a rating and review or wherever you listen to podcasts. Now the little teaser, there are a few more resources that you’ll be able to find over at HowIBuilt.it/149. The first is that podcast workbook that I mentioned, that’s going to give you everything you need. Checklists, and advice to start your own podcast. It’s also going to get you on the list for when I launch my Podcast Liftoff course. By the time this is out, it may already be launched, but make sure to get the list by signing up for that free PDF workbook at the very top of the show. I also mentioned that my plans for 2020 include hearing from you, I want to know what you want to know. So if you go to HowIBuilt.it/feedback, the link will also be on the show notes page. Don’t worry, if you only want to remember /149, do that too. There is a form that you can fill out, and it’s two fields. It has the email address field so I can get back to you and a feedback field where you can put in a topic, a guest you want to hear, a question that you have, or whatever it is you want to see on the show in 2020. Thanks to everybody who has written in so far, and I want to hear from even more of you to make 2020 the best year for How I Built It to date. Be sure to keep an eye on the website and this feed, we are going to take a short break in-between seasons, but there will definitely be bonus episodes. I always do a year-end wrap-up and a couple of other things. So, while it is in-between seasons, there will still be more coming through on the feed. Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, get out there and build something.