Starting A Podcast: The Best Recording Equipment & Platforms You Should Use

So to carry on my run of content on this blog, I have decided to share one of my favourite posts this week. I was tentative to add it to the website because I really did not want to offend the original author, but I trust he/she is glad that I loved reading their work and wanted to share it with my readers.

So you want to start a podcast? Well, hold up there. There’s a few things you need to consider first, and though the technical capabilities of modern computers should make this kind of stuff super-easy, the reality often isn’t as simple as it would seem. What’s the difference between microphones? How many people can you record, and how? Read on for the full lowdown.
Microphone Obviously, your choice of microphone is going to make a huge difference to the sound quality of your recording. All microphones are very much not alike. Here’s 3 basic rules to keep in mind:
Rule 1: Don’t Use The Internal Microphone If you’re using a laptop, you might be tempted to just use the built-in microphone. The problem with these is that not only do they just sound horrible, they also tend to amplify vibrations and general noises from the internal workings of your machine.
Rule 2: Use Headphones This should be obvious, but if you use your computer speakers to hear what everyone is saying, it’s going to feed back into your microphone too. Any headphones will do, even ones from your iPod.
Rule 3: Get a USB Mic You can pick up a cheap analog microphone that plugs into the microphone jack, but these tend pick up electrical interference from your case and other components, resulting in an annoying buzz throughout. USB microphones output digital, avoiding the issue of interference completely.
So What Microphone Should I Get? On the low end of the scale, a simple USB handheld microphone (Singstar or Rock Band, etc) will usually give you relatively good quality. You’ll need some separate headphones of course, but anything is fine there. Without a mic stand though, you will be holding them yourself, resulting in highly annoying fading in and out as your arms move – something our own Dave is all too guilty of. A lot of these microphones come with basic pop-filters (foam over the head) to somewhat reduce the popping sound from plosive consonants P and B, so for a budget option the quality is remarkably good.

Also on the low end is a USB headset mic, designed for Skype meetings and voice recognition primarily. They can vary in quality, but generally don’t sound as good as handheld karaoke style mics simply because the pickup is smaller. Until this week, I was using one of these – and my voice came out rather tinny. On the plus side, the mic will stayed fixed to your face, avoiding the drifting volume problem, and the headphones are built in.
On the mid-scale, a condenser microphone housed in a shock absorbent casing, with a pop filter, will set you back about $200-$300. I recently purchased a Blue Microphone Snowball, and the quality is fantastic. A slightly higher end alternative is the Samson CO1U.

You could also opt for a more dedicated hardware style approach – a mixer board, along with a traditional analog mic. If you’re planning on having guests in the same physical location, this is certainly a good option for getting the levels right pre-recording, but otherwise it’s quite overkill – especially when we’re talking about talk radio-type podcasting where it’s down mixed to 64kbs (more on output quality in a later article).
I’ve recorded a simple comparison mp3 here – using my iMac’s in-built mic, a cheap $40 USB headset, and the Blue Snowball.
Platform Next, you’ll need to make a choice about the platform to bring everyone together, assuming you’ll have more than one person in the recording. If you’re just going to talk by yourself, then skip straight to recording software.
Skype: For audio podcasts, Skype is undoubtedly the king. Call Recorder ($20) is my personal favourite OSX app for really easy to use Skype recording, which will give you both your own recording and any other sides of the conversation in a separate track. Bear in mind that for group Skype video conferencing you’ll need Skype Premium, which starts at around $5/month.
We’ve already covered other ways of recording Skype calls quite a lot though, so I won’t talk anymore about that here.

Record Skype calls for free with VodBurner

How to record Skype calls on Windows and Mac

How to use HotRecorder for Windows to record calls and conduct interviews

3 Must-Have Skype apps to enhance the chat experience
Google Plus Hangouts For video podcasts with more than 2 people, Google Plus is the hot new way to do things. Though there is no native recording capability at the moment, any screen recording software that can also bring in the system audio will do fine. For OSX, iShowU HD is the best, starting at $30 for the basic version. For Windows, CamStudio is a freeware solution that will give you a standard AVI file to work with but is otherwise lacking in features.

Straight To Software Recording Although your actual communication may be going on through Skype, you don’t actually have to record the Skype call if everyone records themselves on their local machine, then you combine all the recordings during editing. On the plus side, this gives you much higher quality recording and avoids the random audio glitching Skype sometimes has during a low connection speed. On the downside, this means everyone needs to have a certain degree of technical ability, which isn’t always the case.
For direct recording on the Mac, Garageband is pre-installed on most machines and more than capable – though it can be a bit of a memory hog. For Windows, I’d suggest the free Audacity. Both of these apps will also be used to edit the final recording.

Redundant Recordings Once you’ve decided on how you’re going to record, you really need a backup method as well. Run both, because losing an hours worth of audio due to some technical error is incredibly frustrating. We lost one episode recorded over Christmas – one of our best, in fact – due to my Internet cutting out, which in turn caused Justin’s Garageband to go wonky and die. My advice would be this – try to get everyone doing a local, high quality recording of their own voice – ideally, these will be used in the final cut; then have backup recordings via Skype Call Recorder or a similar app with at least yourself, and one other user. That should cover your bases.
That’s it for now. Next time I’ll be writing a basic podcasting editing tutorial using Garageband, but I’ve also written about the ins and outs of actually hosting your podcast using WordPress. As ever, comments are open for questions and feedback, and (shameless plug alert) don’t forget to check out the latest Technophilia Podcast – a weekly NSFW and irreverent look at the week in tech and cool new apps.
Image credit: Guy with headphones from ShutterStock

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If you’re ready to find more on Kenwood Headsets visit our own web site.

Bring beautiful music (and sound effects) to your ears with this headset buying guide

Some of these trained writers on the web are at a really high level that i ponder if any of them have ever printed a paperback? so from time to time i like to spotlight these exceptional content pieces and here’s one i found fascinating the other day.

Modern games deliver awesome graphics, but the visuals are only half of the gaming experience. Studies have shown that audio quality can shape your perception of the entire gaming experience. When a high-quality soundtrack reaches your ears, your brain will also perceive the game’s graphics to be of higher quality.

Audio quality can affect your gaming experience in other ways, too. Without good audio, you won’t hear enemies approaching or hiding behind cover. You might not hear your teammates as they try to coordinate with you or give you instructions, and they won’t hear you clearly, either. And you’ll lose that sense of immersion in the game world that turns a good gaming experience a great one. A high-quality headset is just as important as a good graphics card, keyboard, and monitor.

Audiophiles want the best quality they can get, and gamers need the best tech available. Top-of-the-line headsets deliver both. Whichever camp you’re in, the first choice you need to make is between a stereo headset and a surround-sound headset. Stereo—independent sound from the left and right channels—is the more common option, but it can’t match the realism of surround sound.

Headsets that use surround-sound technology simulate realistic room acoustics through digital signal processing. They trick your brain into thinking that sound is coming from specific locations in the environment. It’s a great sensation and can be really helpful in games—when it works. If the designer handles the encoding poorly, however, it can create myriad artifacts and distortions that make audio enthusiasts cringe.

rage 7b
Inline controls make it easier to adjust a headset’s volume and mute functions.

Once you’ve made that decision, focus on comfort. A headset should fit your noggin the way your favorite sweatshirt fits your torso. A too-heavy headset will pull down on the top of your head and strain your neck, turning you into a broken bobble-head. The headband should be well padded, and the ear cups should cover your ears completely to keep sound in and background noise out.

Natural materials such as cloth mesh and leather (especially lambskin) are the most comfortable to wear for long gaming runs. Vinyl and other types of faux leather tend to peel and crack with age, and they can irritate sensitive skin after several hours.

analog or usb
Headsets can connect via USB or analog. The Logitech G430 lets you choose.

You can connect a headset to your PC in one of two ways: with a USB connector or with jacks (typically, 1/8-inch jacks). USB keeps the audio signal in the digital domain until it reaches a digital-to-analog converter, which can be inline with the cable or inside the headset. These designs prevent electrical noise from the PC’s motherboard and other components from contaminating the audio signal. If you’ve invested in a high-end sound card, or a motherboard designed to isolate its onboard audio components from electrical interference, a good analog headset will deliver excellent audio quality.

