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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.


The Why and How of Educational Institution Podcasting Webcast October 4, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcatching, Rice University, Technology, University Podcasting.
1 comment so far



RSVP today for the “The Why and How of Educational Institution Podcasting” webcast to be held on Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 1:30PM CST!!!

I will be using some of the new knowledge that I gained from the conferences I’ve been to and research that I’ve done recently to give a webcast for the Greater Houston Education Collaboration (http://www.ghecgroup.net/Fall2007.html)… look 1/2 way down the page.

The abstract talks about podasting as a relatively new technology that is being implemented and tested by some educational institutions within multiple departments and schools. Through examples of, and research into, what they are doing, I will be show the five main reasons to podcast. Also, podcasting is not a complicated endeavor as most of you know. I will be able to show the steps in the process of podcasting in the time alloted. Lastly, I will discuss the hardware and software needed to podcast with specific recommendations for all budget levels.

RSVP for Live Audience Participation
RSVP for Internet Live Stream

Watch Live Webcast This link will be activated on Thursday, November 1 at 1:25 PM CST. (On day of event, please sign on with your NAME and ORGANIZATION.)

Themes: Distance Learning: Use of podcasting to do so. Classroom Technology: How to record and post lectures. Internet Tools: Podcast providers and directories. Software: Garageband, Audacity, iTunes. Hardware: Portable recorders, mics, boards. Level: All. Audience: All.

Be sure to check out the rest of the webcasts on the page listed above… it looks like a pretty good line-up this fall!

iPod Alternatives November 27, 2006

Posted by Jeff in MP3 Players, Podcasting, Technology.

Okay… so last week I wrote about a gift shopping list for podcasters and included an iPod on the list. I received the following feedback: “My son don’t like apple and I’m wondering…”, “She doesn’t own a Mac, so…”, and “…what other mp3 players are there?”

So, I guess I need to give you a bit of information on what to get instead of an ipod. Hopefully, you all know by now that podcasting without an ipod is possible. You can consume and listen to podcasts with other players than just an iPod, and without getting into the “ipod vs this or that” debates, I’m just going to give you a few ipod alternative recommendations.


Apple iPod – first the iPod. In my opinion, the best.

  • around $350 for an 80GB hard drive
  • $250 for 30GB
  • both Mac and PC compatible
  • it weighs about 5 ounces
  • from experience, the battery lasts about 18 hours
  • easy and intuitive to use


ARCHOS 604 WiFi – a great player that does a lot more.
If you’re considering getting a player for someone and have the money to spend, this would be the unit. It not only does so much more than mp3 playing, but it will play files from a wireless network.

  • $450 – 30GB plus a bunch of extra features
  • $400 – 80GB with no WiFi (there are other models as well)
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • it comes with a DVR Station to let you record videos
  • it weighs about twice as much as an iPod
  • nice touch screen interface


Creative Labs Zen Vision:M – an alternative to the iPod with the same 30GB memory and 250$ price… PC Only.

  • $250 – 30 GB
  • PC Only
  • 3/4 the battery life of an iPod
  • weight is the same as an iPod
  • the user interface/menus are intuitive, button locations/functions will take some getting used to


Microsoft Zune – I’m not sure why this was created. What were they thinking? Still, I have to list it here… it is an alternative that has received a lot of press… and some people will like it. I, though, only got the chance to use one for a short time and didn’t like the device or the music service.

  • $250 – 30GB
  • PC Only
  • About the same as the Zen Vision:M
  • weight same as iPod
  • I think the user interface is okay, though the menu structure/song download interface may take some thinking at first

So, there you have it… three alternatives to an iPod. My advice, just buy the iPod. If not, go to the store and find an example of each of these and try them. I listed them in order of suggestion, though the ARCHOS is a bit pricey. If deciding between a PC only player, take the Zen Vision:M over the Zune.

If money isn’t an object, check out the TrekStor i.Beat organix Gold:

What To Get Your Podcaster November 24, 2006

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Podcast Books, Podcast Software, Technology.

I got a great question a couple of weeks ago that I answered in an email, but I thought I’d post a more thought out response. The basis of the question was… what to get a podcaster for Christmas? Though the question was formed around finding a podcasting Christmas gift, the wish list can obviously also be used for birthdays and such in the near future. A note of warning though: technical gifts that you get today, maywill… be out of date in the next few months. Even this list that I give you below will be out of date shortly. Having said that, there are a lot of gifts and presents out there for a podcaster friend or in the family. Here is what should be on your Christmas shopping list:

  • Money – most podcasters are working for almost nothing podcasting, so throwing a little cash at your podcaster is always a plus.
  • Microphone – a good microphone can make all the difference. Though pricey, maybe it can be a group gift or something.
    • shure ksm44 – $800 – great sounding mic, it’s what I use in the studio.
    • shure ksm27 – $300 – great studio mic as well, but I use it for live recordings.
    • marshall mxlusb.006 – $100 – usb means you can plug it right into the computer to record, very nice.
  • Audio Podcast Software (costs very greatly between vendors and specials)
    • Audacity – free and cross platform (apple or windows).
    • Mac
      • Garageband – the podcasting standard, free on new apples.
      • Soundtrack Pro – a great upgrade.
    • PC
      • Cakewalk – great starter software.
      • Adobe Audition – better.
  • Headphones – a good set of headphones is crucial to getting the sound you want.
    • Sennheiser HD25 – $200 – though a big investment, these headphones are a big improvement over your averages set.
    • AKG 240S – $100 – $100 is really enough to spend on a good set, there are so many at this price point it’s hard to pick.
    • Others? – as stated above, since there are so many, they try to beat each other out on price and packaging… the sound is the issue though. headphones are very personal items, don’t feel bad if your podcaster takes a set you bought him or her back. each podcaster has to find a pair to get comfortable with and ‘know.’
  • Portable Recorder– if your podcaster is on the go.
    • Edirol R09 – $400 – I did a review of this not too long ago, great recorder.
    • M-Audio MicroTrack – $300 – my number 2 pick.
    • iRiver – $150 – might be hard to find, but a great little mp3 recorder.
  • iPod – you can never go wrong with getting someone an ipod. consider a different form factor or more memory than the one he or she already has. maybe an itunes gift card if the ipod is out of the price range?
  • Books– resources for podcasters are all over the internet, but sometimes it’s just good to have a book to sit down and read… and not an audio book… real paper that you can highlight and underline. my recent picks for the best podcasting books are:
  • Magazines– a great way for your podcaster to keep tuned in to the latest things going on.
    • Mix – if your podcaster is mixing their own podcast.
    • Recording – more for the music industry, but still some great tips.
    • Videomaker – great for videographers.
    • Computer Videomaker – video podcasters will appreciate this one.
    • Sound & Vision – audio and video tech toys together.

I’d also like you to think about magazines and gifts in and around your podcasters topic or niche. If he or she is podcasting about jogging, get a subscription to Runner’s magazine, a new jogging outfit, or how about a gift certificate to a shoe store?

Lastly, how about a trip to a podcasting conference, course, or seminar. There are only a few, and you can search for them in your area. I personally have a course I’m teaching in Houston, TX that will be under $400 for 18 hours of instruction over 6 Monday nights… but there is the Podcast Academy, Podcamp, the Podcast and New Media Expo, etc. A gift for a trip to something such as one of those could very easily benefit your podcaster more than any of the other things mentioned in this post.

So, what to get a podcaster? Great question! The wish list of a podcaster can be huge depending on how into podcasting your podcaster is. I hope this list helps!