The studio holds a large table for up to four people. Beside the table, there is a couch for an additional two people. Each of the six seats is equipped with a microphone.
Outside of the studio, recordings can be conducted with up to four people/microphones.
Via the internet, recordings can be conducted with any number of people/microphones.
At the studio
In the center of the 20m2 room, there is a large table that is adjustable for height and seats up to four people. Each seat is equipped with a high-quality dynamic Shure SM7B microphone, which is mounted onto a stable Yellowtec MiKA YT3701 microphone boom. In order for a speaker to be able to adjust their microphone’s position and orientation at will, the microphone is joined to its boom’s mounting suspension through a Shure A26X extension tube.
Each of these four microphones is plugged into a TritonAudio FetHead preamplifier. The four preamplifiers are in turn plugged into a Zoom F8n audio recorder. If required, further audio sources can be added. Given my current collection of cables and adapters, these sources need to have XLR connectors (male/female), 3.5mm (1/8”) or 6.3mm (1/4”) stereo jacks (male/female), or Lightning connectors (female).
The audio recorder saves the up to eight tracks of a recording on SD cards. It simultaneously functions as an interface with the recording computer (Apple Mac Studio) via a USB connection, thereby allowing for an additional recording to be saved on that device. Furthermore, this allows for the inclusion of audio sources which are set up on the computer and which transmit their data from there to the recorder.
The software on the recording computer, which makes all of this possible (and even much more), is ULTRASCHALL, a free plug-in for the digital audio workstation REAPER. Its integrated soundboard is a convenient tool for playing back local audio files during the recording, e.g., intro and outro. Studio-Link, which is also part of the package, makes it very easy to incorporate remote speakers through VoIP/AoIP connections with high audio quality and low latency. The optional Ultraschall HUB (for macOS) provides the possibility to include various other audio sources. These comprise, for instance, Skype, Zoom or a softphone.
The collective audio is broadcast by the recorder to a Behringer HA400 headphone amplifier. Hooked up to the amplifier are the four Sennheiser HD-280 Pro headphones that the seats around the table are equipped with. Seats 2 through 4, from where the speakers do not have access to the amplifier, are equipped with their own volume controls.
Studio table | Seat 1
Studio table | Seat 2
Studio table | Seat 3
Studio table | Seat 4
The only camera is a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro which records a long shot of the speakers at the table. The camera as well as an Apple MacBook Pro are connected to the inputs of a Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro ISO video mixer. If required, up to two further audio/video sources can be added, either via HDMI or via USB-C. Separate clean feeds are recorded of all four input signals and of the program video. The video mixer’s monitoring signal is recorded by a Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Studio HD Plus video recorder, and it is broadcast as a webcam feed from there to the recording computer. That is where the video and the audio of the webcam feed are merged with the audio from ULTRASCHALL so that they can be streamed live.
Inserted into the table top, there are two hatches. In the boxes below them, there are four Schuko plug sockets, four USB power outlets, four RJ45 network connectors and four USB 3.0 sockets connecting to the recording computer, which are easily accessible from all four seats. Besides, there are the four 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo jacks for the headphones as well as the two HDMI sockets connecting to the video mixer.
Connectors at seats 1 and 2
Connectors at seats 3 and 4
In the middle of the table, there are two Philips LCD monitors that both display the video monitoring signal of the video mixer. The people around the table thus have the same image in front of them at all times. The video mixer can be used to easily switch between the camera, the MacBook Pro and the two other video sources.
Monitor at seat 1
Monitor at seat 2
Monitor at seat 3
Monitor at seat 4
Beside the table, there is a couch for an additional two people. Each of the two seats is equipped with a hand-held dynamic Sennheiser e 835 S microphone.
Table and couch | Seats 1 through 6
Couch | Seats 5 and 6
Outside of the studio
When recording at any location other than the studio, I use a Zoom H6 audio recorder with up to four hand-held dynamic Sennheiser e 835 S microphones. If required, the microphones can each be complemented by a Sennheiser MZW4032ANT windshield and/or a K&M 23325 table microphone stand.
Via the internet
When being by myself at the location at which I am recording, for instance because I am recording with remote speakers, I use a beyerdynamic DT-297-PV/80 MKII headset with a beyerdynamic K190.40 cable. I connect this device to my computer by means of a Shure X2U XLR-to-USB interface. This requires an adapter with a 6.3mm (1/4”) female stereo jack and a 3.5mm (1/8”) male stereo jack.
To establish VoIP/AoIP connections with high audio quality and low latency between me and the remote speakers, I use Studio-Link as implemented in ULTRASCHALL. The other speakers can use the standalone variant of Studio-Link.