International Podcast Day: Videogame BANG! Custom Home Studio

Wide Angle Shot of the VGB Studio

Happy International Podcast Day Everyone! Although ‘Coffee Day’ and ‘Burger Day’ are awesome in their own right, today is a big day for podcast creators and listeners to come together online to share ideas and promote this growing art form of internet radio. I have proudly hosted the Videogame BANG! podcast for a shade over two years with my great friend Aaron Carter, and much of that time we have been graciously partnered with the Nerd Reactor Podcast network alongside other awesome shows like Awkward Conversations and the NR Podcast.

Like many young podcasts, in the beginning we really had no idea what we were doing or what a podcast really was. We just knew that many mainstream gaming shows and members of the media were less than honest about video game reviews and seriously lacked diversity. Our group of friends all come from radically different backgrounds of race, religion, and lifestyles.. many of which are not expressed in many gaming podcasts. Although very different culturally, our shows mission has always been to spread a message of positivity while maintaining brutal honesty. Our show has managed to feature some awesome guests in its time including entertainers likes Freddie Wong, Ashly and Anthony Burch, Nika Harper, and Roger Craig Smith. We have spent hours on the show speaking with fellow podcasters, cosplayers, developers, and composers… all to educate ourselves and our listeners on the beauty of the gaming industry.

Until very recently our home studio was in an ugly blue room that was poorly decorated, littered with messy cables, and was just an eyesore. With video and streaming becoming more commonplace in podcasting, we were in no way ready to move in that direction. My podcast control station had me sitting with my back against the rest of the guests, there was no great place to put cameras, and most importantly there is no way I felt comfortable bringing in guests to the studio for in-house interviews.

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Original VGB Podcast Station

My wife and I had decided that it was time to move, and we found a new house in a much better neighborhood. One requirement I had for the new place was that it needed to have a decent sized downstairs den so that I could create the new studio. I needed a place to start from scratch that we could make a multipurpose room for Podcasting, HD Video and Game Streaming, YouTubing, and at the end of the day be a room we could just kick back in and play some tabletop games. I scoured the internet and Pinterest for inspiration and after weeks of finding literally nothing, I decided to put pen to paper and try and conceptualize exactly what we would need to achieve our broadcasting goals. I wanted everyone in the room to face each other, I needed a way to disguise all of the messy mic and USB cables, I needed extra storage to keep the room from getting cluttered, and again I needed a way to at the end of the day make the table just a table. I decided on a hexagon shape, and my answer to the cable mess situation was to custom wire the cabling into the table and utilize custom built wiring interface panels at each station so that guests simply plug in their own headphones and hand-made short XLR cables while recording. While I was at it I had the idea to incorporate ‘cough’ buttons into the panel in case a panelist needed to cough, sneeze, or say something in private to someone else at the table. As for my ‘Host station, that was going to be tricky.

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Early concept drawings

I had extra space on the panelist side of the table so I decided to put it on hinges so that we could store the headphones, mics, and cables quickly when we were done recording shows. After talking with a great friend of mine, David Ng, we started thinking about applying the same principals to the monitors, USB interface, and PC peripherals. Every single aspect and dimension of this table had to be considered (length of the legs, depth of the wood.. each and every angle was extremely important). After weeks of planning, we were ready to begin the build. A long time friend of mine, Geoff Voss, who is the most talented do-it-yourselfer lent us his expertise, tools, and guidance and we began working on the table.

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Throughout the duration of the build, we were constantly having to make sacrifices here and realized things to improve there. My budget for the structure itself was $300, and we were able to finish the structure itself $100 under budget. While building the table structurally with Geoff and David, I was working with another great friend of mine, Danny Taylor. Danny is one of the most brilliant radio technicians I have ever worked with and extremely creative. He helped me conceptualize a way to get the mute switches to work, and on top of that helped me craft and interface the box that would give me master mute control switches at the control station loaded with LED indicators and everything.

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Once we finished the construction of the table, I decided on a maple wood grain with black trim design that I always loved from the LP Soul Cajon that I had. We installed all of the wiring, attached the monitors and USB interface. You never know exactly how things are going to react when you put it all together and there was about a month of growing pains. Hours were spent troubleshooting the audio chain with my studio engineer friend, Derek Voss. Getting our recording software and equipment to work the way Skype, XSplit, Adobe Audition wanted it to proved to be difficult. There are a lot of moving parts, but our biggest success was an interview we did with the project lead of Warhammer 40k: Regicide. We were able to Skype call her from Australia, play with her and her game live on Twitch utilizing four simultaneous HD webcams, while at the same time multi-track recording into Audition.

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The project overall was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars… but because of the hard work and amazing support of friends, family, and listeners via fundraising website Patreon, the studio was done for less than 2k in total. A huge part of that was due to a sponsorship we picked up from Corsair Gaming via Nerd Reactor. Corsairs representatives believed in our vision and sent us over boxes of high-end PC components that build the PC that is the heart of this studio. We were sent 16 Gb Dominator Ram, Power Supply, CPU liquid cooling system, and much more. The processing power needed to run podcasts and generate media like this is intense, and there is no way at all we could have made room in the budget to have a machine this awesome without their sponsorship.

With all of this hard work and help from the podcast community, we have a Sacramento gaming podcast studio unlike anything else around. I don’t make this post to brag about our accomplishments but more so to inspire other podcasters to not give up. Although it can feel like everyone in the world has a podcast these days, that is not true. We are still a tight-knit group that needs to share ideas and work together to build this industry.

If you are a podcaster and you have any technical questions about our studio please comment or send us a message on Twitter.

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Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.