How I do podcasts on my Mac

Someone emailed me a long time ago thinking this might be a good post. I’m a little tardy, but maybe it will help.

On Tuesday night, I attended a session on podcasting as a member of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Since I’ve been doing my podcast for about 1.5 years, I wondered if I would learn anything new. Ha! There’s always something to learn! My voice sessions with Maggie prove this.

We were in a REAL sound studio with a REAL producer. Complete with all the wall buffers (I don’t even know what you call those giant foam things) and walls that had been built especially for high-quality sound. There were three rooms–each with a different sound quality, depending on the type of recording that was needed.

SonyzoomI learned about this very cool product. It’s a Sony Samson Zoom H4 recorder that records in MP3 format and fits in a men’s shirt pocket (it looks much bigger in this photo, I think)
. Let me just say that this is very, very valuable. Many recorders record in WAV or other type files and you have to convert them in order for them to play on iTunes or to burn them to a disk. This Zoom H4 has hookups for two microphones,  so you can record an interview  with noise all around you, but no one will hear anything outside of what is spoken into the mic. Very high quality. And I’m told you can get it at Costco for about $300. Also recommended: Audix OM-2 microphone.

This system is great for portability! When you want to record a workshop or even an impromptu interview. I use my 80 GB video iPod for recording while I’m away. I just attach the XtremeMac Micromemo to the bottom. It has a mic on it, but you can also add a lapel mic. The quality is great. Then I plug it into my Mac and it imports it into iTunes (I export to GarageBand and mess with it).

Most days–like today–I record directly into my computer. And my system is far less sophisticated than the one I saw on Tuesday. Don’t ask  how I came to the setup I use because there wasn’t really a rhyme or reason. I had GarageBand, a Mac, iTunes, and I read somewhere about my cheap mic. Anyhoo . .  .

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I record into GarageBand using a very inexpensive Logitech mic, which plugs into my USB port. I’ve gotten pretty good at messing around in GarageBand and learning the easiest ways to edit things. After I think it’s good enough (it will never be perfect), I export it to iTunes and compress it along the way. The new version of GarageBand can compress the files a lot more, which is great for lots of podcasts.

In iTunes, I can convert the file to an MP3 file with one click of the finger. The only thing left after that is to upload it to the Web, post it to iTunes, and then tell everyone about it on the blog.

One thing I learned from Maggie: Stand up, smile, and use your hands while you’re recording. Act natural–like you’re really talking to someone and not just speaking into a mic. Because of the equipment I’m currently using, this is difficult (standing up), so I still sit, but I’m much more animated.

One thing I learned from visiting the studio this week: I probably shouldn’t be recording on my steel desk! I added the piece of fabric that I usually have only in the winter. Hope it helps buffer.

One thing I learned from experience: I always record my podcast before sending out the newsletter. There are inevitably tweaks to be made to the newsletter content after I’ve rehearsed it out loud.

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7 comments to How I do podcasts on my Mac

  • Thanks for sharing that. I too record directly onto my MacBook, but I just record straight into Audacity (free for Mac and PC) with the build-in microphone. I edit and export in Audacity and recently started running it through Levelator (free for Mac and PC) before publishing. Because I use Blogger there are file size limits so I joined LibSyn to host my podcasts, I only pay $5 a month for that. I’d love to know if anyone has found a decent cheap wireless microphone since I’m recording while working in my studio. So I’d like to have a headset that allows me to walk away from the computer. I hope more artists comment because I’d love to get an art podcast blogroll going. :)

  • Burnell Yow!

    Thanks for the post on podcasting, which is something I’ve been considering as of late. A couple of things to add about the Zoom H4 Handy Recorder. It’s actually a Samson product, not Sony. I own one and am very pleased with it. It should also be noted that the device comes with two built-in stereo condenser electret microphones – they’re those two angled things at the top in the photo Alyson included in the original post. They are very good quality, and as proof of this I’m including a link to an mp3 file I recorded this afternoon using the Zoom H4 and its built-in mics. You can give a listen at: http://www.ravenswingstudio.com/ZoomH4_test.mp3 You can also read about the Zoom H4 on Samson’s website at http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1901 I bought mine on Amazon for $250. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-ZOO-H4-Handy-Recorder/dp/B000LGA2K6/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1214678397&sr=8-1

  • Thanks Alyson, for sharing this information. I still am not ready to jump into the podcast world, but I am interested in the possibilities. And your post helps me to understand how all this stuff works. Christine

  • A money-saving tip: Check out the Zoom H2 recorder. Its quality is the same as the H4 and it is smaller and easier to use (navigating menus and such- if you are used the the ease of the Mac and the ipod, you will be disappointed by the tiny screen and clunky buttons on the H4) The only difference I can see is the H4 allows multi-track recording which is likely not needed for most podcast recording. I have an H4, but after I saw the H2 at a music workshop last week, I seriously am thinking of selling the H4 and buying the H2 ($183 at Amazon).

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