“Podcasters have to grow up”

The words in the title are from a friend of mine who knows computing, imaging, video, film and audio. Smart guy whom I called with glee when I received my Edirol R1 — and called again with my profound disappointment. After we talked for awhile and I told him my tale of woe, his comment was, “podcasters have to grow up when it comes to what it takes to capture quality audio.”

He’s right. Today I returned the Edirol R1. Originally purchased for mobile podcasting, the amount of post-processing I had to perform on the file was too profound and time consuming to be useful. I tried everything: recording at multiple resolutions; buying two different types of microphones; talking at length with Edirol tech support; reading multiple articles online; trying a myriad of normalizing/compressing techniques after learning “what real sound engineers do”.  All to no avail.

I get great quality from my desktop setup (Audio Technica AT3035; M-Audio MobilePre; nice stand; Apple’s Garageband); which gives me surprisingly good results. Most times I can crank out a 10 minute podcast in an hour and a half (tweaking it; re-recording; adding music; outputting the file then transcoding it to mp3, etc). The kicker with the Edirol file? It took me about that SAME time to get the file sound level to be decently synchronous with the output from my desktop setup — and THEN I had to build the podcast for an hour and a half!

I’m not naive. I don’t expect that a $200 field mike and $450 field recording will rival a computer/desktop setup worth $3k or so. Still, it ‘felt’ like the sound quality was roughly half the quality which just wouldn’t work for me or for my bride (who wanted to perform field interviews with the setup).

So back it went and I’ll pay shipping and a 10% re-stocking fee.

Maybe not all is lost with the experience though. I’m thinking back to the days of desktop publishing where there was an explosion of fonts on a page. Really crappy design. All white space used. Violations of every known technique learned by paste-up artists and page layout experts for decades. I know that it was pretty painful for me to figure out how to produce professional looking publications from my desktop and I bought A LOT of books and wasted A LOT of prepress hours before I finally got a workflow going that consistently produced superior and repeatable results.

Guess I’ve got some work to do and some more investments to make with audio for this here podcasting thang…

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.