All posts by Scott Hertzog

Taking a Byte Out of Time



Sound Byte: Using sound clips  without adding time.

When I first started the SciFi Diner Podcast, I would record my shows through my mixer and into my Zoom H2n Handy Recorder, and then add my intro, outro, sound clips, and promos in post production.  All my sounds were banked in a folder on my desktop. I edited my audio files using Garageband at the time; when I found a spot for a sound clip, I would split the track, move it over, logo100and drag and drop the clip in.  After making sure the levels were correct, I would continue editing. The whole process, if I was organized, took two minutes tops.  I used about ten clips through the show.  You can do the math to see how much time that added to my editing. But Sound Byte changed all that.

What Sound Byte allows me to do is  organize my sound clips into an app that I can play while recording a show.  Black Cat Systems, who produces the app, has a Mac, PC, and iPhone/iPad version of the app. Sorry Android users. Here’s the way it works for me.

I use the Sound Byte app on my iPhone (there is a free and paid version of the app; the paid version is $4.99).  The set up takes a little bit of time, but believe me, using Sound Byte will save you time in the long run . I load my sound clips into the app page designated for my phone in iTunes and then sync it.

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When I open up Sound Byte on my iPhone for the first time, I am greeted with this screen.

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This screen is called a rack (a location that holds all your audio clips); the individual boxes are called carts (a box to carry your sound clip). To get my clips to appear, I press one of the gray boxes for a few seconds.  This brings up a screen that looks like this.

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Next, I click on the words “Sound File” to bring up my bank of sound clips.

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After I select the clip I want to use, it takes me back to cart options. I can now test the clip, adjust its loudness, change to color of the cart, and much much more. Coloring coding is pretty awesome. I can make the clips I use all the time one color, promos another, and listener feedback still another.  Once I am finished tinkering, I click the back button and my clip is ready.

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Then, all I need to do is connect my iPhone to my Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
via a ⅛ inch jack to XLR chord and I am ready to record.  It seriously couldn’t be easier.

As I said before, it takes a little bit of time to load the rack initially, but after that, this program seriously knocks at least 20 minutes off my post production time. That is another 20 minutes I can be connecting to my listeners or writing blog posts.

If you are already using Sound Byte, let me know how it has helped you in your podcasting. If not, I encourage you to check it out. Streamlining your podcast couldn’t be easier.  It you want to hear another podcaster’s perspective on Sound Byte, you can listen to my interview with Ben DeBono from the SciFi Christian Podcast. If you want to find out other ways to streamline your podcast workflow, check out my post on Auphonic last week.

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Answering Podcasting Poverty



Streamline Your Post Production Work.

Podcasters are a busy lot.  Most of us have full time jobs, families, etc. that keep us busy.  And then we are podcasters on top of that. We podcasters know that while planning and recording a show takes work, it almost seems easy compared to everything that needs to be thought about in post-production.  If editing down a show was not a job in itself, we need to pay attention to leveling tracks, normalization, files size and format, and meta-tagging. Doing this manually each week takes time, time quite frankly that I as a podcaster producer just do not have. Most of us struggle to do this effectively.  We suffer a time poverty when it comes to podcasting.  What are we to do?

Ilogon comes Auphonic.com to the rescue.  With a free account, I can have much of my post production work done with a few clicks of a button.  And here’s the thing. All I have to do is set up my work as a preset. I can save my preset so that each week when I release a new podcast episode, all I have to do is load the preset.  Auphonic remembers and loads all my meta-data (tags, show art, licenses, show description, etc.), remembers in what formats and bit rate I want to export the audio file as, hooks up to my Libsyn, YouTube, and Soundcloud accounts, and remembers that I want normalization and adaptive leveling done. Auphonic will even throw in a preloaded intro and outro if I don’t want to mess with inserting those each week. All I have to do in the preset is load my new raw audio file. In a click of the button, the work is done. Well almost; my files do need to be uploaded first. When everything is finished, I can listen to the finished episode online.  If something doesn’t sound quite right, I can go back in and edit the episode. For a new podcaster, it really couldn’t be simpler.  And it saves you time.

Check out Auphonic and let me know what you think. For me, it has literally shaved a half an hour of work off my post-production process.  This is a half an hour I can now spend connecting to my audience and developing more quality content for my listeners. That is time better spent in my opinion.

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To USB or Not to USB? That IS the Question



USB microphones seem to be everywhere.  For the beginning podcaster, they offer a cheaper, many times simpler, and fairly user friendly experience.  In some cases they can come off as sounding just as good as some of the professional microphones.

