Podcasting Quick Tip #5 . . . Got hum and buzz problems?

(Click here) to listen to the podcast of this article

Have you been hearing some mysterious hums and/or buzzing sounds in the background of your productions? If you have, it could quite possibly be associated with ground loops of some sort.

I came across this problem as I was trying out a new headset microphone to use with both, “Audacity” and “mypodcast recorder”. You see, I use my laptop for almost everything I do at the moment because it is my fastest and best computer, as well as the most portable. (It is also my newest). I have been trying a lot of new things lately, for my own benefit and, hopefully, for yours. This led me to discover I had the above mentioned problem.

While doing some practice recordings with “mypodcast recorder”, I noticed a buzz in the background of my recordings. It was probably always there, I think the new microphone just helped me notice it more. For that I am thankful, because I really don’t like hums and buzzing and I find them quite distracting.

At first, I thought it had something to do with the mic, but substituting a different one proved that theory to be false. (The substitute generated the same thing, only a little softer in the background). It was beginning to really bother me. Now that I had heard it, my hearing really began to focus on it. I was determined to get rid of it, so the troubleshooting process continued.

I decided to see if it was associated somehow with the software, although it didn’t make sense it would be. I tried using “Audacity” and found the same thing once again. There was that distracting buzz in the background. I decided to go one step further with “Audacity” since I was planning to use it to directly record interviews over the telephone. I called a friend up and recorded the conversation, (with his permission of course). The result was horrible, (and I am being extremely nice about it). I was really begining to think I had a major problem and began to worry that some of my plans for the near and distant future were going to be out the window. I have to admit, it had me baffled, at least for the time being.

I began to look for possible ‘RF generators’ like lighting dimmers or something similar. Nothing I checked made any difference. I was really beginning to get concerned when the thought finally struck me. In audio work, we often contend with ground loops of one sort or another. We can usually temporarily lift a ground to test and isolate the problem. The problem was, I was not using any plugs with ground pins in them, just the standard two prong, so how was I going to lift the ground separately. I remembered I didn’t have the problem when I used only my portable digital recorder, to capture with. Nothing else was attached to it, so, what was the difference between the two ways?

(Well, I hope you haven’t guessed yet, because that would spoil the rest of this article.) It was the fact that the digital recorder was totally self-powered by battery and I was using the power supply/battery charger for my laptop. When I removed the power supply cord from the computer and it went on to its own battery power, the buzzing completely stopped. My recordings were once again clean in both, “Audacity” and “mypodcast recorder”.

The problem seems to have been a difference in ground potential (a ground loop) between the phone line and the electric in my house for the problem with the telephone buzzing. Removing the connection to the power line, removed the ground loop problem between it and the phone line. Now I just have to consider laptop battery life into the extended phone interview equation for the future. Hopefully, that is just a minor problem that I will be able to wring out soon.

I have to be honest. I still don’t fully understand why that cured the buzz in the microphone, but my theory has to do with the stereo plug it has. I think it has to do with the way the plug makes connection internally in the computer. To be technical about it, it is like inserting a balanced plug into an unbalanced input, or vice versa. At any rate I will keep working on that and let you know when I totally figure it out. If you have any ideas about it, please, feel free to leave your comments!

For now, though, all is much quieter on the recording end.

See ya next time . . .

“Secrets of Podcasting – Second Edition” by Bart G Farkas . . . This Month’s Book Recommendation

(Click Here) to listen to the podcast of this article

Well . . . it’s that time again. I can’t believe the last month went so fast and I can’t believe this one is already in its second day. This month’s book recommendation is a great one for beginners once again. (I know, I know; but you advanced podcasters remember what it was like when you got started, don’t you? My intention is not to ignore you advanced people, I just want to focus for a while on the beginner. You don’t really mind that much, do you?)

It doesn’t take much searching to find there are many books on the market today that are a wealth of information for the beginner podcaster. This one, “Secrets of Podcasting – Second Edition” by Bart G Farkas, is no different. He is the author of more than 90 technology books and strategy guides and has an avid interest in Podcasting. While he goes into specifics about getting started finding and listening to podcasts, he doesn’t bog you down with a lot of unnecessary information and offers many options for you to try.

If you are interested in making a podcast of your own, he gives you a lot of helpful input as far as type of software and hardware to use. (I like the fact that he thinks quite a bit like me. You don’t have to start out with all ‘top-of-the-line’ stuff.) As he makes exceedingly plain, there is enough good stuff out there that functions well and doesn’t cost an ‘arm-and-a-leg’. Now, as I have said myself before, not everything is free, but many things are available and affordable. You can choose your own level of entry; expensive or ‘cheap’.

