Last week, I took a trip where I needed to record three podcasts (Lift, Download, Six Colors Subscriber Podcast) with guests who wanted to participate via Skype. I took almost my faithful old MacBook Air with me, but I decided to see if I could figure out a way to copy the bulk of my home recording setup without requiring a Mac.
Previously, I have done something similar using the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB, a microphone that can send a digital signal using USB and an analog signal via an XLR cable at the same time. The problem is that the last time I tried to use the ATR21
This time, I wanted everything , or at least as close to everything I can get with iOS in the mix: An untouched recording of my own voice, the same high-quality microphone sound also extends over digital to my podcast guests via Skype, and the ability to listen to both my guests and me even at the same time.
I made it work with the addition of a box to my regular iPad workflow. Here's what I did:
First, I plugged an analog XLR microphone into my Zoom H6 recorder. It solves the problem "get a pristine recording of my own voice". But how do you get that sound from my Zoom Recorder and into my iPad Pro? If I connect the headphones to Zoom, I can hear myself, but not my guests. If I attach Zoom to iPad, I can relay my sound, but Zoom cannot record sound when used as a USB audio interface.
Second, I need to route my microphone sound out of Zoom to a device capable of transferring it to my iPad Pro (and also transmitting the voices from the panelists from the iPad back to me). Any standard USB audio interface should be more or less capable of it, and then I used my-Sound Devices USBPre2. The trick was how to connect the Zoom to USBPre2. Fortunately, the zoom has a Line Out port on the front, and USBPre2 has a line-in port on the side, and I've happened to have the right cable (mini-jack on one side, stereo RCA on the other) to connect the two of them in my random drawer of audio cables.
Third, I add my USB audio interface to my iPad Pro. (I used a USB-B to USB-C audio cable for this, but an old school cable will also work with an adapter.) I haven't yet met a USB device that my iPad Pro is unable to turn on itself, so USBPre2 worked well. I also connected the headphones to USBPre2 so I could hear myself and my guests.
That's it! I could start Skype, hit record on Zoom, and record a podcast. My guests heard my high quality sound quality, I could hear them, and I could hear myself (without any noticeable wait). The only thing I really miss is the ability to record the sound of my guests, as a backup, but I chose to live dangerously and talk only to people who know what they are doing about recording for podcasts.
The last step was one that I have described earlier, namely to use an external Wi-Fi box to transfer my audio files back to iPad for editing. This solution stays until the day when Apple decides to let iPads view external storage devices directly. Then it was on ferrite to put podcasts together after the participants sent me their files and I imported them into ferrite. (As an added bonus, in a recent update, Ferrite has been able to share multi-track QuickTime audio files in their component tracks. Ecamm's Call Recorder for Skype uses this approach and until Ferrite was updated, I had to use a Mac to share These audio files in two. No longer.)
And that's it! It's not pretty, there are two boxes than I would otherwise bring, and I refuse to weigh the difference in boxes and compare it to the weight of my 11-inch air. The most important thing is that I was able to travel with iPad and no Mac and have more or less the same podcast experience that I have when sitting at home with the iMac.
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