Talking Newspaper for the Blind

I work as a volunteer for a charity providing a weekly audio newsletter of some 30-40 news items, which we send by USB stick to blind and partially-sighted people in our area area. We provide our listeners with free audio players to plug the USB sticks into.

It is now high time to replace our old Windows 98 PC (yes!), Audition 2.0 (!), ancient mixing desk, and lav mics in our recording studio with something more modern. I should say that this gear is inherited, and none of the current trustee group was part of the original studio technical setup. We don’t have a lot of cash.

We record about an hour and 15 minutes of news items each week, partition the segments with track markers, and then rip the WAV track to MP3s for duplication.

We have been generously donated a hardly-used iMac 27" from which we can run Audacity.

Could you kindly recommend a simple but cost-effective set of hardware to record alternate readings from two volunteer readers during our weekly recording sessions?

The sorts of questions we are considering are:

Can we get by with a single mic on a desk boom and simply swing it over each time alternately between the two readers sitting side-by-side? Or should we keep with separate mics for each reader at a distance?

Do we need an audio interface, eg a mixer, to close down sound between readers? Or can we do it via Audacity?

Any thoughts on value for money hardware to suit? I am only familiar with Rode gear from another organisation I work with.

All suggestions gratefully received.


Hey @stn and welcome to the community! Given your needs and budget constraints a single high-quality cardioid mic on a boom could work if your readers are sitting fairly close to each other. I’ve always liked the AKG P120 and it is a reliable, cost-effective option for this setup also very forgiving.

An audio interface would provide better sound quality and control compared to plugging a mic directly into the iMac. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an affordable choice that works well with Audacity.

Audacity can handle gating or silencing the mic when one person isn’t talking, so a hardware mixer may not be strictly necessary for that purpose. Remember that a gate would apply to all the speakers whereas if you had different mics for each you could gate them each individually achiving a better sound but it depends on budget of course!

Hope this helps and kudos on the great work you’re doing for the community!

Many thanks, Mike. That its really helpful.

I think we are coming to the same conclusion aboutt separate mics and an audio interface.

We need to do some work on gating in Audacity - thank you for the steer.

Great advice and a great channel.

All the best