Our First Interview
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The Wiring

These new microphones use XLR connectors, not the 1/4" jacks or mini-plugs of my previous equipment.  The only XLR inputs are on my new mixer.  So now I have to split as follows:

Microphones to mixer
Mixer split to Christine's in and to my server
Christine’s out to my server (I can’t send Christine to the mixer or the “echo” will be there again).

I buy a ton of adapters and Y Cords and home I go.

I encounter a major wiring problem when I get home.  When I attach Christine’s output and the mixer’s output to the server’s input, Christine gets excessive feedback.  The only thing I can figure is that since cables are not unidirectional, the connecting of the mixer’s output and the computer’s outputs created some type of electrical feedback.  To be honest, I’m not quite sure, but it sounds good doesn’t it? 

I work on the wiring until 2 a.m. the morning before we interview Sansweet.  I try every combination my newly bought wires plus my existing stash of wires and adapters, which is considerable, to no avail.  I cannot make this work.

Finally I put on the headsets, the original headsets, and try again.  I call my wife at 2 a.m. and she says “there’s no echo.” WHAT??!!  No echo?  There SHOULD be an echo.  I record at test call and both sides record, yet no echo.  Not one to argue I decide we’ll just use the headphones, ignore the $400 in new hardware for now, and record the show.

The next morning I wake up.  Recently news agencies have said waking up is like being drunk for some people.  I am one of those people.  Yet I stumble out of bed, more tired than when I went to sleep it felt.  Marjorie and I work through my grogginess to start sorting the e-mails with questions from our listeners.  There were over 50 e-mails and easily over 100 questions as few e-mails had only one query.  A lot covered common ground, so we try to organize those.  We then take the questions we had (which were submitted to Steve before the interview) and the questions of our listeners and create a smooth flowing document.  We put the names of listeners who submitted the questions in a column to the right.  We didn’t want to waste our precious time in the interview saying “Tom and Bob and Rich all wanted to know…” so the thinking was we would go back after the interview and record pick-ups to insert before each question with the listener’s name.

Once that is done, I try another test call…now there’s an echo.  I don’t know if perhaps during the wee hours of the morning Skype has less lag so the echo sounds like a full duplex call, and during more trafficked hours Skype lags more so the echo is more noticeable, again that is all conjecture which I think sounds good.  Nonetheless, in the wee hours there was no echo, and now there was. 

I try several software mixer settings to no avail, either there is an echo to the person on the phone, or I cannot record the person on the phone.  I become somewhat distraught at this point.  I was tired and I was beyond frustrated.  Nothing was working.

I return to basics.  I run one cable into Christine from the headphones, and one cable out of Christine to go to the server.  I realize I can record MYSELF on Christine and Sansweet on the server.  This is going to be an editing NIGHTMARE trying to insert our questions between his every answer. I didn’t see much choice.  Obviously I was being a little short-sighted.

Finally, at 1 p.m., hardly one hour before the interview, I realized I could make our microphone full duplex.  So we can hear Steve, and we can hear ourselves.  Due to the lack in delay there is no perceptible time difference between when we speak and when we hear ourselves, so it doesn’t bother us.  So I ran our microphones into a Y cable into Christine, and then ran a Y cable out of Christine, one half going to the server, the other half going into another Y cable which connected to our headphones.  Rudimentary?  Obviously.  But functional?  Yes.

I was very nervous, however.  What if one system didn’t record right?  What if there was a bad cable?  All the things recording on two or three computers would fix, having only one left to chance.  I was nervous.

We try one last test call, this time wanting to test BOTH microphones instead of just mine.  We try my father-in-law.  He is able to hear us both after a few sound adjustments.  It’s 1:55.  He starts rambling on some story which my brain was too fried to hear.  Then he hands the phone to his wife.  I say “We have to go” and hang up before I get a response.  Was it rude?  Yes, but so was their constant rambling not letting us get a word in edgewise.  I say act now and apologize later, and I wasn’t going to be late calling Steve because they had to tell us some story about a dog or marmalade or some other such nonsense.

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