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Microphone with Built-in Memory – The HHB FlashMic October 26, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment.

Welcome to the world of broadcasters. Instead of a portable recorder, a mic cable, and a mic… just combine them all into one unit. The HHB FlashMic does just that. You can read the specs off the website just as easily as I could copy them here, and don’t forget to search for a good review. Word is, it’s great for video podcasting… you can use your camera for the video and the microphone for audio. Upload them separately into your favorite editor, and sync them. You get pristine audio without a wire or wireless system. Plus, you can use it while the camera isn’t rolling. Getting interview material, voice overs, ambient noise, etc. quickly and easily in the same track.

Go to http://www.hhb.co.uk/flashmic

[click for larger image]


Equipment to Record a Loud Concert? October 22, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Technology.

I got this question in an email:

For personal use only, I want to record rock bands that I see in clubs. I want something small that I can have on my body. I’d prefer to be able to use built-in microphones only but I’d be willing to do one external microphone if that would make a dramatic difference. I’m not looking for perfect recordings but I need something that would not distort at the high sound volumes. I just want to be able to later again listen to some incredible music performances that I witness in person. So, looking for recommendations from you for what would be appropriate.

Besides the obvious response of “you’re not allowed to record concerts” a mention of “copyright” and a warning that you could be fined if you try to do anything with the recording… here’s the scoop:

There are a bunch of great recorders out there that will do the trick. See:

The thing you have to do though, is use an external mic. Most built in microphones on recorders cannot handle the extremes of a concert (i.e. either very loud music and/or distance away from speakers and other people around talking/screaming).

If you want to do it right, I have a friend who swears by this little unit: Sony MZM200 HiMD Recorder, (add it to the list) but again, any recorder that you feel comfortable with that has a mic in will do. The important thing is the microphone.

Both omnidirectional and cardioid mics are capable of recording very loud music if you are close the speakers and not much is going on around you. If you’re back from the speakers, say 20 to 50+ feet, a cardioid would pick up less noise. If you will be even further back, 75+ feet, I’d go for a shotgun mic. I shotgun would be my pick for recording concerts… you can point it at the stage and be done with it.

I also know of people who carry a wireless mic around and clip it close to the sound source and walk away. The signal gets picked up by the mic and sent wirelessly to the recorder. When the speaker is done / concert is over, you go pick up the mic.

Whatever recorder or microphone you get, remember to always set the input levels yourself (don’t take the auto settings). Monitor the levels on the recorder to make sure it’s not getting overdriven or you’ll come out with a horrible recording. My advice is to set the levels at about 80% at the start of the concert and try not to touch it. Usually, a music set gets softer (which should be okay) and then louder… which would account for the other 20%. If you’re good with a mixer / editor afterward, then you can play with the levels between songs and normalize when you get home.

Hope this helps.

From the Podcast and New Media Expo – Podcast Transcript 23 September 30, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcast Transcript, Podcasting.
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The Links and Transcript to “From the Podcast and New Media Expo” (4:53) released September 29, 2007 (click here to listen):

Hi, this is Jeff Frey from the Why and How of Podcasting. I’m at the podcast and new media expo in ontario california and gathering some great information to pass on to clients, people that want to me to advise them on their podcasts, or those who want me to teach a class for them.

Speaking of classes, the course that I was going to teach at the Suzanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University this fall was cancelled. I was going to use that to keep creating content on my blog and this podcast, but since it was cancelled, that took some wind out of my sails and I haven’t been producing much since.

It seems odd because the last class I taught was full and with a waiting list and this one only had a few people sign up. So, maybe it wasn’t advertised as well or something. Anyway. If you were one of those few people who signed up… send me an email and contact me about coming out to your location to do a day or two day course, or a directed class of some sort.

That goes for anyone in the Houston area really (unless you want to fly me somewhere, but), go to my blog at jdfrey.wordpress.com and check out a sample course outline under the podcast instruction link. If you like what you see, and you want to talk with me about coming out and teaching a course, email me at. Also, I’ve been doing more podcasting advising, creating, publishing, and things that businesses, educational institutions, and even just individuals are looking for in the podcasting realm. I’m ready and available to talk to you about your podcasting needs.

