My Gear Setup

Happy International Podcast Day!

Aaron Dowd’s Magical List of Tools and Toys for Work and Play

Here’s a rundown of all the gears/toys/tools I use to create and get my work done. I probably forgot a few things but I’ll add them as I think of them.

Computers

Home I have a late 2013 21.5” iMac (quad-core i5, 8gb of ram, and a 1tb hard drive). The stock spinning disk hard drive is too slow for me so I bought a 250gb Samsung T3 SSD and installed MacOS on it. It’s a powerful machine that I use for streaming podcasts and doing heavy video and screencast editing on.

Travel I recently got a used 2015 12” Retina Macbook (space gray). I got a good deal on it and it’s my favorite Mac ever. It’s the 1.3ghz Core M processor with 8gb of ram and a 512gb SSD, and it’s perfect for working on the road or at coffee shops. It can handle everything except the most intense work (I don’t record or edit screencasts on it, for example), but I was delighted to find that it can handle podcast editing with no problem.

Audio Gear

Audio Interface My audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (1st Gen) with 8 mic inputs and a bunch of outputs. I rarely use more than one or two of the inputs, but I wanted to have something with multiple inputs in case I ever get around to record full bands at my house.

I also have an old Zoom H4N that I use for recording away from home.

Headphones Most of the time I’m listening to music and podcasts and doing podcast editing on my $10 Panasonic Earbuds. I also have (and love) a pair of Sennheiser HD600’s, and keep a pair of Sony MDR-7506’s around as backups.

Microphones My main podcasting/screencast mic these days is the Shure Beta 87A. It’s affordable ($250 new, or around $150 used), rejects a ton of background noise, and just sounds great. I used to have a Shure SM7B but I sold it after using the Beta 87A for a couple weeks.

I also have a Audio Technica 875R shotgun mic, a Shure KSM32 large-diaphragm condenser, and a couple of Shure SM58s that I use with the H4N when I want to record or stream a podcast away from home.

I keep a Shure MV88 (iOS lighting mic for my iPhone) in my backpack for emergencies or situations when I want to get better audio for a video.

Accessories I bought a $15 Neewer boom arm to hold my Beta 87A mic and while it’s not a great boom arm, it’s nice for the price. I have a variety of other mic stands from random places and I buy my mic cables from Monoprice because they’re affordable and well-made.

Audio Apps

Logic Pro X is my main podcast recording and editing app, and I love it.

For cleaning up and repairing damaged audio, I use Izotope RX5. It’s a standalone app but it comes with plugins that I use inside of Logic.

I use Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype for recording Skype conversations.

Video/Screencasting

I shoot video on my iPhone 7 (Jet Black, 256gb). Screencast recording and editing is done with Screenflow. I use iMovie for video editing, although I do have a copy of Final Cut Pro X.

I have a Logitech C920 webcam that I record video with when I’m screencasting. It’s nice and only $60.

Writing

I outline podcast episodes in MindNode. I write show notes in IA Writer. I write courses in Scrivener and Ulysses. If I want to crank out a bunch of words, I have an app called Flowstate that will delete everything I’ve written if I stop writing for more than 8 seconds. Pretty brutal, but it helps me stay focused for 10-30 minutes at a time.

I have a problem with buying writing apps, apparently.

Time Tracking and Productivity

I plan out my day with a Best Self journal or the stock calendar on my Mac. I use Coach.me to stay focused on my daily habits.

I keep track of important tasks using Omnifocus 2 and the Getting Things Done system. My team uses Asana for work-related projects.

I keep track of how I spend my time with RescueTime and Timing. I use the Simple Countdown timer to knock out 25 minute Pomodoro focus blocks.

Backups

I keep all my important files in Dropbox, and backup my entire computer with Backblaze. I also have a 4TB Western Digital MyBook external hard drive that I use for Time Machine backups. You can never have too many backups. As my friend Justin Michael says, “If you’ve only got 1 backup, you really have zero backups.” Maybe it was Sean McCabe who said that. Whatever.

Other Stuff I Like

Cool Mac Apps I couldn’t live without 1Password (for managing passwords) and Text Expander.

I love Keyboard Maestro and Hazel for automating tasks on my Mac, and BetterSnapTool for moving apps/windows around onscreen.

I use Alfred for clipboard management.

I read news/blogs with Reeder 3 (RSS feed reader).

I journal (almost) daily in Day One.

I use Airmail 3 for email.

I have a little app called Affiliate that automatically adds Amazon or iTunes affiliate tags to any links I copy from Amazon or the Mac App Store.

Music

I play Yamaha Absolute Maple Custom drums (12, 16, 24), a 14x8” C&C snare, and Meinl Byzance cymbals (14, 18, 20, 22).

I recently invested in Ableton Live 9 and an Ableton Push 2 for writing electronic music.