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Podcasting Rabbit Holes

After taking our middle daughter out for her sixteenth birthday last night, we got home at about 10pm, and three hours later I somehow found myself in the depths of quite possibly the deepest rabbit hole yet.

I started tinkering with the software needed to record a podcast – to have some control over the sound coming into the computer, and how it is recorded. After an hour of head-scratching, I’ve come to realise just how skilled sound engineers are – or rather, the mindset they have that I lack.

Armed with a good friend on the other side of the world, we jumped down the sound recording rabbit hole together – and somehow succeeded in recording both sides of a Skype Conversation with no feedback, and no background noise. Given that I was sitting in the UK in the early hours of the morning, and she was sitting in Melbourne Australia, several hours ahead of me, the resulting recording was somewhat miraculous.

I supppose in some ways the process of discovery was controlled by a lack of funds, a lack of knowledge, and a lack of talent. Rather than having any sort of plan, I tried to solve problems as they occurred – usually resulting in one or the other of us realising that either we couldn’t hear the other person, or they couldn’t hear us for the last several moments. That happened several times.

Perhaps the most amusing problem to solve was the microphone stand itself. Rather than sit there like a lemon holding the SingStar microphone I had acquired from the children, I found an old desk lamp and tried to jam the microphone into the wires above the light fitting – which worked to an extent, but also perfectly translated every vibration of the desk straight to the microphone – a sound not unlike somebody hitting a telegraph wire at a distance with a wooden bat (don’t ask me why I know what that sounds like). Rather than put an order in with Amazon to acquire a cats-cradle style microphone holder, I wrapped my trusty SingStar microphone in a duster, and jammed it back into the desk lamp arm. It worked. Almost perfectly.

At least I now know why the cats-cradle microphone holders exist.

Finding my way through the software maze took longer than I’m willing to admit. I have ended up using a piece of software called “Potato” (no, really) to capture the various sound sources, and record them to MP3. I am then using another piece of software called Cakewalk to edit the recorded conversation, and to mix it together with background music for a lead-in, and lead-out. I haven’t actually done that bit yet (because I have no conversation to do it with), but at least I know HOW to do it.

The end result of all this idiocy is that I might conservatively claim to be ready to begin recording podcast content. As soon as I’ve written a few notes to guide the first episodes along, I’ll give some friends a call, and see how they feel about spending an hour chatting with me.

This whole podcast escapade is starting to feel a little more real, and I can’t quite decide if I’m excited or scared. An old friend emailed me, and asked how I thought people might react to my accent (I sound very, very English) – I’m guessing we’ll find out soon.

By Jonathan

Software Developer, Writer, Blogger, Podcaster

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