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I don't know if any of you have used Squadcast, which is a program for recording multitrack remote interviews in high quality 48 kHz/32-bit Floating Point .wav files on split tracks. We use it for a podcast. As "Director," and dilitannte sound editor, I am a silent guest: I listen in, muted, on one channel, while our Host and the Guest converse on split tracks. Ideally, I would be recording this in Audition at the same time, where I could watch the levels and adjust accordingly, but Squadcast strongly advises against this (I wouldn't know how anyway). When the session is finished, I download the .wav files, import them into Audition, and edit the narrative. I can make adjustments in levels, and even "de-clip," but I have had some very rude awakenings when I get these tracks into Audition. Even though, subjectively, they SOUNDED okay when I was just listening, we had one session where the host track came in TOTALLY blown out, unfixable. (Fortunately, we could just re-track his lines -- he's a great voice actor and mastered the intonations, pauses, chuckles, all perfectly.) But when the GUEST is overmodulated to the level of distortion, I'm screwed. We've started doing short sound checks, test sessions where we record a few minutes and I check the levels in Audition. But this is terribly inconvenient and not all guests are into it. Squadcast says there is a level meter in each participants setup that they can adjust -- but we don't see it, and the only opportunity for participants to set levels is BEFORE the session; they are "locked in" once we start recording. I have no control over the recording levels DURING the session, and neither do they. Bottom line: How can I ensure during a session that the levels are in range, not pinning, not distorting? I'm frustrated that I can't run it through Audition at the same time that Squadcast is recording.
Does anybody have any experience with this setup, and any suggestions on how I can monitor AND ADJUST LEVELS DURING A SQUADCAST SESSION and avoid blown out clipped audio?
Thanks, as always. I love this commmunity.
Screengrab of our test session below. Even after the guest had turned the volume on his sound preferences slider on his new Mac almost to zero, he continued to come in hot and is distorted
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I checked what you are supposed to be able to do with Squadcast, and it's pretty much as I suspected. In no particular order - the reason that Squadcast strongly recommends that they do the recording is that it's only them that have the individual feeds split out. If you record the output you hear, that still wouldn't allow you to get it balanced correctly, I suspect, and it certainly wouldn't help you with this particular overload situation. The reason for this is that it's outside both your and Squadcast's control - it's a local hardware situation that only that particular participant can resolve. To alter this remotely would require you to have remote access to their computer's innards - and that's a massive security risk.
In Squadcast's FAQ's they have some specific steps for Mac users, and there's a reasonable chance that your guest has adjusted something like the output level he hears, rather than the input level - which is clearly too high. The steps are as follows (lifted straight from their website):
More than that, I can't tell you (don't have a Mac) but in principle this looks correct.
Thank you so much Steve. If we ever meet, I want to go to a pub and buy you a pint. Or two. You are a very good man.
I did manage to resolve the problem with the guest we are recording today, I got him to buy a decent mic, and in a couple of "sound check" sessions via Squadcast. I educated him on his Mac sound preferences and level controls, as well as getting him to go through Squadcast's "Green Room" sound check. In the end, he sounded fabulous.
That only happened because he's an old friend from high school. Most guests won't go through all that. So it's a challenge, sstill. But your answer -- as always -- settles it, and I can't thank you enough for your consistent generosity in here. Our podcast (https://www.talkinboutourgeneration.com) is running a series on "The State of Civility in America," and you are the epitome of Civility.