Ok, I'm ready to lay down the vocal track. Now, for equipment. A computer naturally; doesn't have to be top of the line, just something that won't chug while running your recording software. Also, turn off everything that is unnecessary while doing the recording. As far as your computer; kill browsers, email, games, everything but what you need; you don't want the beep of an incoming email in the recording or a hiccup because the computer decided to update a file or refresh a page while recording. But this doesn't apply strictly to the PC; in your home, turn off anything that may be running; dishwasher, tv, etc etc, but especially the Air Conditioner; your AC kicking in while putting down a vocal track is a royal pain in the ass. And when you set up to record, make sure the mike is in a position where you're not picking up the computer’s noise either, especially cooling fans. I'll stop here to make a point.

Yes, editing software these days is great, and can remove a lot of background noises and stuff. But, at least for me, the fun parts of this are the writing, the recording, and the editing as far as adding the stuff to enhance the Poinkcast; vocal effects and sound effects. But if I have to spend a lot of time fixing vocal flubs or killing noises that occurred while I was recording, then it kills the vibe right in it's tracks, and I'll just want to put it together just to get it over with; not because I'm having a good time. If it turns into work, to me, it loses the humor. And the work part can be fun, but to use an analogy, a wood craftsman may enjoy building something and carving it and seeing it appear in a block of wood. I doubt he has that much fun sweeping the shavings off the floor or looking for lost tools. End of point.

Equipment wise, the next and most vital point is of course, your microphone. A lot of people will give you a lot of opinions on this, and best rule of thumb here is to experiment and find what works for you. In my case, I believe you get what you pay for. I've used headset mikes, cheap handheld mikes, that voice recorder I mentioned earlier; even borrowed mikes from the FPS show, but for me, they sounded anywhere from complete crap to not what I'm looking for.

Now microphones can cost a lot of money, as can recording equipment and such, but I didn't want to break the bank to do this, so I wanted to find a good middle ground. I listen to a lot of standup, radio shows, and audiobooks, so I wanted something that would record my voice as rich and full and warm. And all of the research pointed to a Condenser Microphone VS a Dynamic one, which is the most common; and used for a lot of singers and live work. But for what I wanted, Condensor microphones give you that warm and accurate representation; I rarely yell or scream at the mike when I do a Poinkcast, and I want it to just be clear and sound like I'm talking to the listener themselves.

Now, Condensor Mikes have a lot of different requirements like phantom power units and blah blah blah I don’t even pretend I understand, and a basic setup like that would run at least 200 or more, usually LOTS more. But since podcasting started getting popular, there have been a number of good USB condenser mikes put out for sale; you can only use it for your pc, but to me, it's worth it and it's a different recording environment then live performing anyway. After researching it; price wise and review wise, I went with Blue Microphones Snowball. It looks goofy, but it works really really well for me; I love the tones I can get from it, and it's omnidirectional so if I turn my head away from the microphone for a second it's not the end of the world. It retails for 99.00 bucks, but I got mine at a huge discount from a PC store that went out of business.
The cable it comes with is short; but if you use extension cables make sure they’re not cheap; cheap cables add line noise to what the mike records, and I think this goes for ANY mike, usb or not.

You will want a full size mike stand as well. Some people sit down and record, but in my case, I'm normally more relaxed standing, cause I'll pace and fidget and emphasize points with gestures; the only one listening to me at this point is my cat, but she seems to like it, and I feel like I'm conveying more emotion in my voice if I'm putting gesture and feeling into it, like I would talking to a person or performing for a group. I try not to hold the mike stand or tap it because those motions will be picked up in the recording as well. And you can get the cheapest stand you can find, but you want it to have a sturdy base since the thing falling over is more then likely going to damage your microphone. And definitely get a pop filter; they're cheap, and you can make them yourself if you want to using a coathanger and a pair of women's nylons, which me buying myself in a retail chain is a story for another time. You can train yourself not to pop or whatever if you want, but to me, if I'm concentrating on not popping, I'm taking something away from the feeling I'm trying to record. That's all for the physical equipment.

Now for recording, I use 2 pieces of software period; Cool Edit Pro and Audacity. For the straight recording of my voice I use Cool Edit Pro, then a combination of both to finish it up. Cool Edit Pro, which I'll call CEP from here on out, is an older program that was bought out by Adobe, who renamed it Audition. I’ve used Audition, and I find it bloated, slow, and a complete pain in the ass. You may like it, so again, go with what you find comfortable. I record it in stereo; yeah when I post it or send it to 2 Sense it's mixed down to Mono for size of download and such; but I always keep a stereo version if I ever want to put these things on cd at some point; I can hear the difference. I use my laptop for the vocal recordings; it's quieter, and at this point I'm only running CEP and Itunes.

Now I do a few dry runs of the material with the background music I'm going to use playing in my earbuds. I only wear one in one ear, which keeps the mike from picking it up on the vocals and lets me hear my voice as I record. I just set ITunes on repeat; I just want the beat and the timing. Believe it or not, most of my raw vocal cuts can be up to 10 minutes long. No one's perfect, I flub lines and curse when I screw up. Plus, I like to take deep breaths between different lines, I hate to get to the end of the line and you can hear me running out of breath and my voice cracking on the last word. Plus, here's where the writing continues; some words look great on paper, but when recording they don't sound natural with either the beat or my tone, and throwing in an odd word just because it looks good makes it stand out and to me, again, kills the flow. I'll also shorten sentences if it looks like and reads like I'm reading an audiobook vs having an actual conversation. Yes, this means that there will be gasps for air and a lot of dead space between things; this is the only necessary chore of editing I don't like, but after doing this for a while I've gotten the work down on this part to maybe 10 minutes. After running through it a few times, I'll record it, and it usually takes about 3 run throughs to get what I want. That's basically the recording part of it; the only thing I'll point out is when you're done, as when I'm done and I move to the PC in the other room, remember, TURN THE AC BACK ON.

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Last updated February 14th, 2009 23:33