We will be visiting three places on your Mac before we hit record. They are System Preferences’s Sound, Zoom and Quicktime Player. Please note you must use the Zoom desktop client, NOT the web browser version.
System Preferences → Sound
Go to your System Preferences’s Sound area. If you don’t know where that is, hit the Apple logo in the top menu bar and click ‘System Preferences…’ then click the ‘Sound’ icon.
Make sure you are in the ‘Input’ tab.
In the list of input devices choose your connected USB mic. Usually the brand and/or make name will be listed such as ‘Logitech H390 Headset’ or ‘Microsoft Lifechat.’
Having a good microphone level or ‘setting levels’ is an important task before we record. We’ll do a level check in the pre-show but a good starting place for the ‘Input Volume’ is at 75% as seen in the screenshot.
When you talk you should see the Input Level Meter light up with your voice. Begin speaking at a comfortable level and increase or decrease the ‘Input Volume’ slider so that it registers peaks (loudest parts) around 75%-85% in the ‘Input Level’ meter. Remember to speak at your normal, I’m-on-TGAPCQS voice, not your telling-secrets-to-my-cat voice.
Don’t worry about this setting for now. We will set your output volume in Zoom.
Zoom Audio Settings
The settings in Zoom do not affect your recording levels but they do affect how everyone else hears you while recording so we’ll adjust a few things with that in mind.
This is where you tell Zoom what device you are using to listen during the record.
If you are using a USB headset then you’ll choose the same device as you did for the input device in System Preferences → Sound (because a headset is both the mic and the headphones).
Likewise if you are using a mic and your headphone is plugged into the mic itself, then you’ll choose the same device as you did for the input device in System Preferences → Sound.
If you are using a mic but your headphones are plugged into the headphone jack on your computer look for something generic and boring like ‘speaker/headphones’ or ‘external headphones’.
Speaker Settings → Output Volume
This step is REALLY important and we cannot stress that enough. The #1 problem we have is contestants listening at too high a volume. When other people talk or a sound effect is used and your output volume is too high, all that audio will get picked up by YOUR mic and that’s called ‘audio bleed’ and it’s bad news and creates tons of editing headaches and generally a shitty sounding episode.
So will we ask you (pre-show) to listen to everyone talk and keep lowering your volume until you can’t make things out anymore then just nudge it back up to that lowest workable level.
Once again for the people in the back: it is NOT the volume you’d LIKE to listen at — it’s the LOWEST POSSIBLE VOLUME you can operate at. Be prepared to hear Dave tell you this 20 times during pre-show.
PLEASE DON’T THINK YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH A HIGH VOLUME! I WILL FIND YOU AND DESTROY YOU.
From the microphone dropdown, choose your connected USB mic. Usually the brand and/or make name will be listed such as ‘Logitech H390 Headset’ or ‘Microsoft Lifechat.’ When you talk you should see the Input Level meter move with your voice. You can also test your mic with the Test Mic button.
You shouldn’t have to adjust the Input Volume slider because we set the mic’s input level already in System Preferences → Sound.
Also UNCHECK ‘Automatically adjust microphone volume’ for the record (we recommend it for recording so we get a truer sense of what your recording is going to sound like but you should check it again once you are doing your normal Zooming).
Background Noise Settings
You can set this to Auto.
Open Quicktime Player. If you get an ‘open file’ dialog box just close that. In the menu bar go to ‘File → New Audio Recording’ and you’ll see the wide box pictured above. Now we’ll just double check a few things.
Click the downward arrow next to the record button to show the mini menu. Make sure your mic is selected and that the quality is set to ‘High’. Note that if the speaker slider is at zero as pictured that’s fine! Say a few words to make sure the input level meter in Quicktime Player is moving with your voice.
You are now ready to record! Hit that big red button. Note that you don’t save your file until AFTER your stop recording.
Save & Upload
The last step of the process is getting your file to Dave. We’ll save the audio file in Quicktime Player then send it to Dave. This will happen with you are still on the call with us so Dave will walk you through it but this is the process.
In Quicktime Player’s menu bar go to File → Save and save it to a familiar location on your computer. It will usually save as .m4a file.
The last step in to send Dave your file. This file will be big so can’t just send it as a normal attachment in email. One of these methods will do the trick:
- Send it via Gmail and Gmail will detect the file is huge and put the file in your Google Drive and put add a link to it in your email.
- Put it on your file transfer/storage service like Dropbox, WeTransfer, Microsoft OneDrive or Box and send Dave the URL to download.
The email to send your file or URL to is firstname.lastname@example.org