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Developer Tea Gear: From My Room to Your Ears

Published 1/13/2016

Today's episode talks all about gear! We're discussing the gear I use to record this show.

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Today's episode is sponsored by Digital Ocean! Use the code DeveloperTea at checkout to get one month of a 1GB droplet, completely free!

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'm going to be going over some of the gear that I use. This is a little bit of an unconventional episode of Developer Tea. Today's episode is sponsored by Digital Ocean. If you are a developer and you're looking for a cloud SSD hosting solution, Digital Ocean very well could be the best solution for you on the market today. You can get started for free. We will talk a little bit more about how you can get a free droplet on Digital Ocean. That's a free server for a month later on in today's episode. But first I want to jump straight in and start talking about the gear that you are hearing this podcast through where this audio is coming from, from my mouth all the way to your ears. First I should say that we are recording this episode in the middle of January or near the middle of January of 2016. So if you're listening to this at some point later on in the future, this gear might have changed at that point. But I've received a few requests for this episode and that's the reason I'm doing it. You may be a developer and you may be totally uninterested in this gear that I'm getting ready to tell you about. But regardless, I feel like it's interesting enough to talk about and I believe enough developers out there want to get into recording audio or are interested in how we make the audio at spec as well as how this specific podcast is created. So I wanted to talk to you about the gear and we're going to start with the thing that's sitting in front of my face. It is a sure SM7B. This is a dynamic microphone. Don't confuse it with the SM57. There are two different microphones. The SM7B is a dynamic microphone that was used by Michael Jackson on the thriller album. That's kind of the claim of fame. But it's actually been used in many, many other instances since then. The microphone is an incredibly important part of your setup if you are going to be doing audio recording in this particular microphone has a very low gain output. So if you're going to get an SM7B, make sure you get a decent preamp. We'll talk about the preamp in just a minute. The other stuff that goes into the microphone other than my voice is the sound in the room around me. Now I am recording in my home. I've kind of converted a room in my home to a studio of sorts. It's really just an office. I've put up some R-Alex acoustic padding around the room and I actually have a sound reflector behind the microphone. It's called a VMS. It's made by Sterling, a voice microphone shield. If you do choose to record and you are recording vocals particularly, it is important that you get the room as quiet as possible, especially with rooms that are square shaped or parallel walls. It's important to make sure that you're dampening the sound from your voice so that it's not echoing too loud. That's why I have all of the acoustic padding in the room. Of course, there will be links in the show notes to all of this gear that I'm talking about. I think I should mention that none of the gear that I'm using have I gotten for free or as a result of a sponsorship. I've gotten one piece of gear for a slightly reduced rate for an industry rate and that is my audio interface. I got my audio interface at the industry rate which is just a little bit of an incentive for people in the industry to buy into the high-end audio gear that is available. My audio interface is the Claret pre. It's a Focusrite Claret 8 pre. It has 8 channels of input which allows me to record multiple channels if I choose to do so, if I have an interview on site, or if I choose to record music for the podcast, I can do that through the 8 pre. But I want to back up and talk about the room again. Make sure that we understand the importance of setting up the room. You want to make sure that you are able to start and stop the recording very easily. If you would have watched me record an episode of Developer Tea, it may sound like I am talking all in one string but there are many times where I have to check my show notes or I have to go and Google something or maybe I trip up on my words and I'm sure you guys have heard me do that on air before. I try to have that stuff easy to edit out and I try to re-record if I end up stumbling on my words or trailing off onto a tangent. You're setting up the room so that you are comfortable and that you are able to reach the controls for your digital audio workstation which we will talk about in just a second. That is an essential part of this process. Making sure that you have yourself set up to be able to record and easily control your computer as you are recording, that's an important part of this process. The Asim 7B is connected through a red co-cable. The cable is actually Mugami style cable but I ordered it through red