Audio media has been an important part of our lives since news reporters first found their way home in 1920. For a while it was believed that visual media, and then the internet, would be the death of audio-only entertainment, but it turned out that this obit was premature.
Podcasting brought audio new popularity. From book readings to investigative reporting on political opinions to interviews and theater productions, podcasts offer a wide range of entertainment and information.
Better still, podcasting is a creative form available to anyone with a computer, microphone, and internet connection. We spoke to Andrew Marino, audio engineer and producer at The Verge, to find out what he recommends for those who want to try this out too.
What follows are Andrew's thoughts on podcasting and the tools he prefers.
What you need
There were many different ways that people developed podcasts, as many of them start on different levels. At its core, it is an independent DIY media platform, but it has recently been selected by larger media companies with a radio background.
First, you'll need to use a microphone and audio interface (one way to record your audio directly on your computer). Once your podcast is recorded, you'll need a digital audio workstation (DAW) that can be used to edit, mix, and export your podcast. You should also have a working knowledge of microphone technology, recording, editing, and mixing to make your show sound its best.
Most of the time, you want a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. This means that it is a directional microphone that focuses on picking up what is directly in front of it (your voice) and tries to reject everything else (the rest of the sound of the world).
The digital-to-analog converter (DAC) built into USB microphones is usually not as good as a standalone audio interface. As a professional, I tend to stay away from USB microphones when I can. It also restricts you to one input while a more professional-grade microphone isn't plugged into a DAC, so you can plug it into any microphone input, from a USB port to a sound card at a live venue.
I have an Electro-Voice RE20; There is also the RE27. It's a typical dynamic microphone – it's pretty much carried over from the radio to podcasting. It is best for voice recording. I went to music school so we used it a lot to record a drum kit but when you walk into a radio studio you see either a RE27 or a Shure SM7B. Many podcasters use the SM7B, but a preamp (like this one) is required for optimal signal level. The RE20 and RE27 don't necessarily need that.
When I'm in the field, I use a shotgun microphone: a long condenser that can pick up sources from a distance. Many people use a large condenser microphone for narration or singing in songs and music, but it should only be used in a controlled environment such as a studio.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
We've made a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface available to our podcasters at Vox Media who record outside of our studios. It's pretty affordable and durable, with a metal case. This USB interface offers two microphone inputs and outputs for monitors. You can connect any analog microphone. There are tons out there, but the Focusrite comes at a good price for the quality.
The next step after recording your podcast is the editing phase. Even the most minimal podcast requires some editing to take up unnecessary storage space, add music, even out layers, and fix other glitches in the recording process. For this purpose, most users use software called digital application workspaces, or DAWs.
There are many DAWs you can use to edit your podcast. You may have used a DAW to record your podcast. I still sometimes use free, open source software called Audacity to do quick audio edits, and it's very popular with DIY podcasters.
Audacity was the first software I used in editing because it is free and very flexible. It has many built-in effects and controls that you can use simply by downloading it, such as: B. Pitch change, compression, equalization (EQ) and multi-track editing. It's not as flexible as other software, but you can still edit an entire podcast with it.
While some DAWs are free, the ones you pay for tend to offer more detailed editing tools and better sounding effects. I can work faster, more efficiently, and more flexibly when I use a more professional DAW like Avid Pro Tools or Adobe Audition.
I use Avid Pro Tools for recording, but mostly use Adobe Audition for editing. In my experience with both DAWs, the workflow for importing and mixing clips is faster and editing is much more efficient. Pro Tools is more based on an analog system for music and is preferred by most of my colleagues. For long-form podcasts, I'll be using Audition.
I would also recommend using some audio software plug-ins to aid in the mixing process. A big part of podcast mixing is adjusting and controlling the levels of all of the microphones. Waves company has some affordable bundles and custom plug-ins for dynamic compression, equalizers, reverb, and pretty much any type of modulation you want.
I've used a lot with iZotope's RX 7 audio repair software this year (they're now on version RX 8). With everyone – including the hosts of our shows – recording at home, it can sometimes be difficult to control the audio environment remotely. I do a lot of "de-noise" to remove air conditioning noise, street noise, etc. I also use "Entplosive" (watch your "P") and "Unclamp" (watch your levels). that brought the quality of the recordings to our standard.
Photo: Software reinvented
Podcasts can be largely distributed through the magical world of an RSS feed. It's an older technology on the internet, but it's one of the few media that still really uses the open web, which is why I love it. When a listener is using a podcast app, that app will usually access the feed from your RSS which contains audio files from your show as well as other data like title, album art, description, etc.
For my personal podcast, I set up an Amazon S3 server and edited the feed through an RSS editor called Feeder, which is pretty simple. I just went for it because it was the cheapest option. You pay for the server space. So if you start a podcast and don't have a lot of listeners, you pay next to nothing to host the podcast. You do need to be a little tech savvy, however, and it's not automatically safe. Podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple recommend that your hosting server support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which allows you to generate an HTTPS RSS feed.
If you want something a little more user friendly, there are other services that run podcast RSS feed servers that allow you to easily upload your audio and relevant information. Your podcasts are published on the various podcast platforms. They also offer services like analytics and monetization. Some popular hosting services include PodBean, Spreaker, Anchor, and Libsyn.
Don't let the rest of the industry overwhelm or intimidate you. Podcasting is still in its infancy and was meant for people. Anyone can do a show and that's wonderful! Make your show what you want it to be and don't worry trying to sound like other shows. It is a wonderfully creative medium and you should use it.