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.

About Todd Cochrane

Todd Cochrane is the Founder of Geek News Central and host of the Geek News Central Podcast. He is a Podcast Hall of Fame Inductee and was one of the very first podcasters in 2004. He wrote the first book on podcasting, and did many of the early Podcast Advertising deals in the podcasting space. He does two other podcasts in addition to Geek News Central. The New Media Show and Podcast Legends.

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