January 26, 2016 Leave a comment
The Adventist Peace Fellowship will soon launch a podcast. This has all been new to me, and I’ve been learning a lot. But I still have so much more to learn (that’s why this is “Part 1”).
Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
Most of the material I summarize below I learned in these “General bits” resources. And this is all basic; I don’t go into gates, condensers, telephone calls, apps like BossJock and Sound Byte, and many other things. Okay, here we go….
I also appreciated these resources:
- How to Start a Successful Podcast on a $50 Budget (BIBPodcast)
- Ten Podcasting Tips From Mike Wendland (Podcast Answerman)
- How to Produce a Podcast with Great Sound Quality Inexpensively (Professional Content Creation)
- Podcasting On A Budget: How To Record Great Audio For Less (ReadWrite.com)
- The 27 Steps To Get Your Podcast Into iTunes (School of Podcasting) [Covers the overall process, not just iTunes.]
Now for my lessons learned (so far):
Recording the Podcast
There are a few ways to record a podcast. Here I list ways in increasing quality and cost. And you’ll want to record WAV files rather than MP3. You’ll convert to MP3 at the end of the process.
Option 1: You can record a podcast with only a smartphone. There are two ways you can improve the sound quality: use an an external mic (will require TRS to TRRS adapter; see CNET) and use an app designed for quality recording. Look for an app that can record WAV files and record in stereo. Some quality options:
- Apple: iTalk ($1.99), others.
- Android: RecForge II/Pro ($3.24)*, Audio Evolution Mobile (6.99)*, Voice PRO (13.21)*, ASR Sound and Voice Recorder, Easy Voice Recorder Pro, Smart Voice Recorder (in-app purchases), Hi-Q MP3 Voice Recorder (3.99), Miidio Recorder, Voice Recorder, or All That Recorder (3.99). *Look the strongest.
Option 2: You can record a podcast using your computer with free software like Audacity (there are many tutorials on YouTube like this one). For this you need a USB mic, not an XLR mic (3-prong connection). Or you can get a mic like the Audio-Technica ATR2100 or AT2005 that has both USB and XLR plugs [this is what I chose to do for increased flexibility as we develop]. More on mics below.
Some people recommend using Levelator to even out sound levels. I haven’t used it yet.
Option 3: If you record with a mic into a quality audio recorder (e.g., Roland R-05 or Zoom H1), then you can save the files in WAV. You cannot use a USB mic with a field audio recorder. You have to use an XLR with a 3.5mm adapter or a lapel/lav/lavalier mic that is already 3.5mm (this Comprehensive XLR adapter has a headphone jack so you can hear audio levels while speaking). Or use a recorder that has XLR inputs like the Zoom H4N. You would then transfer the file to your computer to do the rest of the editing and publishing.
Option 4: Use a mixer to get quality sound and open creative options. If you start inexpensively by using the ATR2100 mic with the USB connection to your computer, you’ll get an upgrade in sound quality by switching to the XLR plug and recording it through a mixer. Basic sound flow: XLR mic -> mixer -> audio recorder -> computer.
Mixer reviews I read seemed to favor Soundcraft over Mackie, and some people said not to use Behringer. That said, I’m pretty sure any brand would work for the quality I’m able to produce at this point.
We’ve already covered the basic difference between USB and XLR mics. Get the kind that will fit your choice of recording technology (USB if recording with your computer; XLR if recording into an audio recorder or mixer).
You’ll also need to choose between a dynamic or condenser mic. I now favor dynamic mics for in-home studios. They are less sensitive to background noise (clocks, chairs, paper shuffling, etc.), so they’re more forgiving of in-home distractions.
As for choosing the specific mic, check out these two comparison videos: Golden Spiral Media and Pat Flynn. Here’s a third comparison that focuses only on high-end mics. You’ll also want to consider the type of mic stand you’ll want and pop filters.
There are two ways to record Skype calls, and they depend on the recording system you use (described above).
Basic (computer): If you are recording the conversation with Audacity on your computer, then you can record Skype calls on your computer too. There are some free software options for this (I know one podcast that uses this), but the software I found repeatedly recommended online are ecamm (Apple) and Pamela (Windows) [Total Recorder also looks interesting]. If you use Pamela, purchase the Professional not Call Recorder. In Professional you can separate the recording into two tracks — you and the other person. That allows you to tweak audio levels for each track in Audacity (tutorial). I purchased Call Recorder, found it was limited, and then purchased Professional by paying the difference. It wasn’t hard to switch.
You could even record yourself with your USB mic and use that recording instead of the Pamela recording for your voice. Then just delete your track in Pamela. I know of one podcast that uses this method.
Advanced (mixer/audio recorder): If you use a mixer, then recording Skype calls gets a bit more complicated. Here is a tutorial on how to set up a mix minus — YouTube and written. Be sure to get a mixer with at least one Auxiliary line out.
You can also use equipment to record telephone conversations, but that is beyond the scope of this introduction.
Music can be tough to find. Here are some resources:
- How to add audio to a podcast using Mevio and Audacity (Scientific Quilter)
- 17 Places to Find Podsafe Music (BlogTalk Radio)
- Free Music Archive
- Audio Jungle
You can find a lot more info on equipment here:
Broadcasting Your Podcast
Once you’ve recorded your podcast and mixed in music and whatever else you want, and then saved it as an MP3 file, it’s time to make it accessible to your intended audience. My three friends who have podcasts all use Libsyn as their host. I followed their lead, but you can find many other hosting services like blubrry.
Then you’ll need to set up your feed. Pat Flynn’s tutorials 3-6 cover this. Tutorial 3 is a bit more complicated than it needs to be, I think. It sounds like PowerPress is a useful plug-in if you’re using WordPress.org, but not if you use WordPress.com, which doesn’t allow plug-ins but can still apparently work for this.
I’ll probably expand and clarify this section later, or make it Part 2. Stay posted for more.
If you have any questions, you probably don’t want to ask me. I’m learning all this as I go. You’re better off visiting The Podcast Answer Man to see if he’s already covered your question (or just search online for answers). :)
Finally, I want to thank three people who have answered my questions along the way: