Sound Recording and Editing Tips
Much of the skill you develop in creating podcasts will come with experience. No matter how much you know about the various terms and aspects of software packages and hardware, in the end, the most important thing is
. That said, there
a few important tips that will help you when you are recording, editing, and mixing your podcast:
When recording, try to use your normal voice. Many people attempt a "radio" voice, and it comes off sounding fake or contrived. Practicing talking in your normal voice will help your first podcast come off better.
First-time podcasters often speak too loudly into the microphone. It's important not only to speak at a conversational level, but also to be careful not to vary the volume of your voice or the distance between your mouth and the microphone a great deal. Doing either of these things will result in an
podcast in which your voice will "drop out" or "explode" during the show.
Use a pop filter (also known as a pop screen) in front of the microphone to eliminate pops when saying the
When recording, make sure that the levels don't go over the 0-decibel mark on the DB meter. If that happens, the high end of the recording will get clipped off, resulting in very poor sound quality.
Record at the highest sampling rate possible. CD quality is 44.1 kHz; DVD quality is 96.1 kHz. It's important to record at the highest quality that your recording device will allow. When using a small digital recorder, the
of the memory stick is the usual limiting factor. On a computer, however, there is usually enough hard drive space to record at any level.
If you are going to use commercial music in your podcasts for any reason, you must get an appropriate license for it (see "Legalities" later in this chapter). Most music is licensed by ASCAP or BMI, and both have licenses for podcasters.
When interviewing a guest, don't be afraid to rerecord your questions,
if the questions didn't come off right in the first place (for example, you were coughing or stammering while asking the question). It's easy to rerecord the question and place it over the original question. The listener need never know.
and fade-out at the beginning and end of the podcast. This small touch gives a very impressive feel to the show and makes the
come across as being professional.
Include background music during the podcast (see "Legalities" later in this chapter). Background music can be used in several ways. First, it can demarcate different phases or sections of the podcast,
in a crescendo to signify the passing of a segment and falling off again to signify the beginning of a new topic or to introduce a guest. Second, music can and should
and close a show, with several seconds of music
and following the first and last things said by the host.
is an author, artist, and engineer based in Seattle and is associate editor of MAKE. He has written and
books on mobile devices, multimedia, and hacks. He regularly
Mobile PC Magazine
, as well as producing the MAKE: audio and video content on the Makezine.com site. Phillip is also an Internet-strategy analyst for creative firm Fallon Worldwide, best known for its award-winning work on BMWFilms.
What do you recommend (hardware and software) for the beginning podcaster?
If you have a Mac with GarageBand and a Griffin iTalk or a USB microphone, the results will be surprisingly professional. On a PC, any
microphone and Audacity will get you started. I've found that a portable recorder tends to get you in the podcasting zone more than sitting in front of a computer. If you're going somewhere, actually interviewing someone, there's a lot more context and richness in the audio than the mouse clicks and keystrokes.
How has podcasting helped you
with regard to your career/business?
I started podcasting early on, so it's helped a lot in terms of being
an "expert" in the arena. There have been a lot of opportunities to
businesses in podcasting, but I've been more interested in spreading the word about how to create them with writings, how-to articles, and other efforts. To me, that's the exciting thing—turning on tons of people to the self-publishing of audio.
What are your top five tips for a beginning podcaster?
Get a good microphone. USB; it doesn't matter—something that sounds good will make any podcast a lot better.
Try before you buy. A lot of podcasters go out and buy a lot of gear the pros use. Try experimenting with what you have first. In the end, the big
might not matter.
Love or hate your topics. Passion comes across really well in audio; stick to the stuff you care about or despise. Both make great podcast.
Break eggs. Make mistakes, try different gear, try different encodings. Don't spend too much time getting it "right"—just get it out there, and the rest will follow.
Use Creative Commons (see "Creative Commons" later in this chapter). License your works with a Creative Commons license. Not only is it good for you, but it's also good to get more people aware of the CC.