Podcast Technology

Construct a Solid Podcasting Foundation

In an effort to show you the bare essentials, we've compiled a list of items you will need in order to record and publish your podcast today. Podcasting equipment is as simple as a computer, microphone and recording software.

Using Your Computer

One of the biggest trends in recent audio production involves merging digital recording with computer technology. The recording of audio onto a computers' hard drive allows you to edit and manipulate your sound files. This data can be stored as a sound file such as .wav or .aiff.

There are multiple advantages to recording and editing your podcast using your personal computer, including:

  • The ability to record long and uninterrupted podcasts,
  • Digital editing - Quickly and easily remove unwanted background noise or embellish the audio track with music and sound effects,
  • Digital Processing - Add effects to your voice, such as reverb, or echo, and master your entire podcast for sonic clarity.

Minimum Podcasting Requirements for PC

According to Gartner Research, Windows-based PC's account for 90% of all computers world-wide (2005). If you have purchased your personal computer in the last three years and you're running Windows XP, your system should be more than adequate to record an audio file with a microphone, and then save the the recording as an MP3 file.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent Processor
  • Windows Windows XP / Vista / 7
  • iTunes 7+ for PC or equivalent software
  • 5 GB of available disk space (more is better)
  • 2 GB of RAM (more is better)
  • Audio Line In and Audio Line Out

Minimum Podcasting Requirements for Mac

Recently with the launch of Apple's iTunes 7.0, it shows that Apple is committed to the digital revolution. Since most iPod owners are also Mac owners there is also a lot of great software available for the Mac platform.

The misconception that the Mac is simply too expensive or that they are only for students and artists is quickly being proven wrong. Apple has recently introduced the Mac Mini, a scaled down version of the Mac that allows previous PC owners to make the switch but still keep their monitor, keyboard and mouse - all for just $499.

  • Intel based Mac
  • Mac OS X 10.6+
  • iTunes 7+ for Mac
  • 5 GB of available disk space (more is better)
  • 2 GB of RAM (more is better)
  • Audio Line In and Audio Line Out

Microphones - Record your voice

Whether you are using a Mac or PC, you will need a microphone to record your voice into your computer. One option is to purchase a microphone ( or you may already have one ) with a 1/8th inch jack. This is the size of the jack or audio line in port on your personal computer.

Lapel Microphone - Multipurpose stereo microphone

Lapel Mic offers the highest quality stereo or mono audio input for recording interviews, lectures and other events. Griffin Lapel Mic features quality stereo sound, a standard 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, and a swivel clip for ease of use.

This multipurpose lapel microphone offers quality stereo audio input for recording interviews, lectures and other events. An iPod equipped with the Griffin iTalk voice recorder instantly becomes a mobile recording unit. The addition of a Lapel Mic adds flexibility and ease of use.

Dynamic Microphone - Marshall Electronics

The MXL2001-P is a great microphone that is capable of handling numerous recording tasks competently. The MXL2001-P is a straight-ahead, plug-and-play type of instrument without any controls whatsoever, yet it records with a nice, open sound that will cut through just about any mix. Such characteristics make this microphone a good choice for the smaller studio that focuses most of its efforts on the recording of popular music.

Without getting too caught up in the specs, it is important to note that the MXL2001-P has a single cardioid polar pattern and a frequency range of 30 to 20k Hz. The microphone is phantom-powered so you'll need a small mixer or audio interface with phtantom-power. There are no switches for pre-attenuation or bass cut. In terms of workmanship, these products have a look and feel that is the mark of well-made equipment.

Website: http://www.mxlmics.com/

Condenser Microphone - Neumann

The TLM 103 is the ideal large diaphragm microphone for all professional and semi-professional applications requiring the utmost in sound quality on a limited budget.

By utilizing the tried and true transformerless circuit found in numerous Neumann microphones, the TLM 103 features yet unattained low self-noise and the highest sound pressure level transmission. The capsule, derived from that used in the U 87, has a cardioid pattern, is acoustically well-balanced and provides extraordinary attenuation of signals from the rear.

Website: http://www.neumann.com/

Portable Recording Devices - Record on the go

The 20 GB Archos Pocket Video Recorder AV420 is the ultimate handheld digital video recorder that offers TV recording and a portable home entertainment center in one pocket-sized device. It plays MP3 and WMA digital audio files (included protected files) as well as WAV audio.

Archos AV 420, TV cradle with audio/video connections, remote control with 2 AA batteries, protective case, USB 2.0 cable, stereo headphone, manual, AC adapter/charger with US/UK/EU plug.

