Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac
Record with GarageBand
Podcasting with GarageBand has its pros and cons. On the pro side, you sequence all the different parts of your podcast into separate tracks, which gives you fine-grained control over audio transitions and timing.
For example, when recording using Audio Hijack Pro, I constantly goof up the reduction in volume of the intro music when I begin speaking. My hand slips and I fade it much too quickly, or I don’t fade it enough and it is too loud, drowning out my voice. I invariably have to either just let it go and leave it in, or go back and re-record it.
With GarageBand, I can adjust the volume of each track by hand and adjust the timing. Did I start speaking too late? I just move the track to the left to fix that. On the other hand, this is also a problem for podcasting with GarageBand as I lose most of the spontaneity of creating the podcast. I have to record each bit on its own and then manually sequence them together. I am far less likely to have that feeling of rawness that many value in podcasts.
Unlike Audio Hijack Pro, GarageBand can record only from a single sound input at a time. If you want to mix multiple sources of audio, you need to channel that audio into Soundflower and then have Audacity record the Soundflower space.
First, we set up a special instrument within GarageBand. Launch the program, create a new file, and follow these steps:
Note: As soon you choose an Equalizer value other than Manual, you are prompted to create this instrument by providing a name under which it is listed. You can still make changes and save it again using the Save Instrument button that then appears.
Now record your segments. With your voice instrument set up and metronome turned off (Command-U), click the Record button and start talking. If you don’t like what you recorded, throw it away and start over.
Once you have all your vocal tracks completed, you are ready to edit your audio and mix in other track.
Record with Audacity
Audacity is a well-respected audio recording and editing program that has a strong following. It packs a lot of power and a large feature set and is up to virtually any editing task you may want to throw its way. On the negative side, though I haven’t seen much of this behavior, I have heard many stories about Audacity crashing before saving audio.
Note: There has not been a new version of Audacity in nearly a year, which suggests that the project has stagnated. Most open-source projects with bugs or stability problems either improve through rapid releases or die. It is not clear which category Audacity fits into at this time. Given its popularity with podcasters, I would be surprised if it was a dead project; I think it’s just resting.
Like GarageBand, Audacity uses a multi-track metaphor. Each track can contain different audio files that can be mixed together. You need to channel that audio into Soundflower and then have Audacity record the Soundflower space.
My Audacity settings for podcasting. I monitor through headphones (which I don’t pass through the iMic to help reduce lag), I record through the iMic, and I only use a single (mono) channel, as I do not have a stereo microphone.
Follow these steps to configure and record audio with Audacity:
Once you have all the pieces recorded, you can move on to editing.
[ By day, Andy Williams Affleck is a senior project manager and accessible Web design expert. By night he works on Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac ( TidBits Electronic Publishing, 2005) and produces his Podcrumbs podcast. ]