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AdvertiseCast - How to Find Podcast Sponsorship

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AdvertiseCast - How to Find Podcast Sponsorship

Podcasting is fun. It’s also hard work. Not surprising that since the dawn of this medium, podcasters have been crafting ways to make the fun pay off. Traditional advertising methods work for a select few - an estimated 0.05% of podcasters monetize their show via direct sponsorship - and finding vertical opportunities by leveraging your own business works for others. But what about those who neither have a large online listenership nor a business directly tied to their podcast?

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The OTHER Best Way to Move Your Podcast off Soundcloud

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The OTHER Best Way to Move Your Podcast off Soundcloud

SoundCloud released their subscription service, SoundCloud Go, roughly a month ago and I have been watching carefully since then. Right around the same time, I wrote an article titled, The Best Way to Move Your Podcast Off SoundCloud, which I hope you’ll check out because it goes into much more detail on why you should consider moving off SoundCloud in the first place.  

SoundCloud Go has received mixed reviews since its release and the company is undoubtedly listening carefully to the critics. I would agree with market speculators that SoundCloud Go is a step in the right direction when it comes to monetizing the platform and getting itself out of the red, but is it going in the right direction for podcasting? This question still leaves me and our readers puzzled. The sheer number of visitors from last month's blog post about this very subject speaks to that as well.

Recently I received an email from a reader asking for my recommendation on something other than 'tried and true' Libsyn. Not knocking their services at all, the folks at Libsyn are the greatest and if you do sign on with them, Podfly can get you a deal. All you have to do is enter the word Podfly in the promo code when you sign up with Libsyn and you'll get your first month of service free. Wht!

But today's post is obviously not about Libsyn.

Buzzsprout has a wonderfully simple migration tool that works seamlessly with SoundCloud. We have taken great care to ensure the process is both bulletproof and very simple. If you run into any questions, our support team is always happy to help. Your listeners won’t be inconvenienced in any way and no one will have to resubscribe.
— Kevin Finn (Co-Founder at Buzzsprout)

So what other service providers do I recommend? Well, Buzzsprout is as steady as it gets. When our Podfly staff emailed Buzzsprout for comments, this is what they had to say about the ease of migration from SoundCloud to Buzzsprout:

Buzzsprout also has a pretty straight to the point tutorial on how to change hosting providers on their platform. In fact, Buzzsprout was kind enough to offer Podfly readers a promo code. You can try out Buzzsprout's services for free, for up to 90 days. All you have to do is go here and then enter 3FREE in the promo code box. This is an excellent deal that can help you get a feel for how their service works. Monthly pricing starts at $12 a month after that point.

I must admit, 90 days to try their service is a great selling point for me.

It gives me enough time to get a true feel for how I can manage my podcasts on a monthly basis. It also gives me enough time to compare stats on the current platform I'm using vs. theirs. If you were unfamiliar with Buzzsprout, then I hope this article has shed some light for you on The OTHER Best Way to Move Your Podcast off Soundcloud. Give it a try today and let us know how Buzzsprout’s services work out for you. Shoot us an email and share your experiences!

 

About Podfly:

Podfly is a production company that caters specifically to podcasts. We work one-on-one with clients to develop their first show or to hold their hands through a complete podcast brand overhaul. It's all up to you and your needs. Let us know how we can serve you by contacting us through Podfly's contact form or by emailing me at Ayn@Podfly.net. We're happy to help!

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How to Record Anything That Makes Sound on Your Mac

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How to Record Anything That Makes Sound on Your Mac

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

This is the mantra of any Mac user, and the quest for drop dead simple podcasting applications has been a hobby of mine for almost a decade. Unfortunately, podcasting to date has been a relatively small market for software developers. So accomplishing seemingly simple audio tasks on our computers meant having to resort to overly robust and often complicated audio software and hardware configurations.

One such task would be recording audio - and I mean any audio.

 

Mac Podcasters’ Secret Weapon

For years, the majority of podcasts were created on Macs and listened to on Apple devices. The integration of podcasts in the 2006 update of iTunes, along with the likely intentional and misplaced association with the iPod, made podcasts appear to be a “Mac thing”. Set aside Apple’s typical usurping of technology and slapping their Zen-ness on to call it their own, this meant some of the best software for podcast recording was written by Mac developers, for Mac users.

