Gender-neutral podcasts

Readers Dan and Aixa, inspired by Macworld’s Give your Web site a voice, have a question about podcasting and GarageBand.

We have two cardioid mics that we’ll plug into the Griffin iMic using a splitter (recommended by Griffin tech support). If we used GarageBand, we suppose that instead of using the male or female podcast track, we’ll use “no effects,” since we need both a male and female track. True?

Yes, but it sounds like a little background information would help.

The Male and Female Voice tracks in a GarageBand Podcast project are there only for your convenience. Each includes a version of the Speech Enhancer effect, which includes some compression (an effect for reducing the track’s dynamic range, thus allowing you to bring up the overall volume), limiting (an effect that sets a limit on volume output), and equalization (yet another effect that enhances or reduces particular frequencies—think bass and treble controls on a stereo). The Male Vocal track uses the Speech Enhancer’s Male Radio preset while the Female Vocal track offers the Female Vocal preset. Each is tuned to enhance the timbre of the typical male or female voice.

You’re more than welcome to forego these tracks, create Real Instrument tracks, and choose No effects from the list of Podcasting effects. When you’ve finished recording your tracks, select one at a time, click the Info button, choose Real Instrument, and play around with the Podcasting effects to see if one of the presets improves the quality of your recorded voice. If you’re not happy with the results you can also try to cobble together a set of separate effects—GarageBand’s compressor and the AUGraphicEQ, for example.

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