Viewing entries tagged
podcast mixing

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

Comment

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

Comment

Quick and Dirty Guide to Audacity

Comment

Quick and Dirty Guide to Audacity

Audacity is an excellent free alternative to anybody who is looking to do simple edits or record their voice in no time. GarageBand or Audition are great products to use if you want something more complex done to your audio, but you will have to pay to use those software products. Despite Audacity being free, there are a ton of great options for the everyday audio editor and it has even become a preferred editing tool for many podcasters who need simple, clean, and quick editing work done.

Getting Started

To begin, it's best that you have Audacity already downloaded. Here is a quick link to their download (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) page. Once done, do a quick audio test using your preferred microphone. If you have more than one microphone, it's recommended that you go into properties and name your devices accordingly to prevent you using the wrong microphone to interview people and to save you any confusion in the future. We will show you just how to do that in just a moment.

Recording

The buttons to record are pretty straight forward. You can press the record button and then pause button if you plan on using the same track later on. If you press record and then click the stop button, then it tells the program you're completely done with your first audio track. You notice that if you were to click the record button again, there will be a brand new audio track and you may even pick up some of the first track's audio recording if you're not wearing headphones.

If you don't want to have two different audio tracks on the same playback time, it's easy to move a track in to its desired time slot. All you have to do is click the TimeShift Tool located to the right of the red record button. It's the icon with two black arrows sticking out in opposite directions. See below image for a clearer idea:

This Timeshift tool can detect where the end of your first recording is, so that you can perfectly align the two recordings together without skipping a beat.

Now referring to the above image, if you click the Selection Tool; the capital I shaped icon on the left hand side, you can also decide where you want your second recording to start. If your first recording is 6 seconds long for example, take your mouse and click anywhere in the light gray area of Audacity. For this example, let's say around the 7 second mark. Once done, you'll see a black line where you just clicked. When you press record, that's where your second audio recording will begin.

Recording Sounds From The Computer

Some podcasters would like the ability to record sounds coming from their computer instead of their microphone. Obviously, if you use your microphone to record sound coming directly from the speakers, you will lose an enormous amount of quality in that recording and it simply won't sound great. This process can sometimes take people a couple of hours to figure out, but lucky for you we're going to get it done within a couple of minutes.

For Windows:

Looking at your computer's toolbar, click on the little speaker icon located on the far right hand side near your time clock. You should see your sound levels and a blue text link that says Mixer, click on it and then click on the System Sounds icon. This should lead you to a popup window.

If you do not see this speaker icon and it's not in the hidden icon section, then go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > and then click the Sound option. This will take you directly to the popup window.

Once this window appears, you should see four tabs. Playback, Recording, Sounds, Communications. Click on the recording tab and look for the Stereo Mix option. If you do not see it, then right click in the box and check the “Show Disabled Devices” and the “Show Disconnected Devices” options. There you should be able to see the Stereo Mix option. Enable it and restart Audacity.

Since you're here, it'll be a good time to name the various microphones you might have to something more memorable. All you have to do is right click your desired microphone, click Properties and then type in a name into the input box.

When Audacity has started back up, go to your microphone drop down, located in the near center of your Audacity toolbar, and click the 'Stereo Mix' option. This option will now help you record sounds generated from the computer and not from speaker-to-microphone.

For Mac:

The Audacity team have already written a great tutorial on how to record sound from your computer using a Mac. Click here (http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_recording_computer_playback_on_mac.html) to follow along.

Headphones

When you're recording over tracks, it's important to wear headphones so that the microphone doesn't pick up any playback from your original recordings. This is also an important tip to keep in mind during Skype interviews. In fact, wearing headphones is the best way to make your audio sound crystal clear and professional.

Editing

Audacity is great for simple touches and little edits here and there. They have made such a great tool for quick editing off the bat that it's almost troublesome opening up heavier products like Audition and GarageBand to do simple work.

You can find these editing tools on the upper right hand side. Make sure you have the Selection Tool selected before you begin trying to use these icons or else it simply won't work. Drag your mouse and select sections of your recorded audio that you wish to delete, then once the pieces are highlighted, click the scissor button to remove the excess or Ctrl+X. You can also take the same highlighted audio and click the copy button or Ctrl+C. Respectively, you can select elsewhere on the audio track and click the paste button or Ctrl+V.

If you just like one section of your audio, then you can highlight it and click the Trim audio button or Ctrl+T, which will remove all the non-highlighted parts of that audio. The opposite is true with the Silence button. When you highlight a section with heavy audio, the Silence button or Ctrl+L will automatically remove it and replace it with a single line. There are Undo and Redo buttons right after the Silence button, however you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z to Undo and Ctrl+Y to Redo.

Ending Thoughts

We hope this quick introduction to Audacity has been helpful. Remember, it's best to save your audio files in WAV format. However, WAV can take up a lot of space. An alternative to this and to save you some hard drive space is to save your files in .mp3 format. When you export your audio file out of Audacity. Select 'Save as Type: Mp3 Flies' and then click on Options on the right hand corner. This will bring up a MP3 Export Setup popup window where you can set the quality. 320 kbps is the maximum that it can go, so select that and continue on to saving your file the way you would normally.

 

See you next time,

Ayn. 

Comment