Use Skype and GarageBand to make a podcast that sounds great

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When I’m done editing a podcast, I generally export it as an uncompressed AIFF (to do this, you must hide the podcast track if it’s visible (Track -> Hide Podcast Track), then choose Share -> Export Song to Disk… and export the song to disk “in CD quality” by making sure Compress is not checked. Then I drag and drop the file onto the excellent free Levelator utility, drag the output file into iTunes, and use iTunes to encode the podcasts. If you don’t want to use the Levelator to manage the loudness of your podcast, it’s even easier: just use GarageBand’s built-in encoding settings. I tend to use 56kbps or 48kpbs mono, but what you choose depends on how much you care about sound quality and how much bandwidth you’re willing to pay for.

If you have the time, I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast once it’s exported. I’ve had a couple of moments when something got mucked up (one of those bad edits) and I was able to save it before it saw the light of day. And I’ve had times when I’ve exported a podcast with two minutes of silence in the middle—oops. Embarrassing.

The last frontier

After a year of producing, hosting, and recording The Incomparable Podcast, I’ve learned a lot about editing podcasts… but I’ve also learned what I like about podcasts, because it’s what I’ve tried to do with my own. Everyone has different tastes, so I can’t tell you these are rules you should follow. They’re just the ones I follow.

Every episode is an entry point. I listen to podcasts randomly, often weeks after they’re posted, unless they’re extremely news driven. Every episode of the Macworld podcast is timely, but every episode of The Incomparable is intended to be timeless and accessible to anyone who wants to listen. Listeners don’t need to know who we are or what we talked about last week or last month. Running gags are kept to a minimum and aren’t allowed to detract from the actual content of the show. Our show about “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” recorded in November 2010, should be just as listenable today as it was when we recorded it. It’s not prefaced by 15 minutes about the top-grossing films of that month or anything like that.

Have great panelists. I am lucky to know some smart consumers of geeky entertainment who also are quite well spoken. They are a great group, so great that when people keep asking me if they can guest on The Incomparable, I usually have to turn them down because we have too many people already! It’s a luxury to have so many good panelists.

Stick to a schedule. With a couple of vacation breaks as exceptions, we’ve posted a podcast every week for the last year. I’m proud of that—it shows we’re serious about doing it. I’ve been using to schedule our podcast recording sessions, which has been a huge help—it’s a simple, free website that lets you quickly discover the availability of groups for particular times.

Try to make the podcast sound good. Which brings us back to where we started.

[Macworld Editorial Director Jason Snell podcasts about Macs, geeky entertainment, and even college football.]

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