The Podcasting Gear Show

Revealing the Equipment Podcasters Use and How They Use It

The Podcasting Gear Show - Revealing the Equipment Podcasters Use and How They Use It

011 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Portable Podcasting With Ease – John Wilkerson From The Wired Homeschool Podcast Talks About The Bossjock Studio App

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartThere are three things that every podcaster is looking for when it comes to equipment in their studio.  For one, they want quality. Nothing screams amateur like poorly recorded audio, especially when it is the fault of the equipment. The second thing they are looking for is affordability without sacrificing that quality. So if we can use the tools we already have, then dollars remain in our bank accounts and podcasters, and their wives, remain happy. And lastly, many podcasters are looking for some portability.  Yes, we like our studios, but we also like the ability to take our studios out and about for a bit.

Bossjock Studio answers this need.  John Wilkerson from the Wired Homeschool Podcast literally dropped by my studio the other week to chat about how this app has transformed his podcasting. He already owned an iPad and an Audio-Technica ATR2100. He purchased a Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit and walah he had his studio.  Now granted if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, this studio setup will get pricey.  And you do need a USB microphone.  But barring those hurdles, it is possible, as John demonstrated in the Wired Homeschool Podcast to put out quality content with simplicity.

Podcast ready with no need for post production, Bossjock allows a podcaster to record a podcast while triggering intros/outros, bumpers and background music all on-the-fly. It allows you to encodes to all your favorite formats – mp3, m4a, wav, aiff and then export the files to FTP, Dropbox, Soundcloud, iTunes, Wifi, iTunes Share, AudioCopy and Email.  It even works with the  iRig PRE that Troy Heinritz talked about the other week.  It is seriously worth the $9.99 price tag.

If you already using Bossjock Studio, I would love to know how you are using it.  Drop me a voicemail using the Speakpipe widget to the right.

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Shure’s Secret To Sure Success

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartWhen I took the stage as the the lead vocalist and guitarist for the folk rock band I fronted in the late nineties, my go to microphone was Shure’s SM58. 90% of the bands that played the local scene had them. Why? Because we could spit on them incessantly, accidently drop them on and off the stage, back a Mack truck over them, and they would still perform and deliver great sound. And because of their durability and quality, my Shure SM58s still have a place in my studio. But after 15 years of using them, I discovered a secret about the Shure SM58 that I perhaps intuitively knew, but never really thought about.

The Shure SM58 has an internal shock mount.

Almost every other microphone I know (and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know all of them) has an external shock mount.  Take my Heil PR40 for example.  When I bought it, it came with an external shock mount. No bands I knew ever used shockmounts for the SM58.  Now I know why.

The Shure uses a pneumatic shock mount, or as it is sometimes called a pumping shockmount. Shure is not so concerned with side to side movement since the diaphragm moves with the microphone; they are more concerned with handling noise, stand vibrations, and in and out movement. The diaphragm mount actually pumps like a piston to absorb the vibrations. This eliminates a majority of extrinsic noise.

This is really great for the podcasting studio and for the traveling podcaster. The internal shockmount not only reduces the mic handling noise, but also means there is one less piece of equipment to lug around.

I want to say thanks to listener Todd Combs for pointing this out to me. I have have included a video below that discusses this more fully. They are focussed on Shure’s SM57, but the same holds true for the SM58.

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010 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Never Lose A Skype Interview Again – Troy Heinritz from the TV Talk and Noodle MX network Talks Audio Hijack Pro

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartSummer evening’s hot, muggy air permeated the podcasting studio as Miles McLoughlin and I recording our interview with Leviathan Chronicles’s podio-drama creator Cristof Laputka. It was an awesome interview, complete with his story of the Wall Street underwear incident. When the interview ended, I stopped the recording on my TASCAM DR-07 I was using and something glitched on the SD Card.  I lost the recording.  Cristof was gracious enough to grant us a second interview, but while it was good, it never had the same vibe and feel, and the stories were different.

If I would have known Troy Heinritz then, I could have avoided all this hassle. Troy Heinritz from the Noodle MX and TV Talk Network talks about an application he uses called Audio Hijack Pro. Audio Hijack Pro is a product of Rogue Amoeba. Their site tauts Audio Hijack Pro as “Record from applications like iTunes, Skype or DVD Player. Record from microphones, Radiosharks and other hardware. If you hear it, you can record it.”

Here is what this means: If you are recording using your laptop and a USB mic, and are doing a Skype interview, you can record that Skype, or Google Hangout, or Facetime call with no issue.  You don’t have to worry about Mix Minus or anything.  It will capture exactly what you hear and save it in the file format of your choice.

And if you are recording your Skype calls through a mixer and into a Digital Audio Recorder, you can still use Audio Hijack Pro to record a backup of your interview.  This would have saved Miles and I the hassle of having rerecord our interview with Cristof.  Believe me, it is worth the $32 dollars to save yourself the aggravation.

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AAC And The Demise Of The Enhanced Podcast

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartOne of the very first podcasts I listened to was the Engadget Podcast, a podcast that focussed on all things technology. What I loved about their podcast was that as they would talk about the latest phone or TV, pictures and links to what they were talking about would flash across the screen of my iPhone. I loved the idea that podcasts could be more than just audio, and be visual and interactive as well. So around the time I rebranded the SciFi Diner Podcast, I began to publish an enhanced feed, as is was called, displaying pictures that coincided with what we discussed on the show.  I did this for about 30 episodes, and then closed the curtains on it.

