Archive for podcasting

Best Microphones for Podcasting

podcaster_02I remember my first attempts to record the music I was creating back in the mid-80s. Home recording equipment was just becoming affordable to the average musician and I was slowly building up the components of a home recording studio.

But, having just bought the equipment, I was rather surprised at how bad my initial recordings sounded. Not really knowing anything about proper microphone placement and other basic elements of a recording engineers skill set, I spent a lot of time with trial and error, got lucky sometimes but ended up ruining a lot of recordings because of poor recording studio fundamentals.

With so many people creating podcasts now, the basic knowledge of what makes a good recording is gradually coming from the specialized world of the recording engineer into the mainstream. Podcasters who want to improve the quality of their productions need, at some point, to learn about microphones – there’s no question, having a good, professional-grade microphone will immediately increase the quality of your podcast production.

Today there are many microphones being marketed expressly for podcasting

When you begin to look at the possibilities for podcasting you will start to see various types of microphones including headset, lapel, wireless, and standard tabletop microphones.

Your microphone should be chosen based for the recording situation in which it will be placed. For instance recording a lecture for a podcast requires a different microphone than recording a table interview between two people. IF possible, try to hear actual recorded samples of each microphone to get an idea of each mic’s strengths.

A professor or lecturer that wants to podcast could get great use out of the AudioTechnica wireless mic. You can connect it to any laptop or mixer and get great quality. What would I recommend to those interested in dialogue type podcasting with two or more people? The MXL-990. You can’t beat it for the price.

If you have a little more money to spend, consider these USB microphones, most created by the manufacturers to appeal to the new podcasting market.

Rode – Podcaster
Blue Microphones Snowball
Marshall Electronics MXL USB.006
Heil PR-40
Samson Q1U

See also Podcasting In The Classroom and Tools to take Podcasting to the next level

If you are interested in sound effects for your podcast to create openings, transitions and endings between your interviews and other broadcast segments, then check out this sound effects set created specially for Podcast production.


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


Podcasting In the Classroom

Podcasting-In-The_ClassroomToday’s students are so digitally plugged in that absorbing new information through a digital medium has become the most natural means of learning for them.

Hours of exposure to digital devices from mp3 players to online searches to digitally recorded television has this entire generation planted firmly in the digital world.

So, how can educators tap into digital tools as a means of imparting vital information to their students? One way is to creatively implement podcasting in the classroom.

Nuts and Bolts of Podcasting

There was a time when a podcast was one of those technologies that only the biggest geeks took part in. In fact, the name itself comes from Apple’s iPod which, at the time, was one of the few tools that could play a podcast. Times have changed and podcasts can be played back on home computers, mobile phones, a wide variety of mp3 players, and even presented publicly in a classroom setting.

Production of podcasts has gotten extremely easy as well. In fact, if you have a computer and a microphone of some sort, you can have a podcast. The advent of voice over the internet (VOIP) and new technologies such as video conferencing have encouraged computer makers to install inboard microphones as a standard feature in new computers, So, your computer might already have a microphone installed.

A computer, microphone, simple recording software like Audacity and some creativity is all you need to create podcasts that give your students multiple educational benefits.

Basic Podcast Production for the Educator

Creativity: The Many Uses of Podcasts

In his book Jump Start Your Brain Doug Hall reminds us that the power of brainstorming sessions is that ideas spark other ideas. So, in the name of sparking some creative ideas of your own, here is a list of ways educators are currently using podcasting to teach their young pupils:

  • Record a class discussion
  • Recording student reports and projects
  • Presenting difficult concepts that require repetition
  • Hosting a school talk show
  • Book reviews
  • Recording lectures that ill students can access via the web
  • Commercials or skits for upcoming school events

Glean ideas from this list or try

Production: From Vision to Completed Project

Your computer might come with a microphone already installed. To find out if you have a microphone, go to your Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (Mac) and look for your sound output. Say something out loud and see if the meter jumps. If it does, you have a microphone and are ready to record. If not, inexpensive microphones that plug into your USB slot can be purchased at your nearest office supply store for around $20.

Once you have a working microphone, the only thing you have left to install is a podcasting software. If you’re a mac user, you may already have a copy of Garage Band installed on your machine. Otherwise, Audacity has a powerful podcasting tool that’s free for either Mac or PC.   Mp3s are the standard for audio files and can be played on a variety of devices and, unfortunately, regulations don’t allow Audacity to add the mp3 encoder to their basic package.

You now have the tools to turn your vision into a fantastic podcast that will continue instructing your students for years to come.

Here is a article that describes more podcasting tools.

Sharing

iTunes U — a powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours — is an innovative way to get educational content into the hands of students.

The absolute best place to share your podcast is probably through your own Board of Education website. I know many BOE’s have web pages devoted to their local schools’ videos and podcasts. This is a very important place to check out as far as sharing your podcasts as these links will be used primarily by your local community. Example – Hamblen County Schools post their school’s podcasts online.

Mabry Middle School provides an excellent example of a middle school with a stellar podcast site online.

Here is a great list of student podcasts throughout the US.

Educational Benefits of Podcasting

The following is just a short list of some of the benefits podcasting brings to the field of education:

  • Podcasts can be reused year after year
  • Versatile
  • Greater student engagement
  • Increased class enthusiasm
  • Extremely interactive
  • Can be shared with the world via the internet
  • Can be used to help ill students keep pace

Most importantly, podcasting is a fun way for students of all ages to learn.


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


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