If you missed our panel at Comic-Con Revolution head on over to Benview One-Offs to listen to it! Thanks to everyone who participated. If you’d like us to appear at your convention, use our contact form.
We did our second Podcast Advocates panel and podcast gathering at Long Beach Comic Expo last weekend. There was a great turn out and it was great talking to all the podcasters that were there. If you missed out, don’t worry! You can download the panel as a podcast over at Benview One-Offs or on iTunes. If you would like us to appear at your convention or other event, please contact us!
People have been asking how I’ve managed to record Radio BrendoMan and Pop Sickles since I’ve been living in hotels with very unreliable internet access and my desktop computer is in storage. It took some trial and error as we almost lost a Radio BrendoMan episode in the process. Right now for gear I have an ancient Dell laptop running XP and my Yeti microphone. I tried recording using our traditional method of using Google Hangouts and Audacity on my laptop but running but Hangouts on Air brought my laptop to a standstill and the hotel wifi was practically useless. Next we tried using Skype and Audacity and this seemed to work until I tried to sync our two tracks together. It appears that running both Skype and Audacity caused Audacity to stutter a bit resulting in out of sync tracks. Phil was able to fix it by painstakingly listening to the files in real time and deleting the gaps as he found them but it was not a viable option going forward. Back to the drawing board I went.
Pop Sickles was the next test and this time everything worked. After messing around with Hangouts on my Galaxy S4 I determined that the audio quality was pretty great when using my 4G connection. I plugged in my headphones on the phone, started a group hangout with Derick and Benson, and fired up Audacity on my laptop. The recording went off without a hitch since Audacity was no longer competing for processing power. Everything synced up perfectly. It’s not super ideal since you can’t use Hangouts on Air with the mobile app so you don’t have the YouTube video you can use as backup in case something goes wrong and you don’t have the stream for people to tune into and chat on but it gets the job done when the next option is not podcast at all.
Feel free to comment with your suggestions or questions. The main thing I’ve learned from this experience is that you really can put together a podcast in almost any circumstance and with even the crappiest of gear. Seriously you guys, this laptop I am using to run Audacity is probably 10 years old. It takes a while to encode files but it gets the job done. If you really want to make a podcast, gear shouldn’t be holding you back. As I’ve said before, I recorded the original Radio BrendoMan on my sub-par laptop with a $2 PC microphone and I was behind the Great Firewall of China. Phil uses a Rock Band microphone. One of the first podcasts I listened to on a regular basis was a show some guy recorded on his Palm Treo in his car. If you’ve got a good idea, just do it. Figure out the rest as you go.
I’ve been meaning to publish this for awhile so thank you to Jason Paul for sending in this email to get me motivated:
Just took your advice and got setup with Archive.org to host my podcast. I have my wordpress site up and running but my question is what do you use to generate your RSS feed? My first thought is feedburner, is that correct? If so how do you make sure the RSS feed picks the podcast up as an audiofile ( I use the archive.org code to stream my podcast on my site)? Also, do you know of anyway to migrate my old rss feed to the new one (itunes subscribers)? Sorry for these random questions but I know you probably know a shit load more than I would find out pecking around on Google. Not sure if this is a show email or not but feel free to respond anyway you see fit.
Here was my response and I am publishing it here as I know others are curious:
Do you have control over your old feed? The only way to really do it is to add the itunes:new-feed-url tag to your feed and point to the new URL. You can find more info about itunes tags here:
Let me know if you need any more help.
I wrote this post quite awhile ago but there’s still some useful information here. Feel free to comment with your own tips!
People are often tempted to blow a huge chunk of cash on a fancy microphone thinking it will make their podcast awesome. This is true and also not true. If your content stinks, a fancy mic will do nothing for you. But I’m not here to judge your show. Heck, I still don’t quite understand why people seem to enjoy listening to me talk about teen soap operas and Doritos. If you can only afford a cheap pc microphone, use a cheap pc microphone. You may have to clean up the show a little bit more in the mixing process but as long as you don’t get too close to the mic it won’t sound completely terrible. I recorded my original show on a $2 microphone hooked up to my Dell laptop and nobody ever really complained about the audio quality.
That being said, if you can afford a nice microphone it is probably the best thing to spend your money on. I was lucky and I got a Blue Yeti for Christmas last year from my lovely family. If your family isn’t as awesome, maybe shoot lower. Blue makes a really great line of USB microphones that are all great. Whatever you choose, make sure you know how it works. If you can, get a pop screen, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. You can also make one. You may have awesome USB microphones lying around and not even know it. Phil uses the USB microphone from his copy of Guitar Hero World Tour and it sounds pretty stinking great. I tested out my Rock Band mic and it sounded pretty good. If you are using a handheld mic like that, I would recommend investing in a mic stand.
