Category Archives: Reviews

Capture Hot Ideas for Sure – The Wave Notebook from Rocketbook



The Wave Notebook - From Rocketbook - Capture HOT Ideas and Then - Make them DISAPPEAR!

In a digital age, there’s never been a more important time to be able to document what we as podcasters “do.” I don’t know about you, but the value of a good notebook, for to-do lists, sketching, and general day-to-day odds and ends is something I’ve been without for a long time. In it’s place I’ve used:

  • Table Placemats from Denny’s
  • The Back of Something “of lesser importance”
  • An Extracted Piece of Printer Paper

and any one of a number of other things that would make any 3rd Grade Art teacher proud. But what’s left when it’s time to take notes and what’s the “incentive” to hang on to a notebook nowadays when everything is going “digital?” The fact is that all of us have purchased a notebook and made a new pledge to use it, document our activities, to journal and half a dozen other things but how can you do it nowadays and have it stick?

Write Down, Capture It, Catalog It, Zap and Repeat…

Enter The Wave Notebook from Rocketbook. We’re all familiar with Erasable Pens. I’ve been using them since the 70s so that tech isn’t new, and the value of them IS valuable. But after something is put onto paper how can you “get it digital?” How can you hold the value of the notebook you’ve just purchased? The Wave provides you two sizes of notebook (I went with the “Executive Size” (6″ x 8.9″)) and gives you a professional-looking, to-the-point tool that offers a whole lot more. Fill your pages with content within the black borders of the page with doodles, flowcharts, to-do listings, or notes from a meeting. Now the digital magic and cataloging can begin.

Your Thoughts and Skill Sets Captured:

An app, downloaded to either Android or iPhone is used to very quickly scan/capture the image of the page. A series of ghosted/watermarked logos on the bottom of the page allow you to instantly have the scan/captured image be sent to a growing number of online/clouded repositories and so now – all of your notes, sketches, fever-created nonsense and cannot-possibly-live-without-this scribble can live on – forever. The resolution is also remarkable, providing even ME – the picky-bastard artist in the room satiated with my sketches and what I’ve captured.

“So far this isn’t blowing up my need-a-notebook skirt, Mike. Now what?”

If digital capture and cataloging of your hand-created materials wasn’t good enough, how about a little written-hand to text action? You got it. It’s here.

What you’ll also note is that the benefit of the stiffer, more-durable pages within the spiral-bound notebook offer up an almost magical, value-added power. When you’ve filled the book, or need more pages, fear not. While The Wave Notebook retails for $27 (I got mine for $19 on sale), what would you pay for a noteboook – you never had to replace? Let me explain: When the time comes/you want to return to completely-clear pages, simply slide The Wave Notebook into a microwave, place a mostly-full cup of water on top of it, and in 2 minutes (one minute per side), you’ll have – a brand-new, clean notebook to begin capturing your next favorite pen-generated masterpiece.

Click Here to See a Larger Version Now!  Click Here to See a Larger Version Now!  Click Here to See a Larger Version Now!

You can see from the images here that this notebook, process and repository is one to marvel at but I’m curious – what do YOU think? Use the comments below to tell me what this makes you think of and let’s talk more about what you STILL need to “write down!”

Get a Wave Notebook from Rocketbook:
https://getrocketbook.com/products/rocketbook-wave


Content Stagecoach: The Booth Junkie



Click Here to See a Larger Image...Humans have been traveling since – well, since Humans popped up, and what our collective travel experiences indicate is that there’s always something new to learn about. Time to Climb Aboard the Content Stagecoach and learn about new content!

We as podcasters are literally  GEAR JUNKIES. From the Podcaster that buys every new “thing” to the podcaster that WANTS to buy every new thing to the guy that HAS bought everything and it sits waiting in boxes in the basement – we are addicted to gear contemplation and acquisition. One of the most-focused cravings for is when anyone says or reads the word MICROPHONE. Ahh, microphones, the true luscious taste of digital sin, bitter the taste – that triggers visions of our available funds in a variety of all-too-limited bank accounts.

