You’ve probably already noticed, but there is something different about the podcasts I do now. But, before I talk too much about that, I’d like to talk about another difference in what I am now doing and that is, the direction I want to take as we journey forward together in the near future.
Over the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about ways for beginners to get started in podcasting without making a large financial investment –(refer to Starting a Podcast ‘On the Cheap’)– and I still believe you can do that. If you don’t remember too much about those articles you can check them out, but, let me give you a quick overview refresher of at least one of those articles.
I have mentioned several ‘On the Cheap’ start up softwares and equipment many times in the past. If you remember, one of the most important and inexpensive things we talked about was the software program, ‘Audacity’. If you spend much time researching podcasting in general, you will find many people talk about this free recording/editing program in their books and podcasts. There is a reason why that happens. It is because it works and works well. I tend to use it most of the time for editing my podcasts because it is quite easy to use and because I am already familiar with it.
There are a few programs out there that do more than ‘Audacity’, but if you’re just beginning, or even if you’ve been around a while, you will find it does a great job. It is very easy to use and to get started with as well as being cost free. In a very short period of time, you soon find it is easy to move on to use some of the more sophisticated options it offers. In fact, I plan to spend a little time talking more about the use of ‘Audacity’ in the very near future.
You see, I like a program that allows me to get started quickly with the basics and then easily allows me to work my way into the options necessary to make my recordings, and edits of those recordings, better. This is the way it is with ‘Audacity’. Oh sure, I know there are some other programs out there that are great programs but, in my opinion, some of them are not as easy to get started with. They seem to be a bit too sophisticated and require too much ‘reading of the manual’, often causing a more than a bit of frustration, just to get started. This only leads to early termination of peoples’ productions because, it is just too hard to get started. (Personally, I like easy and I know I am not alone in that consideration. Easy is good.)
Also in those earlier articles, I often mentioned how easy it is to use some simple equipment you probably already own. Whether it was a small, hand held digital voice recorder or a good sounding headset mic, I still firmly believe you can turn out a ‘decent’ recording with relatively inexpensive equipment. The important thing about the recordings you make is the quality that your equipment can capture and reproduce. If you don’t have a relatively clean and good sounding master recording, it is a pretty good bet your final product is going to have poor quality sound also.
So, where is all this leading? I have added a new piece of equipment to my toolbag and I just love it. I think it has added yet another bit of quality to my recordings and podcasts. (I’ve also done a few other things I will discuss in the future.)
I finally decided to step up and try one of the portable, handheld devices for capturing audio and making it quite easy to load into my computer. The one I decided to buy was the H-4 by the Zoom corporation. I’ve been using it for about three weeks and I am quite pleased with the quality it turns out. I have to admit, it took about an hour or so to get comfortable with how it worked with its menus and things, but, I was able to get started with it relatively quickly. I’m still learning how to use all of its capabilities but haven’t mastered all of them yet and I’m not trying to learn it all in one day. I just take it one step at a time.
This little unit can do a lot. I list some of its features here:
- 2 track mode for stereo recording
- 4 track mode for multi-track recording
- Built in X/Y pattern stereo microphones
- High Z inputs for guitar and bass
- MP3 recording up to 320kbps
- WAV recording up to 24bit/96kHz
- USB audio and mass-storage interfaces
- XLR inputs with phantom power
- Up to 2GB SD card memory capable
- Can be hand-held or tripod mounted for versatile ease of use
Believe me when I tell you, it can do a lot of things and I have only scratched the surface of its capabilites, but the thing I like about it is the quality of the recording it can turn out. I can record and save it as an MP3 file or a WAV file. This makes it great for quick loading into ‘Audacity’ for editing because ‘Audacity’ directly accepts both of those files. It can also be used as an interface for direct recording to the computer.
I made the choice to step up my equipment and thought long and hard about just how I wanted to invest my money. This seemed to give me the most versatility and portability for the price. I like the part about it being portable and able to set it up quick in any situation I choose. I will tell you more about the progress in the coming weeks. So far, it is wonderful.
See ya next time . . .