Windows folks were stuck with a mishmash of kludge solutions to perform what, on the surface, seems like simple audio operations. For example, recording audio on your computer that is coming from your computer. Simple, right? As with most things Mac, yep.

 

 

Rogue Amoeba - Strange Name. Great Software.

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From the developer: "Rogue Amoeba Software is a privately-held software company, based in the USA with offices around the globe. Since 2002, we've been making tools for Mac OS X to assist you with all your audio needs. In that time we've delighted tens of thousands of users and received some of the highest honors in the industry.

Our product line includes the wildly popular home audio streamer Airfoil, our powerful Audio Hijack audio recorder, and our streamlined audio editor Fission."

Mac users and podcasters have known of this company for a long time. We’ve used Rogue Amoeba’s stellar lineup of easy-to-use applications for a variety of production tasks. Many of us can’t live without them. OK, back to recording audio from your Mac.

 

 

Enter Piezo - Charmingly Simple Audio Recording

From the developer: "Say “hello” to Piezo! Piezo makes it a snap to record audio on your Mac. In seconds, you'll be recording audio from any application or from audio inputs like microphones.

Piezo requires almost no configuration, and it's a blast to use. Simple and inexpensive - that's a winning combination.”

To say I love this little app is an understatement. The folks at Rogue Amoeba have made it not only easy to record audio from any source on your Mac, they’ve made it elegant and fun too! The interface couldn’t be clearer. Pull down the menu of sources to display what application audio you want to record, add a title, comment and select the audio quality, and press record!

This can be anything you desire from your USB microphone to Skype. You can even record audio from DVDs, websites, or Spotify if breaking some laws is your bent (though we don’t advise this, obviously).

Once recorded, you can click the magnifying glass in the title window to reveal your pristine audio recording in the finder. Love it.

 

Call Recording

Recording Skype audio is by far the most common need we address from podcast clients. In short, they are co-hosting or interviewing a guest on their podcast and want to record that conversation for use in their show. There are now (thank goodness) a variety of simple ways to do this. The most popular call recorder for Skype is the eCamm Recorder for Mac. However, what if you’re using another program like Zoom, or Google Hangouts, or Facetime, or…?

Granted, eCamm can handle some of these applications. But it certainly can’t handle them ALL. Piezo is as simple as selecting from the pulldown menu the application from which you want to record the audio, and pressing the big, red button. Boom!  It couldn’t get easier than that, and you can do it on the fly.

 

 

Try Before You Buy

Mac and iOS users are familiar with the App Store. I’m a big fan of this as a user largely because it both keeps my applications automatically updated, and also enables me to install them on up to 5 machines. Anyone who uses their Mac as a creative tool will appreciate the ability to install Logic Pro X on 5 production machines for $199. However, this isn’t always the best deal for software developers.

One, the App Store doesn’t have free trials. Boo. Two, Apple takes a hefty cut for having it positioned in the store, purchased, and delivered via their system. Granted, for many developers this is a fair deal. For smaller companies that I adore, such as Smile Software and Rogue Amoeba, to name a few, it’s better to go the old fashioned way and sell direct.

The point being, you can try ALL the Rogue Amoeba software before you commit to a purchase. So installing this and then deciding if it’s a good fit for your podcast workflow is a no-brainer.

 

 

Piezo Not Powerful Enough for You?

Fear not. Audio Hijack 3 is Mac audio capture on steroids! If you’re brave enough to check it out before my upcoming review, you can get a trial copy here!

In the coming weeks I’ll be demonstrating practical podcasting applications of other software from Rogue Amoeba, including Audio Hijack 3, Loopback, and Nicecast.


AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER

Should you purchase a product or service that Podfly Productions, LLC references through a link on this site, you can assume that we, Podfly Productions, LLC, receive an “affiliate commission.” Podfly Productions, LLC is disclosing this to be completely transparent with you, and to be in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Regardless of whether Podfly Productions, LLC receives a commission, please trust that we only recommend products or services we use personally, that we have tested, or that have been recommended to us by colleagues that we trust, and that we believe will be good value for our readers and clients.

