My Mobile Podcast Studio
After a year of trial and error, here's the setup that works for me.
All the equipment I use fits my backpack nicely.
Camera: Razer Kiyo Streaming Webcam (Amazon).
A huge advantage of an external camera is that it is not looking at you directly, but from an angle.
This buys me an indulgence to look at different parts of my screen, without leaving the impression of not being engaged in a conversation. Priceless for the meetup and for educational sessions; comes in handy for work calls too, trust me, I’m an engineer.
Take a look at any of my videos. In a locally-recorded Zoom call, my self view is on the left. I’m facing everyone, and can look at my screen without sending out wrong signals.
60FPS was a must to me. Surprisingly few laptop cameras offer this today. Another argument for an external cam then.
The packaging of this camera is awesome. This soft thingy is what I carry with me; the outer box is long discarded. The camera itself is well-protected, and, when taking it out, I literally screw my stand into the camera while it’s still safely inside this cushy container.
Each leg of the stand I use for the camera can be flexed independently; it can even fold around a tree in the woods. Can’t find such a model on Amazon; truth to be told, I’ve got mine for cash on the streets of Kyiv, after trying out a dozen options.
Last, but not least: the built-in light. For proper recordings, a well-lit room is a must, so the light on the camera is unnecessary. But it has saved me a number of times, especially during power outages. Amazing how this tiny, yet well placed, LED circle attached to the camera allows me to look professional even in a completely dark room.
Headphones: Turtle Beach Recon 50 (Amazon).
Plus: Bestshoot Lavalier Wind Screen Furry Muffs, 1cm (Amazon).
Ironically, my old Bose headphones case serves well to carry the Turtle Beach headset, with the mic inside.
This is thanks to the mic piece being detachable, although virtually all of them are thees days. Good thing is, with these headphones, after hundreds and hundreds of plug-ins and plug-outs, the grip is still firm and the sound quality is still awesome.
For the record, there are ways to buy an “external” mic to plug into Bose’s QuietComfort socket. They all suck, really. I’ve tried out a few; had even glued the connector to the headset itself once. But neither the mic nor sound quality were great.
Also, I never found success recording with AirPods. Not to mention that pairing them with OBS Studio on Windows is a pain.
Yes, I use Ubuntu for work, but keep Windows on my ThinkPad P1, specifically for Zoom calls, and for recording them well. Yes, I’d get back to the X1 form factor soon; P1 was an experiment, and I’m ready to go back to smaller screen sizes, and to a lower weight.
On a closing note: proper external microphones are too heavy and too bulky. For now, while I’m on the go most of the time, Turtle Beach with furry muffs does the job quite well.
I will most certainly get a real microphone once I have my own studio. The world is quite a crazy place these days though. I’m mostly on the go, and am happy to have a mobile setup that serves me well.
Enjoy my blog and our System Design Meetup!