How To Set Up Podcast Gear: A Beginners Tutorial

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Setting up a podcast for two people

The first thing to point out is that this setup will be specifically tendered to the Zoom F4 Multitrack Field Recorder as our interface. Also, in this tutorial, we’ll be using a power strip located on the top of our demonstration table to power our devices. With that being said, lets jump into what equipment we’ll be using for our setup.


What You Will Need

    1. First off, we have one Zoom F4 Field Recorder. Along with it, we have one zoom AC adapter for continuous power and one standard USB A to mini B cable
    1. Second, we have the Pyle 4 Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier (PHA40), one Pyle AC Adapter, and one foot long 3.5 mm AUX Cable.
    1. Third, we have 2 Marantz MPH-1000 condenser microphones and 2 XLR Male to XLR Female 6 ft cables
    1. Fourth, we have 2 Gator Frameworks tabletop microphone stands, 2 shock mounts, and 2 16 inch boom arms. However, we will not be using the boom poles for this setup, but you’re more than welcome to use them if you please.
  1. Finally, we have 2 OneOdio Studio Headphones, 2 6ft male to male 3.5 mm AUX cables, and 3 1¼ inch stereo plug to 3.5mm stereo jack adaptors.

Power

First, we’ll need to power the Zoom F4. We’ll do this by gently plugging the AC adaptor plug into the labeled “dc in” port located on the right side of the Zoom F4. We’ll then power on the Zoom F4 by holding the power button at the bottom right of the face.

Next, we’ll set up the Pyle amplifier by again plugging in the AC adaptor and connecting the other end into the “DC in” port into the back of the device.

Once powered, plug in all of the 3 quarter inch adaptors. 2 for both tracks 1 and 2 and 1 for the port labeled “input”.

Next, we will connect the Pyle amplifier to the Zoom F4 with a 3.5mm aux cable

from the port labeled “input” on the Pyle to the port labeled “sub out” located on the right side of the F4.

We’ll finish the headphone setup later in the video.

Now that we’ve finished powering up the devices, we’ll move on to setting up the microphones and microphone stands. We’ll start off by Place all of the mic stands on top of the table.

start the assembly

take the mic shock mount and screw it onto the top of the mic stand. Once assembled we can place the microphone into the shock mount. We want to make sure the polar pattern icon is facing the speaker for the best possible audio pick-up.

Next, we’ll grab the XLR cable and connect the female XLR end of the cable to the microphone XLR jack located on the bottom of the microphone. Then we’ll connect the male XLR end to the input labeled 1 on the left side of the Zoom F4. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll connect 2 microphones, but you can set-up up to 4 microphones with the Zoom F4.

Before we get into adjusting levels, we need to make sure that we have an SD card installed to record to. Open the back plate, insert the SD card in the slot labeled “1”. Close the back panel and tighten. We’ll cover formatting later on in the video.

Working with the interface

The interface is located on the front of the Zoom F4 which consists of an LCD screen, a selection encoder, a menu key, headphone volume knob, option key, output key, track keys labeled 1 thru 4, status indicators, and track gain knobs.

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the layout of the F4, let’s get into formatting the SD card located in slot 1. By default, the LCD will display the home screen. To get to the formatting window, click the menu key. Using the selection encoder (knob) we’ll scroll down to select the SD card menu by pressing down on the selection encoder (knob). In the SD card menu, scroll down to format and click the selection encoder (knob). While now inside the format menu, click down on SD 1. You’ll be prompted with a message double checking if you are sure if you want to format. Scroll the selection encoder to select “yes”. Give it a moment, until prompted with the message “done.”

Ok, we are ready to move forward with connecting the headphones to the Zoom F4. Going back to the 3 quarter inch adaptors plugged into the Pyle Amplifier, we need to plug the Aux cords into the adapter, the other end goes directly into the headphones on the right ear.

Now we can move onto arming the F4 for recording. We’ll start off by hitting track keys 1 and 2 on the face of the f4. We’ll know the tracks are live by the red light indication. Now we should be getting a signal reading for both tracks 1 and 2. We can see a more detailed reading from the level meters page by scrolling to the right with the selection encoder. As you can see, we are getting a signal from both tracks. If we scroll once more to the right, we’ll be able to see a decibel meter with levels for both track 1 and 2. There are also readings below for both sub and main out, but that won’t be important for this setup.

get the talent involved

Ask them to have a conversation at the microphones to help you adjust levels. For the best audio, we want each person’s dialogue to fit in between the -12 to -6 Db range. If the levels are too high or too low, you can adjust the gain for each track individually. We’ve found that setting the gain knob to about halfway works for most situations.

Now we can move on to adjusting headphone levels. This setup  Since we’ve previously connected the amplifier to the f4, we should be getting a signal in both headphones. You can adjust the levels for each channel by adjusting the knobs. This portion of the setup is entirely subjective and is up to the talent to determine what is a comfortable level for them.

start recording, finally! 🙌

Now that we’ve set our levels on the f4 and headphones, we can go ahead and start recording. With this SD card, we have just under 8 hrs of record time, which is plenty of space for a podcast with 2 tracks. Keep in mind, as you increase the number of tracks, so will the file size. To start recording our session, we simply press the red record button on the bottom right. To stop recording, we hit the square stop button to the left of the record button.

Once you’ve recorded your session, you can make a copy of the sd card on your computer using either a built-in memory card reader or an external memory card reader.

And that wraps up our basic podcast setup tutorial. Happy podcasting!