Viewing entries tagged
how to produce a podcast

Adobe Audition for Podcasters

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Adobe Audition for Podcasters

Podfly’s Corey Coates takes you through the first of a series of tutorials on anything you might want to know about setting up a podcast. These specialization videos will focus primarily on Adobe’s Audition software, but this particular one is all about the basics and how to get started. Learn how to position your introduction, remove annoying ‘ums’, turn a few stumbling sentences into a natural conversation and much more.

With over 45 minutes of step-by-step teaching, complete with pre-recorded audio clips and examples, you should hopefully come away with a lot of questions answered. That said, the Podfly Academy Team hope it’ll also leave you itching to find out more and really get to grips with this sophisticated piece of programming which could just change your life.

Once you’ve worked through all the tutorials, you’ll be the one answering everybody else’s questions!

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

Validating Your RSS Feed

Now that we've created our RSS feed, we need to validate that feed before we submit it to any directories. iTunes is very particular, as are other directories, so we want to make sure we don't have any odd characters or anything unusual in our feed before we begin the submission process. Let's take a look first at a free service in order to validate your new feed. No matter how we created our RSS feed, we're going to end up with a RSS feed address. This URL is similar to that which you will find on a website. Starting with: Http://thenameofyourshow.hostingcompany,com/rss.

 

Finding Your Feed in Libsyn

In this case, let's take a look at one of the shows that we manage here at Podfly. We manage this particular show in Libsyn. By visiting the destinations page on Libsyn, you can see some of the quick links that are available to you. One of these quick links is the RSS feed.

 

FeedValidator.org

This RSS feed will never change as long as you stay with the same hosting provider. In order to validate this feed, we simply need to highlight the feed, copy it, and paste it into a free service called FeedValidator.org. When I copy in my feed, I simply click validate. We're looking for the first word being 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'. This means that this feed is available to submit to directories, which we'll be looking at in the next tutorial.

Following that are great recommendations from Feed Validator to make sure we don't have something that might be incompatible with a directory. Though many of these recommendations may seem inscrutable to the average user, they are valuable for the advanced user who wants to really tweak their feed. This gives an opportunity to insure that you are 100% compatible with all the directories that are available. However, for the purpose of validating your feed, we're only really looking for 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'.

 

Working With Text

Within the blogging community it's been a well known rule of thumb to never use Microsoft Word. If you're copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into a website, into a blog, or in our case, into an RSS feed, there tends to be an issue with something called 'special characters'. Microsoft Word uses special characters and these can break our feed. Let's take a look at some of those special characters and try and remember to use the same rule of thumb as bloggers do. Never Use Microsoft Word.

No matter what type of content we're putting on the internet. It is always advisable to be working in a plan text editor. Microsoft Word is a great, beautiful, powerful tool for doing office work and creating documents. However, it is not a good tool for creating text to be used on the web.

I point to a C-net article here on tips to make sure you do not break your podcast feed by using special characters that are often and involuntarily put into your document by Word. We can see here in this article a couple of special characters that are marked as bad and good. However, again, to avoid these issues, it's always advisable to simply use a plain text editor. These are provided by your operating system whether you're using Mac, Windows, or Linux.

 

Check Your Feed With Each New Release

We've learned now no matter how we created our RSS feed, whether it be using an online service, a program such as FeedForAll, or hand-coding our own, it's important to check and validate that feed. We also advise with each update and release of a new episode, you take a moment and check that feed as well. We sometimes forget within the show description itself, that feed can be broken. Using this free service is a great way to  make sure all of your content gets out to your audience trouble free.

 

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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.

 



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Podfly Academy - Lesson 6 of 10 - Podcast Mastering, Leveling, Encoding MP3 Formats, Adding ID3 Tags

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 6 of 10 - Podcast Mastering, Leveling, Encoding MP3 Formats, Adding ID3 Tags

Today we're going to be looking at mixing down your podcast, encoding it, adding ID3 tags and album artwork. I know this sounds like a lot of daunting terms, but we're going to find that it's actually really straightforward.