I recently had my Heil Fin microphones (used in our voiceover booths and The Podcast Bug) serviced and while putting a short polish on them, I was surfing through YouTube’s growing listing of digital libraries and – oh – whats this? A microphone review, for those interested in utilizing mics for voiceover. Very interesting…

After having clicked the fun image of a guy with a a couple of akin mics who also had wild hair, i clicked the proverbial “Play” button and what lept out of the speakers in my West studio was…

The Booth Junkie - In This Case: $50 Mic VS $1000 Mic...The Booth Junkie

In this particular episode, the host Mike greeted us all, put on his appreciative, crown-like  headphones and began detailing the always-fun-to-watch-people-hate “Blue Yeti USB Microphone” that is not only a good deal but a good starter, entry-level microphone that I myself have drop-shipped to people for interviews, live music collection and a number of other capture missions over the years. Without getting into too much depth, the bottom line is that I think the Yeti has become an easy target and for the most part is a shat-upon viable, variable tool that gets the job done fast for a very fair price and let’s you be “up and running.” Still, the Yeti has legitimate quirks and viable feature sets…

..and here was The Booth Junkie going over them all, with focused detail, clear experience in the realm of audio collection (in particular, voiceover) and an engaging voice that isn’t just seasoned, but FUN. Those of you that take in as much audio “listening” as I do in lieu of say radio or music will know the value of a good voice, but also – a personality. Mike DelGaudio (wait a minute, the guy has the word AUDIO in his name? Seriously? Yes, seriously) delivers a variety of details, perspectives and KNOWLEDGE that educates even someone that thinks they “know it all” when it comes to audio intake. There’s another facet of Mike’s gallery and it’s that there is FUN, yes, but also play. There’s a small, subtle dance being done between the capture of the content, the visuals that you get but also in the text’d dialog on screen. It’s a treat to be sure and one that leaves you satisfied as the episode goes by because it makes you wonder which mic it is you’re actually listening to because – I mean, we know, right? We know which mic is which right? Riiight?

While there are a number of episode styles in his library, one that captured my attention was his overall microphone review of a HUGE and growing number of mics. What’s also clear is Mike’s zeal in learning more about how the various mics (that both companies and other “Booth Junkies” themselves can loan to him to test) is his natural delivery of opinion, thought and not “THIS PRODUCT SUCKS”, regardless of the experience or happenstance. It’s all engaging, filled with well-paced content that makes you want to continue listening to more while glancing now and again to see what a short silence or “about-to-guess-about-something” phrase flip will deliver for the viewer. Inside another microphone comparison video (the $50 mic VS. the $1000 mic), Mike shares a divine process and nugget at the end that is something I’d LOVE to share here to explain how exemplary it is but hell – then why wouldn’t YOU go check it out, right?

The Heil Fin Microphone - Is Heading Booth Junkieward!The last nugget that should showcase my interest in Mike in general is one I can’t wait to share a follow up article about. Mike’s listing of microphones he’s put to the test and in digital voice-capturing battle is missing a KEY element. A shiny weapon that I myself have had as a sidearm in all of my studios for the last 12 years poised in all battles for podcasting and voiceover conquest. An always available tool that turns heads, collects bright sound and ushers in reviews, education and perspectives of all kinds. The Heil Fin microphone – is in-bound to Mike in the friendly East-coast-based confines as we speak for yet another engaging focus online. I. Can’t. Wait. It’s almost as if I am – addicted – to what he’s going to say? Where’d I put that mishapen’d spoon and rubber tube?

Turning to the digital pages that comprise YouTube.Com content today is a ROUGH road, but for those of us who like gear, let me confirm one thing: If you’re looking or detail about audio, in particular microphone-captured audio, by a guy named DelGaudio, with fun, engaging attitude that makes you send gear host-ward, then I have the PERFECT subscription to feed the poison stream of GEAR ADDICTION, and it’s right over here – you know the Booth – with the Junkie in it.

Tell him that Mike Wilkerson sentcha’.

Booth Junkie on YouTube
Mike DelGaudio – Voice Actor Website


Strutting Your Stuff – With the Right Microphone Strut…



You might think that holding your own is easy in the world of podcasting and for many of you – you’d be right. One thing to realize however is that one cannot – in most cases – hold their own MICROPHONE when it comes to effective podcasting.

In the last 13 years of podcasting, what I’ve learned the most from is necessity. From the reasonably el crappo gaming headsets my original co-host and I started with, to the super-impression-making microphone booms that allow me to capture content inside my Podcast Bug (a 1974 Custom Super Beetle with a Recording Studio Built into the Front of it), being able to address the mic is vital to podcasting success.

