So you’ve decided to do a seminar. And you’ve read enough about “The Three Prong System” to realise that you’d be pretty darned foolish not to record the event. This is because by recording the event, you’re creating leverage. You can offer it as a bonus or sell it to participants. And you can also use parts of it as bonuses/ or sell to those who didn’t make it to event. In short, it creates enormous leverage for you—not to speak of a decent source of income over the years. There’s just one problem: You have no idea how to do a professional recording. And you’re thinking it may be a good idea to outsource.
It’s indeed a good idea to outsource, but you need to know what you’re outsourcing
So let’s make a list, shall we?
- The equipment
- The person who’s going to do the recording (Let’s call him/her the audio engineer)
- Both the equipment and the audio engineer.
In most cases, the equipment costs are what will kill you
If you’re going to do just one workshop every three-four years, you may not want to buy the equipment. But if you’re even going to do just a couple of workshops a year, you’ll find that it makes tons of sense to have your own equipment. This is because most equipment isn’t as expensive as you think. Or to put it another way, it’s sometimes more expensive to rent than to buy.
But what equipment do you need in the first place?
That’s the coolest part. You don’t need a lot. You definitely need a lapel mic (and here we go a little fancy). You need a laptop with decent recording software (Wiretap Studio for Mac/ Sound Forge for PC). And you’ll probably need a mixer. Now this is what we use. And believe me there are seven bazillion options out there in the market, but then lets add the prices of the equipment I’ve described before you go looking for those bazillion options.
- The recording software would cost you between $60-90.
- The laptop you would already have, or can borrow for the event itself.
- The lavalier mics that start from $200 and go up to $1200 (yeah, gasp, gasp)
- A mixer that should cost no more than $50-100
So you were relatively unfazed till you got to the microphones, weren’t you?
Why would you choose a microphone that was way up at $1200 (like this Sennheiser EW100) instead of this Samson Synth 32 (now discontinued) which costs a lot less. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. And the Samson for one, restricts you to mostly indoor use. It needs an electrical outlet at all points, so you’re stuck if you want to use it outdoors (for a video shoot for example). The Sennheiser has no such problem. It runs nicely on 9 volt batteries. You can use it indoors or outdoors—no problem.
There’s also sound quality
Now you and I may not hear it, but the more expensive mics have a superior sound quality. They also have the ability to change frequencies if you’re getting disturbance from any other frequency. Because the mics are wireless, it’s possible that some frequency in the immediate area may interfere with the recording. You want to be able to change frequencies and get on with your show.
When we started out, we had the Samson 32
In fact we bought the Samson 32 (which as you noted above, has since been discontinued) at our very first workshop. It paid for itself at that very first workshop. We bought three of them. We needed two for the presenters, and one for the audience. Since then we’ve added the Sennheiser (for both audio and video recording) and used the Samson 32 for live events. In most cases, the presenter’s voice is most important, so yeah you’ll want the best possible sound. But if you’re starting out, you may want something more affordable. You could get three mics for $1000 or just one mic for the same amount. We had to do the sensible thing and buy what we could afford and then add to the collection. However as mentioned, we still use the mics we bought in the year 2004, so they’ve served us well.
We’ve covered a fair bit, so let’s cover the sound engineer and how to pick one in the next article.