How To Set Your Gain for Beginners

Gain can be a very complicated topic, so in this article, I will try to make it as simple as possible.

1. What is gain?

Simply put, gain is how much you are amplifying (or increasing the level) or your microphones output signal. This is necessary because microphone's output signals are very quiet, and you need to get this signal to a level that you are able to work with in post production. 

2. Factors that impact gain requirements.

I receive the question "What's the best gain to use on this microphone/preamp", and to tell you the truth there is no absolute answer there. This is because there are multiple factors that impact how you set your gain.

  1. Loudness of the sound source: If you're recording someone whispering, the sound source will be quiet and you will need more gain. On the other hand, if you're recording a guitar amplifier with the volume set to 11, you will need significantly less gain.
  2. Distance between the sound source & the microphone: The farther away the sound source is from the microphone, the quieter the audio that is being picked up. Therefore, if you are 6 inches away from a microphone, you'll need less gain than you would if you were 10 feet away.
  3. Sensitivity of the microphone: Sensitivity of a microphone tells you how loud the output signal of this mic is. Dynamic & Ribbon mics typically have a quieter signal when compared to condenser microphones. So if you're using a dynamic, you'll need a higher gain than you would if you were using a condenser.

3. What level should you record at?

I've heard many people say "Record so you're hitting -18dB on your meter", others have said "Record at -10dB" and others say "Record at -6dB". Regardless of what level you choose, when this is being said, it means you are recording so your peaks (the loudest parts of your recording) hit -6dB, -10dB, or -18dB. 

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The reasoning behind this is to allow for headroom. Headroom is nothing more than the difference between the loudest part of your recording and 0dB, which is where your recording will begin to clip. 

For example: if I am recording spoken word, and I set my preamp gain so I'm hitting -10dB at my loudest, then my voice can unexpectedly get 10dB louder before I begin clipping/distorting, ultimately ruining the recording. 

It ultimately comes down to how dynamic the sound source you're recording is. If it is a sine wave that does not change volume, you can probably set your preamp to record around -1dB or -2dB. But if you're recording an expressive singer that goes from soft singing to screaming in a single take, this can vary drastically in loudness, so you may want to set your preamp so you're hitting -10dB or even -18dB.

4. How does gain affect your sound?

There are many schools of thoughts, and arguments to be had regarding coloration of preamp on your recordings, but we're going to avoid those in this article and focus on the more noticeable impact on your recording.

  1. Setting your gain too high: When you set your gain too high (i.e. so you're hitting -1dB on your meter), this does not allow for any wiggle room. You have to remain consistent in your levels, and if you get excited and begin to speak loudly, your signal will exceed 0dB and clip or distort.

    Once you have recorded something and it contains clipping, there is nothing that can be done to clean up that recording. You're stuck with it. So I would always suggest you err on the side of caution and record slightly quieter than you think you need.
  2. Setting your gain too low: This issue seems to be less pervasive online, but if you set your gain too low and you're using a subpar preamp with a high noise floor you risk losing, or mixing your signal in the noise floor.

    What this means is that if your preamp has a noise floor of -50dB, and you're recording so you're peaks are hitting -30dB, you're going to run into some issues. This is caused because in post, you're going to have to boost this recording by ~30dB. This means that your noise floor is no longer -50dB, but it's been boosted so it will be -20dB. So just remember, when you're boosting your recording in post, you're not just boosting the recorded sound source, you're also boosting the noise that's introduced by your preamp.


I think that should give you a basic framework to work off when you're setting up your preamp/interface before recording a podcast or youtube video. Until next time, may your recordings have no clipping, a low noise floor, and contain good content. Good luck.




What Is Frequency Response?

If you are shopping around for microphones, chances are you have seen the term Frequency Response all over the place. If you don't know what that means, you've come to the right place. You can watch the video to the right or read the very description below.

