The production of Late Night Geekery Episode 3

Last night, my buddy Hobbes (Chris Wilson) and I recorded the third episode of our podcast. I processed our podcast differently last night; I'd like to explain this new workflow and my rationale for using it.

Like many, we record our podcast over Skype. I use Audio Hijack Pro to record my end. I record in stereo, with my end in one channel and Hobbes' end in the other. We don't record both ends because we live close by and consistently get a very good connection.

In the past, I'd always done the mix and final conversion in Sound Studio. This is because the process is relatively straightforward, I'm rather new to audio production, and I didn't at first understand why I needed to use a more sophisticated tool.

I've had one particular problem vexing me since we began recording: the volume of my end is lower, with a large dynamic range (a big difference between the quiet and loud parts), and I'd not found a way to resolve this. I'd been using the normalize function in Sound Studio, but this wasn't fixing the quieter parts.

So I decided to mix this episode in Logic. I recorded in the usual manner, and then quickly ran into a challenge. I couldn't figure out how to take a two-channel recording in Logic and split it into two tracks. So I opened up the recording in Sound Studio, saved each chnanel into a mono file, and proceeded to apply the filters. I faded Hobbes 14 to the left and me 14 to the right, as is our tradition.

I put only a gentle limiter with the defaults on Hobbes' channel to keep his peaks in line.

I put three filters on mine, in the following order; they're all from Logic's built-in Dynamics plug-in folder. First, a noise gate, to take out my Mac's fan. Next, I put a compressor, to reduce the dynamic range. I used the vocal settings in table 2.1 from Rick Snoman's Dance Music Manual as a guide, but ended up having to tweak the parameters a bit to get the levels I desired. Finally, I put a limiter to ensure I wouldn't peak and get clipped.

Finally, I put a limiter on the output channel, because I didn't want any clipping on the output.

Next, I imported our theme song that Hobbes so expertly created and, scooted the vocals to start over the theme's fade.

I bounced out to AIFF, then took the output into Sound Studio and set my id3 tags, inserted the cover art, and exported to m4a at 96 Kbps, stereo.

The podcast has never sounded better, and I'm finally pleased with the resulting sound of my side. Hobbes' side has always sounded excellent.

I think Logic's high-quality plugin effects filters are a dramatic improvement over the filters I was using in Sound Studio, and I'm glad I finally gave them a try.

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