VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Choosing Equipment from The Workshop

Physical Location

Workshop logo red square.jpgThe Innovative Media department is located in The Workshop on the lower level of the James Branch Cabell Library.

901 Park Avenue, Suite 078

Audio Project Overview

For an audio project, like a podcast or an interview, it’s crucial to record high-quality sound. Good quality microphones generally cannot be plugged directly into a computer, so you need an audio interface. You can plug a microphone into the audio interface and then the interface into the computer, so that you can record directly into a sound editing program. Zoom H4ns and H1s can act as both microphones and interfaces. More information below.

For information on creating an audio project from start to finish, check out the Audio Project Guide. The guide covers everything from editing techniques to audio script writing tips.

  Audio Project Guide

General Purpose Equipment

The Zoom H4n is an audio recorder with built-in stereo microphones, which do a good job of picking up all sounds near by. They are not the most ideal microphones for vocal recordings but will work if the Sennheiser microphones are unavailable or if you’re worried about a complicated set-up.

A Zoom H1 audio recorder is alternative option. The Zoom H1 does not have a way to attach external microphones, but otherwise is similar quality.

For help using the Zoom H4n or Zoom H1, refer to audio equipment set-up guide.

Best Quality Equipment

If you want to go the next step and record an interview with a better vocal microphone, recommended equipment is a Sennheiser e835 microphone, Zoom H4n recorder, XLR cable and microphone stand.

For help setting up the equipment, refer to setting up audio equipment guide.


Zoom H4n audio recorder - A multipurpose portable recording device with two XLR inputs and two built-in stereo microphones. Plug one or two microphones into its XLR inputs and record onto a memory card, and then later transfer the sound files to a computer. Can also be used as USB audio interface to record directly onto your computer.


Sennheiser e835 dynamic microphones - A classic microphone designed for vocals, with low handling noise and a sturdy construction. Connects to a recorder with a XLR cable. If interviewing - you want one for the interviewer and one for the interviewee.


XLR cables - use XLR cables to connect your microphone to your recorder (most quality microphones cannot be plugged directly into a computer).


Headphones - always listen to the sound that you’re recording


Windscreen - if you’re outside, use a windscreen to prevent the microphone from picking up the sound

Audio Studio Equipment



The Workshop contains an audio studio equipped with sophisticated microphones and software. Attend an orientation to become an authorized user and reserve the audio studio in advance.

For help setting up and using the equipment in the audio studio, refer to the audio studio start-up guide.

Recommended equipment includes:


Electro-Voice RE20 microphone - The classic radio broadcast microphone. It provides a reliable, warm sound that flatters most voices. The audio studio has two RE20s. Use with the Cloudlifter, which is a microphone pre-amplifier, to increase the level of sound you can get. The audio studio has two EV RE20s - if you want to record more than two people in the audio studio, also check out the two Shure Beta 58as.


Avid MBox Pro audio interface - A high-end audio interface to connect to the computer. Four microphones can be plugged in at once.


Sony MDR-7506 headphones - Wear good headphones to monitor what’s coming in through your microphone. You need to hear that you’re close enough but not too close, that you’re not popping your P’s, bumping the stand, or in need of a drink of water.


Boom arm microphone mount - Mount the RE20 onto the boom arm with its shock mount to position the microphone and protect it from sounds when it's bumped.


Pop filter - The RE20 works best when positioned close to the speaker’s mouth, but that can cause the microphone to pick up breath noises and “pops” from words with P’s. A pop filter helps reduce this problem.