This book is not limited only to audio podcasting, but also, delves into the world of ‘VODcasting’. (That’s video podcasting for you newbies out there). Although it is the newer part of the podcasting world, vodcasting will ultimately touch all of us in some way, too.

There are interesting tutorials on both audio podcasting and video podcasting. Nothing fancy here, but, interesting and informative, (and they can help you get started and that’s what is most important.)

If you are looking to get started in podcasting, whether listening or producing your own, this book can be a great help to you.

Several people have some sort of criticism about the title choice. They complain that the title, “Secrets of Podcasting” is a misnomer. I believe they miss the point in their criticism. The only ‘deep, dark secrets’ I know of in podcasting is that there are no ‘deep, dark secrets’ to podcasting. It is available to everyone. I believe that was one point, Bart, was trying to get across with the title. With all of the available software and hardware out there, podcasting has never been more simple to enjoy or produce.

The problem will always be whether or not your idea is interesting, educational or entertaining enough to draw people in and keep them coming back for more. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway. I definitely recommend this book and give it a “five star” rating. Try it and judge for yourself.

See ya next time . . .

Beginners – There Are Advantages to Starting a Podcast ‘On The Cheap’

(Click here to hear the podcast version of this article)

If your have an idea or ideas for podcasting, but don’t know where to get started, consider the advatages of starting on a shoestring budget. These days, you don’t have spend a lot of money to find out if your idea will work, but, you may have to spend a little. (Just remember, “Not everything is f-r-e-e, but, many things are available for little, or no, investment.)

I believe it is essential for you to be able to try out your podcasting idea and technique before you have to spend a lot of money. Anyone can sit down at a microphone and ramble on about about whatever, but, to take an idea and develop it into something that is useful and desireable takes a little more effort . Depending on your vision and capabilities, it could possibly cost more to do what you want. The best way to discover this is to experiment with your idea. Why spend a lot of money discovering the possibilities if you don’t have to?

Here’s a short list of a few suggestions for getting started ‘On the Cheap’

  1. Look for something that will let you record your idea and will also host it for you. This doesn’t mean you have to release it to the public immediately. I suggest a place such as “www.mypodcast.com”. It is easy to setup and start recording immediately because they also include a ‘simple’, downloadable recording program that allows you to record and playback. You can also use it to publish your finished ‘podcast’ to their hosting site.
  2. Look for quality in the finished product. (This too, is another plus for “www.mypodcast.com”. Their quality is very good!) There is no reason to turn out junk. Quality reproduction is necessary for advancement. (Ask yourself, “Would you want to listen to something that sounds horrible or is garbled and hard to understand?”)
  3. Look for a software item that will allow you to get started recording and/or editing and yet will prepare you for something more sophisticated. (That’s why so many start with “Audacity”. Not only is it inexpensive, but, using it prepares you for programs that can do more. It has many capabilities, yet will let you start quickly and learn as you go.)

I don’t mean to make this sound like an advertisement for “mypodcast.com” and “Audacity”, but when something works, it works. Both of these products are good not only for the beginner, but also the advanced user. Are they the “final answer” to everyone’s questions? No, I don’t think so. They will simply let you experiment with your ideas “On The Cheap” and that is a good thing AND a good start. Who knows, you may find they do everything you need done and you got it done “ON The Cheap.”

See ya next time . . .


Beginner Podcaster – Inexpensive Startup

(Click Here) to listen to this article at “www.mypodcast.com”

If you are a beginner podcaster and you want to get started in an inexpensive way, one of these two ways could be exactly what you are looking for. I just don’t see how anyone could start any cheaper.

One of these two things will work for you if you have a computer, a microphone and an idea. If you already own the computer and the microphone, everything else I mention here is free.

Did I say FREE?!? Yes, I did! Sound too good to be true??? Well, it isn’t. (You don’t even have to write this down. I’m doing that for you right now.)

All you have to do is go to either:

or go to,

  • “www.mypodcast.com” and sign up for your absolutely free podcast hosting. You will want to also download the “mypodcast recorder” while you are there.

If you choose to download “Audacity”, you will also want to go and sign up for, and download, the “mypodcast.com” stuff, too. The reasoning for this is, although “Audacity” is a very good start up recording and editing program, (and it is FREE), they do not offer hosting for your podcast. However, when you use “Audacity” to record and edit your ‘cast’, you can export it as an mp3 file and upload it to the mypodcast.com site after you sign upwith them. (Now is that great or what?)

