Behind the Scenes

When WNOD began in 1988, our preferred method of recording was audio tape recorders. Cassette tapes were great because they were cheap, portable, and reusable. But they were terrible because they picked up the sound of the recorder, resulting in a constant hiss noise on most recordings. Also, the magnetic tapes would deteriorate over time, and the plastic parts would often break. It was quite a task maintaining them.

The Sony model pictured to the left is the first one we got our grubby little hands on. You can actually hear us playing with the handle in episode one.

The three tape recorders shown here were the true workhorses of the show. We spent most of our time with these due to their portable nature, because we were a group of kids who could not sit still. 

The General Electric model on the far right got a lot use for quite a few years. It was sturdy as hell and it sounded great.

The Panasonic model in the middle was a very short-lived recorder, mainly because the recordings sounded terrible.

The Aiwa model on the left was our main recorder for much of the later episodes leading up to 2001. It was a solid piece of hardware, and it came with a detachable stereo microphone that sounded great.

The Aiwa stereo shown here was not the first full blown stereo system we used for recording. We had another dual tape deck system briefly, but it was quickly replaced with this model, which had a CD changer in it. It was not a perfect system, as it could not do any real mixing, but it allowed us to perform a few new tricks. 

Even as we acquired newer hardware, this one stuck around for awhile due to its high quality tape dubbing, which allowed me to do some editing.

In the early 1990s, when we were recording the second episode of The Dan and Rob Show, we acquired this karaoke recording machine. This thing was fantastic, because it provided us with two high quality microphones, and it was able to mix audio directly into our recordings. If only our microphone technique hadn't been so poor, our recordings would have sounded better.

Throughout WNOD's run, we also occasionally recorded home movies. Some of the audio from those videos ended up on episodes of WNOD. I do not have any photos of the camcorder we used, nor do I remember the make and model.

When WNOD was shut down in 2001, the tape collection that had been created was impressive. The 100 tapes shown here are most, but not all, of the WNOD tape collection. 

Later, during the digital dubbing process, all of these tapes would be converted into 50 digital episodes. Most of the content that was cut was licensed music, stolen jokes, and audio clips from movies and TV shows.

WNOD was shut down in 2001, and the cassette tapes were put away. A few years later, I decided it was time to get these tapes dubbed to digital files. Originally the idea was to burn CDs and give them to whoever wanted them. However, that idea was abandoned once I realized that a podcast feed would be a far better option.

The photo to the left is the computer setup that was used to turn all of the old cassettes into audio files. The PC was a custom-built gaming PC. The grey cassette tape near the chair was an Ion Audio Tape 2 PC USB cassette deck. With this I was able to slowly convert all of the tapes to audio files. It was a very lengthy process that took years to complete.

During that process, my friend Greg liked what he heard and suggested that we make our own podcast. I liked this idea, but I wanted to finish up the WNOD project first. Unfortunately, Greg moved away before we could start our own show, but he had successfully planted the podcast seed in my head.

Once I was finished with the cassette tapes, it was time to tackle the videos. I bought a VCR, a camcorder, and a video capture device, and got to work. The resulting videos are available on the WNOD YouTube page.

Eventually, when WNOD was brought back as fully modern podcast, I acquired a mixer and some microphones. This would end up being the third version of the modern WNOD recording studio. The Lenovo all-in-one PC shown on the left was a pure workstation. The Asus laptop next to it handled all of my gaming duties. The mixer was a Behringer Q1202USB 12-channel mixer, which allowed up to four microphones. I used MXL 770 cardioid condenser microphones, which produced a nice warm, broadcast-style sound.

The fourth version of the studio included an Apple Mac Mini, which was used for recording, and an LG 34 inch ultrawide monitor. The ultrawide monitor was an exceptional monitor for basically anything other than gaming. Audio editing was a breeze on that beast.

The fifth version of the studio replaced the Mac Mini with a MacBook Air. I liked this because in case the power went out, we would not lose our work. I also replaced the Asus gaming laptop with an Alienware desktop gaming PC, which now being used as my main Windows machine for games and editing.

I also repurposed my tiny dining room table as a recording table. The tablet you see there was an Android tablet that we used as a soundboard.

During a trip to Maryland in 2017, Gabe used his Zoom Handy Recorder H4n to record our adventures around town, like we used to do in the old days of WNOD. The audio quality was very good, but we ran into problems with some sort of interference adding static to the recordings. Also, no amount of good hardware can fully compensate for road noise. Regardless, this recorder is still a big upgrade over the old portable tape recorders.

The sixth version of the studio abandoned Apple hardware fully and instead featured an MSI gaming laptop hooked up to a secondary monitor. 

I also abandoned my mixer and microphones, as the show had evolved to be almost exclusively recorded via video chat. I ran through a series of gaming headsets before finding the excellent Corsair Virtuoso RGB wireless headset. The standout feature on this is the "broadcast quality" microphone, which produces really good voice recordings.

The seventh version of the studio brought back the Alienware desktop. I got rid of my laptop, due to lack of traveling, and replaced it with an older Zotac mini PC for secondary computing duties. I added a 10 inch secondary screen to the Alienware machine, which was used as a Discord screen. I also added a 32 inch 4K LG screen, which was really nice for audio production and general productivity.

The eighth version of the studio replaced the Alienware PC with a brand new Cybertron CLX gaming desktop PC, with a fancy Ryzen 5 5600X process and huge Radeon RX 6700 XT video card. Considering the Alienware machine had been in service for about six years, the Cybertron PC was a huge upgrade.

The 4K LG monitor was gone, having been replaced by three 1440p screens, one of which was a Dell 165hz gaming monitor.
The ninth version of the studio is not a huge leap from the last version, but the new vertical monitor mount allows for a new configuration that allows for a better recording experience. The smaller 1440p display has been replaced with a new LG 1080p display that serves as a Discord screen when not recording the podcast.

During a typical recording session, I have the agenda and music files on the left, OBS Studio on top, and Skype and sound effects on the main display. This allows me to keep Gabe's handsome face front and center.

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