Geek News Central Portable Podcast Rig

Portable Podcast Rig

While I highlighted my home studio already I have numerous request to talk about my portable recording rig. As you all know I travel as much as 1-2 weeks a month. I am usually stuck in Hotels with less than desirable bandwidth which requires I bring extra connectivity along more on that later.

I pack for three contingencies, audio only, audio and video combined, video interview only.  A separate pack-out is used for conventions.  Let me talk about the gear and then I will talk about the setup.

Note:  The gear below is the minimum I travel with. I never travel with less equipment

Portable Audio and Video Podcast Studio:
StormCase Water Tight Case
Mixer: Mackie 802-VLZ3
Headset: BeyerDynamic DT-290 (Primary)
Router: Netgear Wireless Router
Sony: Wireless Receivers URX-P1 x2
Sony: Wireless Transmitter UTX-B1 x1
Sony: Microphone Wireless Transmitter UTX-P1
Lavalier Mics x1
Canopus ADVC-300 Analog to Digital Converter
Mic: Electrovoice RE50B (Interviews)
Camera: Sony HDR-SR11
Hard Drive: eSata 1 tb External Drive (HD Video Storage)
Cables: Way to Many!
Connectors: Way To Many
Laptops:  Windows Vista x2

Some will say this is overkill and it actually is. But the reason I travel with so much gear is based on 4 years of travel experience. I have been places where I needed to have wireless microphone capability and others where wired mics are required, sometimes I need to do a video interview so I have to have the ability to go from Audio mode to Video mode from this kit.  If I am planning on doing exclusive Video I will add a Sony HVR-Z1U to the pack out along with supporting tri-pods or mono-pods.

Laptop pack out also depends on what I will be doing.  If I am doing my regular show only 2 Windows Vista based Laptops are needed. One to handle the live video stream and the other to handle separate audio recording and the show work flow. If I am doing any pro-video recording I add a Mac Book Pro to the pack out for editing in Final Cut.

Doing conventions or other big events requires a whole different level of pack out and my Fedex bill goes vertical.

Portable Podcast Gear Packed

My regular travel kit above weighs in at 38 pounds. I check it as checked luggage. The laptops and any high value items go with me in carry on luggage.

Some will ask why I do not switch to a Firewire device or standalone recording device.  Two answers Quality and Reliability. I did use a Focusrite Saffire 2 channel Firewire mixer for about 6 months. It was the biggest piece of crap I have ever used. I spent more time getting it to work then I did recording on it. I have also used some portable audio recorders and the quality level is not where I need it to be.

For network connectivity.  I travel with 1-2  Sprint EVDO cards, I usually rely on the hotel to provide me enough bandwidth for getting the show material ready but hotel connectivity has been getting worse of late. Usually I have to use the EVDO connection to push the video stream. I average 350 kpbs up stream and my 75 minute show uses 300 megs per show of my 5 gig monthly limit. I have tested with Verizon EVDO and I will be honest they may have a big network but their wireless speeds suck!

If you notice I pack a Netgear Wireless router, this is for the wired hotels that want to charge me $20.00 a day per computer for a wired connection.

The A/D converter is currently used with the Sony Camera, the small HD camera I currently own does not have a Firewire connection.  I convert the analog out of the camera to digital which gets routed into the laptop as a digital video Firewire connection.  I am currently on the hunt for a HD non pro Camera that will connect to a laptop via Firewire.

To be able to achieve a 3 camera shot as I did on the last trip. I use the built in Webcam in the Video processing laptop as camera one, and then use a second USB based Webcam as camera 2, the Sony HD camera is camera 3 which is usually the primary camera.

Video Feed: VidBlaster Studio (Windows)
Audio Recording: Adobe Audition 3.0 (Windows)

While I am sure I will work on efficiency of the portable studio, my quality level is where I want it and the kit is always packed and ready to go. It gets checked as luggage and so far nothing bad has happened to the gear.