To put it simply, frequency response is the range of sound that a microphone is capable of picking up. The way that this measured is using Hertz (abbreviated as Hz). The lower the number, the lower the sound. For instance 20Hz is extremely low, but on the other hand 20,000Hz (also notated as 20kHz) is extremely high. The reason I used these two frequencies as an example is they are the outer limits of what are ears can hear.

Some microphones do not cover this entire range, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The bane of most audio engineers existence is low frequencies. So if you have a microphone with a frequency response starting at 50Hz, this may help eliminate a lot of the trouble frequencies. The same goes for the high end. A lot of microphones do cover frequencies all the way up to 20kHz, but it's not necessary. One of the most popular microphones out there the Shure Sm58 has a frequency response of 50Hz - 15kHz. 

These specifications are well and good, but they really aren't that important unless you have very specific technical needs. What I think is most important is how the microphone sounds to you. So what I would recommend is finding a test video of the microphone you're looking for and seeing how you like the sound and let that information, couple with the specifications, help you decide what microphone is right for you.

How to Start a Video Podcast for $30

Have you ever wondered how to start a video podcast or a video show like Good Mythical Morning for under $30-$50? Let's talk about that. =)

First off, this is slightly more than $30. I guess I bought the webcam while it was on sale. Secondly, one of our viewers BERT PD3CT challenged me to make a video podcast for under $50 and that's what this video will be covering: Video Gear, Audio Gear, Video/Audio Capture Software, & Video Editing Software. 


Video Camera: for video I went on amazon and searched for HD webcams, and looked at the reviews. At the time of ordering the gear for this challenge, I came across the Logitech C310, which seemed to provide the best features and reviews while staying within the $50 budget. This camera only shoots 720p, so you will not have the best quality image, and you will need to film with a lot of lighting, but for the $20 that I paid for this, I am perfectly happy.

Microphone: Bert recommended using the Neewer NW-700, but with a mic stand, that would put me over $50, so I decided to go a different direction. I decided to pick up 3 pack of Neewer Omni-Directional Lav Mics, which at the time of writing this article costs $4.50...yeah less than $5 for 3 lapel mics. The downside to these mics is first, the quality is not the best, they will break, so make sure you treat them with care and test to make sure they are working before recording long videos. Second, the audio quality does suffer a little bit. These are omni directional microphones, so you will be picking up a lot of noise around you.

Interface: of course for the interface, I went with the trust Sabrent USB Audio Adapter, which runs $6.00. This is the adapter I use in almost all of my videos because it is the cheapest solution, and it provides really nice results. 

Lighting: I am using the best lighting resource out there, the sun. I just set up in front of two big windows, and let the sun light me. Lighting is incredibly important and is what allows most cameras to perform at their best. 


Capture: On mac you can capture video/audio the way I do it, using quicktime. All you do is click file > new movie recording, and you are good to go. Prior to even opening quicktime, you do need to go into your sytems audio preferences and make sure that the correct microphone is selected for your audio input.

On Windows, I downloaded Windows Movie Maker. This program allows you to set your video input and audio input, and then record the video/audio right into windows movie maker.

Editing: On mac you can use iMovie. This is a super simple editing program that will allow you to cut and put together movie clips, as well as overlay music, and simple titles. You won't have the most complex or in depth tools available to you, but it will give you a basis to start. 

On windows, you already recorded your footage into windows movie maker, so go ahead and edit and create your video in that program. The last time I made a movie in this software was back in 2005, but if I remember correctly, it has all the basic functionality that you will need to get a video made.


Option 1: The first option will cost you more than $50. You can get the Neewer NW-700 for about $20, then with the Logitech C310, will now set you back $30. On top of that you need to get the Sabrent USB Audio Adapter and a Mic Stand for the NW-700. So ultimately. You've spent closer to $70.

Option 2: Go with the lav mics. You can get a three pack of Neewer Omni-Directional Lav Mics for $5. They clip right on to your shirt, and they capture audio pretty well  considering the cost. Next, you pick up the Logitech C310, which as I mentioned is $30, and then lastly, the Sabrent USB Audio Adapter. You come in at about $41 with this option, well under the $50 limit

With one option, you go over budget by a minimum of $20, and on the other hand you come in under budget by $9. That's enough money to buy all this gear, and then go out and buy a burrito. I know which option I would choose.

