How to record and edit a podcast on a Windows PC, cheap – Guest post by Derek K. Miller July 26, 2008Posted by Raul in Blogathon 2008, podcasting.
Tags: Blogathon Vancouver 2008
This guest post comes from Derek K. Miller of penmachine.com.
Podcasting and cancer go together for me. I wish they didn’t, but it’s been a year and half since my tumours first prevented me from working at my day job—and podcasting is something I’ve been able to keep doing.
After getting the news that I had stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer in January 2007, it’s been a rollercoaster of chemotherapy, radiation, multiple surgeries, more chemotherapy, CT scans left and right, innumerable blood tests, still more chemotherapy, and side effects ranging from nausea and hair loss to a new, really nasty acne-like rash. It’s been most unpleasant, but I’m still alive.
You might expect me to podcast about having cancer, and I have done a
little of that, but the shows I work on most have nothing to do with it: I engineer my wife’s podcast Lip Gloss and Laptops, and co-host and run the website for Inside Home Recording. So, over the past two or three years, I’ve gained some expertise in this audio realm (as well as some video too). Which is why Raul asked me to blog some advice about recording a basic podcast on a Windows PC.
Now, for Mac users like me, GarageBand is almost an all-in-one toolkit for putting together a podcast. It’s not perfect (nor is any software), and it makes many Apple-centric assumptions about how a podcast should work, but it will certainly do the job.
However, there’s no simple and inexpensive GarageBand equivalent for PC users like Raul. There are a few programs that do similar things, like Sony’s
ACID and M-Audio’s Session, and there are certainly higher-end options like Adobe Audition, Cubase, Pro Tools, and so on. Some do too little, some too much, and the higher-end programs cost hundreds of dollars.
But if you’re getting started with audio podcasting on a PC (or if you use Linux, for that matter), a solid software option is the free, open source audio recording and editing program Audacity. Simply combine it with a decent microphone (whether a basic tabletop dynamic mic, a USB headset, or a tieclip lavalier), and with some way to get the signal into your computer (via an adapter cable, audio interface, or mixer), then you’re ready to go.
Audacity isn’t dead simple, but once you get the essential metaphor of how it’s put together—that is, multiple audio tracks, stacked vertically on top of one another, each of which displays the waveform of the sounds it contains, with time moving from left to right—you can record, edit, mix, and export a complete podcast that sounds pretty decent.
Some tips: Work with your Windows audio control panel, any drivers or settings for your sound card, and Audacity’s preferences to make sure you can get quality sound into the software from your microphone. Unless you need stereo sound for music or other reasons, work in mono as much as possible, since it’s less complicated, and you can also create final podcast files that are only half the size of identical stereo versions. And make sure to download the free LAME encoder to enable Audacity to export MP3 files directly.
Oh, and there’s no harm in downloading Apple’s free iTunes for applying a final polish to your podcast files. You can use it to add extra information (copyright, artwork, etc.): just drag your MP3 file onto iTunes, then choose File > Get Info and make your edits. Using the Preferences > Advanced > Importing options, you can also use iTunes to convert your audio into other formats.
Finally, you’ll need somewhere online to store and link up your files using blogging software that makes it possible for people to subscribe to your show. I’m sure Raul would recommend WordPress.com, and I wouldn’t disagree. But that would also be another blog post.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Derek is also the co-host of Inside Home Recording, and a musician. IHR offers many suggestions of pod-safe music (e.g. music you can actually use without worrying about copyright infringement. You can check both his personal blog and IHR for suggestions on podsafe music.