co. Again all of these companies will be linked in the show notes. It's shielded by the sterling shield. It's sitting on a regular boom stand, a normal boom stand for microphones. I'm currently sitting on an office chair but I ordered a smart desk which is arriving next week so I will be standing while I record in the coming weeks. In fact I have stood for a few episodes in the past. I couldn't tell you which ones because I didn't keep track of it but I have stood for quite a few episodes of Developer Teain the past and I hope to stand more in the future as I'm recording. I actually feel much better when I stand. I have a stand set desk at work, at whiteboard and I usually use both of those features throughout the day. I stand more than I sit but there are many times where I feel like I do need to sit to take some of the way off of my feet and off of my knees and I spend enough time working on the podcast that I am able to justify getting a standing desk. I plan to continue that pattern of standing and sitting alternating between those two positions when I come home after being in the office all day. So the signal travels from the microphone through the red co-cable directly into my preamp. The preamp is a UA-710 that is Universal Audio-710. This is a single channel preamp that allows me to blend the audio between a solid state and a tube-driven preamp channel. Basically all that means is that I can go from a very clean sounding preamp, a very clean sounding channel to a little bit more of a warm and slightly over-driven sounding channel and I can blend between those two styles of preamps. Now I actually forgot to mention that as the microphone is headed to the preamp and actually goes through a little blue box called the Cloudlifter. Now the reason I forgot to mention this is because I never touch this thing. It is so transparent it just sits in the signal chain between the microphone and the preamp and the Cloudlifter's job is quite simple. It adds 50 decibels of gain to the signal coming from the microphone. This is particularly important for the SM7B. As I mentioned before, the SM7B has a very low output in terms of gain so you have to add gain for it to have a decent enough signal when you are recording to not have a bunch of noise in the background and to not have to add post gain. By the way, some of these terms may be totally foreign to you. If you are interested in audio mixing, then go and check out the show notes. I will include a few links that kind of give some basic idea of what this vocabulary means and the basic process for recording audio. I will include a link in the show notes which you can find at spec.fm. Before I continue and finish up talking about the gear that I use, I want to take a quick break and talk about our sponsored digital ocean. Digital Ocean is the fastest growing cloud infrastructure provider and that is because it is totally focused on providing simple and elegant solutions for developers. To prove this point, Digital Ocean recently launched their 10 millionth droplet. That means 10 million different servers that Digital Ocean is supporting. These servers are totally configurable. It is incredibly easy to deploy these. They call their service droplets. They are pre-configured with popular open source platforms like Node.js or Magento or Docker. You can customize these before you launch them. It is built to scale. They have an internal API that you can coordinate droplets together for example. They have straightforward pricing which is a super important part for especially young developers who are trying out new products and especially for startups. The straightforward pricing means that you only pay for the resources that you actually use. Digital Ocean is committed to making developers successful which is why they have this special offer. If you use the code Developer Teaat checkout, you can get an entire month, one full free month of a one gigabyte droplet with Digital Ocean. That is just for being a Developer Tealistener. Make sure you check it out. Head over to digitalocean.com and use the code Developer Teaat checkout. Remember you can always find that code and the link in the show notes at spec.fm. Thanks again to Digital Ocean for sponsoring Developer Tea and congratulations to the Digital Ocean team for launching your 10 millionth droplet. So we've been talking today about the hardware that I use to record Developer Tea with and I want to be very careful here and let you guys know that a lot of the stuff that I own and that I record Developer Tea with isn't what I started out with and isn't necessarily what you need to create a successful podcast. In fact, a lot of the gear that I own, I actually owned it before I started a podcast because I was a musician and I helped start a record label before and so I had some gear left over from those ventures. It wasn't necessarily purely for starting a podcast. In fact, there are ways of starting podcasts with less than $500 worth of gear and your stuff is going to sound really, really good. And if you guys would like for me too, you can jump in the Slack channel. You can go to spec.fm slash slack. We can talk more about how