Don’t forget the element that turns a pair of headphones into a headset: the microphone. Communication is huge in multiplayer games, so a good mic is invaluable. A flexible stalk will enable you to position it comfortably near your mouth when you need it, and easily shunt it aside when you don’t.

bvlack a40 34a0s 0023 astro a40 tag
Some headsets, like the Astro A40s, have such additional features as equalizers, a detachable microphone, and inline controls.

Extra features are the icing on a headset cake. Inline controls provide a convenient way to adjust the volume and mute the mic when you don’t want to broadcast your conversation. A removable microphone allows you to comfortably use the headphones with a digital media player while on the go. And an equalizer or client software can let you establish sound profiles for whatever you’re listening to—games, movies, or music.

Escape the never-ending ambient sounds of holiday music and squabbling families by throwing on your new headset and blasting away in-game baddies while enjoying sweet high-definition audio.

Source – http://www.pcworld.com/article/2069881/bring-beautiful-music-and-sound-effects-to-your-ears-with-this-headset (www.technologytimeline.net)-buying-guide.html

Police hearing loss compensation ‘extortionate’

When we found this short article we were so pleased, having hunted for over a year for this, finding it on this blog was an thrilling day for yours truly.

headset. earphonesThe amount of compensation paid to former police officers who said their hearing was damaged while on duty is “extortionate”, Sinn F訮 has said.
The settlement for 8,641 former officers has cost £135m, with more than £65m of this going on legal fees.
Sinn F訮 MLA Pat Sheehan said the officers were “well paid” and the figure was “clearly unjustifiable”.
However, former detective superintendent Alan Mains said it was justified on medical grounds.
“Collectively speaking, it looks like a phenomenal sum. But it could have been dealt with a lot differently… if they had taken a broad common sense approach, instead of challenging medical evidence,” he said.
Continue reading the main story Hearing loss payouts
Total amount paid to settle cases: £135,357,689

Damages paid to former officers: £70,161,788

Legal and court costs: £65,195,901
Figures run to November 2013
“The reason why we had to carry guns in the first place is pretty obvious – we were the only police service in all of the UK (to have to do so).”
Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey, who is a former RUC officer and a current member of the Policing Board, said he did not understand Sinn F訮’s criticism.
“There is a clear negligence on the part of the employer, who were the Police Authority/Policing Board, and therefore there is a legitimate claim,” he said.
“I find it strange for Sinn F訮 to condemn this because in any other circumstances, an employee who has an injury on duty has a right to claim against their employer.”
Firearms training Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.
Pat Sheehan said officers were “well paid” and the figure was “clearly unjustifiable”
The payment was criticised by SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness, who said it was a “shocking figure”.
“The Policing Board and the Department of Justice have questions to answer about how this was allowed to happen,” he said.
“The police could have taken a much broader approach instead of contesting every case, when medical evidence had been provided stating that there had been hearing loss.
“That would have saved a substantial sum of money.”
As the only routinely armed police force in the UK, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers had to undergo regular firearms training.
Since the late 1960s, police sources were aware of medical evidence that sufficient ear protection was needed, but the RUC did not provide this for another three decades.
Details of the payments were revealed by the PSNI in response to a Freedom of Information request by Belfast-based victims group Relatives for Justice.
The figures run up to the end of November, with hundreds of other claims pending.
More than 10,000 former RUC officers have lodged claims for damages, saying their hearing was damaged.
The claims include officers who claim to have suffered hearing loss as a result of frequent radio use, while being transported in helicopters and while driving motorcycles.
However, the vast majority of claims are for damage caused during firearms training.
In a statement, the PSNI said: “All hearing loss claims have to be thoroughly investigated.
“The chief constable is fully aware of his responsibility to the public purse and the strategy for handling hearing loss litigation has been kept under review by the Chief Constable’s lawyers and the Crown Solicitor’s Office with the aim of ensuring that claims are dealt with as economically as is possible given the technical aspects of the cases and the individual circumstances of each.”
The PSNI also said all legal costs were closely scrutinised and “have been challenged by the Chief Constable’s lawyers when appropriate”.