Contact Us

 

 

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dbx® 286s Review - Part 1 of 2

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dbx® 286s Review - Part 1 of 2

Why do the radio folks sound so much better?

We've all dialed up the radio star blaring through the car speakers, or tuned into NPR to hear the host almost speaking directly into our ears. Whether it’s Howard Stern or Ira Glass, there's that extra something something that seems to make their audio sound WAY better than ours. So what is it?

Well, there is the voice training, the high-end microphone, the awesome sound proofed studio, producer, and post production engineers. But if we can put all that aside for a moment, there is a part of the chain not mentioned here and often overlooked.

Whether you use a mixer, an analog/digital interface, or or any type of USB microphone, there is a built-in component that affects the volume (or gain) of the microphone's signal. This is called the preamplifier. Now for most this is simply a knob you turn to make the microphone "louder". For those with a bit more audio engineering background, it's a chance to manipulate and enhance the sound of your voice before it gets recorded.

 

The dbx® 286s microphone preamplifier.

Enter the secret weapon of broadcasters and savvy podcasters alike - dbx® 286s. There are dozens of great 'preamps' out there, ranging anywhere from $60 to multiple thousands. In today’s example, I’m looking specifically at an industry favorite, the dbx® 286s.

From the manufacturer’s literature: The dbx® 286s is a full featured Channel Strip Processor that delivers a studio quality microphone/instrument preamplifier and four processors that can be used independently or in any combination. Why mic up vocals and instruments through a noisy, blurry mixer? The sonically pristine dbx® 286s Mic Preamp has all the features you need, including wide-ranging input gain control, switchable +48V phantom power, and an 80Hz high-pass filter to remove low frequency hum, rumble or wind.

This sub $200 unit resides, for most, between the microphone and the analog to digital audio interface. For example, my signal chain is as follows: Shure SM7B Microphone > dbx® 286s > Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 > MacBook Pro. Notice that I have the preamp “driving” the microphone as well as preprocessing the signal ahead of converting it to digital audio for the computer.

Now this is where the unit really shines. Not only does the preamplifier sound great, it has plenty of juice to feed the gain-hungry SM7B. After the preamp, the signal is passed to the patented dbx OverEasy® compressor. Here we can really accomplish that “in your face” FM broadcast DJ sound, or dial it back to a warm, smooth NPR style close-mic compression. Next in the chain is a de-esser and enhancer. These controls (used sparingly) can round off the sharp edges of the signal, add a bit of ‘oomph’ to the bottom end, and a bit of sparkle to the top frequencies. Now that we have a big fat, warm signal, it’s time to kill some noise. The expander/gate is a powerful tool to tame the worst rooms. I personally use it two-fold: 1) as a noise gate to mute the channel when there is low or no input (in between speaking); 2) to cut off the echo of my given recording room. Last is the output before sending the signal via ¼ “ to the Focusrite.

Did I lose you? Not to worry. I’ll be showing you how to adjust all these yummy knobs in Part 2, so check back in a few weeks. For now, let your geek flags fly and know that there is a lot of power and sonic goodness in a small package, at a very reasonable price.

 

Don’t put the cart before the horse.

If you’re currently on a low-end microphone, like the Audio-Technica ATR2100 or another dynamic cardioid you picked up for under $100, a preamplifier might not be the best, next equipment investment. Stepping up your microphone quality first is a better way to go.

Consider podcaster favorites like the Shure SM7B or the Heil PR40 as the front of your signal chain. Either of these professional grade microphones connected directly to a nice USB interface such as the Focusrite 2i2, will give you incredibly improved sound over your USB microphone. See here, Podfly client and Podcast Producers co-host, Jessica Rhode’s new set up.

She went from the ATR2100 to the Heil PR40 and Focusrite preamp, and the difference is very noticeable.

So, the first step might be looking at getting a better microphone first. However, at $200 for this preamp, maybe you deserve to take the credit card out for a spin and get both. Hey, you’re worth it.

