Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Technology Behind RGV Life Podcasts: Recording

I often get questions about the equipment that I use to work on this blog and on the podcasts. Today, I'll go over what I use to record the podcasts and why. First, let me tell you that there are different ways I record podcasts. Ultimately, however, all the recordings are put into mp3 format before they are uploaded to Audioblog.com for downloading and playback on your computer or mp3 player of choice.

To start off, Audioblog.com gives you the option of calling in your blog post, uploading your pre-recorded post, or recording it on the fly. When I am out and about, I usually call in the recording using my mobile phone. You really can't edit too much with that. Or, I use my wife's iRiver mp3 player. I'll give you more details on that because the iRiver is an awesome device.

When I am at home, I record the podcasts using a USB headset that has headphones and a microphone. This gives me the best recording quality. The headset is good for recording onto the computer's hard drive using a free mixing software called Audacity, or with a fast enough connection, straight to Audioblog.com. The last podcast, #11, was recorded using the iRiver. Generally, if I'll be adding music to the recording, I'll record using Audacity on the computer so that I can delete my screw-ups and a paste in the mp3 music at the front and back ends. Posting straight to Audioblog.com is done only for one-take podcasts.

Now, about the iRiver. This device makes recording really easy because it encodes straight into mp3. The iRiver is specifically mentioned in Podcasting for Dummies as one of the most versatile devices for podcasting. The reason for this is that the headphone jack of the iRiver also doubles as a microphone jack. Or, you can use the built-in microphone on the iRiver. I don't have a separate microphone, so I've been using the built-in microphone on the iRiver. The model I use for recording is the 512 MB. The 1 GB model was a bit beyond my price range. Best of all, you can feed a tape recording from a tape recorder straight into the iRiver for instant conversion to mp3 format. Or, you can feed sound from a mixing board into the iRiver for instant encoding. No computer needed.

Once you've recorded on the iRiver, just hook it up to the USB port on your computer and you can copy the mp3 onto your hard drive. In cases where I want to edit, I have to decode the mp3 to wav format, do the editing, and then encode back to mp3. I generally record using the iRiver's best sound quality to make up for loss during the editing process. If I don't want to edit, then it can be uploaded straight onto Audioblog.com and is ready to hear. The combination of Audioblog.com, Audacity, and my wife's iRiver MP3 player/recorder, gives me many options for recording podcasts. If you want to get into recording audio for the web, I definitely recommend at least the iRiver for recording and Audacity for mixing.

If you have any questions, please post a comment and I'll reply. I'm also available for hire if you need a quick lesson or recording.
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