Chris brought by several microphones yesterday to demonstrate, and we had an amusing time recording silly soundbytes. I might post one or two of them in the near future.
I was quite amazed at the difference in sound quality that a good microphone makes. All of that metallic “inside a can” sound that my current microphone introduces was just not there.
Unfortunately, for the average podcaster, it appears that you’d have to spend at least $100 for a mixer box (or whatever those things are called) and another $100 to $200 for a microphone, just to get started. I guess it’s very little wonder that there are so many awful quality podcasts out there.
Autumn Fires, by Robert Lewis Stevenson.
The quality of this recording may not be quite as good as I’ve done in recent weeks. I’m experimenting to see what kind of quality I can get with the fish tank bubbling in the background, a fire going, the dryer running, and the heater running. I then used Audacity to remove the background noise.
While I’m actually impressed with what it was able to do, it leaves the resulting voice sounding a little dead and metallic, so I probably won’t do this again. But it was kinda cold in the room where I usually record, and I wanted to sit by the fire to record Autumn Fires.
It seems that there are a number of other sites that are podcasting literature. It would be really cool if someone could collect these recordings in some way, so that there was an audio Gutenburg project.
Some of the ones I’m currently listening to are Podcast Shorts, Bartlett Reads, and A Blog of Bosh. There are some others out there, some of which I even listen to, but these are the good ones.
On a related note, I’m curious what license, if any, folks are using, either explicitly, or in their minds, when they are doing podcasts. I am, in my mind, putting stuff in the public domain, or, at most, Creative Commons, but I haven’t done anything explicit so far as listing a license anywhere.
I’ve been looking for some recording equipment, in order to improve the quality of my recordings. However, during the process, I was listening to some of my earlier recordings, and I’m really quite amazed at how much better the quality is now than it was when I first started. Between actually learning how to use Audacity, and, I guess, learning a little bit about what the recording levels actually should be, it seems that I’ve greatly improved. Still not perfect, of course, but better.
Anyways, I found this microphone, which, according to various reviews, will make my recordings better. They also recommended several recording software packages, including Audio Hijack Pro as one of the top contenders. I’m not sure I would know enough about it to use it to much effect, but the little bit I’ve learned about Audacity has helped a lot, so maybe it would.
Meanwhile, as you may have noticed off to the right side of the page (assuming you read this on my website, rather than in some RSS reader) that I’m doing two other podcast sites. JWHughes.org is, for the moment, the autobiography of John Wesley Hughes, who founded Asbury College. And the other site is the weekly (and, as time permits, the daily) readings of the Episcopal Church. In addition to all other considerations, the Bible contains some of the lovliest poetry around, and is great reading/recording material.
And my recording of A Christmas Carol is coming along nicely, although I’m having a really hard time figuring out a time to do my performance/reading of the whole thing, due to annoying schedule conflicts. And time’s running out.
I just got done reading “Podcasting: The do-it-yourself guide” by Todd Cochrane. For the most part, a lot of good information, and very helpful on certain matters, such as hardware and software recommendations.
However, Todd seems to make certain assumptions about the potential podcaster. Specifically, he seems to assume that everyone is just like him. As such, much of his advice seems a little odd. For example, I don’t feel the need to plan for 5,000-plus visitors. I don’t expect I’ll ever have more than a few dozen. And he seems to assume (at least in some places) that we all have a news show of some kind which we need to research and interview for. So a lot of his tips seem like they will never apply to me.
Of course, if I start having tens of thousands of visitors, and make a lot of money on advertising, that would be fine. I think.
Of great use were Todd’s tips on using Audacity to edit the podcast audio, as well as tips on recording in the first place. I realize that I’m still just guessing when it comes to audio quality. Partially this is because I’m half deaf. Not a lot I can do about that. But part of it too is because I just have absolutely no experience with this sort of thing. I was amazed, however, with just how loud my house is, and how difficult it is to find a quiet place. Maybe if I shut myself in the closet …
For the most part, I recommend this book for folks that are interested in podcasting, but have no idea about the audio side of things. You can sort of get started with almost no initial investment, but it’s becoming quickly obvious that I’ll get a far better outcome if I can get a little recording equipment, like a decent microphone.
Oh, yeah, and I realized that I really have no idea what a mixer even is, let alone how to choose one wisely.
Because that Bierce piece was just too serious, here’s Mr. And Mrs. Spikky Sparrow, by Edward Lear.
The Boarded Window, by Ambrose Bierce. It’s a short story (12 minutes) by Ambrose Bierce. If you haven’t read any Bierce, be warned that Bierce likes to write seemingly benign stories that give you a nasty start.
I’m still experimenting with recording. This time, I recorded in a fairly noisy room, and then used the “noise removal” feature of Audacity to see what it could actually do. The resulting recording seems a little tinny to me. I really wish I knew more about recording. Time to find a comfy chair, and start reading the podcasting book that was handed to me this week at work.
Sarah, reciting I Ate Too Much
Calico Pie, by Edward Lear.
On the technology front, I saw someone recommend Audacity, and decided to give it another try, and I’m very very pleased. I have been using HackTV, which is fairly nice, but a little too simple, and requires too many additional steps. It records .mov files, which I then have to import into iTunes and export as mp3 files. Not only is this an additional step, but I end up with 3 copies of the recording which I have to then go clean up.
Audacity seems to make a better recording, too, for some reason, and exports directly to mp3.
Calico Pie is a poem we used to read at Turi, so I actually did quite a bit of it from memory, which surprised me. I’m always amazed at how poems stick in my brain for years and years after I last heard/recited them.