Enhanced podcasts use a file format called AAC which stands for Advanced Audio Coding.  Despite it being associated to Apple as their format, it was developed by a conglomeration of companies such as AT&T Bell Labs, Dolby, Sony, and Nokia and meant to be mp3′s successor.  Indeed it is superior in many respects.  An AAC file recorded at a similar bit rate to that of a mp3 file will have a higherquality. And it allows podcasters to add media and links into their podcasts. So why aren’t a plethora of podcasters using it?

Let me posit a couple of reasons:

First, despite the range of devices that play AAC, including Microsoft Zune, Sony PlayStation 3 and PSP, the Nintendo Wii, and mobile phones running Google’s Android OS, there are enough devices, especially older ones, that cannot play AAC files.  That means if you want to reach your widest audience, you need to publish two feeds.  The Scifi Diner Podcast did this for a while.  If you choose to publish two feeds, that means more space is needed to host your files, meaning adding cost  for hosting space.

The other reason I stopped using enhanced podcasts, despite their coolness factor, was due to time poverty.  The podcasting adage says that for every minute of recorded audio, expect to spend four minutes of editting time. I think that might be a bit distorted, but it is safe to say, and I know from experience, that running an enhanced podcast does add to your editing time. Not only do you have to find pictures and links, but then you need to copy and paste them and line them up in your editing software.  If you are trying to reach your largest audience, that means you are rendering your files in both an AAC and a mp3 format. That takes time. It takes double the upload time. Double the configuring time. If you are crunched for time as a podcaster, then enhanced podcasting is NOT the way to go.

And video casting has really come into its own and become more accessible and user friendly in the recent years.  Google hangouts and other applications make it really easy to record a video show and demonstrate products and show pictures. You really want a visual podcast, then put a little more time into vidcasting. People who want to see you and what you are demonstarting on your show will be able to find you on youtube etc.

Seriously, when was the last time you stared at your screen when listening to a podcast?  Its been a long time for me. Podcasts are meant to be audio. People listen to them running, biking, commuting, and in a ton of other situations where looking at the screen would only cause accidents.

95% your listeners, which is an accurate statistic I just made up, will not be able to  distinguish between the quality of a mp3 file and that of an AAC.  Most won’t care, the differences are too subtle, and the ambient noise surrounding them too great.

May the almighty mp3 live forever.

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009 – The Podcasting Gear Show – Troy Heinritz from TV Talk and the NoodleMX Network Talks About The iRig Pre

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartPodcasting is a Pain

Yeah. You heard me. Especially when I try to break my podcast out of the confines of my studio and let it loose in the wild.  It doesn’t know how to survive. It has become too domesticated. Too reliant on its compressor, mixing board, and digital audio workstation. In the wild, I end up with noises I can’t control, poor condenser mics from easily portable equipment, and the end result is, well, not that enticing.

I experienced this at the Shore Leave, Farpoint, and Balticon while recording interviews for the SciFi Diner Podcast.  We would land these awesome interviews with genre actors and actresses like Amanda Tapping and Edward James Olmos only to have them sound mediocre due to the recording quality of our portable equipment. The interviews themselves were great, but the sound quality deviated greatly from the shows we normally produced.  But alas, no more.  Troy Heinritz has a solution.

Troy Heinritz, from the Tv Talk and the Noodle.mx Network, introduced me to the iRig Pre iRig PRE, a device that allows podcasters to use their sweet XLR microphones, the one they use in their studio, and plug it into their iPad, iPhone, or Android device and record clear, qulaity sound, very similar to what listeners experience when listening to their studio recording.  It takes portable podcasting to a new level and uses what podcaster already has with very little investment. If the iRig PRE would have been out when I bought my first outside of studio recording device, I could have saved myself $150 dollars. The  iRig PRE will only runs $40 bucks.

Basically, the iRig PRE acts as a bridge between a my favorite mic, in my case my Heil PR-40, and my iPhone, and allows me to record using a variety of Apps.  The sound recording is clear.  Troy has used it for podcasting while on many of his business trips when recording his Resurrection Revealed Podcast with Wayne Henderson. There was no drop in show quality.

If you would like to pick up and try out the  iRig PRE, You can buy it here. Let me know what you think.

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Struggling with Sibilance in Shows

thepodcastinggearshowalbumartAs kids my brother and I used to have these throwdown word challenges. It would go something like this. “I’ll bet you can’t say ‘She sells seashells down by the sea shore’ 5 times in 15 seconds without messing up.” We of course tried, messed up terribly, and died laughing in the process.  The alliterative sibilance in that series or words caused us to trip up. And it is sibilance that causes some podcasters, for perhaps different reasons, to trip up in their shows.

Sibilance is the intrusion of sibilant sounds, (the “s”, “z” and “sh”), when podcasting.  It can be really grating for someone who is trying to get good content out of a podcast.  Sibilance can be the result of podcasting vocal technique, compressions, and even microphone choice. Typically Sibilance occurs between the frequencies of 2–10 kHz.  The good news is that sibilance can be controlled.

De-essing is the technique used to reduce and minimize sibilance. In a sense, it acts like a gate for sibilant sounds.  My DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor has a de-esser built into it as many pre amps do these days.  I prefer handling de-essing issues this way. However, many programs like Adobe Audition and Audacity have de-essing algorithms that can handle the issue in post production.

My preference is to always use hardware to take care of an issue when I can.  If you would like to try out the DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor, you can find it here. Let me know what you think.

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