In today's example, we're going to use Audacity as it's the program that we've downloaded and showed you how to install. In future specializations, keep your eyes open for mastering secrets of the pros using things like Adobe Audition. But for today, let's use the free program and mix down a very simple podcast.

Podcast Mixing

In order to demonstrate the mixdown, I'm going to put together a quick podcast. This one is going to consist of an intro, a spoken section, and an outro. Very very simple. You'll notice here that I have my mp3 files on my desktop. I'm just going to drag them into Audacity so my intro appears on the first track. I'm going to drag the file 001 one, which is my recorded voice and I’m going to put a file called bump. This bump is a little section of audio that we're going to use at the end of the podcast.

Now I have three sections of audio, or three tracks. Obviously, we don't want them all to start simultaneously. So what I need to do is move these tracks so that they play when I want them to. I can select here the move tool, grab the audio track, and move it anywhere in the timeline that I wish. Now that I have the tracks in position, I want to go ahead and press play.

I can zoom into the area that I want to do a finer edit on and you'll see here that I have a little bit of music that is simply going to play before the announcer starts. The first thing I want to do is move that announcer right to the beginning of the music section. However, you'll notice here on the wav file that the music dos not fade out. Going to my selection tool, I can highlight the music, go to effect, and select fade out. Now the music is going to fade out while my announcer starts his voice.

Zooming out to the end, you can see that I have a little section of music here as well. This is going to be what's called bumper music. It's basically in place to fade out towards the end of the program. I'm going to move it to just after the announcer's voice. The same idea with the intro, I need this music to fade in rather than fade out. So I’m going to use my selection tool, highlight the section, select effect, and fade in, and now the music is going to fade in with the announcer.

Podcast Mixdown

Now that I've done a basic edit and created my show, I need to mix all of these tracks into one file. This is very easily accomplished. I simply need to go to file, export, determine where I want my file to go, and name it. In this case, I'm going to call it ' My_Podcast'. The format that I'm going to choose here is going to be uncompressed. In this case, I'm going to do a wav file and then click save. Audacity is letting me know that these tracks will be mixed down into a single mono channel in the exported file. This is not an issue as we're not doing a stereo podcast in this case. In this case, I'm going to click 'OK'.  

I can enter a little bit of metadata into this as well. The artist's name, the track title, and more. In this case, you're free to do so if you wish, but we're going to show you a better way to do it using iTunes after the fact. Simply click 'OK'.

Creating an .mp3

There's some debate within the podcast industry as to whether or not you should render things down to a wav file and then encode it into mp3 using a separate program. This depends on the application that you're using. For example, a lot of professional people in radio and podcasting use Adobe Audition. This is a wonderful program, really great to work in, and has amazing sounding encoders. So no matter which program you use, you can choose whether or not you're going to make it an mp3 file within the application or do it separately in iTunes. Today we're going to look at taking a wav file and making it into an mp3 using the free application iTunes.

Export to .wav

The reason why we put this into a wav file is simple. We want to have the highest resolution file possible before we import it into iTunes. iTunes does a lot better job of Audacity and the Lame encoder that you need to install with it of creating a good quality sounding mp3. In addition, iTunes does a great job of something called ID3 tags. This is the name of the artist, the album artwork, and more. However, if you want to simply use audacity to create your mp3 version, you can!

You simply go to file, export, and then here you can choose what file format. Clicking on 'Save' creates an mp3 file.

Importing to iTunes

Now that we've created a final mixed version of our podcast. Let's open up iTunes. I recommend in iTunes that you create a playlist for your podcasts. This is not for the podcasts that you'll be listening to, but rather the podcasts that you're going to be converting into mp3. Going up to file and new, I can create a new playlist. Let's call this playlist 'Mixdowns'. Now, I can go into my playlist and I see 'Mixdowns'. Grabbing the file and dragging it into the playlist, you'll see that my podcast now appears.

Remember, this is still in wav form. This is an enormous file and far too big to distribute on the internet.

