Podcasting Production Tools

Tools To Take Podcasting To The Next Level

Blue Microphones Snowball USB MicrophoneIn an earlier article on podcasting in schools, we touched briefly on podcasting tools that were either the cheapest you can find or came standard with a new computer. While these tools function fine and can get you started as a podcasting educator, their quality is generally lacking.

In this article, we’ll look a little deeper into the world of podcasting tools and discover tools that will give your podcasts a professional edge without breaking the budget.

Pro Mics for Under $100

While a built-in microphone will certainly serve it’s purpose in getting your podcast off the ground, they tend to pick up ambient noise such as kids running by your door or your computer fan kicking in. An external mic can remove much of this additional noise and add a rich quality to your voice.

If you’re generally happy with the sound of your podcast, but dislike the whirring fan you hear every time your computer decides to cool down, a simple solution is to pull the mic farther away from the computer.

You can do this for around $20 with a microphone like the Logitech USB Desktop Microphone . The logitech won’t give you outstanding quality, but it’s tethered to your computer with a USB cable which allows you to keep the computer farther away from the noisy fan and closer to your mouth.

If you have a little bit more budget than $20 and want to go one step higher, there is a range of microphones in the $50 to 60 range. One that podcasters recommend is the Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone.  Also check out the Samson Q1U – Microphone.  It has nice quality and is a rugged microphone (perfect for a school environment). This Sampson mic does a good job cutting out noise.

For those who are a bit more serious about investing in your podcast for the long haul, you can get pretty close to professional quality from a relatively inexpensive MXL Studio 1 mic, This is a very good microphone for the money and it comes with a hardcase to ensure your investment lasts for years of podcasting to come.

One of the nice things about all of these microphones is that they are USB mics. So, there’s no need to buy preamps or mixing boards to go along with them. Just plug the mic into your USB port and it’s ready to go.

Production Software

Schools equipped with Mac computers that have iLife installed will already have Garage Band installed. If you have to purchase it, the entire iLife package costs around $100.

Garage Band eliminates much of the hunting through folders for files and simplifies everything to a simple drag and drop type of audio production. Plus, it comes with a ton of preinstalled jingles, stingers, and sound effects to really spruce up your podcast. You can get similar sound effects by surfing royalty free music online, but Garage Band removes the search and lets you focus on the content.

Audacity is a free open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.  It is a very strong program and has really been developed since its beginning stages.  Highly Recommended for audio editing tasks.

A Notch Above

These tools will take your podcast from the tinny, noisy, amateur podcast typically created by standard tools and give it the type of professional edge that will captivate your students.

Music and Sound FX for Podcasting

Podcaster, from Blastwave FX, is a sound effects, music and imaging elements library of 500 web ready MP3 sounds.

This package starts off with loopable beats to give your podcast the pulse and energy it needs. Next, there’s a well rounded selection of 200 general sound effects including Animals, Cartoon Effects, Crashes, Human Effects, Vehicles, Weapons and more.

There’s also a section of 200 imaging elements that can be used to accent, punctuate and highlight virtually anything! Finally, there’s a collection of 50 multimedia sounds to help your audience interface with your show.

Demo the Podcaster collection