Tell Me About Creating a Podcast

I’ve googled some stuff, but I’m interested in hearing from others, if that’s okay.

I’m on a couple local sci fi committees here in Charlotte, NC and have been toying with the idea of making some podcasts of some of the guests and what all are coming to our summer convention.

But the fact is, I’ve never done a podcast before. I’ve done some internet dj-ing several years back, and I’m not a complete techno-noob.

But I was wondering if there were any other Dopers out there who could shed some light on the process and what they have found to be important info I might not find googling.

I released a serialized podcast of a novel I wrote. The podcast was released on There were 31 episodes, and it was one of the most amazingly frustrating yet satisfying endeavors I have ever completed.

I experimented with several different microphone/computer setups but was really unsatisfied with the quality of the sound. I tried recording directly to a fairly quiet laptop, but just couldn’t get away from the noise of the fan.

I decided to go with a digital recorder. Specifically, I went with the Zoom H2. I absolutely love this recorder. It was worth every penny of the $200 I spent on it.

I recorded my podcasts in a spare bedroom, which just happens to have acoustic ceiling tile mounted on two of the four walls. (I had mounted the tiles to the walls so my daughter could have a decent bulletin board.) The tiles did a good job of absorbing the sound. Unfortunately, I was unable to completely soundproof the room, due to the windows.

I did most of my recording really early in the morning, because I wouldn’t have to deal with a lot of traffic noise. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a lot of train whistles, from tracks that are over a mile away.

I used a music stand to hold my copy while I read it, and have a microphone stand to hold the digital recorder. I also made a pop filter out of an embroidery hoop, panty hose, and stiff electrical cable anchored to the microphone stand.

I bought a fairly decent set of headphones which I used during the recording and editing phases.

My typical workflow was:

[li]Record the episode;[/li][li]Transfer it to my computer;[/li][li]Edit the raw file to produce a clean, edited version while preserving the raw recording;[/li][li]Re-record sections, as necessary.[/li][li]Mix in any sound effects, intro, and outro;[/li][li]Convert to MP3;[/li][li]Apply tags;[/li][li]Publish.[/li][/ol]

I found I had a 3:1 ratio between the raw recording and the edited material. That is, every minute of edited material came from about 3 minutes of raw recorded material. The raw material included long pauses, breaths, noises, etc., that were edited out.

Editing can take a significant amount of time, generally averaging a ratio of 5:1. That is, it would take 5 minutes or so to edit the raw material down to 1 minute of edited material.

I used Audacity for editing, which is a really good, free program for editing audio files. There is an MP3 plug-in for Audacity to convert WAV files to MP3, but I was not very happy with the results. I didn’t have time to explore the problem, but it may have been my sound drivers that caused an echo in the MP3. I ended up using a program called something like “WAV To MP3 Coverter”, which is a one-trick pony, but does it really well.

Editing audio files will take up a lot of space on your hard drive. A 1-minute WAV file is typically 10 MB, but that same WAV file will compress down to about 1 MB when converted to MP3. I kept both the raw WAV recordings as well as the edited WAV files, just in case I ever need to go back and remaster.

The list of equipment and associated costs are shown below. The question marks indicate a ballpark figure, since I don’t remember the actual price offhand.

[li]Zoom H2 digital recorder – $200[/li][li]4-GB SD card for recorder – $50 (?)[/li][li]Microphone stand – $40 (?)[/li][li]Headphones – $60[/li][li]Computer – YMMV[/li][li]External hard drive – YMMV[/li][li]Music stand – free, recycled from daughter’s violin days[/li][li]Audacity – free[/li][li]WAV to MP3 Converter – free[/li][li]Blood, sweat, and tears – priceless![/li][/ul]

Please let me know if you would like me to post the link to my podcasts so you can hear the quality. I am willing to help you in any way I can.

It was extremely difficult, especially since I committed to releasing a new episode every week. However, I can’t wait to do my next one.

Since it looks like you might be doing more of an interview format, the Zoom H2 is ideal for that application. The Zoom H2 has 4 built-in microphones, and can record out of the front and the back of the unit. It also comes with a table-top stand, which means you can have a round-table interview with several people, and only need one piece of equipment.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to the Zoom H2 digital recorder except as a very satisfied user.

Please share more - I’m truly appreciative! (Sorry it took so long to reply, I was on vacation.)

I’ve just joined a podcast as a new co-host for a semi-regular podcast about Bloodbowl.

I bought a decent mic - a Behringer B-2, (a good quality mic for the price) and a set of decent headphones. That mic is not a stand alone - so you need a mixing board which we have. You can pick up a small one, ideal for podcasting pretty cheap, a couple of hundred bucks I think. The board then just plugs into a USB port on the computer and sort of supplants the sound card while plugged in.

The mixing board allows you to fiddle with the gain on the mic’s - invaluable if you’re in a slighitly noisy environment, plus other normal functions, like recording volume, sound mix (bass, etc). Sound quality through the board is excellent.

We also use Audacity for the actual recording and editing of the sound file, which as has been mentioned is a free package.

We record at home, and the key to getting good quality is to deaden any ‘hard’ surfaces as much as possible. You don’t want large expanses of plain wall for instance for the sound to bounce off. So even just hanging up a few blankets and having a lot of ‘soft’ furnishings in the room will help a lot in soaking up the sound.

The thing with going the road of a proper mic with even a basic mixing board is that by adjusting the gain and the recording direction on the mic, you can generate a nice tight little bubble where the sound is picked up, which eliminates a lot of the background noises you might otherwise get with a simple omni-directional microphone.

Anyone have any experience with the Blue Snowball usb microphone?

I keep hearing good things about it, but always qualified with “for its price.”

Do you think I could get away without a sound board to start? Just trying to budget carefully.

I tried the Blue Snowball for recording acoustic classical guitar and found it totally unsuitable … turning it up enough to capture the music always produced snapping and cracking in the recording. It seemed adequate for voice only if you kept it very close to the mouth. I found the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB to be far superior and it can be found for only a few dollars more than the Snowball … for a quick and easy USB mic, I like it.

After lots of experimenting, what I found that really worked perfectly for digital recording is the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card … it’s designed for recording, as opposed to typical computer sound cards that are designed for playback … $99 for the card and use any microphone that suits the purpose.

I would think so. Depending upon what sort of quality you’re willing to settle for, You could probably do satisfactory voice recording with a mic plugged directly into your PC.

I would recommend going with the best mic you can afford though, as it has a big impact on the quality of sound you will get.

When I was looking at whic mic’s to buy I recall seeing a few which were being advertised specifically as podcasters mic’s. So they were decent quality and some plugged directly into a USB port so no mixing board required.

One thing to look for is a popshield or windshield on the mic or buy one with it, they’re only 20 bucks tops - you’ll be surprised the difference it makes in the recording quality.

I’ve been recording some chapters of public domain works for LibriVox. I started off with a fairly cheap headset from Radio Shack, but upgrading to a Samson C01U USB microphone and using the Noise Reduction feature in Audacity 1.3.3 have greatly improved the sound quality.

Their Audacity tutorial may be helpful for podcasters as well.