Converting to .mp3

Before I convert this to an mp3 version, I need to change the default settings in iTunes. iTunes out of the of box creates an aac version of this file. This is not what we want. We need to change the preferences by going to iTunes, Preferences, here you can see 'Import Settings'. Notice that it creates its import using aac encoder, I want to change this to mp3. The default is high quality (160 kilobits per second), that's absolutely fine. Click 'OK'.

Now I can right click on my file and you'll notice I have an option to create an MP3 version and now it's done! I can search through my library for this file. Here are the two versions of my podcast. One being a wav and one being an mp3. Clicking on 'Get Info', pulls up the information on this file. You'll notice the type here is an MPEG audio - that is mp3. It gives you the file size and more information. This is where we'd want to enter our album art, mp3 tags, and more.

Each of these sections gives you an opportunity to fill in the artist, the album name, the groupings and comments, the genre, and more. It makes it extremely search friendly and compatible with all of the different players on the market. We strongly recommend that you add artwork, tag your podcast, and make it super search-able on the internet.

This also helps with iTunes, with your podcast distribution system and more. This is really a critical stage in making sure that your file and your podcast is complete.

Where's the file?

After we've entered all of the ID3 tags, album art, and information for our mp3 podcast. We can simply take this right out of our library, drag it onto our desktop. This is where we're going to upload it to our server in order to distribute.

Conclusion

Now we've created our mp3 file. We have ID3 tags, album art, and everything ready to go to have it distributable on the internet. The next step will be uploading this to the server of our choice, so that people can download and subscribe. In future specializations, I'll remind you that we will be looking at a variety of ways of doing this. But today, we looked at the most basic using Audacity with programs that are free and already installed on our machines. For more information about this, transcripts, and more, head to PodflyAcademy.com

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Basic Podcast Recording and Editing in Audacity

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Basic Podcast Recording and Editing in Audacity

In this quick session, let’s look at basic audio recording into Audacity using our Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface. 

Advanced audio editing will be covered in future specializations, so stay tuned!

 

Recording and Editing

Hi, this is Corey from Podfly Academy. Hopefully, by now we feel comfortable enough with our physical equipment to start looking into the digital realm of audio recording. Today we're going to be focusing on a DAW, which stands for Digital Audio Workstation, called Audacity. There are a wide variety of these available on the market, but we're going to look at Audacity because it's simple, it's free, and it's compatible with all computer operating systems.

 

Recording Into Your Computer

We've taken a quick look at the physical setup required to get the audio from the microphone into your computer. The next step is now looking at how we're going to actually record that audio in the machine. Whether you have a Windows PC or a Mac, they both come with audio recording programs built-in.

However, for podcasting we usually want something a little bit more sophisticated, as we're going to need to edit that audio. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular programs for podcasters when they get started, because it's free. This is called Audacity.

 

Audacity

The program Audacity has been around for many years. It's a free program because it's something called open-source. That means anyone can develop, improve, and work on this program. Downloading it is as simple as going to audacity.sourceforge.net and get the Mac or Windows version.

 

Recording Audio

Now that I’ve installed Audacity on my computer, I want to select both the input and output that I'm going to be using. Notice at the top I can choose my input device. In my case, I'm using something called a Scarlett 212 USB interface. Your USB interface or microphone will appear in this menu after you've installed it. In this case, I'll click on Scarlett 2i2.

I'm also going to listen back to my audio through the headphone jack on my USB device. So in this case, I want to select the same device. To the right, I have the opportunity to select whether my input is going to be mono or stereo. If I have one microphone plugged in, I want to select mono. Above this there's a little microphone icon where I can select enable or start monitoring. Notice you see here now that I am able to see my input going into Audacity. We want to stay at the negative 12 db or just slightly above level, since we've adjusted our microphone gain before we opened Audacity, we have a great level going in.

The most important part is to make sure that level never clips. Another consideration is you don't want  your level to be too low. My levels going in right now look great and you want yours to look similar. Recording your voice now is as simple as clicking record.

As I record my voice, you can see that a wave form is appearing. This is a visual representation of audio. To stop the recording, I simply press stop.

