Over 20 years ago I bought a cassette tape recorder at a garage sale – a massive sale that was being held at the Civic Center in Rapid City, SD. The guy selling it was some type of researcher. I think he was a biologist. He told me that he used the recorder “in the field”. I liked the sound of that. I imagined he recorded birds. Eventually, I saved my money and replaced the Panasonic with a Marantz tape recorder. It was definitely an upgrade. But nice stuff doesn’t replace heart. It won’t do the work for you.
Sample Recording from Smartphone Internal Mic
Start with what you have, even if it’s just the recorder on your smartphone. I guarantee that it will sound better than anything I used when I first started recording people. For example, listen to this recording that was made with the internal mic on a smartphone. We were outside in the wind. In better conditions, I bet this could sound pretty good.
- The microphone I used at WordCamp Minneapolis/St. Paul 2017 was a Sennheiser MD 46 with a Tascam DR-10X Plug-On Micro Linear PCM Recorder (XLR)
- I’ve also made good use of my Tascom Dr-07. The mic picks up more ambient noise than the Sennheiser mentioned above.
- Here’s an article about choosing a microphone.
- How do you record a phone conversation is a common question that you will see in the various podcast forums. There are multiple ways to do this. My goal was to use something that did not require any extra software or technical skills on the part of the interviewee. So I’ve used the Sangean DAR-101 Professional Grade Digital MP3 Recorder. On my end, this works with a landline. On the previous page, we heard about one of Mary Anne’s most embarrassing moments. I used this machine do do it. Here it is again:
- People also record Skype calls. So far I’ve tested recording a Skype call using the Hindenburg audio editing software. It seemed to work pretty well for a test. But we were using the built-in computer mics and you can tell. Voices also got warped at times, but I think we figure out that it was more likely to happen when we taxed the system (e.g., shared files while talking).
- I have a Google Voice number. I’d like to experiment with gathering answers to the Question of the Day by having people leave a message.
- Your microphone doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. Just by using an external microphone and getting it closer to the source and away from noise (for example the noise the computer is making or the hum of a refrigerator) will improve the sound quite a bit.
- Booth Junkie is a YouTube channel that covers many questions podcasters have about recording.
- Transom.org also covers podcasting equipment, including microphone choices.
Audio Editing Software
Sony Sound Forge
The old way…
I used a PC. I used Sony Sound Forge to cut my audio, fix plosives, level the sound, etc. Once I had my clips prepared, I arranged them and add whatever music I’m using in Adobe Premiere Pro. Yep. That’s video editing software. It’s not the way most podcasters would approach this, but alas I am not alone. I was starting with what I knew how to do.
The new way…
I use a PC. I use Sony Sound Forge to cut my audio, fix plosives, level the sound, etc. Once I have my clips prepared, I arrange them and add whatever music I’m using Hindenburg. I manually adjust levels as needed. Then I export the work into an MP3 using a preset for podcasts. One could also export using broadcast radio presets. Using Hindenbrug has really simplified my process compared to how I had been doing things. That was just crazy!
An audio engineer I met at a Twin Cites Podcasters Meetup uses ProTools. I’d like to try this.
- Another audio engineer I met at a Twin Cities Podcasters MeetUp recommended Reaper. It’s very affordable compared to other options, however it might be more than a podcaster needs. Tutorials I’ve found seemed to be focused on music production.
- Booth Junkie features several videos about using Reaper. Even if you are using a different “DAW” (Digital Audio Workstation), you’ll find the explanation of things like EQ very helpful whenever you’re ready to get into more details about how to make your recordings sound their best.
I’ve never used it, but Audacity is free and available on multiple platforms. I know people who use it and they tell me that it is sufficient for their needs as a podcaster. There’s something to be said for free and simple for those who are just beginning.
If you’re on a Mac, I know that some like Garage Band. I gave it a very brief try on my iPad and it didn’t take for me, but I know people who love it.
Your podcast will need artwork if you want to be listed in the directories. I used a free program called Inkscape to make my simple logo for QuOTeD.