The Podcast Bug - a 1974 Custom Super Beetle with a Recording Studio Built Into It - Head-turning Portable Recording Platform!Discussions will erupt during the time it takes for you to read this article on a variety of online discussion forums that ask the question, “I need to get a mic boom, but I’m looking for something cheaper.” Without question, cheaper methods exist. From bungee cords + studio lamp, to propped-up clamp lamp remnants to the several cadillac-level booms that are available – you’ll find something that fits your budget, patience and “you’ve gotta’ be kiddin’ me” level.

The First Question to Ask: Why Do I Need a Mic Boom?

The Talent Bay at 2GuysTalking HQ - St. Charles, MO USAAre you a table thumper? Can’t get past the incessant knee-donk that destroys all podcasters hope of initial, edited-less podcast capture? Can’t figure out how to hold the paper and not have the “I am holding paper” sound capture along with your vocals? How cool am I going to look while I record? There’s a myriad of questions and answers for everyone but when it’s all said and done, I have one recommendation – that has been in place since the fall of 2005…

The Heil Sound PL-2T Overhead Boom: In addition to having a name that will leave anyone you tell it to weak in the knees, the construction of these struts is simple, strong, and after having tried 3-4 different times in a variety of studio environments over 13 years, they are what I’ve chosen to feature in my different studio efforts.

The Original 2GuysTalking Podcast Network Studio - St. Louis, MO USA Circa 2005The Heil Sound PL-2T’s were featured in my original home-studio, my first, second, and 4th public commercial studios and are also featured inside my “Podcast Bug.” The clean lines, that allow for attached promotionability provide the strongest, most-dependable moving parts and confidence. Additionally, they offer the best options for attaching microphones of all kinds. While we feature the Heil PR-40s and Heil “FIN” microphones that fit as a matter of course into the booms, we’ve had guest voiceover artists that are accommodated easily with their general configuration.

The 2GuysTalking West Studio - Voiceover Booth - St. Louis, MO USAThe Heil Sound PL-2T Overhead Boom is also featured inside our existing voiceover booth making for yet another incredibly diverse environment that the Heil Sound PL-2T Overhead Boom shines.

What kind of booms do you use? What have you tried in the past? Tell me more about what you’re doing when it comes to “holding your mics” in the comments section below and let’s create the best, online source for microphone boom discussion available!


Podbase Is a Friendly Validator for Your Podcast RSS Feeds



RSS iconRSS feeds. Ten years into the history of podcasting and they’re still the cornerstone, if not the actual lifeblood of the medium. Want to get your podcast into places like iTunes or Stitcher? You’re gonna need a valid RSS feed. And while feed validation tools have been around since the beginning of podcasting, sometimes they return results that are complex to understand, often sending podcasters into a spiral of panicked Google searches, hoping to find remedies for what they believe to be a broken RSS feed.

I tried Podbase today for the first time. Podbase is a feed validator with a focus on podcasting. It’s also got a simple one-page design that gives you the information you need in an easy to understand format.

Podbase breaks down its results system into three sections. First, it’s the Basics section, described by Podbase as, “Basic tests, the podcasting equivalent of ‘Is the patient breathing?'” In this section, Podbase checks to see if your feed URL is correct, if your feed is actually made up of XML, and then it checks to see if your feed is truly an RSS feed. In testing my own feed, I passed the second and third requirements no problem. However, Podbase noted that, “It took about 3.3 seconds to get the feed, which is very slow in ‘internet time’. Worth looking into before it gets worse.” Ultimately, my feed still passed the test. But Podbase offered some helpful advice about the length of time it took to load my feed.

Continue reading Podbase Is a Friendly Validator for Your Podcast RSS Feeds


How Hindenburg Journalist Stole My Heart



Every few weeks, if you hang around podcasting forums and groups long enough, you’ll see someone raise the question, “What software do you use to record and mix your show?”

The usual contenders come up. You’ll see references to Audacity, Garageband, Adobe Audition, Reaper, and a few others. I was a Garageband man myself when it came to the final mix of my shows. Audacity has always been my tool of choice for editing. It’s because they were both free when I started out and didn’t take too long to master. I came to love Garageband for its ability to add adjustable fades and transitions. So when the question was asked I proudly commented, “I’m committed to Garageband.”

