Technology & The Art Of The Podcast

Returning to another of Alec’s points:

5. Use audio processing software to clean up the recordings afterward. Do not simply publish the raw audio file. It’s easy to improve the audio file with just a few minutes of work. I recommend using the open source package, Audacity. It’s excellent, and the price is right.

This is so very true! You simply must post-process your recordings to achieve the best recorded result in the downloadable file.

While he recommends Audacity, I would add another tool that every podcaster should use. It’s a piece of free software offered by The Conversations Network called The Levelator. The Levelator was specifically written to automatically adjust the audio levels in podcasts.

The Levelator requires an uncompressed WAV file as a source, and automatically generates a new copy of the file with a new filename as it completes its task.

Since the program requires an uncompressed source file it makes some sense to start with an uncompressed local recording rather than convert the MP3 from the conference bridge back to WAV format. Why suffer the extra generation of compression quality loss?

There are literally no settings to the software. Just drag the source file and drop it on The Levelator window…then wait until it’s done.

If it’s true that seeing is believing then here is some visual proof regarding The Levelator. The following pair of screenshots are one minute of audio from a recent VUC call. The audio is loaded into my preferred editor, Cool Edit Pro2, to show a waveform display.

Before Processing with The Levelator

VUC-PRE-LEVELATOR-500

After Processing with The Levelator

The Levelator is truly amazing. It’s far better than just normalization alone. In just minutes it adjusts the level for each instance of every participant speaking in a fashion that would take hours of manual editing.

Since it acts upon and creates only uncompressed WAV files using The Levelator requires a little extra manual work to perform a final encoding to MP3 for upload. I feel that this is a truly minor amount of extra effort given the amount of time saved by the automated level adjustment.

The all-volunteer development team behind The Levelator have even posted a nice description of how it works for anyone who is interested the details.

I hope that I’ve opened your eyes with respect to how a podcaster might achieve superior quality audio recordings by selecting HDVoice as a tool for their production arsenal. The key thing to do is simple…

…demand better audio quality than a traditional phone call!

It’s not much trouble, and it truly is worth the effort.

P.S. – I must commend Alec on the graphics used on the Calliflower Blog. I don’t know if they are commissioned originals or stock bought-in from somewhere, but they’re simple and very elegant. Well done!