Once you have your mic and the placement of it figured out, the next thing to do is make sure any unnecessary background noise is gone. When I had a PC with a really loud fan, this meant turning down the fan speed and making sure the mic was pointed away from the fan. It might also mean you need to turn off the AC or any other noise generating device. Sometimes when we recorded Pop Sicklesit got really hot due to this fact as we had no AC and had to close the front door. It really made a difference in the recording though. I know you are a smart person and this may sound like I’m talking down to you but it’s easy to forget minor things like this when it’s time to record.
Create a Template
Anything that streamlines your post-production process is a plus. That way you can spend more time focusing on the show itself and less on the rest of the junk you have to do to get the show on the web. One of the ways I have saved some time is by creating a project template file. It contains my opening and closing music and they are mixed to the way I want. I saved that as an Audicity project. Once I have my finished file of the show itself, I just drop that into the template, do a final check, export and I’m done. Also make sure to save a copy of your ID3 tags that you can load each time, that way you only have to change the title when you save a new episode and you have a uniform set of ID3 tags on all your shows.
Mixing the File
I used to spend a lot of time tweaking the file in Audacity, trying out all kinds of filters and leveling techniques. Then Gates told me about Levelator and all that changed. Once I have our merged file I simply run that through Levelator and then drop into my template and I’m good to go. As long as you keep your levels halfway decent while recording, this is all you need to do. Things get a little more tricky when you are recording in front of an audience or have a ton of guests or people sharing a mic, but in most cases Levelator should be all you need. I would also recommend reading any documentation or tutorials you can find on Audacity or your program of choice as there may be lots of other useful editing tips and tools in there. I just wouldn’t totally stress out about getting the mix exactly right. This is another one of those stress traps podcasters fall into and eventually can cause them to burn out and even give up. Don’t do that!
This article appeared awhile back on brendoman.com and I thought it could still be of use here:
A lot of people have been asking how the newly re-launched Radio BrendoMan is recorded and published. It is really the easiest podcast I’ve ever done. Phil and I live pretty far apart so recording in person was not an option. However, recording a Skype conversation also really wasn’t an option because even the best Skype recorders sound pretty crappy. So we used a workaround that podcasters have been using for years.
Step 1: Download Skype for each host.
This is pretty self explanatory. You probably have it on your computer already. The only thing I changed for podcasting purposes was to turn off the auto mic levelling in Skype because that ended up messing up my levels when trying to record. Thanks Adam Wells for that tip.
Step 2: Download Audacity (or some sort of recording software) for each host.
Everyone has their favorite recording software. I know a lot of Mac users only use Garageband and that’s totally cool. As long as it’s something you know how to use and can export in both wav and mp3 format, you are good. I prefer Audacity because it is totally free, easy to use, and surprisingly robust. Make sure each host has Audacity running and they know how to use it. Again, it’s pretty basic. You just click the record button and you’re off. I would recommend doing a test recording just to check your levels and to make sure everything is in working order.
Step 3: Start the Skype Call
This is pretty straightforward. Make sure you can hear each other, but don’t worry about the quality of the call because this is not what you are recording.
Step 4: Sync up and start recording
Phil and I have a pretty basic process. Phil counts off and we click record, then he counts off and we clap into the microphone. This needs to be done simultaneously so when you mix each file together, you just sync up the clap, which should be easy to spot. Then you just do your normal podcast routine. If you have to stop in the middle of recording, make sure you sync back up again when you resume.
Optional Step: Use Google Drive for Show notes and to share wav files
Google Drive allows you to have a document you can share and edit collaboratively in real time. Phil and I have an entire shared folder where we keep our show notes file as well as other miscellaneous files for the show. It’s also where Phil uploads his wav file when we’re done recording.
Step 5: Save and share raw files.
Once you have stopped recording, each person now needs to save their recording in a raw format (either WAV or AIFF, I prefer WAV). In Audacity, you do this using File-Export. Next, the person who isn’t creating the final file needs to get their wav file to the editor. Phil and I use Google Drive to do this but you can use Dropbox, an FTP server, or whatever else you want to do.
Step 6: Assemble show from raw files.
Once you have all the raw files, create a new project in Audacity (or your preferred audio editing program) and import each file. Then use your clap you did at the beginning of the record to sync them up. As part of my process, I then export this combined file as a WAV and run that through Levelator, then use that to edit the final show. This is entirely optional though. You can edit and mix however you like once you sync up the raw files.
Step 7: Export and Upload MP3
Now that you’ve mixed and edited your show, export the MP3 file and then upload it to whatever podcast host you use. I’ll do another post on how to choose a host and other advanced techniques but for now you have a complete MP3 file of your show and if you didn’t totally screw up the levels it should sound pretty great. At the very least, it will sound way better than if you had recorded the actual Skype conversation.