Reverse side of the on-line podcast


    My name is Renat, and I am one of the host of the Weekly Podcast. Recently, I have been increasingly asked about how the broadcast and recording of our podcast occurs. I try to answer everyone and as detailed as possible, because I believe that everyone who is interested in this should at least try, and for this it is necessary to overcome a certain threshold of entry. In this article I will talk about how this happens in our case, and I really hope that this can be useful to someone. If this material turns out to be in demand, then I will definitely dwell on some details in more detail, as well as talk about other options that I also tried out at one time, but refused them for a number of reasons.

    So, for starters, a few words about the technical side of our podcast. We broadcast live, during which it is recorded. All guests and hosts, with rare exceptions, participate in the podcast via Skype. Perhaps this is the main technical problem, which, as it turned out, is not at all difficult to solve.
    The scheme proposed below virtually eliminates the “iron” component, which will allow you not to spend money on expensive equipment until you yourself decide that there is a need for it. The only thing you will need besides a computer is a microphone. And preferably a good microphone. However, the built-in Mac is quite suitable for experiments. Many of our guests communicated with us through him. And although the sound quality is deteriorating, this wave is enough to understand whether it is worth spending blood-earned money on a new piece of iron.
    Perhaps you should immediately make a reservation that in my case I use a MacBook Pro with Mac OS X 10.6.7 on board. A quick network search suggests that there are analogues of the programs described below for other operating systems.

    So what we have:

    - Microphone Zoom H4n (usb)
    - MacBook Pro

    What we want to get:

    - Record a Skype conference with 3 or more people
    - On-line broadcast of the conversation
    - Ability to add background music during broadcasting
    - Ready mp3 podcast file for later publication in iTunes or other sources

    Minimum set of necessary software: Nicecast , Skype. I use Soundstudio to process an already recorded podcast , but at first the Garage Band or any other program for working with sound will do.

    Skype setup

    Everything is very simple here. We go into the settings, and as a sound source, select a microphone connected via USB. In my case, this is H4, yours can be anything, even the built-in one (then you can safely skip this step). Do not touch anything else.


    Setting up Nicecast

    With Nicecast, a little more complicated. To begin with in a nutshell for what it is needed. If you do not get into deep jungle, then this program allows you to create your own Internet radio on your computer, to which other users can connect. True, for this you need an external static IP address. If you do not have it, then your current IP will be used and you can connect to the broadcast stream only inside the home network. But even if you have a static IP looking outward, you should remember that each device that connects to your broadcast will be given a stream in the specified quality, and depending on the width of your channel, the number of such connections will be limited.
    In our case, we have a partner through which the broadcast takes place. I give the stream to the partner’s server, and he, in turn, distributes it to everyone who wants to hear the podcast on-line. To date, servers can withstand up to 1000 connections with broadcast quality of 96Kbps mono, which is more than enough for our current tasks. Thus, the stream is formed on my computer and transferred to the server, which distributes it to the rest.
    I am well aware that not everyone has such a partner, and that the use of such servers can cost a pretty penny. Speaking frankly - for this reason, this article has not appeared here before, but then I realized that you can use this scheme to record a podcast and reduce all sound streams (microphone, skype, background music from iTunes, etc.) to one place through which the recording occurs. Those. even if you broadcast only within your network and no one can hear your live broadcast outside your router, you will still receive a ready-made mp3-file that after minimal processing will not be ashamed to show to people.
    So, let's begin. First you need to determine the quality of broadcasting. If you listened to our podcast, it is recorded and transmitted as 96Kbps mono. This is quite enough for talking, and this quality is a great compromise between the file size and the desire to turn it off immediately. If you focus on music, then it makes sense to raise the quality to 128Kbps stereo, but the size of the final file will be larger.


    As a source for the Nicecast program, I am exhibiting Line-In. In our case, it should be a source with silence, because we will start all sound streams with the help of plugins. You can set System Audio as the source, in this case all system sounds (mail arriving, instant messenger alerts, etc.) will also be recorded. Because for our project, this is not required and nothing is included in the linear input of the computer - I select Line-In. It would be possible to start a microphone right away, but it’s more convenient for me to manage everything from one place, from plug-ins.


    Now the most important thing. Nicecast wouldn’t be so useful if it weren’t able to work with plugins (Effects). It is through them that we will redirect all our sound streams to one place. I will not describe here everything that can be done with the help of them - you yourself can see it when you put it on. For the tasks described above, you must connect the following plugins: Application Mixer and VoiceOver. The first robs the sound from applications, the second from the microphone. In my case, I capture sound from iTunes (for background music) and Skype. With VoiceOver, I pick up the sound from the microphone. To start the process of capturing sound, you need to go into the plugin settings and click Hijack or Start, respectively.


    So, almost everything is ready to start broadcasting and recording. And here the most important thing is not to forget to include this very record. I remember when Eldar Murtazin came to visit the podcast - after 5 minutes of broadcast, I suddenly realized that the broadcast was in progress and the broadcast was not being recorded. I had to interrupt the guest’s opening speech and start from the beginning, no longer forgetting to turn on the recording. To the guest’s honor, it is worth noting that he was able to repeat it practically word-for-word.
    In order to start recording, select Window-> Show Archiving in the top menu or press cmnd-4. Here you specify the recording quality of the mp3 file and click Archive.


    And finally, the last step is the start of the broadcast. Click the Start Broadcast button in the main application window. You will see a red On Air sign, which means that the broadcast is going well. The address where other devices can connect to the air will be displayed in the Share tab. It is worth noting that if you connect the headphones to the computer, you will hear what is being broadcast. This is very useful since allows you to adjust the volume levels and understand what others will hear. Until you start broadcasting, there is no recording (Archiving), and there will be complete silence in the headphones. Do not be alarmed, this is normal.
    The program has the necessary settings, and everyone will be able to deal with them independently, as everything is done very elegantly and simply.


    Sound Processing

    After the broadcast is finished, you can click on Stop Broadcasting. The recording file can be found in the default folder, or indicate the path to it in the settings. In our case, it is practically not processed for a number of reasons, and the main one is the lack of time. Even in its raw form, sound quality remains at an acceptable level. The beginning, the end is cut off. The effect of a smooth start of recording and attenuation is added, after which it is published in iTunes and on the site.

    This is the first part of a series of articles on the technical side of recording and on-line broadcasting of a podcast. In the future, I plan to cover topics such as: sound processing, recording by participants of their track and subsequent mixing, high-quality publication of podcasts in iTunes. For those half a year that I have been actively engaged in podcasting, I had to go through a lot and step on a huge number of rakes. I hope my articles will help novice podcasters avoid at least some of them.

    I express my deep gratitude to Umputun , who more than once helped out with advice and set me on the right path, when it seemed to me that I had reached a dead end.

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