you would build a package of gear that is less than $500 so you can accomplish really professional quality sounding stuff if you are interested in that. I'm not going to include that in the show notes because I don't think everyone who is listening to the show is necessarily interested in starting a podcast. But if you are interested in this gear discussion, make sure you join the spec community by going to spec.fm slash slack. I would be happy to answer any of your questions and help you build your package if you are trying to start a podcast or perhaps maybe screencast or something like that. So we've gone from the microphone through the cables. We've gone through the cloud lifter, the little blue box cloud lifter into the preamp. Now we're coming out of the preamp. We're going to go straight into the audio interface. Now this is an incredibly important piece of gear whose job it is to take the electronic impulses from the microphone that have been amplified by your preamp and turn them into digital zeros and ones. This is called the audio digital conversion process. And it's paired with the digital to audio conversion process coming back out of the computer and representing the sounds that the computer has kind of created out of the input that the interface has provided it and representing those back to me as the mixer. The focus right clear at pre does a very good job of this. It is very fast. It is powered by Thunderbolt and I connect that directly into my 27 inch iMac retina, which is totally dedicated to Developer Teawork. In the iMac retina I have a host of software but the most important piece is Apple Logic Pro. Logic Pro is arguably one of the best digital audio workstations on the market. It is certainly one of the most popular. It is probably only second to pro tools, which is historically the most popular digital audio workstation but because Apple is behind Logic it has grown in popularity and it's significantly cheaper to get into a copy of Logic than it is to get into a copy of Pro Tools. A few YouTube videos worth of training and you'll be able to get up and running with Logic relatively easily. The price tag on the digital audio workstation is incredibly important because as a part of the spec network I use Logic and so does everyone else who is on spec. All of our shows are actually recorded directly into Logic and then we share those shows as folders through Dropbox. This allows us to share these entire episodes worth of audio and all of the different cuts and all of those particular pieces and parts with the different teams that are involved in the production process. Specifically this episode is going to be edited by Sarah. She edits all of the episodes of Developer Tea and she uses a couple of plugins that I actually don't have the names for but I'm going to ask her to send me the links so that I can include them in the show notes so you guys know what plugins my voice is being run through and how she masters those episodes. While I am recording I am actually listening to my own voice in my own headphones and I'm wearing a pair of relatively simple in-ear headphones. They are not cheap but they're not expensive. They're about the quality that I expect the people who listen to this show are using for themselves. Now with that said I do own a pair of studio monitors. My monitors are Yamaha HS7s. They are very simple and they sit on top of RLX MOPATS which basically makes the sound coming out of the monitors a little bit cleaner. It keeps it from reverberating through the desk and into the floor and it just keeps the sound clean and as pristine and flat as possible. And that about sums up the hardware and software side of how I create Developer Tea, all of the gear that I use. I hope for those of you who have been wondering what gear this podcast uses that this is enlightening and it's interesting to you and for those of you who are interested in creating podcasts go and take a look at the gear that I have but also remember that you don't have to get a lot of expensive gear to get started creating a podcast. Particularly if you are interested in starting a podcast and you want to talk about gear come and join the SLEC community. You can go to SPEC.FM, SLEC. Now I didn't mention this before but that SLEC community will always be free to you. We will never charge you to be a part of that SLEC community and you can join today just by entering your email. So go and check it out SPEC.FM, SLEC. Now while I'm talking about SPEC.FM remember all of the show notes for today's episode can be found at SPEC.FM and that includes the very special code from today's sponsor, DigitalOcean. That code is Developer Tea, make sure you go to digitalocean.com and when you check out enter the code Developer Tea for a full free month on a one gigabyte droplet. That's digitalocean.com. Remember digitalocean just launched their 10 millionth droplet, there are tons of developers already using the service and you probably have seen or heard about them before and now it's the time to adopt digitalocean as your cloud service provider. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea and until next time enjoy your tea.