Right now, I’m creating this podcast just to get those of you listening to head to out my blog and check out my notes from the expo this year. It’s still going on for another day, and I’ll be busy trying to post things all this week. Some new hardware and software has come out, and I’m going to have to get back and research them a bit more before I tell you what I think of them. There IS a product I can tell you about that I want you to check out called copytrans. If you’ve got an ipod and you’ve ever been scared about losing your ipod songs, it does a full back up of you ipod including playlists and personal info. If you get a new computer, it does the same thing… it will load the info from your ipod into itunes instead of the other way around. If you accidentally delete a song, you can get it back… it’s just a great tool all around. I like it so much I’ve got a link on the side bar of my blog. J-d-f-r-e-y dot wordpress.com, click on the image on the right side of the screen, and I’ll also link to it in the transcript for this podcast (http://www.copytrans.net) along with a testimonial I found from someone else: http://jeffchin.com/2007/07/27/recover-your-itunes-library-with-copytrans/

Lastly, I’m recording this podcast on my H4 Handy recorder from the conference. If you’ve listened to me before, you know that for portable recording I went from an Edirol R-09 to this H4 because of the input jacks and the multi-tracking capabilities. Well, at the conference today, I was able to demo the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder… and think I might have another portable recorder in my pocket real soon. It’s about half the size of the H4, but seems to have the same sound quality for less money. I think if you don’t need the features of the H4, I’m going to have to say that the H2 is my top pick for highly-portable recording right now.

The unit comes with a small tabletop stand, an adapter that allows it to be mounted on a mic stand, a windscreen, a five hundred and twelve megabyte SD card. It will handle a 4 GB card, which is awesome, and that will get you about six hours of 44.1kHz recording, or, they say, 138 hours in MP3 format. Here’s a tip though, you’ll only get four hours of life from the 2 AA batteries that power it, so you’ll need to plug it in if you’re recording that long. It comes with an external power supply.

If you want use it for sound recordings, the unit even has a built in tuner and metronome. If you have multiple people or instruments, it has three microphones, one in the center and two on either side, this not only allows for stereo imaging, but you can also record from the front or rear… even doing Surround 5.1.

The only thing that the guys selling it at the expo said people complain about is the small buttons and interface… but… you know… I think I can deal with that for the amount money it costs… it’s just $200. So, for the cost, the portability, and the sound quality that I listened to during the demo… I don’t think you can beat it. I’ll have a link on my blog to the manufacturer and to a great review I found on the O’Reilly Digital Media website.

See this post for those links: https://jdfrey.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/a-look-at-the-zoom-h2-handy-recorder/

That’s it for me for now, I’m going to get back to the conference… and I’ll talk to you again soon. This is Jeff Frey for the why and how of podcasting… thanks for listening.

A Look at the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder September 29, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast and New Media Expo, Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.

I was able to demo the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder at the Podcast and New Media Expo today and think I might have another portable recorder in my pocket real soon.  Right now, I’m walking around with a H4, but the little H2 (about the size of a deck of cards) seems to have the same sound quality for less money.  I think if you don’t need the features of the H4 (like multitracking), I’m going to have to say that the H2 is my top pick for highly-portable recording right now.

The unit comes with a small tabletop stand, an adapter that allows it to be mounted on a mic stand, a windscreen, a 512mb SD card.  It will handle a 4 GB card (awesome) and that will get you six hours of 44.1kHz recording or, they say, 138 hours in MP3 format.  Whoa!  Here’s a tip though, you’ll only get four hours of life from the 2 AA batteries that power it… so you’ll need to plug it in if you’re recording that long. It comes with an external power supply.

If you want use it for sound recordings, the unit even has a built in tuner and metronome.  Multiple people or instruments?  It has three microphones, one in the center and two on either side, this not only allows for stereo imaging, but you can also record from the front or rear… even doing Surround 5.1.

The only thing that the guys selling it at the expo said people complain about is the small buttons and interface.  You know… I think I can deal with that for the amount money it costs: $200.  I think the cost, the portability, and the sound quality that I listened to during the demo make up for it.  Also, if the volume is too low when you record, you can actually normalize it.

Here’s a link to the manufacturer site: http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1916

This is a great review on O’Reilly Digital Media: http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2007/09/13/review-zoom-h2-surround-recorder.html


Another Question about Portable Recording August 25, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment.
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Josh writes:

I am looking to make podcasts. I am handy with the mac and I was hoping to use garage band. My BIG question is portable recording for under $200… is that possible?

I appreciate the help.

My response:

Garage band is perfect for podcasting. $200? Sure… but the quality won’t be very good. My recommendation is to get a Zoom H4 Handy Recorder. You can get them on ebay for a little over $200, or new for $250 to $300. http://www.zzounds.com/item–ZOMH4

His response:

I appreciate your response. I may have to wait, the recorder is a little out of my budget and I have never done any podcasting before. I need to try with something cheaper to make sure it is a worthy investment.

