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. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 9.11.19 PM.png

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

 

BSP-078: What We Can Learn from Jake Paul

On episode 78 of the BSP, I talk about what youtubers should learn from Jake Paul’s actions, my approach to reviewing gear, some concerning revelations regarding privacy, and a bunch of questions from you guys!

00:00 - Intro
00:55 - Different Type of Episode
01:41 - My Approach to Gear Reviews
08:44 - What We Can Learn from Jake Paul
18:36 - Amazon Battling Blue Apron
19:38 - YouTube is Changing the Creator Studio
22:15 - Police Body Cams Will Have Facial Recognition
24:26 - FBI Can Track Your Internet Activity Without Notification
26:43 - Ask Bandrew
38:02 - Outro

Submit your questions to be answered on a future episode to AskBandrew@gmail.com

The Bandrew Says Podcast is available on:
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► Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bandrewsays
► Website: http://www.geeksrising.com

BSP-046: How I Got 18,000 Subs on YouTube

On this episode of the BSP, the main topic focusses on how I went from 0 subscribers to 18,000 subscribers. I analyze how I did this, and what lessons I think can be taken from this journey.

In other news, I talk about how Amazon Go works, what the UK Snoopers Charter is and how it worries me, as well as provide an update on the Fitbit acquisition of Pebble and what that means for all the kickstarter backers & pebble customers.

As far as what I've been testing, I talk about my favorite Apple Watch Band, my current favorite iPhone Case, my adoption of camera covers on the iPhone, using a network drive, and my new mousepad.

Follow BSP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bandrewsayspodcast
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BSP-043: Optimizing Your YouTube For Subs & Views

00:00 - Intro
01:30 - I Had a Meeting With Google!!!
02:58 - Casey Neistat is Ending His VLOG!
04:32 - EarBuds: The Podcasting Documentary
06:44 - Arrival, Amy Adams, 
08:13 - GoNovate Podcast EarBud
11:13 - Optimizing Your YouTube For Subs & Views
11:34 - Video Title Naming
13:40 - Video Descriptions
15:12 - Improving Actual Videos
18:58 - Thumbnails
20:48 - Overall Channel Page
21:51 - Creating Descriptive Playlists
23:57 - Outro

On today's episode of the BSP, I talk briefly about Casey Neistat's decision to end his daily vlog. Then I talk about two films that just came out that I am extremely excited about. First, EarBuds: The Podcasting Documentary, which I'm sure you could guess, is a documentary surrounding the podcast community. Secondly, Arrival, a sci-fi film that is a breath of fresh air amongst all the mindless stuff plaguing our screen.

Then I briefly discuss a product that I have been testing, the Go Novate bluetooth earbud before jumping into optimizing your youtube channel to acquire more subscribers and more viewers.

I cover Video Titles, Video Descriptions, Improving Videos, Thumbnails, Channel Descriptions, and Playlist creation.

Follow BSP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bandrewsayspodcast
Follow BSP on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bandrewsays

BSP-033: How To Overcome Personal Failures & Haters

00:00 - Intro
01:12 - Unbox Therapy Giveaway (Leave Lewis Alone)
05:56 - Amazon Echo Competitor
07:08 - Pokemon Go Users
08:29 - Gawker is Dead
11:03 - YouTube Social Network?
14:34 - Canon 5D Mark IV
15:50 - Apple iPhone is Completely Screen!
19:25 - Halt & Catch Fire
21:05 - Deadspace
22:07 - How Deal with Haters & Personal Failures
34:13 - Outro

On today's episode of the BSP, I go on a few length rants. First on the list revolves around Lewis from Unbox Therapy and peoples expectation and belief that he owes free phones to people. 

I then cover a lot of news from a new Amazon Echo competitor, Pokemon Go's user base, Gawker going bankrupt, a New YouTube Social Network, a New Canon 4k DSLR, and a Phone that is Completely Screen.

I briefly talk about Halt & Catch Fire and then Deadspace. For the main topic, I go in depth on how I deal with and overcome haters I encounter, people who doubt my goals, and finally personal failures in life.

Follow BSP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bandrewsayspodcast
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http://www.geeksrising.com

BSP-010: Why Does Your Audio Suck!?

In this episode of BSP, Bandrew provides a brief review of the Netflix Original: Love. He also gives his first impressions on some new tech that he has been testing out. Lastly, he discusses how to improve your audio if you're having problems with excessive noise.

  1. Keep Gain Low
  2. Place Mic Close to Sound Source
  3. Control Recording Environment

Don't forget to Rate/Review/Subscribe in iTunes, and Subscribe to the Geeks Rising Youtube Channel. If you have any additional questions, leave them in the comments on youtube or here on the site and we'll get back to you ASAP. Thanks for the support.

BSP-009: How To Become a Video Creator

There has been an awakening...have you felt it. I'm back with new episodes of The Bandrew Says Podcast, but things are a little bit different. If you remember the first 8 episodes, you'll know that they consisted of me researching the news, finding statistics about dark things, and discussing them in depth and attempting to solve these issues that people have been trying to solve for hundreds of years. I am no longer able to do that because it took too much of a toll on me. So here's what we're doing now.

This podcast will now focus on a more personal reflection on my weeks and what I've been working on (in regards to geeks rising, podcastage, bsp, etc.) as well as a discussion of interesting tech news, and my opinions on how to do certain things.

