Listeners who want to create their own podcasts sometimes ask about my setup.
The photos below show the current state of things at Chez Shrink:
My equipment has evolved over the five years during which I’ve been podcasting. It can be done for a lot less than I’ve spent. The computer I use is a 27″ Apple iMac.
The three attached photos will give you an idea of my physical set up. You see an iMac running Garageband. You see an ElectroVoice RE-20 on a flexible mic boom. And, you see one audio box. The microphone goes into a Aphex 230 Master Voice Channel (to add richness to my voice) which goes into the the Mac. via an optical Toslink cable.
Most podcasters are probably using a mixer to balance the inputs (e.g. mic and phone). I used to do that but I had all sorts of problems getting the setup just right, as my early podcasts will reveal. Once I got rid of the mixer and used the current setup, my sound has been all that I could hope for.
I save the file in AIFF format and then open it in BIAS Peak Pro 6, a wonderful, high-end audio editor that, among other things, allows me to fix places where my guest and I are talking at the same time, by substituting silence for one or the other of us.
I also use BIAS Sound Soap Pro which can be integrated into Peak Pro 6 as a separate plug-in to eliminate any background noise. Sound Soap Pro makes noise elimination simple and automatic. All I have to do is select a few seconds worth of noise where nobody is speaking and Sound Soap Pro will memorize that background noise with a single button click and then take it out of the rest of the track. It’s also available as a standalone program.
[Note: I've gone for the Pro versions of these two Bias products but they have less expensive versions of both which would be sufficient for many beginning podcasters.]
I save the file as a .aiff out of Peak Pro 6 and then drag that file to The Levelator to ensure that the gain levels are more or less equal. From there, I bring the file into Garageband where I edit and add the other show components, e.g. music, jingles, etc. That file is then saved as an MP3 and uploaded to the server where my podcast is hosted.
If you want to conduct phone interviews, the first thing is to get a Skype account and get comfortable with it. You can call people across the glove for free if you and they are both on Skype. If you want to interview someone who is not on Skype, for a small fee, Skype lets you call out to regular phones. If you already have a USB microphone or your computer has a built-in mic, you can use that. You may need to also use earphones to prevent feedback. Many people use an inexpensive headset (earphone and mic combo). You will need one that has a USB connector to get it into the computer and working with Skype. There are some recommended models on the Skype site, I believe.
Click here to see a very authoritative slide show on configuring Skype for Phone Interviews by Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani. This slide presentation is what inspired my move to Audio Hijack Pro and Peak Pro 6 which I described above. I figured, if it’s good enough for these pros, it’s good enough for me!
So much sitting is bad for my back! I’ve developed an alternative that will let me work from a standing position for at least some of the time. The iMac monitor is tall enough that I can still see it from a standing position by tilting it up, without having to raise it. I can put a portable bookshelf from Target on top of my desk and use a wireless keyboard and mouse on top of that, without having to reposition my regular keyboard and mouse. Here’s a photo of this setup.
I recently received an inquiry from someone using a Windows PC, looking for an inexpensive way to get into podcasting, using phone interviews. Here’s what I suggested:
Get yourself a Skype account (www.Skpe.com). You’ll conduct your interviews by calling folks on their regular phones using Skype on your computer.
Get a USB headset (earphone(s) and mic) which you’ll use for these Skype calls.
Next, you need to be able to record your calls digitally. For this, purchase a copy of Pamela Recorder for Skype. You can find it online. Not expensive. Set up Pamela to record in .wav format.
Download a copy of Levelator. (Google it) Drag your .wav file onto the Levelator icon. This will improve your sound levels.
Next, you need software for editing your interview, and perhaps adding music or other sound elements. Many people use the free software program, Audacity. Or you might prefer to spend some money and get a program with an easier to learn interface than what is offered by Audacity. I found a Windows multitrack audio editing program that looks like it was made to look like and work like the Mac’s Garageband. It’s called Mixcraft. They have a free download, which they say is fully functional. And the cost is only $64.95 where other similar programs can cost more than $1,000. So download the free version and see what you think.
Finally, you will need to have an online place to host your podcasts. You need a blog. I would suggest you use WordPress.
Also, take a look at libsyn.com as a possible place to host your podcasts, which you will have saved in .mp3 format.