Rocky Lira, aka “Rocky Bandit,” and his “knucklehead” friends Eddie and Paddy went big into podcasting on a moderate budget recently. And they have the gear and the podcasts in circulation to show for it.
He and his Chicago pals started the weekly show Bums of Manarchy for fun, recording more than a dozen episodes so far. Lira got off to a fast start handling the podcast editing and production. He said he uses an M1 MacBook Pro and an older model, along with two iPad Pros and his iPhone 12 Pro — in concert with a Rode RodeCaster Pro Integrated Podcast Production Studio console.
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“What I like about this setup is the combined ease of use, super-high-quality audio and great features,” Lira told Cult of Mac. “Like the built-in sound pad for special effects, USB and Bluetooth channels to connect laptops, iPads or iPhones, and built-in individual channel settings.”
Easy and portable podcasting
Lira said the set up is highly portable and would be simple to pack in inexpensive travel cases bought on Amazon for a remote recording session. (He also uses the setup for his IT and training work for a Fortune 40 technology company focused on B2B outsourcing and innovation.)
Using the equipment is easy, Lira said. Simply connect the mics and headphones to the Rode console, pop in a formatted microSD card, and you’re ready to record.
The beauty of it, he added, is that you can either record to a microSD and later import audio files or connect the console directly to a laptop in “podcast transfer mode” via a USB connection.
“We use our setup in multichannel mode, where up to four pairs of mics [or] headphones can be recorded simultaneously and then individually edited,” Lira said. “This way, if one of us messes up, I can isolate the issue and fix it without impacting the entire recording. It’s also a great way to customize settings per person. Some of us are louder than others.”
A ‘dummy-proof’ podcasting rig
Making these adjustments using standard Rode features is straightforward because they can easily be turned on or off or customized, he said. Plus, the built-in RodeCaster Pro for Mac console interface, menu system, features and controls are intuitive.
“I had little to no audio recording experience prior to buying our setup, which means the Rode console is dummy-proof,” Lira said.
Sounds and special effects
Lira noted the big colored buttons on the Rode console’s sound pad are fun to use to add special effects, sounds or music clips to recordings. There are stock audio files, like breaking glass and a rim shot, but the Rode software for Mac also makes it easy to access and add your own MP3 sounds.
Likewise, you can add sounds during editing with GarageBand by simply dragging-and-dropping them into a new channel.
“I’m using Apple GarageBand for editing, intro/outro music, etc.,” Lira said. “I played around with GarageBand and my guitar several years ago, so the learning curve wasn’t very steep for me.”
Not bad for a $1,500 startup cost
Lira called the podcast’s roughly $1,500 startup cost “not exactly the cheapest, but for newbies to audio recording and podcasting, it’s worth every dime.”
He noted the difference in sound and recording quality between their first episode and more recent ones “is like night and day.”
Part of that is about adjusting to the gear.
“Once I tweaked the channel settings [like] reverb and compressor settings, the audio quality became loud and clear, with very limited fade and crossover,” he said.
Mics and headphones that ‘just work’
Given that the guys use three to four microphones and sets of headphones for the podcast, they decided not to break the bank on super-high-end models.
Lira said their picks — Sterling Audio SP150 mics and Tascam TH-300X Studio headphones — were “pretty cost-effective and they just work, no issues or problems.” He recommends that podcasters use shock mounts and heavy-duty, adjustable stands for the mics.
He pushed the same narrative for Bums of Manarchy’s publishing platform, Buzzsprout: It “just works.” He said it’s simple to upload and publish new weekly episodes and to manage platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Google and others.
Location, location, location
The trio started recording in their first-floor kitchen. But they found it wasn’t ideal for recording, given its openness and high ceilings. Lowering window shades helped eliminate crosstalk among the three of them, Lira said, but what really made a difference was the move a few weeks ago to the third-floor den.
“[It’s] probably the quietest place in my house,” he said. “This all but eliminated background noises and crosstalk.”
Lira said he’s still learning and experimenting with the podcast, but the setup is great.
“If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “The recording room makes all the difference. And using a fit-for-purpose recording console like the Rode system can eliminate any technical frustration.”
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