Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Jason Snell
Image by Ben Rice McCarthy.

Jason Snell

Writer, podcaster

in mac, podcaster, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jason Snell, and I write, write a weekly column for Macworld (where I used to work), and record and edit an awful lot of podcasts, including Upgrade and Liftoff on Relay FM and assorted podcasts on The Incomparable network. I've been writing about technology for a couple of decades now and podcasting for more than a decade.

What hardware do you use?

At my desk I use an iMac Pro, which I bought largely because I wanted a lot of processor power to speed up production of a lot of my podcasts. I have a lot of people with bad recording environments so I do a lot of very processor-intensive work on removing noise and echo from their tracks.

I haven't used a mouse in decades. I switched to a trackball in the 90s and when Apple introduced the Magic Trackpad I switched to that. I'm using a Magic Trackpad 2. Right now my keyboard of choice is the Vortex Race 3 with Cherry Brown mechanical keyswitches. I've got other mechanical keyboards, including some that do Bluetooth (the Race 3 is USB only), but it's still my favorite at the moment.

My microphone is a Shure SM7B connected to a USBPre 2 audio interface. I don't really recommend this (expensive!) setup for anyone; most people should just buy an Audio-Technica ATR2100x microphone. It's what I use when I travel. My field recorder, which I also use when I am recording remotely, is a Zoom H6.

When I'm not at my desk I primarily use a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. If I'm not writing, it's just in a regular Apple case. If I am writing, it's most likely in the Apple Magic Keyboard case. Sometimes I do write in my kitchen at the bar, standing up, and when I do this I use a Viozon iPad stand and an external keyboard, probably the Keychron K2 with brown switches. I'd bring a Magic Trackpad too, but it won't fit next to the keyboard on the bar top.

I also have an M1 MacBook Air that I use sometimes when I need to do Mac stuff, but not at my desk. This is new for me; I haven't used a Mac laptop regularly in years.

And what software?

On the Mac, I write in BBEdit and write short blog posts in MarsEdit. I use MailPlane for email, Fantastical to keep my calendar, Slack to stay in touch with my colleagues and collaborators, and Twitterrific to check Twitter. I edit podcasts on the Mac in Logic Pro, edit video in Final Cut Pro, and remove noise from audio tracks using iZotope RX 8. I record all my podcasts using Audio Hijack.

On the iPad, I write using 1Writer or Drafts, and edit podcasts using the Apple Pencil and Ferrite Recording Studio, which is the best podcast editing app I've found on any platform.

What would be your dream setup?

I feel like I'm there! I'd like to have Ferrite Recording Studio on my Mac so I could just use a single audio editor and move back and forth between iPad and Mac. I'd prefer BBEdit on iOS for the same reason, but since I'm dealing in plain text I can afford to use different editors on the two different devices. I'm looking forward to replacing my iMac Pro with an Apple Silicon device of some sort that will undoubtedly be vastly more powerful while costing a fraction of its original price.

I recently bought a new desk, the Uplift V2, with a reclaimed wood desktop, and I love it. I'd like to find a more permanent place to work on my iPad Pro while standing, because I find that using the iPad focuses me in a way that the Mac doesn't. I haven't gotten there yet.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.