Last week, I had the pleasure and honor of conducting a brief, in-field interview with US presidential candidate Gary Johnson for my CapicúaFM show after his press conference in Miami. If you haven’t yet heard of Gary Johnson, he’s the Libertarian candidate, and he is getting increased media attention and ratings in polls. Although CapicúaFM is not in English, but in Castilian (aka “Spanish”), and Gary Johnson is not bilingual, his campaign’s Hispanic spokesperson and advisor —Juan Hernández— was present during the interview to provide a sequential interpretation of Gary Johnson’s responses. In post-production, I eliminated my original English questions and substituted my commentary in Castilian. Ahead you’ll learn the workflow I followed, from the digital microphone made in Italy, to the software and hardware I used for this episode in production and post-production. If you would like, you can also hear the entire episode to appreciate the astounding audio quality I achieved at a crowded public café.
Which digital microphone?
For the field recordings in this episode (including the Gary Johnson/Juan Hernández interview, the soundbite of the restaurant manager who threw us out —which is why we finished the interview outside… and the salutation from Ana Cifuentes), I used the Italian iRig Mic HD-A from IK Multimedia (also available as the iRig Mic HD), which I reviewed here and here. The A suffix does not stand for Allan, but for Android. It means that instead of including a Lightning cable for iOS devices (the latest iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch devices from Apple), it comes with the USB OTG cable for Android devices. Both versions also include a a USB cable for use with desktop computers and laptops, including Chromebooks. If you buy one version of the microphone, you always acquire the other missing cable as an accessory to cover both Android and iOS.
What do we mean by a digital microphone?
When we say a digital microphone, we mean that it has a built-in preamplifier, A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converter, and a digital output. We don’t mean that the actual microphone element is digital (which it is not), just as when we talk about a digital speaker, we don’t mean that the cone is digital (which it is not)… or when we talk about a USB printer, we don’t mean that the actual print head is USB.
Why the digital iRig Mic HD-A has become my go-to mic for informal field interviews?
Despite the benefits of other ENG (electronic news gathering) microphones I have covered in the past, including the ElectroVoice RE50N/D-B, the RØDE Reporter (reviewed here) and the Senal ENG–18RL (click for the review), here are the advantages I like about the iRig Mic HD-A:
- Since it’s a digital microphone, the iRig Mic HD-A bypasses the often inferior preamp and A-to-D converter in the smartphone I use to record at 48 kHz, delivering a pure digital signal.
- The iRig Mic HD-A is short enough to fit in my jacket pocket and be there all the time.
- Although it is not practical to use the iRig Mic HD-A with a conventional mic flag for two reasons covered in the review, it is quite possible and beneficial to use the iRig Mic HD-A with a branded windscreen, with all of its own advantages, as covered here and here.
- My current preferred mobile recording software (see below) does not have any gain control, at least when used with a pure digital source. Thankfully, the iRig Mic HD-A has its own built-in gain control and LED indicator, to send the ideal level to be recorded.
Which recording hardware and software I used
The USB-OTG cable went directly from the iRig Mic HD-A microphone to my Nexus 6 Android phone.
I recorded the Gary Johnson/Juan Hernández interview with the free Auphonic for Android application (reviewed here, shown above) at 48 kHz mono. Of course, I had the phone in airplane mode, to prevent any possible incoming call, message or RFI from the internal radios.
What I did just after the field recording
Just after recording, I shut off the airplane mode, connected to the closest WiFi, and uploaded the file to the Auphonic server, using one of my existing presets for processing. I did this (1) because it’s much easier to edit after processing, and (2) because it meant that the priceless recording was now immediately backed up outside of my phone. As soon as I got back to my computer, I downloaded the processed file there. A few minutes later, that recording existed on my phone, on the laptop’s SSD, and also on the full time automatic backup I have running on my laptop on another server. The file was now safe in four different places, with very little effort.
How I recorded the Tease, Commentary and Closing
How I edited this episode of CapicúaFM
My preferred multitrack audio editing software for audio storytelling remains Hindenburg Journalist Pro (reviewed here, here and here). Whenever there is an audio clip likely to be used more than once in a project or show, I import it into one of Hindenburg Journalist Pro’s Clipboard.
The Hindenburg Clipboard is not the same as the Clipboard in a Chromebook, MacOS or Windows computer, even though they are all called as such. While on Chromebook, Mac OS X and Windows, the Clipboard is the name for the (normally invisible) temporary memory buffer where things go after you Copy and from where it receives when you Paste something,
the Hindenburg Clipboards are onscreen sections used for organizing audio clips.
Although I used most of the material from the Gary Johnson/Juan Hernández interview in Block C of the show, I also used a key soundbite from the interview in the very beginning of the Teaser, before the pre-recorded Opening. For that reason, it made sense for me to upload that into a Hindenburg Clipboard.
What did we discuss?
In Block C, we discussed the controversial topic of bilingualism in the United States, and the quite opposing opinions of Donald Trump —via a sound bite from one of the debates— and those of Gary Johnson/Juan Hernández from our interview. For eight consecutive years, Gary Johnson was the Governer of New México, a border state that is officially bilingual.
In Block A, we discussed the Royal Spanish Academy’s (Real Academia Española) campaign against unnecessary anglicisms in advertising, together with the Advertising Academy (Academia de la Publicidad) and the Grey agency in Spain. That section included two hilarious advertising spots created by the campaign to get people to understand and appreciate the importance of the issue.
Listen to the edited episode of CapicúaFM
Even if you don’t understand the language, at least you’ll be able to appreciate the audio quality.
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