Making a Podcast

I’ve had people asking me about what goes on behind the scenes here with the Podcast at Delphi.org.  Here is a little glimpse into the tools and process that I use for the podcast.

  • Planning - Since the interviews are in different timezones I use The World Clock Meeting Planner to find a time that works for everyone.  It makes the process really easy.  Once I have a time that works, I put it on my Google Calendar.
  • Skype - Possibly the most popular application written in Delphi, Skype Voice over IP what I use to connect with everyone for the interviews.
  • Pamela – A good full featured Skype recording tool.  Records audio and video both.  An important feature it has is recording to wave files in stereo, with me on the left, and everyone else on the right.  It is $30.
  • Callgraph – Is a free call recording tool that also supports stereo and recording to wave files.  I used Callgraph for most of my podcasts until recently.  It has a slight echo at least with my sound system, even with the echo cancellation turned on.  This might not be an issue on other systems, or even be a big deal to most people.
  • Logitech ClearChat Comfort USB HeadsetLogitech ClearChat Comfort USB headset - This is the headset I used for microphone and headphones through episode 32.  It does a really good job, for a really reasonable price, and because the microphone is held by your mouth the background noise is very low, plus it includes pretty good headphones.  If you are just starting out then this is a great option, and if you need both headphones and a microphone then you can kill two birds with one stone.  There are 3 levels of microphone connectors: Analog, USB and XLR.  The analog microphones use the 1/4 jack to connect to your computer.  It delivers an analog signal to your sound card where it is converted to digital .  The problem with this is inside your computer is noisy, and that noise gets into your recordings.  USB and XLR both are converted to digital signals outside the computer, so they have much less noise.  XLR is the professional microphone format, which requires external hardware to do the conversion.  So USB is the poor-man’s digital solution, but still good in my opinion.
  • Blue Microphones Snowflake USB MicrophoneBlue Snowflake Microphone – Entry level professional quality portable USB Microphone.  I’ve heard it recommended as a good entry level podcast microphone by other podcasters too.   Amazon has the Snowflake on sale at a really good price right now because they have a new one with a built in camera that just came out.  The Snowflake is a better then average USB microphone, but still at a good price.
  • AudacityAudacity editor – Is a free, open source, cross platform program for editing and recording sound.  It is a really effective tool for editing audio, and your can’t beat the price.  I actually tried a number of commercial and professional level tools, and I found Audacity easier to use, and just as effective.  Maybe someday I might upgrade to a different tool, but this one really does the job, and I can’t beat the price.
  • Levelator – A specialized tool for normalizing, compressing and limiting the audio.  Just drag and drop the wave files on it after removing the noise in Audacity and it does the rest.  Be sure to use Levelator before you include music or sound effects.  It is only designed for working with voice.  One odd thing I discovered with it is some times if you have slight noises like swallowing or breathing, sometimes it will boost it up much louder.  I am hoping that my new microphone does better with this . . .  Let me know how it sounds.
  • CyberEars hosting – Podcast hosting has been provided by CyberEars.com.  They are big Delphi fans there.  Thanks guys!

Tune in next time for a video of the entire production process.

Note from Jeroen Pluimers: Actually, only Digital XLR is done outside the computer.  Normal XLR does not, but usually does not suffer from noise:

  1. Because most computers don’t have built-in XLR
  2. It is shielded much much better
  3. Signal strength usually is higher

Audacity can also level your sounds

Update: Levelator automatically does a much better job then I have been able to achieve with Audacity.  Maybe if I knew exactly what I was doing I could get better results with Audacity, but Levelator does really good, and I don’t have to worry about doing it right.

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