Recording Audio Podcasts (HowTo)

Besides the basic requirements to create some kind of recorded audio file (WAV/MP3), you’ll need a place on the web to share the file. It would have to be preferrably a regular public filesharing point because you don’t want search engines to miss your uploads because authentication (login) is required to access the file (the search engines can read the MP3 Tag information and add it to the search keywords to find your podcast).

WordPress provides this as an add-on annual fee for the extra storage required – video requires one additional fee, as well.  If you’re self-hosting a web site or your blog, you can probably already just store the podcasts in your existing “Media” Library folder.

For audio quality, I use a number of different recording techniques depending on what location I happen to be during production. The highest sonic quality used for recording the intro and outro mix segments of my podcasts come from a high-quality large diaphrame condenser microphone (Audio-Technica AT4050) at close range with a pop screen.

Here’s an example of that microphone’s recording quality:

2012-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

For remote recording in quiet surroundings, I have been using a binaural microphone set from Sound Professionals MS-TFB-2 – these intra-ear microphones are good to use in situations where you want to capture exactly what your own ears are hearing (and will record your voice through your own bone structure, as well).

A sample of this recording technique, fed into a EDIROL R-09HR digital recorder with built-in condenser power (not phantom power – it’s a smaller voltage required by ultra-mini condensers) sounds like this – note a slightly more hollow sound:

2012-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

Most recently, I’ve been experimenting with an Andrea Electronics SB-205B (Ear bud with stereo “beam” microphones).  When combined with the free downloadable software, they do a pretty good job of rejecting ambient noise, though there is still a less full sound to the vocal timbre even when using low-power settings for the “beam” control and noise reduction activated (without the noise reduction, they will pick up all your ambient noise quite well).

IOUG Podcast 04-MAY-2012

Recording and actual post-production is using open-source Audacity, which has easy-to-use plugins for Noise Reduction, a reasonable Compressor (equalizes volume and peaks), and a Normalizer (for setting the overall peak volumes to standard zero decibel (0db) levels).  Occassionally, I use the Echo filter to add ambience to a segment. Audacity can produce the final MP3 with all of the text tag fields completed, but you’ll need an MP3 tag editor to add the associated graphic icon that is used by many mobile Podcast players and iTunes. Otherwise , you’ll always see a generic Avatar icon next to your podcasts. Also, don’t forget to upload this to the same Media Library section of your blog, and set it as the Featured Image of your podcast blog posting. This step will assist in maintaining a consistent image for search engines and iTunes album art purposes.

Finally, I employ Google’s FeedBurner.com to provide a multi-source compatible RSS feed (and optimize Search Engine results) for the resulting WordPress feed (which is simply a filtered feed for the Category “Shinnyo Podcasts.”) That allows easier and formatted submission to publication sites like iTunes, and maintains a consistent subscription presence for all supportable podcast reading methods (Google Reader, Microsoft Live, browser-based RSS readers, etc.)

For this site, I’m using the native WordPress plugin support for Audio files – you just insert a plain string into your post, and it produces a small Java player instead of the string – “<left bracket> audio http://pathname/filename.mp3 <rt bracket>” I include a direct-link to the MP3 file as well, which allows search engines to read the tags.

[Addendum 23-May-2012] Noting ADA-compliance would be useful, I have added the text transcripts of my audio podcasts to the blog posts. Thanks to http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/podcast-video-transcripts/ for pointing out the benefits.

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