Easy Double Headers

One of the presenters we have is keen to record, but he only has access to a locked down company laptop which doesn’t allow him to install any software on.

I have been using Zencastr with him, but I keep getting ‘phasing’ of the recording.

I was thinking of getting him a small recorder to put in between his headset and the pc - he uses a usb headset, he has mic fright and doesn’t like to be too close to a microphone. The one time I got him to use a mic, he sounded like he was in the toilet.

The recorder should be a one-touch and reasonable quality. It needs to be very, very easy to use. Idiot proof.

Is there such a device on the market or shall I decline his services in future?

You could try a Roland or Zoom product but he will still need to work on his Mic technique. In anything other than a (as close to as exists) perfect recording environment being so far away from the microphone will present less than ideal quality in the recording.

There is an optimum distance for everyone to be away from the microphone and anything that isn’t top end quality in terms of microphone will suffer with what’s known as proximity effect. Try it with your own mic, go really close and listen to the depth and quality in the sound then the further back to move the less depth and bass you’ll have.

The further back he’ll have to be the more he’ll have to boost the gain or you’ll have to boost the gain and while that will increase the level of his voice (suffering from proximity effect) it will also suck up more ambient noise too which will degrade the quality.

Given the limitations of not being able to install recording software, the USB headset and his fright of getting too close to a microphone it may be that you’re fighting a losing battle. A better quality mic would help but may not solve the issues to the degree you’re looking for.

If you can eliminate the phasing by getting him onto a better quality mic and setup then you may be able to eliminate some of the noise (also sadly with a lessening in quality of his vocals) in post production but the idea will always be to get as close as you can to ideal at source so post production is just to add polish.

Good luck

Edited to add,

Here’s the Roland website

And here’s the zoom website.

I have tried him with a Rode NT USB mic. That didn’t Work too well.

I bought him a Sennheiser headset and he also has a Plantonic headset.

I have a couple of Tascam portable recorders. A DR-44 and a DR-60.

If I could get a portable recorder that will take a USB headset and give a direct monitor output which would allow connection to his PC and onwards to Zencastr, I think it may work. I would have a backup on Zencastr if he forgot to press record.

I think you’ll find a lot of the issue is the mic technique though. No matter how good a mic he has it won’t be that forgiving if he’s recording in less than perfect conditions and a long way back from the mic.

You will need to work with him to find his optimum distance from the mic. He wants to be close enough that the mic doesn’t suffer proximity effect and gets the full range of his voice but not too close that he’s popping the mic and overpowering with breathe sounds.

Obviously the closer he is the lesser the gain and therefore the lesser the opportunity to suck up every background noise.


That’s why I have him using a headset. The mic will always be close. I just need to advise him to rotate the arm if there is too much breath noise.

I think the issue for me is Zencastr, that’s why I wanted to record locally, but I can’t add any software to his laptop.

Perhaps getting a headset with 3.5mm jacks and using a recorder that will have the same jacks, plus will record and output to USB would work?

That way, I can continue to use Zencastr for the others and get him to record locally as well.