The sound quality of my podcast sounds so much better with the Heil PR40. The ATR2100 was a great mic, but a year and a half into my podcasting journey, the time came to up-level my game. I noticed that with the ATR2100, while my sound was clear, there was a bit of distortion in comparison to the Heil PR40, with which the sound is crystal clear
— Jessica Rhodes, Interview Connections/The Podcast Producers

 

It’s still all about the instrument (your voice).

Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t polish a turd”? Crude, but true. This applies very well in the audio industry. There has always been a misconception in the record industry that studios somehow can magically make bad singers sound good. There must be some fancy equipment, computer software, and a little bit of fairy dust up the engineer’s sleeve that can make anyone instantly sound like Celine Dion. Not true.

Yes, there are ways to correct pitch and enhance aspects of the voice. But there is no “talent” switch, and definitely no “make me sound amazing” knob. All this incredible technology is designed to elevate the quality of something that is good in the first place.

Have you ever met someone and their voice simply floored you? They start speaking and immediately something in you says, “wow, you have a great voice!” Well, that’s not coming out of a $200 preamplifier.

Remember that upgrading your equipment can improve your audio quality. It cannot, sadly, improve your voice. That said, you wanna be sure to be making this purchase to improve what's already good, rather than try and fix what might be broken.

 



AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER

Should you purchase a product or service that Podfly Productions, LLC references through a link on this site, you can assume that we, Podfly Productions, LLC, receive an “affiliate commission.” Podfly Productions, LLC is disclosing this to be completely transparent with you, and to be in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Regardless of whether Podfly Productions, LLC receives a commission, please trust that we only recommend products or services we use personally, that we have tested, or that have been recommended to us by colleagues that we trust, and that we believe will be good value for our readers and clients.

Contact Us

 

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Rode NT-USB Review

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Rode NT-USB Review

One of the many issues concerning podcasters, both new and seasoned, is choosing the right equipment for our needs. This becomes somewhat of an obsessive process for audio engineers such as myself who always hesitate to supply a quick answer to that burning question:

Which microphone should I buy?

Just typing those words makes me shudder. And the reason is because of the only honest answer I can provide. It depends.

That said, I’m going to embark on a series of reviews to point podcasters in a clear direction to suit their particular needs. These will be reviews on a combination of software, services, and equipment that I both use and clients ask me about purchasing. The first review I was asked to do a few weeks back is the new-to-market, Rode NT-USB microphone. And heck, any excuse to break out the credit card and expense some gear is a good one!

Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone

 

Geek Stuff (source: Rode Microphones)

The NT-USB is a highly versatile side-address microphone that is ideal for recording singing and musical performances in addition to spoken applications such as podcasting and voice-over.

It is fully compatible with all mainstream recording applications on both Windows and Mac OS based computers, as well as the Apple iPad using RØDE Rec, GarageBand, or any other recording app that accepts an external microphone. Use on the Apple iPad requires a suitable USB connection adaptor, such as the Apple Camera Connection Kit.

The body of the NT-USB features a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring (3.5mm) jack, which allows you to monitor the microphone input in realtime, along with dials to adjust the monitoring level and mix between the computer/iPad audio and the microphone input.

A premium pop-filter is included, which fits onto the base of the mic, positioning the filter the ideal distance from the capsule to minimise plosives (hard ‘B’, ‘T’ or ‘P’ sounds that produce a harsh sound) during singing or speech. Also provided is a high-quality stand mount with industry standard 3/8” thread, desktop tripod stand that allows the NT-USB to sit at a comfortable height on a tabletop, and a pouch for storage of the microphone when not in use.

The Pros

The Look - Unboxing this microphone can be summed up in one word: sexy. This is a simply gorgeous looking microphone. The matching pop-filter beautifully matches the capsule. It looks super professional and feels rock solid. Your neighbors will be impressed. 

Ease of Use - As with any USB mic on the market coupled with a modern operating system, setup is as easy as plugging in and selecting the Rode USB as an input/output device for your given audio software. For the most basic setup, one can easily open Windows Sound Recorder or Apple’s Quicktime and go. Those with a more advanced DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) such as Adobe Audition, Logic, ProTools, etc, will be able to select the Rode as your sound device.

