Top-Ranked Podcast Producer Jack Levy on ‘Table Read’ and DLZ Creator

Top-Ranked Podcast Producer Jack Levy on ‘Table Read’ and DLZ Creator

 The podcast Table Read has an ambitious premise: to create a feature film for your ears. 

Each episode features an award-winning script, recorded live by a talented cast of up to 20 actors in a world-class studio, then polished with Hollywood effects and surround sound mixing. The ambition paid off, as Season 1 of Table Read reached the top of the fiction podcast charts.

Table Read is a professional podcast that's produced on a scale that's still rare in the podcasting industry. And to get the job done, they need the equipment to match.

In addition to world-class podcasting equipment, Table Read also has the best podcast talent out there. In addition to using unproduced scripts from major Hollywood writers, they’re one of the first podcasts to sign a deal with SAG-AFTRA, so their acting is top-notch.

Even their podcast audio team is all-pro, thanks in part to Jack Levy’s industry connections.

“The guy who records the podcast, his name is Eric Milos, and he's recorded Wiz Khalifa and Gwen Stefani. He's a Berkeley graduate concert pianist,” said Levy about the front-end crew. “Our mixer, Terrell Alexis, does everything from Jersey Shore to feature films. I did a couple Warner Brothers shows with him.”

Jack Levy knows how lucky he is to be producing his Table Read podcast with top professionals on the most expensive podcasting equipment available. But when asked for his advice for aspiring podcasters, he’s not at all concerned about the technical parts of the production. Levy insists the key to a successful podcast is about focusing on the material.

“Let's say you're a content creator who's just coming up. Having a $20,000 or $50,000 or $200,000 podcasting rig is not gonna make the difference if you succeed or not,” said Levy. “Content creators shouldn’t get lost in the technical aspects of it, because at the end of the day, you gotta capture their imagination. What you deliver is where you should be focusing. It's not about being an engineer. People who want to be an engineer already are.”

Levy knows from experience that you can deliver quality work on accessible equipment — if you choose that equipment wisely. When he first started his own business as an audio engineer, he competed with major studios using an affordable console from a certain beloved audio brand.

“Universal and Warner Brothers had the ‘big boy’ systems. And I was just starting my own shop to compete with these people, but I couldn't afford the equipment they had, even with my small business loan,” Levy recalled. “So I went with a Mackie D8B digital console. That thing recorded the best voices in the world. It worked for years beyond its duty cycle.”

When we showed Levy the new Mackie DLZ Creator digital podcast mixer, he was impressed with how easy it was to get professional results. He found features like AutoMix to be perfect for podcasters and content creators who don’t want to deal with technical hurdles.

“I work in a business of specialists, so I don't ever have to think, ‘Does someone understand that there's gonna be feedback if they don't turn this off before they turn that on?’ But so many people are wonderful content creators, and they just don't think that way,” said Levy after trying DLZ Creator out for himself. “Having Mackie DLZ Creator as a solution is so fantastic.”

Levy even did a “road test” of DLZ Creator’s built-in Mix Agent™ technology, which acts as an audio assistant to help with setup and recording. The goal of Mix Agent™ is to empower someone with no audio experience to record high-quality audio with ease. Levy, to be sure, has audio experience. So, he employed a novice to help him test out the feature.

“I have two sons who couldn't be any less interested in what I do. So I gave DLZ Creator to my son and I said, ‘Record something on this. Let me know how long it takes you.’ And it took him about three minutes. Wow. I think that's where Mackie really does content creators a favor.”

Regardless of budget or audio expertise, budding podcasters need high-quality audio for their content to compete — and that was once very difficult. Thanks to new tools like the DLZ Creator, podcasters can get to that level more quickly and easily than ever before.

“Sometimes people have a great show, but the audio's so bad you can't listen to it. Or the music is whatever. It sounds like they shot it in a bathroom!” Levy laughed. “At least with DLZ Creator, you know it’s going to sound right. You're gonna be able to produce to a competitive level whether you have any engineering training or not, and that’s what matters.”

With the recent release of the compact Mackie DLZ Creator XS, Levy even sees uses for large productions. For instance, DLZ Creator XS is perfect for when actors need to record themselves remotely, despite having no audio experience themselves.

“Even on the shows where we shoot in a world-class studio, and have an engineer and a full Pro Tools system, there’s opportunities to take DLZ Creator XS and say to the talent, ‘Hey, bring this little device with you. If we need you to shoot a piece of voiceover, you can do it.’ A system like that should be in the toolbox of any audio professional, because it's so handy.”

But even when talking about podcasting equipment, Levy never goes long without bringing the subject back to his main bit of advice: focus, focus, focus on what you’re creating. Find tools to facilitate that. Everything else is secondary.

“Content creators need to focus on content creation,” Levy repeated, “and DLZ Creator totally allows you to do it.”

Subscribe to Table Read wherever you get your podcasts – Season 2 is now available with new episodes dropping every Tuesday.

Make sure to check out DLZ DeaLZ this July, where you can find discounts on DLZ!

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