 

Playback Audio

At any point I can playback any part of the audio I recorded. By clicking in the project where I'd like the playback to start and pressing the spacebar, you'll see that I can playback through the audio.

Now that we are successfully recording our voice into our DAW, it's time to look at manipulating that audio. Quite often we have ums, and ahs, and breaks, and mistakes that we want to edit. These are very simple functions within Audacity. The great news is a lot of these skills that we're learning today are transferable to other programs as well, whether you're using GarageBand or Adobe Audition or Logic Pro. Any of the DAW's have a very similar layout and a very similar set of commands. We'll be looking really in depth at these down the road in specializations, but today let's make a couple of quick edits in Audacity.

 

Deleting Audio

I'm going to do a simple read and I'm going to make an intentional mistake. This mistake I'm going to repeat and then edit out. I'm going to click record and start my take:

“I would like to welcome John Smith to the program today. Take Two. I would like to welcome John Smithe to the program today.”

I've mispronounced the name of my guest, I thought it was Smith, but it's actually Smithe. So now I need to get rid of or delete the audio where I've made a mistake. So let's go to the point where I made the mistake and have a listen. By pressing space bar, I can play the audio.

I obviously do not want to have my first take or where I said take two. This is now as simple as grabbing and highlighting the area and pressing the delete key. Now the audio is gone and I only have the take that I want.

“I would like to welcome John Smithe to the program today.”

 

Removing Mistakes

In some cases we make a mistake during the recording process or the interview. We needed to look up a piece of information or simply stumbled over our words. When you're recording, all you need to do is take a quick pause and start again.

I'm going to make a really simple mistake during my recording and then I'm going to edit it out.

“I think it's great that you're here today, ummmm....John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”

Notice that I made an intentional mistake in the middle of the recording, where I forgot the guest's name. Editing this is quite simple. Again, I can listen to where that point is, highlight the area that I want removed, and click delete. Notice that mistake is now gone.

“I think it's great that you're here today…..John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”

If I want to fine tune this edit, I can magnify in closer and make what we call a tighter edit.

“I think it's great that you're here today John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”

 

Keyboard Shortcuts

As you become more comfortable with the editing process, there are a couple keyboard shortcuts that we recommend you learn. We noted during this processes hitting the space bar stopped and started the playback. Highlighting the audio and pressing the delete key obviously gets rid of audio. But sometimes we make an edit, and we listen to it and we don't want it. Undo is as easy on a Mac as hitting Command + Z or Control + Z on a PC. Another important keyboard command to remember is Control + S, or on a Mac, Command + S. This saves your audio and saves your work.

In many cases we do a long audio recording and our computer suddenly crashes. In these cases we can lose minutes or sometimes hours of audio recording and editing. Getting in the habit of every other edit you do, hitting Command + S or Control + S means that if your computer goes down, you've not lost your audio or your work.

 

Practice First!

Today we went over some of the most basic functions of getting a microphone connected to your computer, recording that audio, and doing some basic editing. We strongly recommend you spend some time before you even think about recording your first show getting familiar with your gear. Understanding how you to use your microphone can save you hours and hours of time editing down the road.
 

We've seen a lot of podcasters setup, record, and then find at the end the audio quality is not good enough for release. Doing a couple dummy episodes to get comfortable with the way that it works is not only going to help you with your voice training and help you with your recording, but it's going to ensure that you don't waste time every time you setup your microphone.

 

Conclusion

Some of these DAWs can seem a little bit complicated at first, but once we get comfortable with them we see the basic functionality of them as relatively easy to master. Some rookie mistakes tend to happen though when using these DAWs. We want to make sure that we definitely have the right microphone plugged in and that we have the right sound sources. We at Podfly have seen many times people recording their podcast and end up realizing that they were using their laptop microphone or something else. This can be a complete waste of audio and a terrible waste of time.

We strongly recommend that you create a checklist for the beginning of each and every show. Checking to see if your microphone is plugged in correctly, that you have the right input, and more. This checklist can save you hours of time and tons of headache. Look in the specializations down the road in creating these checklists and how to make sure you have the right equipment setup each and every time you record.

 




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