I know your are wanting to know how hard it is to do all of this and that is a legitimate question.

My answer is, “You won’t believe it if I tell you, so, GO to the sites and TRY THEM!! BUT, since you did ask, I will tell you just a bit about using these two great little programs.

If you choose to start with “Audacity”, I will assume you are not a total novice. It will allow you to do a more sophisticated podcast, but, you will still need to have a place to upload your production to and that means you need a place that will host it. As far as making a good product that will allow you to be very creative, I believe you will find nothing better than “Audacity”. It is for sure you can’t find anything less expensive. For now, just keep it simple and use the basic functions. It is very easy to use and turns out quite good quality.

If you are an advanced ‘caster’ or a complete novice, I strongly suggest you start with signing up at “www.mypodcast.com”. They aren’t just for beginners and offer some interesting ammenities. Just follow the clicks and fill out the forms. When you have finished signing up, go ahead and download the ‘mypodcast recorder’. After it is installed on your computer, plug in your mic and start practicing with it to see how easy it is work with. Then you can work with your broadcast.

It is also possible you can make money working with “mypodcast. com”, if your podcast gains a reputation and adds advertizers, so be sure to read about that when you get to their site. Along with all this, their software offers an easy way to put ad-spots into your presentation and for that you can also make money. You plan your insertion points or they insert them at the required spots according to their requirements. They even make it pretty easy to get your production on “iTunes”.

As I said earlier, if you have a computer and a microphone, you can get started with your idea really inexpensively. After that, the rest is up to you.

See ya next time . . .


Podcasting Quick Tip #4 . . . Try This

This little Quick Tip has a lot to do with something I tend to nit-pick myself about regularly and it has to do with paying attention to small details. Sometimes, the smallest little thing catches my attention and drives me crazy.

Admittedly, this probably catches my attention (and bothers me) more than it does others. Still yet, I think it can make a difference in the recording, editing and production of your podcast, (or any other recording for that matter), if you pay attention to this small detail. (Now, I never said what I turn out is perfect, but, no one can say I don’t pay attention to details when it comes to podcasts and broadcasts.)

Have you ever been listening to someone’s production and you could tell where many of their edits were because of the difference in background noise or a bit of silence between one statement and another? You see, (as I said back in “Podcasters Should Pay Attention to the Details”), constant attention to small details can make a very big difference when it comes to the final result. This is one detail that many don’t think about. They just pass over it as though no one will notice. (But rest assured, someone will notice. When you notice it, and take care of it before the others have a chance to hear it, your production will be that much better.)

So . . . what is this little thing that bugs the heck out of me? It is those noticeable edits.

Since I have been experimenting so much with my little digital voice recorder and telling how well it works, I will use it as an example. One little drawback it has is the fact it has a little hiss in the background, kind of like the old tape hiss of the old cassette tapes. Sometimes, when I want to cover a mistake or add a bit of spacing to something I have said, the easiest thing to do is insert a bit of silence. Unfortunately, when I do that, it is noticed as being different than what comes before and after it.

So what do I do to cover it? Some of you have already guessed I suppose, but for the novice out there I offer this little bitty detail that can cover that noticeable edit. (The nice thing is it doesn’t take much time either.)

I go find a place either somewhere in the recording before or after that section and look for a break in the words that are spoken. That’s right, I am looking for some hiss to copy. After I copy it, I insert it at the point of the noticeable edit and then I trim out the stuff that drew my attention to it in the first place. I then listen to it and make it sound as normal as possible, hopefully unnoticeable to those listening to it. Sometimes I have to do nothing more than insert it and trim out the differing background or silence. At other times it takes a little more work to make it fit. I may have to play with the level of the insertion to make it match or I may have to shorten or lengthen it to get the right feel. In the end, the idea is to make it sound as though there never was an edit and if I pay enough attention to the details the only one that will know is me.

Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out right. This will take some practice to master, but as you do, the end result will very pleasing to you and to others.

I know it works, too. I use it all the time. (Click here to listen to the podcast of this article).

See ya next time . . .

Right Time – Right Place

You know, sometimes, things just happen for the best. It is like last Friday (very,very early in the morning), when I really wanted to show how well I felt the things I talked about in “Podcasting Quick Tip #3” worked. The problem I had was finding a place I could quickly get my demo out and available.

