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How to use the recommended Jet Streamer podcast setup.

Currently, Jet Streamer recommends the Zoom Podtrak P4 with the Rode PodMic as our recording setup of choice for most recording applications. These instructions have been prepared for Jet Streamer clients to use this equipment to record their podcasts.


If you're interested in a personalised equipment recommendation based on your or your business' needs, please contact us.


Recommended reading.

Read our article on recording and submitting your files to Jet Streamer for more generalised advice.

Preparation

Use one microphone for each speaker on your podcast (don't share microphones!).


Along with the recorder and your microphones, you'll also need to get the following together before your session:

  • Microphone cable for each microphone

  • Microphone stand for each microphone

  • An SD Card with plenty of space on it.

  • 2 AA Batteries either freshly charged or new- helps to bring a spare set along with you too.

  • Headphones: critical for you, optional for everyone else.


My recommendation for recording clients' podcasts on location - the Zoom PodTrak P4. (Image courtesy Zoom Corp).

Set the room.

Decide how to set the equipment in your recording space. The recorder and microphones are designed to be used at a table if possible, with tabletop microphone stands sitting on the table leaving your hands free to talk. Hand-holding microphones creates a lot of shuffling noise and is not recommended.


When deciding where to set up the equipment, note that in an ideal world…

  • each speaker’s mouth would be around 10-20cm from their microphone.

  • speakers would have their body facing any source of noise, (i.e. window with traffic, humming fridge) so the microphone can be placed to point away from it.

  • your speakers are sitting across the table from each other, rather than next to each other.

Obviously, in the real world, this won't always be possible. But it's nice to try and aim for it if you can.


Decide where everyone will sit, and then place out the equipment.

Place everything out.

Assign each speaker a channel: 1, 2, 3, or 4. I find it easiest if the person who is controlling the recording (i.e. you!) is ‘1’, and then 2, 3 and 4 go clockwise around the table from ‘1’. Working from left to right across the unit, each vertical column of buttons and switches will correspond to each speaker.


(TIP: I find it useful to use coloured stickers or tape to differentiate the channels rather than numbers).

My own PodTrak P4- you'll note the use of tape to differentiate speaker channels rather than the standard numbers, and the large 'MIC GAIN' and 'PHONES' labels to remind me which is which- I find they're easy to confuse in the heat of the moment. Note also the microphone plugged into Channel 1 (top).

Each person gets:

  • One microphone on a microphone stand.

  • One cable for their microphone.

  • (If using) one set of headphones.


Place everything out in front of your guest(s) so it's easier to keep track of what needs to be plugged in where.

Plug everything in.

Now to plug the microphones and headphones into the recorder.

  • Take the female end of speaker 1's microphone cable and plug it into their microphone, while the male end goes into plug number 1 on the top edge of the unit.

  • Plug speaker 1's headphones into headphone jack number 1 at the bottom edge of the unit.

  • Repeat for speaker 2, 3, and 4.

Set the levels and do a test recording.

Turn the unit on by pressing the black button on the right side of the unit.


The first step is to set the "gain" for each speaker. This is the volume level of the signal coming into the unit to be recorded, not the volume of what you hear coming out. Don't use your ears to set this! Instead, use the level meters on the LCD screen.


To set the gain:

  • Ask speaker 1 to speak normally (ask them about their day, or ask them to recite Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc)

  • Turn gain knob 1 (at the TOP of the unit) until the peaks of speaker 1's speech on the meter read roughly 2/3rds of the way up the meter. Err on the side of lower rather than higher.

  • Set speaker 1's headphone volume (labelled 1 at the BOTTOM of the unit) for their comfort.

  • Repeat for speaker(s) 2, 3, or 4.

After setting the gain, start the unit recording using the red dot (unhelpfully labelled 'enter'!) and record a brief period of speech. Stop the recording and press 'play' to listen back through your headphones. Adjust the positioning of microphones and eliminate any sources of noise if necessary.

Record your interview!

Set the unit recording again and start your discussion! You may need to adjust the gain whilst recording if the discussion gets particularly loud or quiet.


Use the 'pause' button if necessary to pause the recording- however I tend to keep the recording going if possible- nothing worse than resuming your interview and realising you forgot to un-pause it!


At the end of your recording, press 'stop' on the recording. Turn the unit off with the button on the right side before you unplug everything.


For more on how to use your PodTrak P4, consult the owner's manual that was supplied with the unit.


Back up your file.

It is imperative to back up your file as soon as possible after your interview. I have had the awkward conversation with an interviewee before asking if we could do that again because the file was lost. It only happened once... and as far as I can help it it will never happen again. Not a fun experience, and I'd hate for that to happen to you.


To transfer files:

  • Plug the unit into your computer using a USB-C cable and turn it on.

  • Hit the 'Menu' button and navigate (using the play/stop buttons as up/down) to "file transfer".

  • Press record for enter.

  • The unit should now show up under 'my computer' on a Windows machine (Mac users, I've got no idea, you're on your own!!) where you can now drag and drop files as you normally would.

Can I suggest you use the "3, 2, 1" method for backing up your files.

  • Have at least three versions of a file

  • On at least two different types of media

  • At least one offsite.

This means you might have one version on your computer, one on an external backup, and then one in a cloud provider like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then should the worst happen and your office or home is hit by an asteroid, your precious recordings are still safe.


Send it for editing.


From there, follow the instructions under Recording and Submitting Your Files to Jet Streamer to send your files for editing.


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