Diary of a Podcaster Part 3
Last weekend, myself, Syl, Braxwolf and Brian recorded an episode of the TGEN Tribunal. Being regular podcasters who all know each other, the conversation flowed well and overall there were no major impediments to the discussion. We used Zencastr to record the podcast which has its own inbuilt voice over IP service, so there’s no need for third party programs such as Skype. Zencastr has the added benefit of recording each participant on a separate audio track, that is then automatically uploaded to a designated Drop Box account. This makes editing in Audacity very easy, as all four audio files are perfectly synchronised. Or at least that’s the theory. The reality can be somewhat different.
When I started editing this morning, although I had four separate synchronised audio files, they were all of differing volume. Although all involved in the recording have good quality microphones and that Zencastr is a clever piece of software, there doesn’t seem to be a means at present to standardise the everyones volume. Usually I’d use a MP3 Gain to address this issue but unfortunately this is freeware and as a result it has some unresolved foibles. Where it can fix the volume levels on a song perfectly, it often crashes when processing lengthy audio. Eventually, I had to fix this sound issue within Audacity itself, which was time consuming. I had to raise the volume of one track and lower another then remove the crosstalk on a further track. Then there’s the matter of my squeaky chair which also blight the recording.
Of course, I have the option of ignoring all these matters but I’m just not prepared to compromise my personal standards. Regardless of what listeners may think about the actual discussion, I hope they feel that the technical presentation is not too amateur. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time listening to talk radio or BBC audio productions because I have very specific ideas about what a podcast should sound like. I don’t like obvious technical deficiencies and always cringe when I hear them in others shows. However, it could be a case that I’m setting unnecessarily high standards and that the audience doesn’t care about these things half as much. There’s one listener I know, who plays podcast at 1.5 x speed for reasons of time efficiency.
All things considered, recording online with a variety of hardware and internet connections, can be a challenge. There have been numerous times when recordings have failed outright or simply not been of an acceptable quality. Yet if you are technically prepared then there is much you can do to ensure that things go smoothly. Test recordings, microphone checks and allowing time for retakes can be invaluable. As for the issue’s I’ve encountered with sound levels, although it’s a nuisance, I intend to learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Some research online may provide some answers from the podcasting community as I’m sure I’m not the first to have such issues. Rather than seeing this as a problem it can be positively viewed as part of the challenge of podcasting.