Podcasting involves innovation, skill, and tools.
Innovation always changes. Skill is about pronunciation, pauses, willingness to use out-of-comfort-zone on stage style of speaking, and listening to yourself (live via headphones, listen afterward). Lots has been written about these two.
This is an article about tools (with some extra thoughts about video and photos at the end)…
The Electro-Voice RE20 is coveted by many analog in-studio DJ’s and talk radio hosts. Podcasting, however, is digital. So, USB is pref! The key word is “condenser [mic]”.
- Mic-headphone gitup
- Foamyness and sound-proofing
- Recording software (free is good)
Here’s the list of hardware on Amazon…
Cheap and easy for beginners — Blue Snowball
High-road (my choice) — Blue Yeti (Yetis love: shock mount, desk stand, pop filter – DO NOT get a suspension boom for less than $200. Cheap mic booms are too small; this desk stand w/ shock mount recipe is best budget option.)
Grado Labs — Hand made in USA, family, Brooklyn, quality, low price.
Listen to your own voice, know what the mic is picking up, very wise.
Any headphones will do. But, if you buy specifically for podcasting: buy good ones, buy these.
Foamyness and Sound-Proofing
Not all foam cancels all sound. Heating insulation (some better than others) tends to cancel more frequencies. Light foam lets low tones still bounce. Look up “Maxiboard”, “Rockwool”, and “soundproof party wall” – the key is “mineral fiber” insulation, but there are others.
That said, consider this:
- Nothing cancels echo like a room full of squishy, soft junk. (One famous recording studio in NY just has a room full of antique music collectables and soft couches, not the usual uber-geek sound booth architecture.)
- EVERYTHING makes sound: desk, coffee cup, clothing, jewelry, keys, coins—even the cord going to the mic! Be aware.
- Hard is evil! Don’t paint foam or it won’t be foamy. Sound bounces off of painted and hard surfaces, including desks and monitors.
- Bathroom wet-feet mats on your desk, under the keyboard, all over the floor, wall, etc.
- Bed loft, like kids get in their rooms, with your desk under it; foamy-ize the bottom and sides with foam, bathroom mats, or mineral fiber.
- Small roll of mineral fiber insulation from Home Depot to wrap behind your mic, or drape anywhere.
- Asian folding room dividers, foam ’em up; probably place it behind your chair.
- Rolling blackboard, whiteboard stand, easel; foam it up.
Some foamy links on Amazon:
Acoustic tiles (for walls, if you want go nuts or just look cool)
Microphone shield (cheap and effective, all you really need is to protect the mic)
*More in video at the end.
Free is good. Audacity is great. Open Source rules!
Here is an example of what you DO NOT need, but might be fun: Blue Microphones Yeti Studio All-In-One Professional Recording System for Vocals
You really need Chris’ compressor dynamics plugin also. Sad story. This awesome programmer guy committed suicide. His dad finished his last podcast. In memory of Chris. You need a “condenser” mic and “compressor” software; remember and distinguish.
*This presumes you have already installed the LAME and Compressor plugins by dropping them in the audacity/plugins folder.
- Set up the room for audio-friendly, silent, foamy-room recording (2 minutes max, any more and you should re-rrange)-Turn off fans, appliances, etc.
-Put foam in place.
-Uncover the mic (keep a towel over it).
- Record in Audacity.
- Run Compressor dynamics plugin (use whatever default numbers populate the settings).
- Run “Normalize”, default to -1.
- Export audio as MP3 (96kpbs good for voice podcasts)
Hosting After Recording
Listening to a Podcast
Anyone can listen to a podcast using any of a variety of different software. All you need is an RSS feed AKA a “podcast url”. This is different from the pretty website that talks about and advertises the podcast.
For podcasts, iTunes is just one network and one tool of many, not a requirement. iTunes Store lists podcasts; iTunes can subscribe to podcasts by URL, even if they are not listed in the iTunes Store. iTunes is good for Windows and Mac.
