I do a lot of podcasts in the form of interviews, first at GizBuzz and now as a UK Editor at blognation. It’s taken a while, but I now have a setup which seems to work every time with great quality, and (perhaps most importantly) is dirt cheap. I thought it might be useful to share the kit I use in my setups to dispel the myth that you have to spend a lot to get good quality and prevent some of the mistakes that I have made.
I essentially have two setups, one for recording interviews over Skype, and one for recording interviews face to face.
I use a very basic desktop USB Logitech microphone. This is because I record on my Laptop, and found that the inbuilt soundcard was very noisy, presumably because of interference from other components, and generally poor quality. At risk of stating the obvious, by using USB rather than analogue jack, the analogue to digital conversion takes place outside the computer, and thus seems to be higher quality. I paid Â£15/$30 for this.
I use a software recording solution for simplicity’s sake. This is where you can benefit from my many mistakes – there are several programmes out there that do a bad job, and have variously failed to record without giving any error messages and have messed up the synchronisation of voices. I have, however, found Pamela very reliable. It’s cheap, and has far more features than you’ll ever need. Unfortunately I don’t think you’re likely to find a free product that does the job well enough. I paid $24.95 for this.
I use a MicroMemo attachment for my iPod Nano, available from Amazon UK / US. This attaches to the dock connector of my iPod and allows me to record, crucially, in high-quality WAV format, rather than compressing the audio to MP3 before I have edited it. It cost me Â£30/$60, although it looks as though prices may have come down since then.
The microphone which came with the MicroMemo was of insufficient quality, and so I resorted to eBay. Fortunately I was lucky in that the microphone I happened to have picked was good quality. I bought it in this ebay shop, but asked for a uni-directional microphone rather than an omni-direction version. This is because I often conduct interviews where there is significant background noise, and a uni-directional microphone limits that so that it doesn’t have an adverse effect on production quality. This cost me Â£7/$14 – the best value of all my kit as far as I am concerned.
I suspect that every reader will have a favourite when it comes to post-production tools, but Audacity has always served me well. I’m not very knowledgeable about audio technology, so if I can manage to use it, anyone can. It’s also free, which is nice.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the mechanics of podcasting, but I have managed to assemble a kit that works well. It’d be interesting to hear feedback in the comments about what kit you use.
Huw Leslie was the founder of GizBuzz, a sister site of YouMakeMedia, and is now a UK editor at new blog network blognation.