Category Archives: Reviews

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 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.


Record Skype calls easily with Call Recorder

Call Recorder LogoSkype is an essential item in any podcaster’s toolkit. And podcasters are always looking for ways to record and save the audio produced during a Skype call. Over the years, podcasters have relied on various hardware/software combinations and techniques to achieve this goal with some methods being more complex than others.

If you’re a podcaster using a Mac and you need a simple and reliable way to record Skype calls, take a look at Call Recorder by Ecamm. Call Recorder is an application that works directly with Skype to record audio or video calls. It also comes with a collection of extras that can be used to convert your Skype recording to other media formats.

Installation of Call Recorder is pretty straight forward. Just download the installer from the Ecamm website and run it like you would any other Mac software installer. Once it’s up and running, Call Recorder automatically launches when you run Skype.

Skype and Call Recorder
Call Recorder opens automatically when you launch Skype.

Continue reading Record Skype calls easily with Call Recorder

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.