More than a few people have asked me about the podcasting rig I take with me on the road. The last time I broke the rig out, I decided to snap a quick picture.
This is the same mix-minus setup I use in the office, but with less gear, less expensive gear, and in one case, tougher gear.
It starts with the mixer, an absolute requirement for a mix-minus setup. Instead of the larger and heavier Mackie I use in the office, I carry a Behringer Xenyx 802 (upper left). It's small, inexpensive (about $70), and features the auxiliary input/output ports required for the mix-minus. Sometimes it feels like the AC adapter for the mixer weighs more than the mixer itself.
Just below the mixer is the Marantz PMD-620 (lower left). About the size of a pack of playing cardsâ€"considerably smaller than the PMD-660 I use in the office (and I'm jonesing for the new PMD-661)â€"the PMD-620 is a marvel of modern audio engineering. Even though I usually use the PMD-620 for interviews, I don't have to change the setting from microphone to line-in, since the device auto-detects the kind of input you're using.
Just to the right of the PMD-620 is a first-generation iPod Nano, the same one I use in the office to add listeners' audio comments and other audio to the mix.
Between the Nano and the laptop is the pair of Shure SE530 earbuds I use to listen to music. I don't carry studio monitors on the road, but the earbuds work just fine.
To the right of the laptop is the ElectroVoice (EV) N/D767a dynamic microphone (about $100). Condenser microphones produce better quality, but they're delicate, while dynamic mics have no moving parts and can withstand the rigors of travel. The EV was recommended to me by a radio journalist who said his had been run over by a Humvee and still worked great.
The microphone is supported on a tabletop tripod.
One last item: I use a woman's makeup bag to hold the various cables required for this setup. This bag unfolds flat with a number of zippered compartments, perfect for cables and adapters.
Missing from this setup is a digital effects processor, a microphone pre-amp, and a compressor...just too much to carry. I try to remember to bring my iRiver IFP-890 for backup, but usually forget.
This equipment only finds its way into my luggage when I know I'll have a Monday or Thursday morning free so Neville and I can do a regular show. Otherwise, my Marantz PMD-620 is always with me; it's what I use to record segments to send Neville when my commitments keep me from joining him for our regular co-hosted format.
The setup is simple:
- Main output goes to the PMD-620.
- Shure earbuds are attached to the headphone output of the PMD-620.
- Microphone is jacked into the Line 1 input plug on the Xenyx mixer. Audio for Line 1 is panned left.
- Cable runs from mixer auxiliary output to laptop microphone input jack.
- Cable runs from laptop headphone jack to Line 3 input jack. Audio for Line 3 is panned right.
- Cable runs from Nano headphone output jack to the mixer's Line 4 input jack. Audio for Line 4 is panned left.
- Auxiliary output is panned left.
The idea here is simple. While the main mixâ€"being recorded by the PMD-620â€"plays all output, Neville (my co-host) wants to hear all output except himself. By panning coming into the mix from the laptop (which would be Neville's voice over Skype) to the right track, I'm able to use the auxiliary send to feed everything except the right track back into the microphone input so Neville hears me (through the microphone) and other audio (from the Nano).
It all fits into my suitcase along with everything else I need and, if I can get away with only one suit, I can still avoid checking my bag.