For instance, in this episode I discuss how to become a video creator. I may go more in depth in terms of the technology actually required to do such a thing, but this is a very top level look at the process and what I think is important. 

I also discussed some photography and mentioned an image I took that I was pretty proud of. I have included it to the left of this paragraph and I hope you think it's cool.

Other than that, I hope you enjoy the relaunch of BSP, and I hope you're excited for the new direction I decided to take it. I personally cannot wait to make some more episodes and share my experiences and knowledge with you. i hope you find useful information and a large benefit from this podcast.

If you have the time, please leave a 5-star rating in iTunes along with a couple word review, and don't forget to subscribe and share it with all your friends. Until next week. High Five More People!!!

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. 

Gear

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. 

Software

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.

Conclusion

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.

RCCCC: How to Start Your Own Nerd Rock Band in 5 Steps!

RCCCC stands for Rose City Comic Con Coverage, and the first panel that we are covering here will be the Saturday 2:30PM panel entitled: Set List to Stage - Realize Your Nerdrock Dream. The panel covered a large range of information but the main focus was on creating the band, writing songs, and the progression of the music business. Before I share any of my thoughts or information garnered from the panel, I want to go ahead and plug all the artists and panelists: 

Kyle Stevens of Kirby Krackle, Irene Rea of 2Rivers, DJ Jeff "Switch" Sorenson, Christine Mooney, & Chris Waffle of Going Viral

I will note that the titles that are italicized were not from the panel, they are just steps that I think are important to know/do when starting a band.

  1. Write What You Love
    If you want to start a nerd rock band, chances are, you are a nerd. There is also a chance that you love doing awesome things like playing magic the gathering, or playing zelda, or going to comic conventions.

    What is important to take note of here is that your audience, or potential audience, can sniff out bullshit. If they think that you are writing a song about something because it's popular (and not because you love it) best case scenario, they will call you on your shit, worst case scenario, they will bail on you because they think you're a fraud. Basically what I am saying is just write about what you love if it's video games, or comics, or cos playing. Do it and have fun with it.
     
  2. Find Your Instrument
    This one is pretty self explanatory, and it wasn't in the Panel, I just wanted to make this a 5-step process to starting your nerd rock band. So pick your instrument. This has become a lot easier recently. You can get a guitar for $80, or you can just use free software on your computer to make electronic music and sing over that...or if you don't have a good voice (like me), you can just make electronic music like Anamanaguchi.

    Find your musical strengths and play off of those. Are you really good with computers? Maybe get a midi keyboard and learn to play it so you can screw around with a Soft Synth and create all those crazy noises that you hear in electronic songs! The options are limitless because everything is so easy to get now.
     
  3. Find Your Band
    This is another self explanatory step that wasn't in the panel. If you want to start a full rock band, there are so many options on how to find people. You can do it the old school way, and find some fellow band nerds that can put up with you long enough to write songs and tour with. You can hang fliers at guitar center or a local comic shop. You can find them online through facebook, or any site that you frequent. With the internet, you can even create music with people in completely different countries. You can record an idea, send the stems via drop box or e-mail and then get something back from them the next day. It's AMAZING!

    Maybe you want to go solo on this endeavor! That is perfectly fine as well. You can make everything in a program like GarageBand that is free. They have free drum loops (that I believe are royalty free), they have free software synths, and you can get a microphone for $30 that sounds pretty dang good if it's your first demo! Technology has pushed us to the point where you legitimately can be a one (wo)man band!
     
  4. Don't Be A Dick
    This is probably the most pertinent piece of information offered during the panel. Be nice to everyone you run into, whether it be the neighbor who asks you to shut up and stop practicing before 8pm, or the band that opened for you, or the promoter who couldn't people you on a show. There is absolutely no reason to be a dick to anyone. You don't know what their day has been like, and there's no reason to take your bad day out on them. It will only burn bridges and make succeeding in an already difficult industry that much more difficult. Also, we all know that adage "You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Follow this one like it is in your bible.
     
  5. Learn to Take Criticism/Compromise
    This is a mix of some tips from the panel as well as personal advice. Just do it. Learn to take criticism and learn how to compromise. When you are in a band, you are not the only member. There are X amount of other people in the band who care about the band as much as you. You will all have to compromise at certain points in the band and you will need to learn when to go along with another persons Idea.

    Learning to take Criticism is even more important, and there are two aspects to this. First you need to learn to decipher the constructive criticism from the people online who are being dick trolls. Once you have mastered that, and developed thick skin that repels all the internet's trollage, you can find the group of people you trust to be honest, and ask them for their honest opinions about the bands music, how to improve, etc. etc. There is no doubt that at some point, someone will say "What you're doing is wrong because of this." or "Have you tried it out like this?" ... don't take offense to them making suggestions or recommendations. Give their ideas a try (unless it's crack. Don't try it if it's crack) and move on. The ideas may work, or they may not, but trying out a different lyric, chord, key, tempo, melody, screen printer, etc never killed anyone.

The most important thing to do when starting your Nerd Rock Band is to have as much fun as you can because that's what it's all about. It's about writing songs about stuff that you love because you want to hear a song about it! Chances are, someone else wants to hear it to. 

Coverage of: rosecitycomiccon.com

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.