Should You Use USB Mics?When I first began podcasting in 2008, I owned a Blue Snowball Microphone, but it picked up way too much ambient sound. As a recording artist first, I hated the thought of extraneous noise filtering into my podcast recordings. Because of this, I abandoned USB mics early on in my podcasting career, shifting toward XLR dynamic microphones, the ones you plug into a mixing board, which tend to pick up less ambient noise and provide a better quality sound.

However, this year, I discovered, much to my dismay, that one of my co-hosts from another state was using a USB microphone, the Yeti  by Blue Microphones. How could she?

I was initially appalled; then amazed.  Except for a slight hum that I could eliminate in post-production and maybe could have blamed on Skype, it sounded just as amazing as my Heil PR-40.  It left me wondering whether or not using a USB mic matters in podcasting any more?  In my opinion, it still does, though not necessarily for the reasons I shifted away from USB microphones five years ago.

The real issue is not whether you should use a USB microphone or not.  Its whether your should use a condenser or dynamic USB microphone.  As a rule of thumb, condensers tend to be more sensitive to your surrounding conditions.  They tend to deliver a full, more robust sound.

Here are a few things to consider.

Recording Location

Many, if not most, entry level USB condenser microphones such as the AT2020 or the CAD GXL2200 produce a more authentic, sound.  This is great for live settings where ambient noise is important. For example, I attend a couple of conventions each year and record conversations, interviews, and panels.  The amount of ambient noise my Tascam DR-7, which uses a condenser mic, picks up gives the experience an authenticity and helps my listeners experience the convention.

At a home recording studio, a USB with a condenser mic may not be optimal.  Unless you have a studio with complete quietness, many USB mics will pick up children a few rooms away, the neighbor’s distant barking dog, the birds chirping on the spring summer day, or the thrum of the washer. And if the fan kicks in on your computer, it picks that up as well.  These mics will also pick up every lip smack, click, and saliva drip your mouth makes.

The home podcasting studio is where in most cases you want a USB Dynamic microphones.  The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is an example of one that is amazing, and will give you the best sound while eliminating those pesky noises.  It sounds darn good too.

Core Questions:

Where will you be recording? At a public place or a home studio away from all noise? Is ambient noise an important part of your podcast?

2. Co-hosting

This is perhaps the biggest issue for me.  I co-host two of the podcasts I produce with another body sitting in the room with me. If using USB condenser microphones, vocal bleeding becomes an issue. My vocals and my co-hosts vocals will be captured each others vocal tracks. This can result in messy editing in post production.  There are ways around this, but again, do you need this complication?

You can avoid the above issue by using USB dynamic microphones. You would still have to find away to get both mics into your computer.  Or you could have your co-host bring their own computer and record both mics separately, combining the tracks later.

Core Questions:

Are you running a solo podcast? Or do you have co-hosts with you in the room?

Food for thought:

Without a doubt, the piece of equipment that impacts the sound and presentation of a podcast is the microphone. There are great USB microphones out there that will give you phenomenal sound.   Consider the core questions carefully as they will impact the type of mic you acquire.

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Scott Hertzog Intro



Scott Hertzog here. It is awesome to be a part of this Podcaster News community, an endeavor to bring you the latest news, equipment reviews, and ideas coming out of the podcasting industry.  I posted my very first podcast in August of 2008, though my audio engineering and producing roots go back to 1993.

Over the years, I have helmed eight podcasts.  Currently. I produce, host, and engineer the award winning SciFi Diner Podcast, the Dune Saga Podcast, and the Inside the Studio of the Podcaster show.

The Scifi Diner Podcast, which I co-host along with Miles P. McLoughlin and M. Sieiro Garcia from M Just M.com, provides a menu of genre news, trivia, listener’s thoughts and conversations, and interviews from the people who make Science Fiction happen (celebrities like Amanda Tapping, Edward James Olmos, LaVar Burton and New York Times best selling authors such as Scott Sigler, Douglas Lain, and Alan Dean Foster). We also rewind and revisit classics like Blade Runner and Wrath of Khan as well as review recent releases like Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, and Ender’s Game.

The Dune Saga Podcast, which I co-host along with David Moulton from The Lancast and Jim Arrowood from Jim’s SciFi Blog, takes a chronological journey through all the Dune novels, starting with the Legends of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, working our way through Frank Herbert’s original Dune series, and moving our way beyond.

At Inside the Studio of the Podcaster, the only show I run solo, I examine the equipment, the software, the apps, the plugins that make podcasts happen. I interview other podcasters who tell me what their studio can’t live without. We look at the good, the bad, and ugly, and give our recommendations.

I look forward to continuing to learn and grow in my podcasting journey.  It is my hope that my experience and knowledge of podcasting will help you grow as well.

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