Royalty Free Podcast Promo Soundpack

I’m always looking for more audio sound effects – especially free ones. Beatsuite.com has a collection of Royalty Free and free as in no cost audio samples designed specifically for podcasters. Terms of use are simply that you need to credit Beatsuite.com for providing them. As far as I can tell, the collection is available only on Apple’s download site and the files are listed as requiring Mac OS X, but fear not, the WAV files in the download will work just as easily for Linux and Windows users too.

Recording Voice Audio with a M-Audio Microtrack

Beverly writes, I need to record voice to CD, efficiently, and have the cd play in any normal CD player. I have an M-Audio Microtrack recorder with 1gb compact flash, but it seems that I have a high quality recording but it takes up a lot of space. In a work day I need to make 6 recordings. Does it make sense to consider a 30gb iPod to record voice to, and then burn to CD?
You don’t mention how long your six recordings per day are, but if you want good quality sound for recording, don’t use the iPod or any other portable media player. The Microtrack recorder is a good tool for what you are doing. If you want to use less space per file change your record settings. Under the Record Settings on the Menu make the following changes: Set Encoder to WAV. Set Sample Rate to 44.1. Set Bits to 16 (not 24). Using these settings, you will get about 90 minutes on a 1GB Compact Flash card and won’t notice any quality difference. A much cheaper solution than buying an iPod would be to get several 1GB or 2GB compact flash cards and then swapping the card when it gets full. This also gives you the flexibility of using the Microtrack all day long. Keep in mind that an audio CD only holds as much as 74 minutes of audio, so a single 1GB card recording 90 minutes of voice audio is more audio than you can fit on a single audio CD.

The Levelator – Easy Audio Optimizer

One of the biggest frustrations of people who record and edit audio is the amount of time it takes to fix volume level issues. If you record two people, one of them is invariably softer than the other in the mix. You might turn your head away from the microphone to look at a distraction or have the microphone pointed away from the source. This even happens to the pros on occasion. To solve this common frustration, Gigavox created The Levelator. Essentially, the software examines a WAV or AIFF file, looks for volume inconsistencies and fixes them. It’s a bit geekier than that under the hood. The Levelator handles both the gain optimization on a file and RMS normalization to make sure the volume level is consistent. The output is a new file, so you can always go back to the original if you need to. The software runs on both Windows and OS X and is free for personal non-commercial use. While The Levelator can’t do anything to make your podcast more interesting, this is the first tool I’ve ever seen that makes almost anyone sound like they hired a top-notch engineer. If editing audio has been holding you back from podcasting or making music, give The Levelator a shot, you’ll be surprised by how simple it is to sound great. [Windows 2k/XP Mac OS X $0.00]

Embed an Audio Player in a Web Page

Mike writes, I’ve been trying to embed a Windows Media Player on my website and have it play from a library. I’ve figured out the part of embedding the player itself but cannot figure out how to get the player to play from a list of mp3s elsewhere on my site.
You could create an ASX file that calls each of the files and then link to that ASX file from the embedded Windows Media Player, but I’ve never had that work consistently without setting up Windows Media Services on a Windows server. Using a simple ASX setup doesn’t allow for easy skipping between tracks or any of the normal play controls you might expect from most of the common media players. The only easy way to build an embedded playlist with Windows Media Player is to have a server running Windows Media Services hosting all the files. A better alternative is to setup an embedded Flash based player designed for playing back files. Read on to find out how to setup an embedded Flash playlist.

Avoid Saying Um and Ah When Speaking

One of the most painful things to listen to in podcasting is a steady stream of “ums” and “ahs” interjected into an otherwise intelligent thought. I do it more than I’d like to. I’ve heard some cases where a person collecting his thoughts said “um” no less than 20 times in a 15 second stretch. You can fix this during editing, but it’s hard to reconstruct the flow of a sentence if it happens to much and editing out the “ums” isn’t much fun. The best solution is to learn how to speak without saying “um” in the first place. Mother Tongue Annoyances has a solid set of suggestions on how to eliminate “um” and “ah” from your speech. It takes some additional thought on your part while speaking and it won’t happen overnight, but a little additional effort in improving the way you speak will make your podcast sound better and make you sound smarter while people are listening.

Beyond Podcast Discovery

I’m generally bored by the whole debate over whether ‘Podcasting’ is a good name for podcasting or not. It’s been a topic of debate for most of the two-year existence of podcasting, continuing to this day. In the midst of defending Microsoft’s own use of the term. (or lack thereof), Robert Scoble drops a more important gem into the discussion:

So, why hasn’t podcasting taken off more yet? Easy! It’s hard to discover new ones (you gotta listen to them).
You go to Podtech.net or Podshow.com and poke around. You have to download a file before you can listen. In that time you probably got bored and started watching Lost again.

People like instant gratification. Podcasting as a whole can’t deliver instant gratification because the entire process is geared toward set-and-forget delivery of information. As Scoble rightly points out, discovering shows in the first place is hard because you need to test the waters before you commit to a relationship with any given podcast.
Last night, while having a conversation about a video project I’m hoping to show off at Gnomedex, a discussion of online viewing habits led me to a realization about podcast discovery. Podcasts offering a play on the page option are going to win!
A completely unscientific sample of podcasts and video blogs shows that somewhere between thirty percent and fifty percent of all traffic to shows offering a stream on the Web option comes from streaming on the Web. This likely means if you don’t offer an option to playback you show in the browser, you are getting far fewer listeners.
Taking this a step further, many people (myself included) subscribe to podcast feeds but don’t automatically download the associated audio file because we don’t want our hard drives filled with stuff we don’t have time to listen to. Even when something sounds interesting, I don’t want to wait for the bandwidth throttled download from some budget Webhost to complete because my time is valuable. If you wrote some compelling copy in the post associated with an individual segment, included an embedded player in your RSS feed and offer me the option to download, I would be infinitely more likely to listen because I could click play and get instant results instead of waiting for the file.
At it’s core, RSS is just another Web page delivered in a different way. People understand the Web. People understand clicking a play button. If they like your show enough to subscribe, eventually they will understand downloading shows for offline playback. In the meantime, it’s a YouTube nation where everyone wants to watch and hear the latest show instantly without waiting to download something they’ve never tried before.

Q-Mic Boom Arm

When you need to get your microphone exactly where you want it, you need to use a boom arm. The Q-Mic Boom Arm just might be the answer to your audio needs.