For anyone interested in podcasting, here’s how I started, my hardware and software setup, and my recording procedure.
To get started, I used these references.
- Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Audio and Video Podcasting, by Michael W. Geoghegan and Dan Klass.
- WordPress For Dummies, by Lisa Sabin-Wilson.
- Podcasting For Dummies. Note that this is a podcast, not a book, though it is advertised as “The companion podcast for the books, Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies, published by John Wiley & Sons, Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi and Earl Newton.”
Also, the music you hear in the podcast episodes was licensed from Sounddogs.com, Inc.
Originally I used a Marshall MXL-990 microphone (with a microphone stand and a pop-filter), fed into an Alesis USB 8 mixer (via a cable with XLR connectors), outputting to a Sony MDR-7506 Dynamic Stereo Headphones and my Dell Latitude D620 laptop (via USB). I think I bought all this (other than the laptop) on Amazon.com. This worked, but required the laptop to record the audio, and as my laptop’s fan is loud–and seems to always be on–the fan noise is heard in the recordings.
Subsequently, I bought and now use a Samson Zoom H4 Handy Recorder, which I learned about in the Podcasting For Dummies podcast. I love this thing. It’s a stand-alone device, recording audio into its own memory, so I can record what I need, then connect it to my laptop via USB and copy over the audio files. I still use the Sony Headphones, connected to the H4, when recording, and then later, connected to my PC, when editing.
To edit audio and produce the final MP3 image uploaded to this WordPress blog, I use four programs:
- Audacity, “The Free Cross Platform Sound Editor”. As advertised, it is free software and does the trick just fine. I’m very happy with this tool.
- The Levelator, to level the audio in the podcast episodes to the same level.
- winLAME, to encode the resulting WAV file produced by Audacity to an MP3 file.
- iTunes, to add Exploding Creativity information and artwork into the MP3 file.
Record episode on Zoom H4 Recorder, with the Mic setting on H(igh) gain.
Transfer over resulting MONO-00X file(s) over USB cable to laptop. Within the relevent C:\Podcasting\Episodes\EpisodeX directory, I create a subdirectory named ‘raw’ where I put the MONO-00X file(s).
Within the relevent C:\Podcasting\Episodes\EpisodeX directory, I create another subdirectory named ‘edit1-voice’. I open Audacity and save a new project in this directory, then import the MONO-00X file(s). With Audacity, I edit the episode as desired, but only for voice.
When I’m done editing the voice content with Audacity within ‘edit1-voice’, I next copy the ‘edit1-voice’ directory to a directory named ‘edit2-fx’, then open the Audacity project within ‘edit2-fx’. I next perform the following steps within Audacity:
- Select all the audio (ctrl-a)
- Run Effect->Compressor… with its default settings.
- Run Effect->mda De-ess… with its default settings.
- Run Effect->Normalize… with its default settings.
- Import both the intro-music.wav and outro-music.wav files from C:\Podcasting\ThemeMusic and move them to where needed. intro-music.wav and outro-music.wav were previously extracted from a licensed music file and were also normalized so the audio volume of the music would match the voice audio volume.
- Save the project as a WAV file, File->Export As WAV…, to the C:\Podcasting\Episodes\EpisodeX directory.
- Quit Audacity
When I first started podcasting, I used to massage the audio more trying to remove background noise. However, that created what I thought to be unacceptable audio distortion, where, personally, I’d rather hear the occasional car driving or the bird chirping or the dog barking in the background and have my voice sound clear than have the audio sound like I was talking into some weird sound chamber. Maybe that’s a limitation of Audacity, I don’t know. For anyone starting out, I would just say have some fun and experiment.
At this point, I run the Levelator program and drag the WAV file just created onto the program’s window. Levelator will level the audio level for the entire file. After it’s done, Levelator will store the result into a name.output.wav file. Rename file as desired.
Now I run winLAME to create the corresponding MP3 file. Drag the produced WAV file from File Explorer to the winLANE window. Hit the Next>> button, selecting only the ‘Use input file’s folder as output location’ and ‘Overwrite existing files’ checkboxes. Hit the Next>> button again, selecting the ‘High Quality: HiFi, home, or quiet listening’ option. Hit Next>> again and then select the Start Encode Control button (looks like a DVD Play button). Quit winLAME.
Start iTunes to add the ID3 tags to the MP3 file. Previousuly, I created a playlist named ‘ExplodingCreativity’. Drag the just created MP3 file to the ExplodingCreativity Playlist. In the playlist, right click on the MP3 file and select Get Info. In the resulting dialog box, enter the needed information in the Info tab. In the Artwork tab, add the ExplodingCreativity image. Save the info and quit iTunes.
Copy the resulting MP3 file from the iTunes directory location to C:\Podcasting\MP3s and rename the file according to the naming convention ecYYYYMMDD-name.mp3.
In a web browser, login to the blog admin interface. Create a new post, following the convention of the other podcast blog entries. Don’t forget to set Tags and choose the right Category for the episode.
Back in iTunes, to force the re-reading of a podcast feed, close a podcast’s entries (click on the little black triangle) and then re-open the entries while holding down the SHIFT key on the keyboard. This should make the new episode appear.