Recording and Editing Software

Audacity

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to Record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files, cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together, change the speed or pitch of a recording, and more.

Download for free: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

Audacity tutorial: http://transom.org/?p=7557

Cubase

Great technology at a great price: that's Cubase SE. Based on Steinberg's renowned Cubase SX, Cubase SE is ideal for anyone who keeps a sharp eye on their finances but doesn't want to do without professional technologies in their home recording, project or pre-production studios.

Download software: http://www.cubase.com/download/index.html

Adobe Audition

Designed for demanding audio and video professionals, Adobe Audition offers advanced audio mixing, editing, and effects-processing capabilities. Its flexible workflow, combined with exceptional ease of use and precise tools, gives you the power to create rich, nuanced audio of the highest possible quality.

Download free trial: http://www.adobe.com/ca/products/audition.html

Cool Edit Pro

Cool Edit PRO is the software solution that will meet your demanding needs, whether you are an audio engineer, multimedia creator, web developer, or a musician.

Download free trial: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Audio/Audio-Editors-Recorders/Cool-Edit-Pro.shtml

Adobe Audition

Designed for demanding audio and video professionals, Adobe Audition offers advanced audio mixing, editing, and effects-processing capabilities. Its flexible workflow, combined with exceptional ease of use and precise tools, gives you the power to create rich, nuanced audio of the highest possible quality.

Recording Software for the Mac

GarageBand

GarageBand lets you easily perform, record and create your own music. Whether you're an experienced or aspiring musician. Or just want to feel - and sound - like a rock star. With the new version of GarageBand, you can even record multiple tracks at the same time.

Website: http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/

Professional Recording, Editing, Mixing and Mastering Software for Mac and PC

ProTools

ProTools offers HD for professional grade studios, and also provides LE editions. Pro Tools LE and M-Powered Systems With options to suit any budget, Digidesign Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools M-Powered systems offer everything you need to create and produce music with professional results. Whether you're looking for an all-in-one audio/MIDI solution with an integrated control surface or simply a highly portable Pro Tools system, there's a powerful solution designed to satisfy your creative needs.

Audio Routing Programs (optional)

Virtual Audio Cable

Virtual Audio Cable is a Windows multimedia driver allowing you to transfer audio (wave) streams from one application to another. It creates a pair of Wave In/Out devices for each cable. Any application can send audio stream to Out device, and any other application can receive this stream from In device. All transfers are made digitally, providing no sound quality loss.

Website: http://www.ntonyx.com/vac.htm

Audio Conversion Programs (optional)

iTunes

iTunes for the Mac and PC. If your audio recording program only exports a WAV file, you will need an audio conversion program. The easiest way to convert files into an MP3 is using iTunes. Chapter 9 has tutorials that cover how to convert audio that is on a CD into an MP3, and also how to convert from a WAV file to an MP3 file.

Website: http://www.apple.com/itunes/

Hosting Your MP3 Files - A home for your Podcasts

When hosting the MP3 files of your podcast, you will need to decide if you will host the MP3's using an all-in-one service or take the do-it-yourself route and host the files on your own web server.

FTP Program for File Transfers - Upload and download audio with FTP programs

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is an Internet protocol, and one of the most useful services on the Internet. It refers to the method by which you transfer data and program files between two computers connected to the Internet. Access can be restricted only to a local, or selected group of users who have been granted a username and password to access a web server. When an FTP server has an access restriction, it requires a username and password before allowing access to its files.

Your web hosting service will provide you with FTP access to your web server. FTP is the means of copying a file, in this case an MP3 from your personal computer to your web hosting service and as a result, making your podcast available on the Internet.

Summary - Key Points About Podcasting Technology

Basic Home Recording Studio

  • Personal Computer
  • USB-microphone or portable voice recorder
  • Recording and editing software
  • Web hosting service to host your MP3
  • FTP software to transfer your MP3 to the Internet

Professional Podcasting Studio

  • Powerful personal computer
  • Dynamic or Condenser vocal microphone
  • Audio interface such as Avid's Mbox Pro
  • Industry-standard ProTools recording software
  • Dedicated web server from a web hosting service
  • FTP software to transfer your web server MP3's and distribute them on the Internet

In this chapter, we looked at many different tools to help you record your podcast. As you've just learned, a podcasting studio can be setup using free tools from the Internet and your existing computer system, or for a modest financial investment, you can opt to build a professional-grade recording studio. Here is an outline of both a basic and professional studio setup.

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