The Official PowerPivotPro Sound Booth
(Yes, all Good Sound Booths Have Primus Posters)

Even though today’s post is the first time you’ve seen a video from me in a long time, I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of video recording lately – stuff that pays the bills while I spin up my new (unannounced) company, and stuff that supports the launch of said company.

Recording some guest modules for Chandoo’s PowerPivot training course is one example of this (I am finishing those today, so for those of you who enrolled, look to see those show up sometime in the next week).

As part of this process I realized that I needed a better setup for sound.  A home recording studio on the cheap. 

It wasn’t that expensive, so I thought I’d share what I got:

  1. Microphone ($33.99) – My research indicated that this was the sweet spot mic in terms of quality vs. cost, and it works well without having your face super close to the mic, which is important when you’re recording demos and not focused on the microphone itself.  I use the USB port on this mic but it also has a plug for the “real” microphone cables used by musicians.  I also got the foam ball-shaped cover for it, the one that Amazon says “frequently purchased together.”
  2. Microphone stand and filter kit ($58.99) – includes the antivibration mic holder and the disc-shaped “pop filter” you see pictured above.  I wanted an elevated swingarm so I don’t have to hunch over my desk.  This was the cheapest swingarm I could find and it works very well.  Like people said in the Amazon reviews, I removed the built-in non-USB cable and secured my USB cable to the mount with black electrical tape.  It even passes the “wife doesn’t hate its appearance” test, which is a tall order.
  3. Sound dampening wall blankets ($39.50 each) – My office is very “bright” in acoustic terms – all hardwood floors, smooth walls, a huge shiny whiteboard, etc.  These come with grommet rings so you can hang them quickly from hooks you attach to your walls – that way I can remove them quickly too.  Which is important because these do NOT pass the wife aesthetic test.  I got two, hung them from opposing walls, and it’s CRAZY how much difference they make.  Even my keyboard sounds 3x quieter, it’s bizarre.  (This just in:  Erika Bakse says she uses these in the room with her birds, to dampen the squawking).  If you already have a nice quiet little cave in which to record, obviously you can skip this.
  4. Camtasia Screen Recording and Video Editing Software – (Free for MS MVP’s – lucky me, $299 for everyone else).  Great software and a generous longtime offer from the manufacturer makes it free for Microsoft MVP’s.  I have grown addicted to its features – particularly noise removal and volume leveling. 

Anyway, if you’re thinking about starting some sort of video demo or podcasting recording projects, hopefully you will find this useful.  And if not, well I enjoyed sharing it anyway Smile

Rob Collie

One of the founding engineers behind Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, and creator of the world’s first cloud Power Pivot service, Rob is one of the foremost authorities on self-service business intelligence and next-generation spreadsheet technology.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Miguel Escobar

    You know, I’ve been thinking about getting a mic but I’m heading towards the blue snowball as I have a really cool guitar gear that I NEED to record somehow. Besides that, it’s good to be an MVP. All the other mortals like myself have to live on the trial periods of most products or find some open-source version of them =)

    Cool recording gear!

  2. Paul

    Thanks for sharing your equipment setup. I’ve been wanting to get a boom arm mic stand for some time now, but have shied away from the one you purchased due to the built in cabling, (I use a USB microphone). I’m glad to see that the cables can be removed. Two questions, though… First, how difficult was it to remove the cables, and second, if I later decide to purchase a “real” mic, would it be possible to put them back in?

    1. powerpivotpro

      Well removing the cables could not be easier – pair of scissors, snip, pull. 10 seconds. But I don’t think you could re-thread a cable through – the reason I cut the cables is that the plugs themselves would not fit through the frame. It appeared that the whole thing was assembled *around* the cable, rather than assembled and *then* cabled.

      I suppose you could thread a cable and then attach plugs afterwards. I just am not that guy who splices cables into plugs :)

  3. John

    Hi Rob, do you mean to say that there are sound booths out there that don’t have Primus posters?

    1. powerpivotpro

      Well said John. Well said.


  4. dan l

    How do you like camtasia?

    I have a upcoming project thing where I need something decent. I sort of dodge techsmith stuff because snagit is pretty bloated – which I guess isn’t really fair.

  5. Jeff "DrSynthetic" Wilson

    Given the poll you conducted on the 30th of May. I ” Dr Emmit Brown” say that your idea about the Guide to the Revolution is very good it will make a good song wait it already did this is 2013 not 1967. Where do John Paul George and Ringo sit.

  6. Paulaul

    I got the mic stand for Father’s Day. It is working out great for me. I decided to leave the cabling in place, just in case I decide to go for the “real” mic later. I just pulled it in so that the plug at the mic end is right against the frame, and the other end is at the back of my desk, so is unseen. Thanks again for the recommendation!

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