On _ubuntu, gPodder only downloads. Amarok can subscribe to podcasts and also plays them. I have had trouble with other podcast software not recognizing premium podcasts.
I use Amarok on _ubuntu and iTunes in Windows. I don’t own a Mac because Xubuntu was my great escape after jumping out the Windows.
Ampache web servers (Ubuntu server) also can subscribe and download podcast episodes without anything on your computer, then stream it to almost any device.
If you want to do it yourself…
This is a process:
- Host your podcast episodes in an RSS feed
- Prepare and submit the feed to networks, probably iTunes.
- Re-upload the same episodes to places like SoundCloud.
You need an RSS feed to support a podcast. I use WordPress with no plugins (at upload: ‘link to media file’, NOT ’embedded media player’) and run the feed through Feedburner with “Smartcast” enabled; you only need a Google account. Feedburner becomes your podcast URL.
Once your podcast goes through Feedburner with “Smartcast”, you can list it in the iTunes Store, if you want. Remember, the iTunes Store lists your podcast, it does not actually host your podcast files for you.
Via WordPress.com, in theory, you could probably do a podcast entirely free via Feedburner. (WordPress feeds are good, but Feedburner pretty’s them up in many ways. ‘Smartcast’ is a Feedburner tool that pretty’s up your podcast so iTunes Store likes it.)
If you want, there are many WordPress podcasting plugins (PodLove, PowerPress, and Digital Access Pass) that I don’t use because I put it through Feedburner. Digital Access Pass is for premium podcasts, so it doesn’t need Feedburner because it won’t be listed in the iTunes Store. Premium podcasts via iTunes are a whole new ball-o-wax not covered here.
*Important for web hosting: iTunes doesn’t like normal web hosts. Eg., if you get a “domain with $10/month hosting” deal for WordPress and just upload your files (even with the plugins,) iTunes will probably reject your podcast submission. Your media files need to be pn a special server. I put my files in an Amazon S3 bucket and iTunes accepts them.
FYI, TMI, I actually had no website for my first podcast in 2010. I uploaded to Amazon S3 and edited the .xml podcast feed myself. iTunes accepted it. #nerdAlert
…Or, you can just ask/pay a geek friend to handle all this for you.
Video / Photos
You may need it, even a short welcome video or your glamour shot. Many vloggers neglect the sound considerations above.
- Green screen
- Software (free is good)
Light or shadows: hard, clear, singular—evil; soft, vague, plural—good.
- Multiple bright lights w big lampshades (Asian tissue paper shades awesome, DIY papermache!)
- Light umbrellas (two at least)
- Outside: big light reflector thingy photographers use
In taking photos of stuff, drastic difference in light/dark is bad. Overcast days are wonderful for outdoor shoots because light clouds are the diffusers of the heavens. Sunny days are for photographing nature, not people or stuff.
The key word is “chroma”. Any fabric, paint, foam, whatever, as long as it’s in the “chroma” zone. (See what I did there?)
Light it separately (a light behind you shining on it).
Why not drape chroma-colored fabric over-top of mineral fiber insulation? Your sound proofing can double as your green screen!
It’s just handy and it’s cool-looking. Even phone cam yourself, take your glamour shot, and let someone else use it for editing.
Lightworks has a useful free version. Quinten used it for Pulp Fiction and Brian used it for the first Mission Impossible.
For photos, use GIMP, also free.
…Or just ask/pay a geek friend to handle all this for you.
DON’T DO PHONE if you can avoid it. Many use digital correctors that make pics bad. High-end phones (iPhone, Samsung, Sony) can be semi-okay. But, you need a “real” camera to make your videos and photos for a website.
Long-range optical zoom proves the right thing. I started with a CoolPix from Nikon. Cannon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Sony know what they are doing. PhD cameras (push here dummy) are okay, as long as they have good optics. Good cameras can take good pictures of the moon.
There is a lot more to podcasting. But this was a basic article about the tools. Good luck!