If you have any questions about any of the gear in this video, or any other methods, go ahead and leave a comment on this site or on youtube and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP. 

How To Record a 3.5mm Mic on an iPhone

Another day, another video. In the first day of my last video, I received a lot of questions about what other mics work on the iPhone 6. So, I tested out the SF-930, SM-58, NW-700, BM-800, & NW-1500. Surprisingly, all the microphones technically worked.

This method consists of plugging the microphone into the Startech 4-pin Splitter, and then plugging the splitter into my iPhone and recording into the stock Voice Memos app. 

Some microphones performed much better than others in this test. However, none of the microphones even came close to their full potential. Every single microphone sounds much better when being recording on a computer in the appropriate fashion.

I have major concerns about this technique. I don't know the iPhones TRRS jack specs, but I don't think it was designed to handle the power needs of a 5v condenser mic. This could possibly damage your battery or damage your TRRS jack. I'm not sure. I would need to consult Apple on this, but I don't have the time. 

I guess, I should just say that I do not recommend using this method. It does not provide good results, and you could potentially damage your phone. The iPhone mic doesn't sound terrible. Just use that in the mean time. I think that the quote from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park is surprisingly fitting. I was so preoccupied with whether or not I could, that I didn't stop to think if I should.

Can You Record an External Microphone on Your iPhone?

Hey! Special edition of Podcastage! I received quite a few comments asking me "Can you record an external microphone on your iPhone?". The majority of these comments were on my SF-920 review video, so that's the mic I decided to test out. I will walk you through the adapter and app that I used, and some of my warnings and concerns.

The iPhone has a single 3.5mm jack on it. This jack is a TRRS plug, which stands for Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve. What this jack allows you to do is transfer audio in and audio out on a single cable. That is all well and good, but if you want to record a different mic than your stupid iPhone headphones mic, then you're out of luck. Until NOW! There is a $7 adapter that splits this jack into two jacks; a headphone out and a microphone in. This allows you to plug in your headphones, and plug in a separate mic!

In this video, I test this out by using the the Voice Memo app on the iPhone. It seemed to work fine, but here are my concerns.

  • You cannot change the microphones input gain on the phone. Therefore, you will need to monitor the input closely and change your distance to the microphone accordingly. You can also use a microphone that has a gain control on it, like the SF-920.
  • I do not know what kind of voltage the TRRS plug provides, so I cannot guarantee that all microphones will work using this method. I can almost guarantee that the most condenser microphones will not work using this method. 

That's what I found on my first test of this method. I hope you learned something or found the video and article helpful. If you did, go ahead and give us a thumbs up and subscribe on youtube. If you have any more questions leave them in the comments down below. Talk to y'all next time.

Can You Record Music With a Cheap Mic?

I have received comment after comments asking me if the mics that I test out are capable of recording music and sounding good. Rather than testing all the microphones I have tested, I selected 3 to test out. The SF-920, the NW-700, and the SM48. All of these mics are $30 or less and I did a couple tests on them.

  1. I recorded an overdriven guitar with the mics (I should note that the amps volume is not very loud).
  2. I recorded a clean guitar with the mics to show you more of what the mic is capable of doing on an amp.
  3. Lastly, I recorded a Ukulele to show you how this thing functions with acoustic instruments.

To sum up, I believe that the Neewer NW-700 performed the best on the clean guitar and acoustic instrument, and the SM48 performed the best on the overdriven guitar. However, if either of these mics are out of your price range, you will probably be okay picking up the SF-920. So the answer to "Can You Record Music With a Cheap Mic?" is YES!

Can You podcast With a Google Chromebook

The first extra video that I am releasing on the podcastage Channel is a video that I made just for myself and my curiosity. I had a Chromebook lying around and I wanted to know if you can podcast on it. This would provide an extremely low and cheap entry point for podcasters.