Until the day I cheated on Garageband.

It started casually enough. A response someone wrote to a long lost question caught my eye. In it the responder mentioned Hindenburg Journalist. I knew what the Hindenburg was. A crashed dirigible right? A tragedy made famous by the journalist who documented the events in a voice dripping with horror. Hmmm…. Hindenburg Journalist, huh.  A picture accompanied the response as well. It featured a screen with the familiar sight of tracks and waveforms. If you’re a podcaster or mixing engineer it is one of those images that never fails to catch your eye. So I dug a little deeper. I eventually found myself knocking on the door at http://hindeburg.com and downloading a trial version of the software. Was it because I wasn’t happy with Garageband? No, not at all. I think I was a little bored. I was looking for some spice.

A day later, one day into my 30 day trial, I bought the software. It wasn’t cheap, but it certainly wasn’t as expensive as some of the other options out there.

To add insult to Garageband’s injury, I moved all of the tracks from my current project into Hindenburg Journalist and quietly told GB that it was all over. “It’s not you,” I said. “It’s me.” I didn’t have the heart to say that I’d met someone new.

So what it is it about Hindenburg Journalist that stole my heart? One word… “Organization”. I’m a very organized person and I am constantly, and I do mean constantly, looking for ways to streamline my workflow. Not a day goes by that doesn’t find me creating templates, or new ways to manage the many projects I have going on at any given moment. Journalist allows for all of the things that Garageband does but what sealed the deal for me is the fact that it’s geared towards those of us who produce shows focused on narrative. Think This American Life and Radiolab, or my own modest offering Evolution Talk. This is where Journalist shines. A typical episode that I produce contains twenty audio files or more. These represent the narration, voice artists, music, effects, and show branding files. What Journalist allows me to do is add these files into an organized structure using ‘clipboards’. I usually start with clipboards called “Narration”, “VO”, “Music”, “Effects”. This is where I place the files I will eventually use in the show. Journalist contains another “permanent” clipboard called “Favorites”. “Favorites” travels with me from project to project and contains those bits of audio that are used in every show (like the show opening, closing, etc.).

Hindenburg1From the virtual clipboards within Journalist I simply drag the clip I need into its respective track. The software provides an almost overwhelming amount of shortcuts to edit and move clips around. It will seem daunting at first but, take it from someone who strives to keep things simple and efficient without taking away from quality, they are easy to master and you will quickly find yourself using only a subset of them.

Journalist also has a remarkable ability to auto-adjust clip volumes. This scared me at first. Don’t mess with my audio. Surprisingly though, I soon found myself relying on it. It is of course adjustable and can be tweaked at will.

I’ve been using Journalist to produce Evolution Talk for a couple of months now (and Who Said Anything About Free Will? , a new audio drama scheduled for launch in late March 2015). I’ve never looked back. Do I feel guilty? Yes. But that’s only because every now and then my eye drifts to the dock at the bottom of my screen and settles upon the Garageband icon. I haven’t had the heart to remove it.


Reviewcast Sends Your Last 25 iTunes Reviews For Free



Reviewcast LogoiTunes reviews are important to many podcasters. They help not only to increase our exposure in the iTunes directory, they can also give us insight into how listeners are feeling about our shows. It’s a good idea to take a look at your iTunes reviews on a regular basis. However, Apple doesn’t make it easy because iTunes reviews are divided by country, based on an individual reviewer’s location. The only way to see all of your iTunes reviews would be to log into iTunes and then manually change your location to each country, going thru the entire list one by one. That’d be a long and tedious process.

Reveiwcast is a simple service (currently in beta) that you can use to have your show’s last 25 iTunes reviews e-mailed to you for free. It’s easy to use and works pretty well.

When you load the Reviewcast site, you’re greeted with the message, “Let us email you the last 25 reviews from all over the world for any iOS Application, OS X Application, Podcast or iBook listed on the the App Store or iTunes Store.”

Reviewcast Main Screen

Enter your show’s title into the field immediately under the greeting text. Select “Podcast” from the drop-down menu and click the Search button.

Continue reading Reviewcast Sends Your Last 25 iTunes Reviews For Free


Validate Your Podcast Feed – FeedValidator.org gone?