From me:

I’d go strait to your laptop (if you have one). You can buy a usb mic (search usb mic on my blog) like the snow ball or samson and record directly into garageband.

And finally:

Yes I think this is the best method for now. I will look at your blog and then get a good mic.

In this case, starting with the laptop is a great idea. Getting in on the ground floor with a good quality mic is always a great option for podcasting. Remember a good set of headphones while you’re at it.

Recording Your Podcast with Two Microphones, and ynu5photos August 20, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment.
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I got a email from Alec McAulay last week who, among other things, wrote:

I am trying to figure out the least painless way to record an interview.  I’d like a recorder that I connect two external mikes to, and then upload one sound file/track into iMovie.  I am not sure if I need a portable recorder or audio interface.

Alec, a Scottish EFL lecturer in Yokohama, Japan, says he has “just dipped his toe into the podcasting pond.”  Check out http://www.youtube.com/ynu5photos… I’d say he’s doing VERY well.

Now, about his question.  There’s a problem with interviewing with one track… you have two voices that are completely different.  Even if you have two microphones, one voice will be a higher pitch than another or need more equalization/compression than another.

I’m not sure what he would have access to when he records (like being able to bring a laptop along)… but I would think that he could do what you want to do with the Zoom H4 Handy Recorder.

See the picture?  See the two XLR inputs in the bottom of the mic?  You can actually plug two microphones into the bottom of this
recorder.  Then, you can choose to record them to one stereo track, like he was  saying to upload into iMovie… but in my opinion, you would use the multi-track option.  You can record each speaker to their own track.  When you do that, you can upload the tracks into
Garageband and then set one as the male voice, one as female (if interviewing a female) and/or tweak the audio, use compression, cut
and copy as needed, and put music in on the front or back end.

You can then take THAT garageband mix and export it as one track to place as the sound track in iMovie.  Add your pictures, and you’re done.

There are many other ways to do this, but for ynu5photos’ purposes, I think the Zoom will be the best portable purchase for him.  If he had a laptop and an audio interface, he could record directly into Garageband and skip the portable recorder step.  A usb audio interface with a dual track input would allow him to plug two microphones in and send them to two different tracks in Garageband.  Not as portable or convenient as the Zoom H4, but maybe a bit less expensive… anything on this page with a “2” in the name has two channels to record with: http://www.fullcompass.com/category/USB.html

Again, I think the Zoom H4 is the best option.

Thanks for the question Alec, and keep up the great work!!!

More Zoom H4 Information April 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment.
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I’ve been using my H4 for a month now… just one quirk that I talk about in a comment on my last H4 post.  See it another interesting review on the comments from April 18th (Leonardo) and April 19th (Me) at:  Zoom H4 – Handy Recorder Information.

Blue Snowball vs. Samson C01U March 12, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment.

A friend of mine purchased both of these microphones and has been using them for some time now.  A relative was in the market for a USB mic and wanted to know which was best.  I asked my friend and I was going to write it up until I came across a review of them that already said what I was going to say (click here).  All I have to say is… my sentiments exactly!

Interview Recording for Podcasts – Part 2 – Hardware February 28, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.
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Looking for a low cost way to record phone conversations for your podcast? Look to JK Audio.

JK Audio AUTOHYBRID is about $160 and gives you simultaneous full duplex send and receive audio through analog telephone lines. That means that there’s no delay or waiting for someone to finish… both people can be talking at the same time.


What if you’re the one that’s remote and you need to call others from your location?

JK Audio REMOTEMIX C+… okay… it’s $550… but it’s cool!


Lastly, if you’d like a little higher quality interface than the $160 autohybrid, check this out: http://jkaudio.com/broadcast-host.htm.

See yesterday’s post for software ideas.

Olympus DS-50 vs. Roland R-09 February 23, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.

James from Chula Vista California writes…

I love your website. I have learned so much from all your content. You are a great writer. I need your help, which do you like better Olympus DS-50 or Roland R-9?

Thanks for the question James! You’ve seen the mac ads where the business suit guy, a pc, and a hip gap / old navy type looking fellow, a mac, talk about spreadsheets and video creation, right? Well, I kind of feel like with this when talking about these two products. I have a mac laptop and a windows desktop. I honestly can’t do what I really need to do for a couple elements of my job without the pc, but for other parts, the apple is the thing.

