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how to make a podcast
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How to make a podcast
This is a HOWTO focusing on making a podcast.
What you need
Besides desire to be heard and having something useful to say you will need the following:
- computer â€” assuming that you have it already
- sound card â€” all the computers today have that, but you might want to look at upgrading if you want to have a high sound quality (such as if you are making a music podcast)
- microphone â€” you can make do with a headset microphone if doing an "audio blog" type of podcast, but will need a propper mic and probably an audio mixer if you require high sound quality
- operating system â€” you already have one, but it is recommended that you use free software OS, such as GNU/Linux or FreeBSD
- Audacity â€” this is audio editor
- XMMS â€” for listening to final product and changing of the tags
- LibSyn â€” a podcasting service provider, which does not censor the content
- A-Infos Radio Project â€” podcasting space for radical podcasts (is not affiliated with A-Infos)
- Any large storage webserver â€” you can always host your own shows
As always a good rule is to save the work often. As soon as you are sattisfied with completing a step, save the project.
Plug-in the microphone into the sound card, and record something as a test (you can just say "testing a few times). You start recording by pressing Record button in audacity and finish recording by pressing Stop. It is a wise idea to let the recording run for a few seconds after you have finished talking. After you have finished recording you can listen to it by pressing Play button, it may sound something like this.
Noise removal does not only make it easier for listeners of your show to hear your voice, but also significantly reduces the final file size, which means, less for you to upload, and less for people to download.
Select a reasonably large region where you have said nothing (this was why you should have recorded silence at the end), and in the menu select Effects â†’ Noise removal, and press Get Noise Profile button (in the Step 1 area). This will allow Audacity to take that region as the etalon of the unwanted frequences.
Then you will need to select the whole area of your recording (easiest done by pressing Ctrl+A) and go to the same menu item (Effects â†’ Noise removal). This time look at the Step 2 area, where you will need to select the amount of noise you want to remove. At this time it is good to remove less than half of the noise. You can press preview to have Audacity remove the noice of only the first couple seconds and play it for you. Do not be alarmed to possibly hear the metalic screeching noise appearing and disappearing, this will be dealt with shortly. Press Remove Noise button and you will get something like this.
Now assuming that you have this screeching sound that really makes whatever you have recorded hard to listen to, it will be very important to hunt it down and remove it. It is done through the same noise removal feature, so first you will need to provide Audacity with an example of the screech. Magnify your audio recording by pressing Zoom In on the panel a few times, and stretch the track vertically with your mouse to make the tiny sound visible. Now go to the beginning of the recording and begin playing, tryinng to notice where this sound is, it can take you a little bit of time to track it down, but eventually you will be able to highlight the area of recording which has no other sound except for screeching. It is very important at this stage not to highlight an area which has any other sounds (such as your voice or even you breathing), as Audacity will try to remove all other similar sounds, and currupt the recording. Once you have the screech-only area selected, do the noise removal steps again, but this time you can tell Audacity to remove more of the noise, often it is beneficial to tell it to remove as much as the sliding bar allows (don't forget that you can preview the removal about to be done). When you are done you can have something like this.
A thing to note is that sometimes there are different frequencies of screech that appear in the recording, so you may have to remove the noise more than twice. Sometimes it is possible to remove too much noise and make one's voice appear robotic and difficult to understand. Try to work on test recordings a few times before moving on to the real one (which is likely to be larger, and thus take more time).
Often when we record our thoughts there are gaps as well as 'Ahhhs' and 'Ehhhs' in the recording. This is natural for us to do, in fact research shows that it is easier to understand the speech which those pauses than without them completely. However, if you have multi-second gap, or 'Ahhh' after each sentence, perhaps it is a good idea to remove some of them. The simplest way is just to listen to your own recording in the Audacity and try to think of it as somebody else talking (yes it's difficult). If the pause seems to be too large for you as a listener, it will probably be too large for other listeners also.
Removing the actual gap is quite simple, find it, highlight the region you want to remove, and press Ctrl+K (to delete). If you want to remove 'Ahhh' or some other sound, but not remove the gap itself, it is possible to do that by pressing Ctrl+L to substitute it with silence.
Also do not forget to remove the last seconds of silence that you have recorded for noise removal.
After or before recording you can import an audio track or tracks into your project. In order to hear your voice over the music or vice versa you must change the volume levels of the 2 audio tracks until you get the desired level. You then can export your podcast as an mp3, wav, or ogg vorbis.
Audacity supports exportinng into MP3 or OGG Vorbis. If you are making a political podcast, the latter is preferred as it highlights your fight for freedom. The negative aspect is that people with iPod or other players which do not play OGG Vorbis might complain, but think of it this way, the users paid the manufacturer of their player money, paid you nothing, and then complain to you when the two don't work togetherâ€¦ surely they should complain to the manufacturer (such as Apple).
First you will want to chose the quality of the exported file. In the menu go Edit â†’ Preferences, and select the File Formats tab. Higher quality encoding will produce better sound, but a larger file (also OGG Vorbis produces better quality with the same file size). For a voice only show there is really no need to go above '5', in fact you can try something less, see if it is sufficient and make your decision. After you have chosen the quality go File â†’ Export As OGG Vorbis and specify where to save the output file and its name. Encoding may take some time, and higher quality encoding takes less time (as there is less compression to do). Listen to the output file (possibly adjust the quality setting if something is unsattisfactory and redo the exporting).
Audacity can write tags into the output file, but it doesn't do everything propperly, so it is better to do it manually later. Tags are not required for the podcast, but provide a clear presentation. It is possible to use most audio players to edit the tags, XMMS will do an excelent job, just press Alt+3.
A good idea is to start right away with the naming conventionn. Keep in mind that it should make it easier to find the podcast episode somebody wants to listen to. One suggestion can be NameOfPodcast_##_Date_NameOfEpisode.ogg although it might be reasonable for many shows to omit the date, and some many want to substitute the podcast name with the host's name.
- This section needs to be written
We all do podcasts so that somebody will listen to them, we all want to promote our podcasts, we all need to remember not to over-do it. If you post about your podcast on every e-mail group, Internet forum, blog, etc that you are on, it will look more like spam than a good podcast. Also remember that spreading the knowledge about your podcast is a very poor substitute for the podcasting quality. If you make a good podcast, but don't advertise it, you'll have more listeners than the advertised but poorly done one.
One of the ways to spread the knowledge about your podcast is to put it in podcasting directories. Digg has recently started doing one and it is quite reasonable, allowing people to vote for the podcasts they like, and the podcasts are ordered in the category according to the votes they received. Political podcasts are also reviewed on Podcast Liberally, and it is possible to request a review of your own podcast (probably should do a few podcasts before asking for a review).
Finally, be nice, and put up links on your podcast page linking to podcasts you like. Remember you are doing the podcast for your listeners, not for yourself to become famous, so give your listeners an ability to listen to more interesting podcasts.