Now, admittedly, I didn’t search high and low for a place to host my simple little example podcast production, but I did have a few places that were free, or at least inexpensive, and quick and easy to use. Although I had my mind set on a few places, I was not happy with them when I tried to use them. Some wouldn’t let me do an upload from my computer; one wouldn’t let me do a podcast at all, (for what i thought was a really stupid reason) and some had a delay and I didn’t want to wait.

And then it happened. I just happened to notice one of the Adsense ads on my site. Knowing that you can’t (and shouldn’t) click on your own ads, I looked at the address for it and typed it into my address bar. It came up and I began to check out the site. It was “mypodcast.com”.

At first I wasn’t sure whether they would let me upload my file from my computer, but I did like the fact that they had simple downloadable recorder that worked with their site which would really expedite the process. Becoming just a little bit desperate, I figured what the heck, I can re-record it and just not have the additional production on it until I found a better place. I signed up for it and downloaded the recorder program.

Through the FAQ’s I found that I could not only use the recorder program but they had a simple way of uploading my file from my computer and that would allow me to demonstrate my little production using the equipment and software I had talked about.

I uploaded my short little production and almost immediately it was live and available. I was quite pleased with the quality and the ease of accomplishing the end result. By the way, in a few short steps, you can transfer your podcast to ‘iTunes’, (see the FAQ’s for the “mypodcast.com” site for the details.)

If you’re looking to get started with your own podcast, and you would like to get started soon, this is a great place and it is free at the present time. All you really need is a microphone and you are ready to get started. (Click here, to listen to this read as, episode #0002.)

See ya next time . . .

Example of Podcast Quick Tip #3 . . . (Hear How Well It Works)

Sorry about not being here earlier for you, BUT, I was trying to get a new thing started right here and tried several different programs before I actually decided on this one.

I wanted to present to you an example of what I talked about in Podcasting Quick Tip #3 and this was the first place I found that I liked the result. (Plus, it is a great place to get started with your own podcast and, of course, it is free.) The name of the site is “mypodcast.com” and it is very nice. They even give you a simple recording program to get you started. All you need is a microphone or a way of entering you voice into it. You can also upload files from your computer. That is what I did. I made this little production of reading my Quick Tip #3 and used only the equipment and software I talked about in that Quick Tip. Go to this link and give it a listen, “podcastnorm.mypodcast.com”

I am pleased with the result so far. Now, remember. I only wanted to give you an example of what could be done. I intend to keep on doing a regular podcast, although I haven’t decided how often yet. I may read my blog for those that want to listen while you do something else. I may be doing some interviews or other similar things. (Why, shucks, I may even go on a little bit of a rant if I think the subject deserves it.) As you all well know, the possibilities are endless.

I hope you like the presentation. Click here to go to the podcast.

See ya next time . . .

Podcasting Resources for Beginners (and the rest)

This will be short and to the point today. I have been reading, then skimming, then re-reading and absorbing some great information from two books. They are both different, and yet, they are much the same. They have great information for those that want to get a good start with their podcasting ideas and I can do nothing else but recommend that you get a copy of them. Even though I am basically directing this to those of you out there that are beginners, there is also a wealth of information in these two books for the advanced podcaster as well as the veteran.

I don’t say they are the end of the search, I merely suggest they are a good place to gain valuable information and they are written by people that are highly respected in the industry. The one, is the book I recommended for this month called, “Podcast Solutions” by Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass, (see “This Month’s Book Review/Recommendation”.)

The second is called, “Podcasting — The Do It Yourself Guide” by Todd Cochrane of “www.geeknewscentral.com” fame. I have read much of them with interest (there is just too much information to say I have read every word of them) and I use them to reference my research for better ways of getting things done in Podcasting.

If someone or something could save you time and money wouldn’t that just make “sense”. These are two good books that can help you get a great start whether you just want to listen to Podcasts or if you want to make your own. They contain information on software, hardware and technique. I realize this industry is changing at a rapid pace, but these two books contain priceless information that will last a long time. They can help you get a strong start and bring you up to date on the birth of this industry and what it hopes to accomplish, as well as where it has been.

See ya next time . . .

Here are a couple of links to quickly add these to your library:

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)Podcasting: Do It Yourself Guide

Podcasters Should Pay Attention to the Details? (Honestly, It Won’t Hurt.)

Do you believe it is really true what they say, “The devil is in the details?” I don’t and I have some pretty strong feelings when it comes to paying attention to the details.