Olympus has come out with a digital recorder that has some features in it you might want for a business portable recorder: auto record, audible activation, pre-program to start recording at certain times, even a remote. The issue comes when they also bill it as a podcasting recorder, that’s where the Roland Edirol R-09 steps up and says something witty about how much longer it would take or how bad the audio would be if the Olympus tried to do it.

Since I’m usually not talking about recording business meetings or classes, I’ve stayed away from those products that try to fill that niche. The DS-50 is one of those. I honestly think it’s a great recorder if you need any of those features I talked about in the last paragraph. Suit and tie… go and buy.

Now, let’s talk about podcasting. To podcast, you want a few things out of your recorder, ease of use, good sound quality, fast copying or production time, and plenty of record time. The Roland Edirol R-09 beats the Olympus DS-50 in all of those… here’s why:

Ease of Use – Mic Inputs

  • DS-50 – 1 mini jack
  • R-09 – external mic and line in

Sound Quality – Microphones

  • DS-50 – detachable stereo
  • R-09 built in powered studio quality

Sound Quality – Record Formats

  • DS-50 – wma only
  • R-09 – wav and mp3 (mp3 is my preferred)
    (that also means the ds-50 really only really works natively with pc, though there are some great conversion products out there)

Sound Quality – kHz

  • DS-50 – STXQ/STHQ/HQ: 44.1 kHz /SP: 22 kHz /LP: 8kHz
  • R-09 – wav or mp3 at 48kHz and lower, plus… you can choose your bit rate

Fast Copying / Production Time

  • The notes about the mp3, kHz, and bit rates all contribute to these along with the R-09 having built in reverb. You could add the reverb on the R-09 and record it directly to a computer that didn’t have any editing / effects software

Plenty of Recording Time

  • DS-50 – 1 GB built in hard drive
  • R-09 SD card that can be swapped in and out… up to 2GB (double the DS-50, but if you have two cards, quadruple the DS-50)

Again, there are reasons to go get the DS-50: you want an easy to use recorder for meetings, classes, dictation, etc… but if you’re podcasting… I’m still a fan of the R-09.

Hope that helps! On another note, I never actually held the olympus in my hands, but from looking at it and the microphone, it looks like you might get some noise from the speaker attachment to the unit as well. For example, if you were interviewing someone and shook it a bit. I can’t say that for sure, again, since I haven’t held it… but it looks like it has the potential to be a part that causes noise or breaks down. The R-09s built ins sound great and since they’re… built in… there’s no problem with noise.

Thanks again for the question!

Podcasting at a University – Podcast Transcript 10 February 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcast Transcript, Podcasting, University Podcasting.
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The Links and Transcript to “10 – Podcasting at a University” (4:58) released February 19, 2007 (click here to listen):

The Links:
Educause Session Here
• Presentations: https://jdfrey.wordpress.com/presentations

The Transcript:

J.D. Frey here, and you’re listening to the why and how of podcasting. I’m speaking this week at the southwest regional educause conference in Austin texas and for those of you listening that are going to the conference; I plan on talking about three main things.

One – What university podcasting departments are being asked to do, with examples.
Two – The step-by-step process of podcasting.
and Three – The technical requirements of podcast studios with setups for different budgets.
I will of course be podcasting the session in it’s entirety next week. So I won’t go into details now, but I did want to give you a quick bottom line podcast about the main points around the first topic… What university podcasting departments are being asked to do. Through research, surveys, discussions with peers, and personal experiences, I put together a little list of the top reasons to podcast at a university.

First, universities should be podcasting courses. There is research that this in fact does not hurt the students or class attendance, but actually helps the learning experience. Past that, there are five main reasons to podcast at a university. Counting down,

Number five is faculty, then staff, three is students, then alumni, and the number one reason to podcast… admissions. If you think about it, it’s all person based. The things I mentioned aren’t really so much reasons to podcast as people to podcast to. First, potential students, because what is a university without students. Then, past students and donors, because again, what is a school without resources. You then podcast to current students attending to enhance their existence. Staff, who make the university run, and then don’t forget faculty, for without them, there would be no courses or classes.

I skip over this people point in my talk, choosing to give examples of the different podcasts from other universities… and I’ll be sure to put a link to each of those examples in my transcript next week. But the point is, podcasting at a university is all about the people.

Since I want to podcast my session, and they don’t record the audio at this conference, I have to record it. I have a lot of different options available, strait to hardrive, bring my roland multitrack, I have an Edirol R-09, and just got a Zoom H4 Handy Recorder… but… I decided to take an M-Audio Microtrack. It will record WAV or MP3, about two hours of mp3 at the settings I wanted, and it sounded the best when I hooked up a wireless lapel microphone that I had. I’m going to leave it on the presenters table with the wireless receiver and wear the lapel to record with. You’ll get to hear it next week if all goes well.