Since the pop-filter is perfectly matched and positioned, it’s only a matter of good mic placement and technique. Speaking at a normal intensity about 3-4 inches front of the pop-filter will produce a clean, clear level. 

The side of the microphone hosts two control knobs. One is for overall headphone volume. The other controls the mix of output from your computer with the sound of your voice. These are conveniently located to balance the right sound, both in sound-check and on the fly.

iOS Compatibility - A simple Apple Camera Connection Kit is all you need to connect this to your iPad or iPhone. From there, you can record straight to Garageband or any other audio recording app you choose. This makes you location independent in your recording sessions to capture segments from anywhere. Bare in mind, you are using a condenser microphone and subject to sound quality highly dependent on your recording environment. More on that in a moment. But the portability options plugging into iOS alone make this an attractive option.

The Stand - This microphone comes with a great, matching stand. The mount system for the mic is universal and will work with your favorite boom or mic stand, but having a portable table-top solution is very handy.

The Cable - Yep, the cable. Anyone who’s purchased a computer peripheral that comes with a USB cable will attest, the cable is often just a bit too short. Whether you’re trying to place that printer where you want it, or finding that your webcam needs a USB extension cable (just minutes before your webinar), this mic will not leave you wanting. The included cable is plenty long to meet almost any recording setup.

The Price - This mic came in just under $200. For a high quality condenser mic with an included pop-filter, case and stand, this is a heck of a deal. For those just starting in podcasting, the sticker price shouldn’t dissuade even the most cost-conscious starters. 

The Sound 

I’ve included a few recording samples below. To be fair, my normal rig is a high-end vocal mic, run through a DBX 286s preamp/processor, and through a Focusrite preamp. What’s the point of all that geek talk? It’s to say that I’m really, really picky when it comes to capturing my voice. I have to say, this mic really held up to my discerning ears.

The low frequencies were tight and responsive. The mid range was warm and uncolored, and the high end frequencies were crisp and detailed. These are all good things when recording voice for podcasts. The resulting recordings were easy to manipulate in post-production, or simply leave in raw form. I will not hesitate to use this microphone for my own podcast productions.

 

The Cons

Noisy space = Get a dynamic microphone.

Quiet space = Consider a condenser.

It’s A Condenser - The clear downside to this mic is inherent in its type. Basically, the majority of microphones fall into two categories: condenser and dynamic. In short, a condenser microphone takes all of the sound it ‘hears’ and condenses it down to an output signal. The upside is that it ‘hears’ all of the details in the room. The downside is that it ‘hears’ all of the details in the room. If you have a room with a lot of echo and reflections, it records that. If you have a loud computer, blowing heat duct, or a dog whose nails are due for a clipping, it records that - really well. All of it around the same volume of your voice. Everything from you typing to setting down a coffee cup is picked up by the mic. Unless you have a quiet, controlled environment, this is a real minus. I’ll show you in post processing how to clean this up, but if you have a ‘noisy’ recording space, this (or any condenser mic for that matter) may not be for you. A dynamic microphone is an increasingly popular choice among radio broadcasters and podcasters alike for reasons littered with jargon like side rejection, polar patters, ad nauseum. 

Like Me, The Stand Is Short - Using the included stand meant hunching over to get my mouth to the optimal position on the microphone. A couple books stacked up can be the quick fix, but if you plan on using this as your goto mic, I’d advise you consider a microphone boom stand. This will not only enable you to better position the mic, it will free up your much-needed deskspace for your keyboard and chai tea. A mic boom will also help in minimizing thumps and thuds that can happen making contact with your desk. I also show you how to get rid of that in post processing should you get carried away recording!

 

Post Processing

 

Summary

If you are in a semi-controlled recording environment, this is a great starter mic. I, like many podcasters, am on the road quite a bit. This will be sitting alongside my Macbook Pro for many hotel room sessions to come. For a $200 investment, I know that many hours will be logged on this mic. Based on its rugged construction, and Rode’s reputation in the industry for quality gear, I am sure that we’ll be adding this to the Podfly Equipment recommendations ahead of many other microphones in the same price point.

 


 

 

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