Uses This

1281 interviews since 2009

A picture of Stilgherrian


Journalist, podcaster, media producer

in journalist, mac, podcaster, producer

Who are you, and what do you do?

Well hello there, I'm Stilgherrian. As a human, I've spent most of my adult life working in the media, although I've also been a systems administrator, web developer, and event manager.

These days my work is an unmanageable mix of freelance journalism (mostly writing about the cybers and internet policy for ZDNet), podcasting (particularly the unruly The 9pm Edict), the occasional video, and some media consulting.

In 2011 I moved from Sydney's inner west to the Blue Mountains, for "just a few weeks" until I could organise househunting. Eleven years later, I'm still here. Have you seen the rents in Sydney?

What hardware do you use?

My one and only machine really needs replacing: a mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15-inch (2.8GHz/16GB/1TB SSD, the max spec at that time) with wireless keyboard and mouse, and a couple 2TB external drives for backups.

I have an iPhone 12 Pro, and its 5G data connection is my internet. Why? I live 1.5km from the village, and the last couple hundred metres of the compound's NBN link is delivered by the internet of trees. Not good enough.

I also have a 5th-generation iPad whose 4G hardware has failed.

The audio gear is the fun stuff. I use to be a radio producer and I tend to over-engineer my audio chains - but these days that's mostly in software.

The main beast is a RØDECaster Pro podcast production studio. It really is the tool for the job. I can't praise it highly enough.

I have five Sennheiser e 835 microphones. That's a rugged dynamic cardioid mic that's their equivalent to, or a notch up from, the iconic Shure SM58 stage mic. I wanted indestructible mics I could use for location recording such as my Public House Forum podcasts but I reckon the SM58 is just plain fugly, so Sennheiser it is.

I have a RØDE PSA1 boom arm for my desk, and a bunch of desk stands.

Before getting the RØDECaster Pro, I used a six-channel Zoom H6n (now replaced in their product line by the Zoom H6 Black) for those field recordings, and I still use it if I don't want to carry too much gear.

I also have a pocket-sized Zoom H1n for quick-and-dirty recordings. In the Beforetimes I'd keep it in my backpack.

Just before the plague struck I got myself a RØDE Universal Vlogger Kit, with RØDE VideoMicro mic, a microLED light, grip and tripod, and accessories, but I haven't been able to make much use of that yet.

For when I'm on-camera, I have a RØDE smartLav+ lavalier mic, and a RØDE SC6-L smartphone adapter for when I want to go totally minimalistic.

For monitoring, I have Sennheiser closed-ear headphones for podcast recording and editing, wired Sennheiser earbuds for when I want it to be more discreet, and some basic Sennheiser wireless earbuds for listening to podcasts.

Last on the list are a $40 no-name smartphone tripod, two Neewer 660 RGB LED lights, and a $30 green screen and stand from Aldi.

And what software?

Let's start with audio. Reaper is my DAW of choice. It's total overkill for my needs, but at the time it was good value for money and it looked familiar.

I'm a heavy user of Rogue Amoeba products. I have a whole bunch of audio chains that I've built in Audio Hijack and Loopback. I use Farrago as my soundboard for live or live-to-tape recordings, although the sound pads on the RØDECaster Pro might replace or at least supplement that in future. And I use SoundSource to quickly change outputs or throw in appropriate EQ for when I'm listening to music or podcasts.

I also use SoundSoap+ to clean up problematic audio files.

Something I find very handy is Auphonic Multitrack. I edit and do a rough mix in Reaper, then export the individual audio tracks. Auphonic automatically normalises each track, mixes them down, and compresses that mix to broadcast-standard loudness.

That said, I still don't quite trust Auphonic to handle fading theme music in and out under my voice, so I pull the vocal mixdown back into Reaper for a final manual mix of those brief segments before exporting it as an MP3.

I still have Ecamm's Call Recorder for Skype installed, but I hardly ever use Skype these days. Does anyone? For recording all the other video apps I have audio chains built in Audio Hijack.

For recording a podcast with remote guests, the tool for the job is Zencastr. Just send a link to your guests. Zencastr records the audio in high quality at everyone's end, so even if the VoIP goes wobbly you've still got a clean recording - which it then dumps into Dropbox or wherever. Five stars.

I use Spreaker Studio for audio livestreaming, and Spreaker is my main podcast distribution platform. I'm also on SoundCloud, but I get only a tiny handful of listeners there so I'll probably drop it soon.

As for video, I occasionally use Reincubate's Camo to turn my iPhone into a webcam. I use Ecamm Live as my livestreaming production platform.

For video editing, Apple's iMovie is OK for my very minimal needs. That said, I've downloaded the free, open source video editor Shotcut but have yet to explore.

For image editing I use Flying Meat's Acorn rather than Photoshop.

For writing, most of what I write is formatted and published by others, so I need to deliver clean and relatively unformatted copy. Ulysses is the tool for that. For smaller notes and to-do lists I use Bear. Both use Markdown and sync across all my devices.

For transcribing audio files to text, I recommend Otter. Works in realtime, or you can upload files, and it seems to learn regular voices quite well.

I don't do much programmery stuff these days, but BBEdit gets the occasional workout, as does Transmit for file transfers.

I'm a heavy Twitter user, so TweetDeck and the Better TweetDeck browser plug-in handle that.

Finally, scrolling through my app directory, I can see: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, Day One for my journal, F-Secure's FREEDOME VPN, Gestimer for little reminders, Handbrake for video format conversion, Pocket Casts for listening to podcasts, the notepad calculator Soulver, and of course VLC.

Over on the iPhone, there's RØDE's apps of course, Scanner Radio for listening in to emergency services and the like, and Dan Murphy's app for when I really need a drink.

I'll also give a big plug to REC and Camera+ 2, third-party video camera and stills camera apps respectively from LateNiteSoft, which break out all the manual controls for the iPhone's cameras.

What would be your dream setup?

There's not much more I need, really. My dreams aren't particularly ambitious. Well, apart from the ones I'm not going to tell you about here.

The MacBook Pro is coming up to seven years old and needs replacing, so obviously something at the top end of the specs there would be nice, and perhaps an external monitor or two.

Without going into the details, most of my physical set-up is limited by my accommodation in the Mountains. If I were back in the city and had the space, I'd create a more permanent studio set-up with proper sound treatment.

On the audio side a studio mic would be nice, and the RØDE Procaster would take care of that. Double or triple that for in-studio guests.

A couple wireless lavalier mics would be handy too. And a shotgun mic of some sort for recording birds.

For video, I'd get me a decent digital video camera. I'm open to recommendations. Some more lighting too, though that depends on the space available.

I'd also like a higher-end digital still camera of some sort. I miss having one available.

And if that's not mundane enough, I really must get around to moving my organisation into OmniFocus. Around 12 or 15 years ago I had everything running very smoothly in the Getting Things Done methodology and I'd like to get back to that.