I released a serialized podcast of a novel I wrote. The podcast was released on Podiobooks.com. 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.