That “how” of podcasting is something to remember. If you don’t want to be tied to a microphone and you want to record a presentation or speech. Buy a wireless mic and set that next to a computer with an audio out of the wireless to the audio in of your computer. Open up a piece of recording software, and check the levels. Before you start talking, hit record. It’s a very easy way to ‘share’ your audio presentations.

Remember, next week, a big 45 minute podcast from me all about podcasting at a University. If you have any stories surrounding university podcasting, email me at jdfrey at rice dot edu. I’d love to hear them. The slides and handouts from my session will be posted on the presentations page of my blog: jdfrey.wordpress.com… so go there for more info. Of course you can get to all this information from one of the longest urls in the world… thewhyandhowofpodcasting dot com. I’m J.D. Frey, thanks for listening.


Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.

Have you seen this yet?

The BEHRINGER PODCASTUDIO USB Bundle comes with a USB audio interface, a 5-input mixer with 2-band EQ, headphones and a dynamic microphone with cable and pop filter. It also says it comes with audio software and has an Audacity logo on the website.  It makes sense, Audactiy works on both Windows XP and Mac OS X operating systems.  They mention Kristal Audio Engine as well.  That’s multi-track sequencer software.  Looks good to me.  I might pick one up to just demo considering that it’s only going to be $150.

Headphones and In Ear Monitors February 15, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.

When mixing your podcasts, and especially when tweaking eqs and levels, it is good to listen to your podcasts over a good set of speakers. If you are listening to your podcasts over your laptop or desktop speakers and then someone with a great set of speakers listens to your podcast… they may not like what they hear.

I suggest you invest in a good set of speakers, sometimes called monitors in the recording studio industry, to mix with. Another option, and sometimes a better option when you cannot get a good room to put your speakers in or when the place the you’re podcasting has a lot of ambient noise, are headphones. A good set of mixing headphones will set you back about $100 (+/- $20).

Since I used to own a recording studio, I have a set of near field monitors close to my mixer, some monster speakers set far away from me in the room, but I always go back to my really expensive set of AKG headphones.

Speaking of headphones, for those of you who are really into sound or are band member type people… you might want to check into custom made in ear monitors. There are a few companies out there that do this:

I have reviewed the different companies and different types of monitors and have to say that shure makes a great one size fits all model in the 500. Better than those, though, if you go to your local audiologist and have ear impressions made, you can get custom fitted in ear speakers that completely seal out all the other sound around you.

Ultimate Ears appears to be more popular, but Sensaphonics seems to care more about your actual hearing. Sensaphonics also has a great ambient sound product and ear plugs that have interchangeable decibel screens (awesome) if you don’t have in ear monitoring systems. They also make custom sleeves that fit over other in ear monitors (like the Shure e3s that we use at my church).

iPhone Analyses, Rounding Up Podcasting Mics February 6, 2007

Posted by Jeff in iPhone, Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting.
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Podcast – Apple Report: iPhone Analyses, Rounding Up Podcasting Mics

by Ricky Spero, 9:00 AM EST, February 4th, 2007


Where Do You Podcast? January 24, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Jeff Frey, Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcasting, Rice University.
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This week… I’ve decided to quickly answer the 5 “W”s of me and how I podcast (who, what, where, when, and why).

There are four places available to me to podcast.  One, at the Rice University Digital Media Center.  There is a closet there that is set up with a professional microphone and a mac with garage band and audacity.  Two, Rice IT has a video podcasting room that I haven’t ever personally used, but clients have.  IT will help you with the editing and the posting of your podcast.  The third place isn’t really a place.  You can podcast anywhere if you have the right equipment.  I have a Roland Edirol R-09 portable digital recorder and have access to a lot of other portable recorders that friends have.

Fourth, and where I do most of my work, is my home.  I have a mac with garage band and audacity on it and a pc with audacity and pro tools from my recording studio days (cakewalk is on there as well).  What I really use is my Roland VS2480.  It’s a digital recording board with effects and editing.  I have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse attached to it and all my jingles/sound/effects/eqs/etc. are stored in there.  I power it on, bring up my podcast settings and start recording.  I also use two Shure KSM44s condenser microphones for recording.  Sometimes I audio hijack skype voicemails and sometimes I run them right into my board as another channel and use headphones.  I use the levelator if levels are different.  I use libsyn as my host.

I think that covers the Where… and maybe even the How…?  Thanks for the questions.