Since I have made just about any mistake you can make when it comes to recording, whether it be live or in the studio, I think I can speak a little more knowledgeably and forcefully on this subject. (After all, I have been doing this in one form or another for over thirty years.) I can hear some of you now, saying, “So What?!?” . . . (Well, you’re entitled to your opinion also.)

If anyone thinks that everything can be done “on-the-fly” when it comes to recording for a broadcast, podcast, or anything else for that matter, that person is sadly mistaken and is going to have some disappointing “setbacks” and some rather excruciating “learning experiences”. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean, they are going have some important recordings that will only be able to be used as ‘learning experiences” because the only thing they will be good for is saying, “I won’t make that mistake again”, or, “I wish I would have been better prepared for this interview, (or studio time, etc, etc)”.

There absolutely has to be some pre-planning and some thought given to what it is you want to accomplish. Even things that are ‘spur of the moment’, or casual in nature, still require a little fore-thought. There still needs to be at least some semblance of a plan. At the very least, when you have a direction you want to take in your monologue, teaching time, interview, conversation, or dissertation it is easy enough to take a few detours along the way and still end up where you were headed. (Sometimes, those detours take you to the place you really wanted to be in the first the place and because of your forethought, you got there). Please understand, I am not talking about a script (althought there are times that is a good idea, also). I am talking about even the simplest plan to follow.

After you’re finished and it is time for editing, there are a few things you need to check as far as what the final product will be. Is there good balance between transitions from speaking to music or breaks. Is the level between two or more speakers relatively the same. When you listen to your recording, are there places that cause you to be irritated or distracted, (such as noises, poor levels or glaring level mistakes). Believe me, if they catch your attention, your audience will catch them too, and they may be distracted enough to turn you off permanently.

I have always believed it is worth the extra effort to pay attention to even some of the smallest details, both pre and post production. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced veteran, paying close attention to small details can make an enormous difference in your final product. As I said in the title, paying attention to the details won’t hurt (and it definitely won’t cramp your creativity). Besides, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better your product can be and amazed at how many people will be pleased to tell others about you and your effort.

See ya next time . . .

Beginner Podcaster . . . ?

Everything begins somewhere. If you’re a beginner podcaster, you need a place to start and today’s world makes it easier than ever for you get a good start on your chosen subject or subjects.

There is hardware and software — some inexpensive and some not — that can turn out just about any quality of production you desire. Free stuff is available, whether it be information or programs or sites, and it is easier than ever to be syndicated.

There are so many people out there in the world that are creative in many differing ways and their ideas for podcasting (both audio and video) cover the spectrum from “the ridiculous” to “got to have it daily”. I am quite amazed at how much diversity really is available. Some of it I like and some of it is absolutely useless. (Oops, there I go getting opinionated again.)

If you are a beginner, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on the history of this popular medium called podcasting. You don’t have to let that keep you from getting started, but it is always good to know the roots of your chosen interest. This will help you understand where it came from, but more importantly, it will help broaden your vision for the future. This is a relatively new industry and it is looking to go forward and not repeat the mistakes of the industries that preceded it and yet take the best things from those predecessors and build on their positives.

If you think it is easy to turn out a quality product without forethought and effort, you can rest assured that your stay in this arena will be short. Whether you offer daily or weekly broadcasts similar to radio or TV, or information on your favorite handy tip for around the house, you will soon recognize that quality is going to become more and more important. People want to listen to a good sounding program or see a good looking video product. That is why you will want to experiment with different hardware and software to find what works best and easiest for you. Spending a little time with some demos could possibly save you a bundle in the long run, when it comes to investing in those products you want to, or will, use. Reading about or listening to some veterans’ thoughts on the type equipment that can work best for your situation is always a good investment.

It is work (although it can be a lot of fun) to turn out a product that will cause your audience to want to return again and again. That is why it is so important to enjoy what you are doing. When you’ve had a rotten week and the world has crashed down around your shoulders, your podcast can be a sanctuary for you. It can be the place you forget about all of the problems and stresses and just enjoy doing whatever it is you do and offer people a place to come and enjoy that very same thing.

Beginning at the beginning seems to be a good place to start BUT it doesn’t have to hold you back. Spending some time studying and listening to the veterans will make your advancement take place more quickly because you won’t have to stumble around in the dark, looking for the right equipment and software to turn out your best product.

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)That is why I do highly recommend this book, Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions). It is a wealth of information and really is a “Complete Guide to Podcasting”. If you are a beginner in podcasting you won’t regret the investment. The same holds true if you are an advanced podcaster. It is a good investment!

See ya next time . . .