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Easy Podcasting with Podcast Factory

Podcasting is a way to get your message out to the world—and M-Audio’s Podcast Factory is the easy way to make it happen. Here’s a look at just how simple it is to create world-class podcasts that get noticed.

Podcasting allows you to post audio content to the Web so listeners can easily find and download it. The content is anything you want it to be—personal diaries, audio blogs, self-help, education, sales presentations, band pre-releases and just about anything else you can think of publishing. Generally, listeners subscribe to and download the audio content from the Internet and save the files to their computer similar to recording a TV show on a Tivo or other recorder. They can then use a computer or MP3 player to play back the content. In fact, the term “podcasting” owes its name to Apple’s iPod, the compact device that revolutionized personal mobile music and audio book appreciation.

iPods and their brethren are playback devices only, however. Not long ago, people started looking for a way to create their own content and make it available online for others to download and listen to at their convenience—and podcasting was born. We designed our Podcast Factory to streamline that process.

Podcast Factory


As with the great majority of Web-based audio, MP3 files are the common language of podcasting. The only difference is that metadata such as the recording date, title and description have to be embedded in the MP3 using XML mark-up technology. The result is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) file. Applications such as Apple’s popular iTunes allow users to subscribe to the RSS programming of their choosing. This means that new episodes will arrive automatically, without the user having to search for them.

Simple Steps to Podcasting

There are several stages to podcasting, all of which are amazingly simple with M-Audio’s Podcast Factory. The basic steps are 1) recording your message, 2) editing it, 3) adding production elements such as music or sound effects if desired, 4) compressing the final production to MP3, and 5) posting it to the Web in such a way that others can access and subscribe to it.

Recording. The first order of business is getting professional audio in and out of your computer. Your computer may have a sound card or built-in audio, but the sound quality of a dedicated audio interface is typically far superior. Another issue is that most standard computer audio circuitry only has line inputs that don’t accommodate microphone and instrument signal levels. Podcast Factory includes an audio interface that brings professional microphone/instrument connections and audio quality to your Mac or PC. And since most podcasts feature spoken word, the package also includes a microphone with desk stand.

The other component you need for recording is the included Audacity recording/editing software for PC and Mac. This easy-to-use application makes it simple to record your voice and other acoustic sounds as standard audio files. If you can operate a VCR, you can operate Audacity.

Podcast Factory


Editing. Next, you’ll want to use Audacity’s elegant editing capabilities to tighten up your recording. Trim out anything you don’t want, assemble all the golden moments and leave the rest on the digital cutting room floor. Audacity makes it easy to perfect a podcast message that’s tight and clean. There are even a variety of included effects such as equalization, reverb, compression and special effects to set your production apart from the pack.

Audacity


Production. While you can make great spoken-word podcasts with Audacity alone, the included Ableton Live Lite 4 software lets you go beyond that to create radio-style productions with real style. Live Lite 4 is a simplified version of the music production software used by many pros in studios around the world. It’s perfect for creating intro and closing themes, adding musical interludes, incorporating sound effects and mixing it all together.

Ableton Live Lite 4


Live Lite 4 offers both linear and loop modes. In loop mode, you can drag and drop in pre-made loops like drums, bass, chords and melodies from the included collection of M-Audio’s popular ProSessions Sound and Loop Libraries. Moreover, the tempo of these elements automatically conforms to your master session tempo to easily create your own mixes from the elements you select. A host of on-board effects also helps polish a professional sound.

Switch Live Lite 4 to linear mode and import the finished voice-overs you’ve already created in Audacity, then slide the elements around the timeline to arrange the production. Live’s mixer lets you adjust and balance levels—including “ducking” down the volume of music beds during spoken passages—and save it all as a stereo file. When it comes to creating music and professional sounding productions, Live is as close to magic as it gets for musicians and novices alike.

Ableton Live Lite 4


Publishing Your Podcast. The final step is making your podcast available to the world. First, you’ll have Audacity convert the production you’ve been working on as an MP3. Then use the included Podifier software to easily add the XML metadata and save the result as an RSS file. You upload the RSS file to your Web site or wherever you wish to host your podcast. From there, it’s a matter of doing publicity and marketing so that potential listeners know about your podcasts. This is usually a matter of posting a request to be in a given searchable category on websites like iTunes.com, podcastingnews.com, podcastcentral.com, and podcasting-station.com.* Then when people subscribe to your podcast RSS feed, they’ll automatically be notified when you upload your next edition.

Podifier

There you have it. Podcast Factory includes everything you need to record, edit, produce and publish high-quality podcasts. And it makes the process easy so you can focus on the main event—getting your message out to the world.

Remote Podcast Recording

One of the great things about Podcast Factory is that it works with a laptop so you can record and produce anywhere. For those times when you don’t have your laptop or even that small a package is a challenge, check out our MicroTrack 24/96. It‘s a mobile solid-state recorder no bigger than a deck of cards—complete with stereo microphone—that runs on rechargeable batteries and records to CompactFlash cards. It’s perfect for meetings, field recordings, capturing your thoughts in the car and much more. Files transfer to your computer with a simple USB connection, at which point you just bring them into Audacity to edit for your podcast. How cool is that?

MicroTrack 24/96


*Avid and M-Audio are registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.