by Edward Bilodeau Email | Facebook | Episodes | Subscribe

Podcasting startup: Hardware and software

I thought it might be a good idea if I summarized my plans for how I’ll be creating, producing, and hosting my podcast. Not only should this help me move the project forward, but it should help me to avoid talking about these kinds of “meta” issues during the podcast itself.

I’ll start with the technical details.

Before I do, however, I should mention that I decided early on that I wasn’t going to invest financially in this new podcasting effort, that I would make due with hardware and software that I already had or could use for free. Having already podcasted before this wasn’t as limiting as it might sound, but it did limit my choices somewhat, often resulting in having to spend more time and effort than if I was just able to purchase recommended solutions to the problems I encounter.

Anyway, now for the details…

Recording equipment: After doing some testing, I’ve decided to stick with my Zoom H4 recorder, recording the audio to an SD card and then manually transferring that card to my laptop.

I tried using the line-out on the Z4 to go directly to my laptop and into Audacity, but the quality wasn’t very good, and at this point it isn’t worth trying to debug the problem. Besides I’ve heard that recording directly to software is not the best idea, since if the application or computer locks up you could loose part or all of your file.

Workstation: I’ll be using my MacBook Pro (older, entry-level, non-retina model) as my workstation for all aspects of this production.

Audio editing: I’ll be sticking with Audacity for the audio production work, even though I have the presumably slicker Garage Band on my Macbook. I have a fair amount of experience using Audacity and I don’t think there is much benefit to investing time in learning a new application.

ID3 tag editing: Part of my post-production workflow involves adding metadata to the MP3 files, and this is accomplished using ID3 tags. I looked at a number of options (Audacity, VideoLAN, iTunes) before settling on a new utility called Kid3. It’s easy to use, allowing me to edit the MP3 file in place, adding both the basic metadata as well as the cover art to the MP3 file.

File hosting: Free file hosting was the hardest thing to figure out, but in the end I decided to settle on hosting my MP3 files on the Internet Archive. Although the uploading and management of files is a bit clunky, it has the extra benefit of providing an HTML5 audio player that I’ll be able to embed in each of my posts as well.

I’ve seen a few mentions of the download speed not being all that great, so there is a risk that subscribers might have to wait a bit longer for whatever podcasting app they are using to pull down each episode. If the upside is free media hosting forever and an embeddable audio player, this is a risk that I can live with.

Web site hosting: I’ve decided to use Blogger for the blog web site. It’s free, ad-free, and supports enclosures (essential for podcasting).

RSS feed
: I’ll be using FeedBurner to generate the RSS feed for my podcast. While Blogger generates an RSS feed, by running the feed through feed burner allows me to specify the cover art and have other iTunes and podcasting relating tags added to the feed. Yes, there’s a risk that one day Google with shutdown the service, but the chance of that is low and if it ever did happen and my podcast was something that people valued, I should have no problem getting them to switch to a new feed.

Miscellaneous: There are a two other applications that I’ll be using to help plan and produce the podcast: Photoshop (cover art) and iA Writer (planning, show notes, etc). These are image and text editing software that I happen to use, but you can of course use whatever works for you.


Putting together this list has in fact helped me to think through the entire podcasting process and forced me to finally decide on my toolset! Now I can move on to the next step which is to publish a few beta audio clips so that I can sort through the next level of details and make sure that everything works the way I want it to.

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