In this episode, synthesizer maniac Paolo Di Nicolantonio returns to talk about the amazing sounds, instruments, and stories he's amassed at Synthmania.com. (DMI 05-10-2007: 12 minutes 16 seconds)

You can listen to the two halves of the interview in any order. Part 1 is here.

Production Notes: Recording

Because Paolo and I live on separate coasts, we decided to do the interview by Skype and record it with Ecamm Call Recorder. To maximize the audio quality, I used a Rode Podcaster USB mic instead of my usual Logitech headset. (The Rode is what I use for the show's main voiceover.) I recorded into Call Recorder using the highest quality AAC compression setting.

But we also tried a radio trick called a "two-ender" to boost the quality further, and it worked great. Paolo set up two mics—one feeding his Skype computer and another feeding Sound Forge on another computer. After the interview, he sent me the local recording, and I substituted it for his side of the Skype recording. (One of the great things about Call Recorder is that it saves each side of the conversation on a separate track.) Not only did the direct recording sound fuller, it avoided the clipping distortion in the Skype signal, something I encountered on my previous Skype podcast as well.

One thing I hadn't expected was that the two recordings didn't stay in sync; perhaps the Skype compression changed the duration as well. I got around that by slicing one of the tracks into smaller chunks and then aligning those chunks with the original.

Here's a comparison of the two recordings. It's not a direct comparison because Paolo used different mics and had to sit farther away from the Skype mic (a BLUE Snowball), causing it to pick up more room reverberation. But the direct recording (an MXL V57M mic into an M-Audio 1814 audio interface) does sound much better.

Arranging and Editing

After creating the composite interview file, I imported it into BIAS Peak 5 and trimmed the "ums" and P-pops. As usual, I recorded my voiceover with the Rode Podcaster mic into Peak as a 16-bit, 44.1kHz, mono AIFF file. I edited some of the music examples in Peak as well, but did most arrangement inside of Ableton Live 6.

With all the source files inside Live, I arranged the musical examples around my voiceover and the theme music. I compressed and enhanced the voiceover with Izotope Ozone. Finally, I rendered the mix to an AIFF file, converted it to an MP3 in Peak, and then used iTunes to clean up the ID3 tags and add artwork.

I produced the Digital Media Insider theme music in Live as well. The opening sound effect is a compressed mouth noise spliced onto a tone cluster I generated in Native Instruments Reaktor. The main groove is from Steinberg Xphraze. (Jim Aikin turned me on to both virtual instruments in his article "My Five Favorite Soft Synths.") The piano is from the Garritan Personal Orchestra, which I discovered when we interviewed Gary Garritan. Then there are a few percussion samples dredged from my hard drive. Altogether, the theme took just six tracks. Effects processing was courtesy of Live's default plugins and Freeverb.

Di Nicolantonio Techno Trio

The Casio Rapman's built-in turntable doesn't actually "scratch" the sound, but it intrigued a lot of people. See Paolo's review for MP3s and background.

Related Articles

20 Sounds That Must Die

More on the article that started it all, with links to ace sound designers Eric Persing and Jack Hotop.

Drumming with Sharks

Paolo Di Nicolantonio reviews Hammerhead, a free Windows drum synthesizer. Includes downloadable audio examples.

My Five Favorite Soft Synths

Synthesizer guru Jim Aikin introduces his top five virtual instruments, explains why they're great, and then shares MP3 examples.

The World's First Rap Keyboard

Paolo reviews the Casio Rapman and shares MP3 examples.

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