I found that it is possible to do, but you will not have the best sound quality, and you won't have that much power. The best way to go about it is using a Xenyx 302usb (a usb mixer). This will provide you with Phantom Power, live monitoring of what you're recording, and a basic EQ. The service that I tested out only allows you five minutes of recording time for free on a single track. The pricing breakdown is as follows

  • Free = 5 Minutes
  • $5/month = 20 minute files & 1 track
  • $10/month = 60 minute files & 1 track
  • $20/month = unlimited minute & unlimited tracks

So in all honesty, I don't know how viable of an option this is. But it's the best way I was able to find. I have a few other things I will test out later and report back to you on. For now that's all I got. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below (or on youtube) and I will get back to you ASAP. Thanks for watching/reading.

Q&A 001: Shock Mounts, Singing, & Pop Filters

Greetings Earthlings, I am back with my very first Q&A video for you. On the first Q&A for podcastage, I answer three questions:

1) Will the BM700 shock mount stop my computers vibrations?
2) What's the difference between a Metal & Nylon Popfilter?
3) Is the BM-700 / NW-1500 good for singing?

I hope that you enjoyed the video, and that I sufficiently answered the questions you had. If you have any additional questions you want answered on the next Q&A video, leave them in the comments down below (on geeks rising or youtube). 

How to Get Good Audio out of a 3.5mm Microphone

Hey Everyone. I have received a lot of questions about how I set up a cheap 3.5mm microphone and still get decent audio. I don't have any fancy tips or trips on how to get good audio, but I do provide a walkthrough of how I set up 3.5mm mics on my Computer. The main issue I have heard on videos of people with cheap microphones is clipping. I walk you through how I avoid clipping as well. Hope this helps. 

If you have any questions about the setup, leave them in the comments down below and I will do my best to answer them ASAP.

How to Record Multiple USB Mics on a Mac

Hello Friends. 

If you have ever attempted to record two USB mics on a mac, you have been greeted by that infuriating fact that you can only use one audio interface at a time. Through an error, I came across this trick to essentially create a digital audio interface that allows you to hook up multiple USB microphones at once and record them all individually on a mac. I show how it works in Logic Pro X, but I hear that it also works in Garage Band. 

Let me know if you have any questions about this technique in the comments down below and I'll do my best to answer them ASAP.

What is Acoustic Audio Treatment & What Does it Do?

Greetings Earthlings. I am here with an explanation video, discussing what acoustic audio treatment is, and what it does.

This discussion leads to an explanation of what reverb is, what a wet room is, and what a dry room is. I then provide some examples of each type of room. The bottom line is that in a broadcast/podcast setting, you typically want to have a dry room. This gives you more control over the way your recording sounds. It allows you to manipulate the audio more successfully in post, and ultimately it will lead to a cleaner sound and clearer speech. If you have any more questions about acoustic audio treatment, go ahead and leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them. 

How to Install a Shock Mount

Hey everyone. I got another request from a viewer. This time for a tutorial on how to install a mic into a shockmount and how to install a shockmount onto a boom arm. It is pretty straight forward but I had fun showing him how to do so. If y'all have any requests for additional tutorials, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments down below or on youtube and I will get to them as soon as I can. See y'all later!

Recording a 1/8" or 3.5mm Mic directly to your Mac

Hey Everyone. I know that I don't typically post reviews on Thursday, but this is different than the regular reviews I do. This video is resolving an issue that a lot of my viewers who run Mac computers have run into. 

There are a lot of microphones that have a 1/8" or 3.5mm jack, and from my understanding, almost all the new Macs have a single 1/8" jack. This jack functions as the headphones, and microphone jack. Unfortunately, this requires a very special sort of cable that very few companies use. So Mac users have been unable to use these mics without expensive interfaces and all that. I found a solution for $6, and I had to share it so that you can benefit from it if you order one of these mics! Hope it helps, and I will see you on Tuesday at the Regular time!

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