Tech Tip:The ABCs of Podcasting, Part 3
Part 3: What tools are needed to produce a podcast?
The gear podcasters use to record and edit their podcasts can vary greatly, but the list below will give you a general idea of what you'll need. Remember that the more professional your gear, the more professional your podcast will sound, and the more enjoyable it'll be for your listeners.
- A broadcast microphone—a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic, or Heil's renowned dynamic studio mics, will give you the best sound quality. If you'll be doing field work, you'll want a more rugged hand-held mic, but you should still get a condenser for high-quality sound when you're in the studio.
- Pop filter—a pop filter will minimize unwanted plosive noises and is a must-have in any studio.
- Desktop microphone stand—a stand keeps your hands free and prevents thumps caused by handling noise.
- Headphones—quality studio headphones will let you monitor your podcast. Talking while monitoring your voice can be disorienting, so practice until you get used to it before you record for real.
- USB mixer or interface or a FireWire mixer or interface—an interface will get the signal into your computer and may include mixing software for tweaking and balancing sources, while a mixer is a dedicated unit for doing this and will give you multiple channels and analog control. Make sure your mixer has phantom power if you plan on using condenser microphones.
- Computer—you'll need a computer to record and produce your podcast. Though the word "podcast" is closely associated with Apple Computers, you can record and listen to podcasts on PCs as well.
- Recording and editing software—be sure to get software that supports multiple tracks and supports multi-effects and signal processing plug-ins. Make sure the software lets you save tracks in a digital audio format (MP3, AAC, Ogg, WMA, etc.). Many of these software programs also come with royalty-free audio loops, which are very handy for bumper music (the short clips of music between segments).
- Signal processors—Signal processors such as enhancers and exciters can do a lot for your sound. Enhancers like the BBE Sonic Maximizer give your sound more presence by delaying the low frequencies relative to the higher ones, while exciters like the Aphex Aural Exciter improve your system's sound by re-creating and restoring missing harmonics to a signal.
- An FTP program—You need this software to upload your files from your computer to the file directory on your web host server, where the public can access it. One example for PC or Mac is Podifier, a software program that automates the creation of your RSS feed with one or more enclosures and the FTP application to upload them to your server.
- Soundcard—a good soundcard will provide you with the ability to playback and monitor your podcast, if your interface is not equipped with this ability.
- Digital multitrack recorder—a professional recorder will give you very high-quality sound, battery operation (with some portable models), effects, and the ability to record and play back multiple tracks. Most professional digital recorders record in WAV format, so you'll need to compress your audio on your computer with audio editing software.
- Portable digital recorders/MP3 players—MP3 players with recording capabilities are handy when you need to record on the go. The recording quality can vary, but can get as good as stereo MP3 at 320Mbps.
- A telephone recording tool—programs for recording telephone interviews for podcasts are constantly being invented and improved upon. A few examples are Skype, which offers computer-to-computer and computer-to-phone calls using your mic and headphones that you can hook up to an audio recorder on your computer (type SkypeCasting into a search engine for details); Odeo, which lets you record and post audio over the phone; and iChat, which lets you make conference calls on your Mac with audio and video.
With the proper equipment, your podcast will sound great and if your content is interesting and you do a good job publicizing your podcasts, you'll soon generate a base of loyal listeners.
Musician's Friend offers several all-in-one podcasting kits to get you started with everything you need. If you would like to learn more about podcasting, check out some of our podcasting books.
Part 1: What is podcasting? | Part 2: How are podcasts produced?