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James Altucher Podcast Beats Quarantine with SSL

The James Altucher Show podcast hasn’t skipped a beat during the pandemic, thanks to engineer Jay Yow and a Solid State Logic 2 audio interface.

Jay Yow has been the engineer for the James Altucher Show podcast since 2014.
Jay Yow has been the engineer for the James Altucher Show podcast since 2014.

New York, NY (July 27, 2020)—Every corner of the pro audio industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and podcasts are no exception. As with so many parts of the industry, artists—or in this case, podcasters—are often now faced with becoming their own engineers and producers as well, answering that turn of events with varied degrees of success…or lack thereof. For the namesake host of The James Altucher Show, his podcast hasn’t skipped a beat, in large part to the ingenuity of his audio engineer Jay Yow, and a Solid State Logic 2 audio interface.

For six years, Yow has recorded the interview-based podcast of entrepreneur, investor, and writer James Altucher, watching it blossom from a living-room experiment to a popular show with more than 40 million downloads under its belt. Focusing on peak performance, the show has had guests like Tyra Banks, Mark Cuban, Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, William Shatner and others, and has become one of the top 50-ranked podcasts on Stitcher as a result.

Yorkville Sound Launches Pro Audio Podcast

While Yow and Altucher recorded in a variety of New York City studios over the years, they began recording exclusively in Altucher’s home last year with Yow bringing his personal recording rig over for sessions, but the COVID-19 pandemic presented a new challenge. “During the pandemic, it really hasn’t been possible for me to go to James’s house, so I had to find a solution for him to record the podcast without me there,” he says. “James has no engineering experience whatsoever, so I was looking for a small interface for him that sounded great but that was also simple enough that I could very easily direct him to make adjustments remotely.”

Yow tested several two-channel recording interfaces, and test-drove the SSL 2 himself when it was introduced earlier this year, as it had the simplicity his client would need. “Whatever button and knob you see on the SSL 2 is whatever the function is,” he says. “You don’t have to dive into settings or menus, you don’t have to click anything multiple times. Everything is self-explanatory, which was unlike any other small interface I had tested.”

Utilizing a Shure SM7B, the SSL 2’s preamps and Legacy 4k feature give Yow what he wants for Altucher’s voice. “For an interview-based podcast in a non-sound-treated space, I definitely prefer dynamic mics over condensers,” he says. “The SSL 2 has great preamps, and the 4k mode is amazing. I always have that engaged, especially with the SM7B. The Legacy 4k mode really opens up the high end without bringing up the noise.”

Part of Yow’s research into remote podcast recording setups included finding the right conferencing tool to allow the most flexible recording of Altucher and his guests. “I use Squadcast a lot,” he says. “It’s like Zoom, but it records multiple tracks of audio and does progressive uploading, so as the recording goes on, it uploads the files to the server progressively.”

Training Altucher on the unit was straight-forward. “Once we had our basic settings dialed in, I could point to the gain knob and say, ‘this is the only knob you need to know that I will tell you to move up and down during recording’. But if we need to adjust anything else, it’s all clearly labeled and color coded so it’s very easy for me to describe what’s needed.”

For Yow, podcasting has kept him busy during the pandemic. “I actually got busier work-wise when quarantine started because of podcasting,” he says. “Since mobility was limited, there’s a lot more remote recording than in-person recording now, so I’ve been giving lots of clients recommendations on equipment, and I always suggest the SSL 2.”

Solid State Logic •