Over the last weekend, I noticed that FeedValidator.org has gone to a webhosting parking page.  I don’t know what the future is for feedvalidator.org, but that got me to researching other feed validators.  Here is what I found:

Podcast RSS With Headphones

First off, *most* feed validators out there are using the same code as feedvalidator.org was (or is). One of these is W3c Feed Validation Service. This is VERY much like feedvalidator.org in that it also hasn’t been updated in a while and isn’t neccecarlly 100% for podcasting. One thing is that if you are using the Powerpress Podcasting plugin for WordPress, you will get a “Recomondation” that says:

“This feed is valid, but interoperability with the widest range of feed readers could be improved by implementing the following recommendations.
line 2, column 0: Use of unknown namespace: http://www.rawvoice.com/rawvoiceRssModule/”

The Rawvoice Namespace has been out there and is OK with iTunes, Stitcher and most (if not all) podcast aggregators and apps out there. Still, using the W3c Validator will let you know if something is VERY wrong with your feed.

Another one I found a while back is still in “Preview”, but still interesting. It’s called Podbase Podcast Validator. It doesn’t give you the same info as the other ones. The unique thing it does do for you is give you is a kind of checklist that will let you know if your feed elements are there and correct. It also will warn you of any size issues as in your feed size or if your art is too big (file size). This one has promise as a useful tool for podcasters.

The best one I found so far is CastFeedValidator.com. This one gives you a full preview of what your listing will look like on most podcast apps. It will also warn you of the normal things that can cause your feed to not perform as it should.

Whenever I setup a new podcast feed for a client or want to troubleshoot someone’s feed, I use all 3 of these. It’s a good idea to check your own feed once in a while just to make sure everything is good.

If you know of another feed validator that works good for podcasting, let me know.

Posted by Mike Dell from The Podcast Help Desk


The Shortest Podcast



Podcasts are such a varied medium. There’s very few rules or conventions defining what a podcast should be. There’s plenty of trends, so many podcasts are improvised group discussion, many have a specific niche to focus on, but the trends in terms of podcast length are all over the place.

Some podcasts are 20 minutes, some 45, some aim for an hour an episode, many go for 90 minutes and there’s even a healthy number that push three, four and five hours per episode. As someone who often finds themselves giving advice to aspiring podcasters, I usually tell new podcasters that they should aim to make their episodes no longer than it takes their listeners to listen to between episodes. This assumes that they’ve got other stuff going on in their day and other podcasts to listen to also. The bigger podcasters like Adam Carolla can afford to put out 90+ minutes five times a week because he has a dedicated fan base, but for your average podcaster, that kind of quantity is going to see their listeners miss episodes because other attentions take priority.

So that’s my rule for the maximum length of a podcast, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding a similar formula for the minimum length of a podcast. In theory it shouldn’t matter, in fact brevity could help you by making your podcast the go-to filler podcast for short listens. This has the flip side risk that your content lacks depth and therefore interest. It’s a tough line to walk, but recently I took the plunge when I fell in love with an incredible app that is driven by short form content.

For most non-Australian readers, if I mention the Omny personal radio app, you might not be familiar with it, they’re still growing and are slowly launching in new international markets. It comes from Melbourne-based 121cast, the makers of SoundGecko. Omny is a player that scrolls between short podcasts (under 10 minutes) music from your own library, music streaming services and also reads out events from your calendar, weather reports and more. All of this combines to make a highly personal radio experience.

When I discovered this app, I was preparing to launch my short-form podcast The Forgetting Curve. I later made an edited version of another of my podcasts to fit it in with the Omny format. I was nervous at the time about stepping outside of my 30-45 minutes an episode comfort zone, but with a tool such as Omny there, basically providing a shuffle button for podcast content, we have found the way to make short podcasts competitive with longer content.

If Omny is not yet available in your local App Store, then get in touch with them and tell them you’re keen to try it. I’d also highly recommend experimenting with the length of your podcasts. Edit a highlights episode regularly, or just segment your content to allow your listeners to fit you in here and there. Give your audience options and see what kind of length they prefer.

by Jackson Rogers

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 9.13.51 PM

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

IMG_6882

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.

IMG_6883

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

IMG_6884

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.

IMG_6885

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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